How to Capture Cinematic Style Photographs

Using Lights, camera, action, Create beautiful photos that rival your favourite movie scenes. To create some great looking shots that rival pro cinematography, there are some techniques and tips one can use. So here goes!

Cinema icons set

The makeup artist: Word is HD, today there is HD compatible makeup so that closer shots do not reveal the powder work! Your models need to wear natural, everyday makeup in most cases, exceptions being specifically demanding scenes that need specific makeup. But do keep in mind that all movie stars wear one level of makeup or another. A good hair styling and wardrobe management is also needed. This should be in line with the story that the photo intends to create.

Lights: Coming to the lights and not going into reflectors, strobes, using natural lights, using natural night city lights etc., I would suggest you try the famous Three point lighting system used in theatre and film. One light system each for back lighting, fill lighting and key lighting is used. Key light is directed on the subject as the main source, Fill light is directed from an angle on the darker side of the subject or the shadow area created due to the key light, while back light shines on the subject from behind giving the edges of the character the needed definition. The backlight is usually angled to one side or another. For outdoors, the sun acts as the key light. A reflector or fill flash can act as fill light from the other angle covering the shadows on the face or clothes of the subject. A background light(s) can be added for enhancing any background in case your scene demands. In the day time you can use graduated filters for landscape shots. The mood of the scene can be manipulated by changing the intensity of each light.

Backstage of video production professional video cameras

Camera: Use a prime, medium length lens with a wide aperture. Medium length like 55 or better still 85mm lets you retain the natural geometry of the subject. Fast aperture like 1.8 or 2.0 enable you to blur the background and focus on the subject with sharp detail just like cinematographers do. Today, the bokeh and blur effect is used very often by movie makers to keep the focus on the subject and the story.

Action: It is quite important to frame your shot not only with some compelling composition, but around a story. What does your image show? Does it invoke mystery, action, thrill, romance, suspense? These are the flavours or “masala” of movies that you most definitely need in your composition. So planning your shoot and photo story in advance is advised. Where is your subject looking? what are the expressions? what state of action are the elements in? Are the colors and lights in sync with the mood of the story? Is your subject dressed for the occasion? Asking these basic questions is quite important in getting the perfect shot. Also, do not be afraid to try dramatic composition techniques as hollywood often shows in various examples in the movies.

Making movies in NYC

Post processing: Always shoot in RAW format. This digital negative approach makes editing easier later on. What you may have missed can be sometimes corrected by image adjustments and manipulations. You could even use matte paintings to replace entire backgrounds or add new ones in case you shot over blue. Manipulating color temperature alone can change the mood of the image. Adding dramatic filters and effects can turn the photo around for good.

So go on, give those cinematographers some competition!

Photo credits: Doberman84, Ekaterina Druzhinina, RightFramePhotoVideo.

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