The Ultimate Fresh 48 Video Shot List
Prepping for an upcoming family or newborn shoot can be nerve-wracking.
Directing a shoot is a lot of pressure. What if you get flustered and run out of ideas for how to pose the family? What if the baby gets fussy? What if the lighting is terrible and your camera just won’t cooperate that day?
I remember the hours I spent pouring over posing ideas and shot lists for exactly how to position my families during newborn shoots. Frankly, it’s hard to keep all those exact poses vividly memorized in your head.
In this post, I’ll let you in on a few secrets I’ve learned over the years that will help you get through your shoots with far less anxiety, including a detailed shot list that I follow each and every time during my newborn hospital shoots.
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1 | PREPARATION
Honestly, you can’t over prepare. Especially if you’re a new photographer.
Make a list (or take my example) far ahead of time of exactly what shots you know you’ll need to capture the day of the shoot. Talk through them with a friend to make sure they are firmly in your mind.
Another trick that I use is to take a picture of your shot list with your camera. During the shoot, if you get stuck or lost, look back on your camera’s screen for reference. The family won’t know what you’re doing. They’ll think you’re checking back through what you’ve shot and you’ll look and feel more professional than carrying an actual list with you.
A few notes about the shot list.
Don’t just grab one shot of each of these suggestions. Move around and grab each one from 3-4 angles. WS = Wide Shot, CU = Close Up, MS = Medium Shot
2 | STAY ORGANIZED
Staying organized during your shoot will be a key factor in maintaining your own confidence in what shots you’ve captured. Ever walked away from a shoot full of anxiety, wondering if you got enough stuff?
Think through the order in which things might make the most sense during your shoot. Try to group shots in terms of location or by family members in the shots.
In the filmmaking world, this technique is often referred to as ‘blocking’. It basically means setting up 3-4 different scenes with your family and then capturing 5-6 variations of shots within each scene. Here are some examples:
SCENE 1: Mom, Dad, and Baby sitting on bench by window in hospital room
SHOT 1: Medium shot – looking straight at Dad holding baby’s head in his hands, looking at baby’s face. Direct dad to bring baby up and give a kiss.
SHOT 2: Wide shot – looking straight at Dad holding baby’s head in his hands, looking at baby’s face. Direct mom to gently touch baby’s hair/head and look at dad.
SHOT 3: Close up shot – looking straight at Dad holding baby’s head in his hands, looking at baby’s face. Focus on mom’s hand and fingers touching baby’s head.
SHOT 4: Bird’s eye view – looking down on Dad holding baby’s head in his hands, camera pointed at baby’s face. Direct dad to touch baby’s nose gently.
SHOT 5: Medium shot – mom holding baby very close, almost face to face. Direct mom to snuggle baby.
SHOT 6: Close up shot – mom holding baby very close, almost face to face. Direct mom to kiss baby’s nose or forehead, direct to gently rock baby.
SCENE 2: Baby along in bassinet
SHOT 1: Wide shot, silhouette of bassinet directly in front of hospital window.
SHOT 2: Close up shots – details of baby’s features: eyes, nose, ears, lips, hair, fingers, toes, etc.
SHOT 3: Rack focus from little card of baby’s birth details to baby in bassinet
SHOT 4: Bird’s Eye View above baby laying in bassinet – cute time to get stretches, yawns, or kicks from baby
SHOT 5: Have mom and dad stand next to the bassinet and look in on baby.
See how many shots you have already captured, simply by thinking through two different locations? You only moved the family once, yet you already have at least 11 great shots (and infinitely more once you get into it).
The beauty behind this method is that it saves you from having to memorize impossible poses that may or may not work on the spot.
It lends itself to more natural and authentic shots because you are truly going with the flow and capturing what happens in those moments.
Lastly, it minimizes the amount of times you have to shuffle baby around (as you’ll learn, leave a happy baby alone as much as possible).
3 | EXPERIENCE
The more you do it, the more it will become like second nature. I no longer need to spend time running through shot lists ahead of time because I’ve done them so many times they are firmly in my memory.
I say this to encourage you to stick with it and know that confidence is coming. You won’t always feel nervous before shoots (well, maybe just a little). But not painfully so. As they say, practice makes perfect.
Wishing you all the best on your upcoming shoot. Share with your work with me below. Or any questions!