Most smart phones and point and shoot cameras have great 1080p video cameras built into them.  This allows easy access for anyone at anytime to take simple yet great looking videos; and, summer is a perfect opportunity to go out and do so.  For example, you can film that road trip you and your buddies are going on, a watermelon eating contest, your friend jumping off a dock at the lake, or anything else you’d like. My friends and I do this often on our trips, and find the videos to be a good memory to go back and watch that are more than just simple photographs. However, filming with a cellphone or another cheap camera does not always turn out perfect, so keep these tips in mind to get the best videos that you can.


-Do hold the phone steady. Shaky video looks bad and is annoying to the viewer, so try to be as still as a rock .You can do this by leaning against a wall or a tree, or simply putting the phone down on a table or something firm.

-Do plan the stuff you want to film. If you just film random video and try to make it all “candid” like you would want to do with photos, you are probably going to get a bunch of boring footage, and miss all the good stuff. So, try to come up with an idea first, and then film it. For example, dare your friend to eat an orange in one bite, or film pranks, or stunts, or whatever you can think of.

-Do keep unique camera angles, good framing, and things like mergers in mind. A good camera angle is pretty much a camera angle that is not chest high with your subject centered, because that is what everyone is used to seeing and can get boring. So, try new angles out, even if you have to look like this, your video will probably look better because of it. Also, try to keep in mind good framing techniques like the rule of thirds. Also check to see if the shot has mergers (people blending into backgrounds, distracting backgrounds, or the subject of the video not completely in the shot.)

-Do use the camera settings. Smart phones and point and shoot cameras usually have some basic settings you can just adjust while shooting, and while “auto” will usually work just fine, you may want to keep those settings in mind. The setting called “white balance” is one to keep in mind if you’re noticing the colors in the shot look different from what your eye is seeing. You may need to adjust these white balance settings when you are shooting outside, under clouds, or under fluorescent lighting.

-Do keep in mind where the microphone is. The microphone is on the phone, so if you want to be able to hear the person you are filming, you need to stand close. Also, because the microphone is on the phone, it is going to pick up every little thing you (the one filming) says. So be careful what you say, because it’s easy to get loud, or have an embarrassing laugh while filming.


-Don’t film with the phone vertical so the video looks like this. Video is meant to be seen horizontally or “wide screen” and having  those giant black bars on the side is distracting.

-Don’t film until you are sure that the shot is in focus. Don’t just press record and assume it’s in focus to find out later that the tree branch hanging in front of you was what was really in focus.

-Don’t zoom. Zooming on cameras that do not have a real lens will just make the video quality go down. So, do as my photo teacher always told me and “zoom in with your body.”

-Don’t film at night or in a dark place. The small cameras on phones simply are not big enough to let enough light in at a dark location, so the video will not turn out well.

-Don’t film with an intent to become YouTube famous, but just for a good fun memory that is different from pictures. However, if you think you have an idea that is YouTube gold then might as well try to get one million hits right? Just don’t be upset when the video gets 106 views.

In conclusion, take advantage of the camera on your phone, and go out and film! And, when you do so, keep this tips in mind.