Media Capture Tips

Taking a Good Photo or Video

We may not all be experts at lighting, angles, staging, and equipment, but we can all use our phones and other cameras to get studio assets to help tell stories.

If you are capturing media about research, please follow the media safety policy to ensure usability.

General Tips for Capturing Media

  • It is always better to get more content. What isn't usable can be deleted later.
  • Get a variety of angles—close-up, medium, and wide shots; low, mid, and high angles.
  • Use a variety of distances—close, medium, and far. Move your body closer to or farther away from the subject prior to shooting, instead of zooming.
  • Tuck your elbows to your sides to maximize stability.

Photo Capture Tips

  • Change your angles and distances by moving your body.
  • When taking images for a research story or other webpage, think about the long horizontal banner image. This would be a wide shot of the entire scene.
  • If you want a smaller square inset image, this can be a close-up.

You should get a variety of images to help support what you are working on.

Video Capture Tips

  • When filming on a phone, hold it horizontally to capture in landscape mode.
  • Find the best angle and make adjustments before you start recording. Still capture a variety, though.
  • Stop your recording between shots to make editing easier.
  • Try to capture clips between 10 and 30 seconds to ensure there is enough usable footage.
  • Unless you are filming a selfie, try to keep the camera close to your body to maximize stability.
  • For panning footage, tuck your elbows to your sides and rotate your waist to maximize stability.

Video Conferencing Tips

When hosting a video conference over Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype, or another platform, we recommend following these tips to improve quality while being courteous to others.

If you are recording in Zoom, don't forget to update your settings and enable audio transcription before beginning the recording.

  • Let any others in your home/location know that you are about to begin a video conference call.
  • Find a quiet, private room with minimal echo and close your door, so pets and others do not wander in.
  • Adjust your distance from your phone or laptop so that the frame crops from the middle of your chest to a little bit over the top of your head.
  • Use a virtual or neutral background. Bookshelves or a blank wall work well. You can download Zoom virtual backgrounds.
  • Mute your microphone when you aren't talking.
  • When conducting a remote interview, the lag in time between speakers will likely cause multiple people to speak at once. To avoid this:
    • Interviewers should articulate questions to clearly indicate when their question is complete and they are ready to receive an answer.
    • Interviewees should wait for a moment of silence to ensure it is their turn to speak.
      • This practice will not only make interviews look and sound more professional, it will also enable future use of sound bytes from the interview subject without disruptions in the recording.