Video with your DSLR Week: Shot Variety and Something Called Coverage

August 6, 2010


[Editors Note: This week is “Shooting Video with your DSLR” here on DPE with Rob Sheppard, Art Howard and Juan Pons. We will be bringing you a new article every day this week, make to sure to check them all out!]

As photographers, we go out and look for the best angle, the best composition, and are often happy if we come back with a single great shot. Video is very different. With video, you are shooting to gain enough variety to “cover” a subject or situation so that when you edit the video, you have enough variety in the clips to create an interesting video.

Even if you watched my bee video before, watch it again, but this time, count the number of shots. This is a relatively short video, so this won’t take long. Notice the variety of shots. You will see close shots, far shots, medium shots, shots that move, shots that stay still, shots with moving subjects, shots with still subjects, and so on. This variety is very important because video comes alive when it can be edited with shots that show off the subject in different ways. This helps both tell a story and create visual variety that helps a video move along.

Video is about change and change over time. Still photography is about the single shot. Video never dwells on a single shot because a viewer would be quickly bored by it. The expectation is movement of some kind, even if the movement is simple a change from different shot to different shot.

These shots really do need to be different. If two shots are basically shot from the same spot and the same focal length, they will not go together well. They will be confusing to the viewer. The viewer needs enough change to make the shots understandable.

Also, all of these shots do not have to be perfect single images. Video often uses quick shots as transitions between other shots, and those transitions are often less than perfect if you stopped them and just looked at them as if they were a single image. You will often keep individual shots of video that you would never keep as still photos simply because they can be valuable when used with other shots.

The only way to get all of these shots is to shoot them! That means a concentrated effort when shooting video. You look for wide shots, medium shots and close shots. You look for shots that tell story and parts of a story. You look for variety and coverage. You will quickly learn what coverage really means when you start editing your video and you wish you had certain shots that you didn’t take when shooting the video. Keep shooting since it costs nothing to capture all of these shots other than time.


This post was written by:

- who has written 27 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Rob Sheppard is the author/photographer of over 30 books, the editor-at-large for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and a nationally known presenter and workshop leader. His specialities are nature photography and helping photographers with digital technologies from getting the most from small sensors to Lightroom to Photoshop. Check out Rob’s websites at and

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