Beginner’s Guide to Videography: Vlogging Is Harder than It Looks

In my latest YouTube video, I share a workout session with my personal trainer. Even though, there is a more formal intro and outro, the bulk of the video was filmed vlog-style. That, I soon learned, is harder than it looks.

It looks simple. Place camera down. Make sure you’re in the shot. Make sure you’re in focus, and you’re good to go. I have seen videos like this that I have done well. However, I have always appreciated videos with more attention to detail. I have also studied  the basics of videography and photography. Because of this, I have a higher standard for what I would like to produce.

I can admit, though, that you probably wouldn’t be able to get that from my latest video.I have done some assessing of what went wrong and have landed here with some videography tips and tricks for beginners.

Be Diligent

First, let’s set up the scenario. I am the subject of a personal training session where my trainer is going to push me to my limits. While that’s happening, I am also trying to get the best shots possible to share it with all of you. Doing these two tasks simultaneously takes a lot of brain power, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

With that said, there are a few mistakes of mine that fall under this category. The main one is making sure that you are in focus. If you’re nearsighted like me, this can be difficult for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, there was a whole segment of footage that was mildly out of focus. Instead of focusing on me, the camera was focused on a pole.

Out of Focus

Also, as you can see in the photo, there are some objects blocking my face once I start the exercise. This was the only footage I had of this exercise, so I needed to use it.

Another mistake I made was getting in the way of my own shot. I had set up the camera, and everything was in focus. I needed to watch what my trainer was demonstrating, but in doing so, I unknowingly got  in the right hand side of the shot. I ended up having to delete that segment.

Solution: If your camera has a screen that flips so that you can see the shot, always check it. There was also a second person with me, so I could have asked my trainer to double check that I was in focus. This same advice goes for making sure nothing is obstructing your shot, including yourself.

Take Your Time

Given the scenario, I did feel a bit rushed to get back to the workout. I wanted to perform the exercises well and push myself, so my focus was torn. This led me to quickly find an angle that worked and then back to working out it was. However, that resulted in lower quality footage.

Solution: It was later suggested to me to film the specific exercises after the fact. That way, I don’t feel rushed during the workout. This would clearly solve the above issue and provide the time needed to contend with various angles and to play with the lighting.

If there isn’t time to film separately, I could have benefited from taking the time in between sets or revolutions to find a new angle for another shot.

Invest in the Right Equipment

Like many, I am working on a budget. I have a camera, a tripod, and my boom mic. Boom mics, however, are only really good for picking up ambient sound (unless they’re close to whoever is speaking). When filming the speaking portion, I knew the  boom mic was not going to suffice, so I used the voice recorder app on my phone to act as a second microphone. Even though I had placed my phone near my trainer, it still wasn’t enough to have the best quality sound.

Solution: Get a lapel mic. Lapel microphones are the best for recording a person who is speaking, especially in outdoor environments or when the camera itself is at some distance. Yes, things can be finagled, but nothing beats having the right equipment.

Happy filming,


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