If you’re going to the People’s Climate March, you are going to one of the most important demonstrations in history!  We want and need you to help capture the voices of the people present.  Here are some tips for making video with your smart phone.  See you in NYC!

First, Your Mobile Video Mission

Your mobile video mission, should you choose to accept it, is to capture the voices of the people present.  With 100,000+ of us there, no one can capture all the voices. It is going to take all of us.  So, while we’ll all be taking video of the amazing crowds, the art, the signs,  make sure you take a video of the people you’re with sharing why they’re marching. It can be really simple:

“I’m [name] and I’m marching because  (or for) ….”   

Just give us that one statement on camera.  Then, if you’re so moved,  tell us about the march, what you’re experiencing, how it feels, etc…

Video Apps 

When shooting mobile video, I use the following three mobile apps. There are others, but this is great for getting started.

  • Youtube Capture App
    “Stitch together an unlimited number of clips as you build your story.”
    Record multiple shots, edit and rearrange in camera, then post.
  • Vine
    Records 6 second looping videos. Great for capturing and sharing a moment, giving people feel of what’s happening.
  • Device camera
    Recording video with no editing other than trim start/end.

Don’t Hold Your Camera the Wrong Way!

Ever see a video shared that was recorded vertically? Yeah, we all hate that. We can’t turn youtube, our laptops, TVs or movie screens sideways so don’t you turn your camera so the screen is sideways.  Okay?  Keep camera held horizontally so screen is oriented like widescreen TV screen unless you are recording a square proportioned Vine video.

How to Hold Your Phone For Video

Getting Started, The Basics

When you start, try using these tips adapted from the book How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck (Amazon link) by Steve Stockman.

  • Think in Shots
    Focus on interesting subject, frame shot, shoot/record, stop, move to next shot. If you’re using short 6 second Vine videos,  try and just hold the camera still and capture a moment or scene at a time.
  • No eyes, no story
    There may be times when you want to capture a larger scene, but generally you want to be close enough to see the eyes of your subjects eyes. Get close!
  • Keep bright light behind you
    With light behind YOU, the face of your subject is illuminated. If light is behind your subject, such as an exterior window, the camera will expose for that light background and darken your subject resulting in poor exposure of subject.
  • Use video camera like a still camera.
    NO zooming. NO moving camera. Exceptions? Sure. But try and keep the camera still.
  • Keep it short!
    Prepare yourself and your subject to deliver the goods in 60 seconds. You can make exceptions, but for mobile aim for 1 minute.

Focus!  Tap screen / Press and Hold

On most devices tapping the screen in video record mode will set following:

  • Identify area to focus on
  • Set exposure
  • Set color balance

Filming a Person, How to Frame Your Shot

Videos are easier to watch if the person you are filming are framed in the shot according to standard conventions.  Think of your camera as being divided in thirds — your phone probably has a setting to turn on these guide lines.   A good rule is to have the persons eyes floating just around the line dividing the upper and middle third.  If you focus on getting their eyes at this level, the rest of the shot will fall into place and be easier for people to watch.

Since many of you will be recording holding your own phone / camera,  here’s a few quick reference shots of — too high in the shot, too low, and just right.  At least for holding your own phone.

Subject too high in frame
Subject too high in frame


Subject too low in frame
Subject too low in frame
Subject just right, and not a bad Zoolander look...
Subject just right…

Minimizing Camera Shake

A few tips on keeping your image stable without use of a tripod or monopod.

  • Make sure you are NOT zoomed in at all. Some cameras remember zoom position. A relative I saw at a reunion explained he had grainy shaky photos for the last month.  He asked for tips and I discovered he had been zoomed in ever since buying camera. Whoops!
  • Use your body as a tripod. Holding camera with two hands, bend arms, brace upper arms against body, elbows pointing down.
  • Lean against wall, pole, other stationary object or person, resting your arm for stability.


Lighting is crucial. You can vastly improve your video by making sure you are recording in a setting with good lighting and position your subject accordingly.

  • More Light results in crisper video. More light equals more data on sensor.
  • Move subject. Don’t hesitate to ask subject to move. They want to look good! In convention centers, moving 10 feet or turning slightly can dramatically improve lighting. I use my fist serve as stand in for subject while trying different spots so they don’t have to move around so much.
  • Brightest light behind you. Keep brighter light behind you, illuminating front of subject as previously noted.
  • Give your subject a soul (if you can). Eye light in the subject’s eyes conveys life. If you have option, film in position that not only lights subject, but give those eyes a little shine. Harder to control if you’re using natural lighting.

Film at Eye Level

Many a video was destroyed by filming up the nose of the subject! Whenever possible, film at subjects eye level. Be mindful of tall and short subjects. If camera is lower, view is up nose and subject looks like a troll. If camera is higher, view is down, subject seems more submissive.

Beware of Walls! 

Generally the  only time someone should be filmed flat against a wall is for a mug shot.

  • If subject can reach back and touch the wall, they’re too close.
  • Have subject step forward several feet.
  • Have them turn so the wall is at a slight angle.

Hope this helps!  If you use these tips, give me a shout out on Twitter at @ClimateCoach. Good luck!