Where Do You Draw the Line Between Professionalism and Fun?

I love shooting video. I love achieving perfect composition and capturing great sound. It's really satisfying to bounce light around for perfect exposure. When I'm traveling with family and friends, it's important to me that we take home some great images that capture the moment. The problem is, I have a really hard time stepping away from the action to set up my gear. Like many shooters, I've come to the conclusion that in order to find that sweet spot between enjoying the moment, and capturing the moment, sacrifices need to be made.

Cameras The most painful thing for me is leaving the DSLR at home in favor of using my iPhone. I really love shooting on a professional DSLR like the D800 or 5D Mark III, both stills and video. The thing is, those cameras are heavy, and pretty bulky to boot. If you're taking a trip to Disneyland, do you really want to lug one of these around your neck or on your back? Is it worth the hassle when you're going to be spending so much time on trill rides, some of which could damage your camera? My phone takes pretty good photos, and acceptable video (for home movies that is), and it easily fits in my pocket. My skills with a camera still carry over when it comes to composition and light.

Light That leads me to another piece of gear that I agonize over: the reflector. Fortunately, these are pretty cheap and relatively light weight. As a result, I usually find myself throwing one in the back of the car just in case. I'm not going to be carrying it around Disneyland, but I might pull it out now and then during a car camping trip. Plus, considering a reflector's relatively low cost, I don't worry at all about leaving in an unsupervised vehicle overnight. Considering how much a reflector will improve a shot, even on an iPhone, it's worth keeping around.


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Support A tripod or monopod is also a tool that's a good idea to keep around. That said, the tripods I take on vacation are generally pretty cheap. It only needs to be able to support a phone or point and shoot camera, and I don't plan on doing any pans or tilts, so a fluid head isn't necessary. Monopods are especially inexpensive, but I like to be able to set a camera up to take pictures of my friends and family without me having to hold it in place. While I haven't invested the money yet, a GorillaPod would probably be an even better option than a standard tripod, since it doesn't even need a surface to stand on.

Sound The one tool I have no qualms about leaving at home is a microphone. It's just too much of a hassle to connect and monitor sound while trying to enjoy my time with friends. That said, it always, ALWAYS bugs me when I get home and have to watch my video with bad audio. What can I say, I made my bed, I guess I have to sleep in it. Where do you draw the line between professionalism and fun?

Mike is the Editor-in-Chief of Videomaker and Creator Handbook


  1. Good post Mike. I’m also quite strict when doing video, but I found that having the iPhone camera at all times to be quite handy (at least for pictures). We pros are so demanding in our video art that sometimes we forget to have fun with the camera. For example a couple of weeks ago my sister was making cake pops and a video idea came to me right at that instant. I was thinking about the pre-production, lighting the scene and all that stuff we usually care about, but in this case I said “what the heck, I’m going to record this with my iPhone”. So I did. I edit the video, add some music, upload it to my Facebook and got a dozen likes. Not bad for a video I recorded and edited in 1 hour (I would share the video, but I’m not sure if I can embed it here). To me as long as the video is recorded with a respectful composition it can still be appreciated.

    As for the audio with the iPhone camera I use the included earphones mic to get a somewhat clearer audio from someone talking. It’s not the best solution in the world, but it works way better than using the build in mic form the iPhone.

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