3 Tips for Creating Your Own Behind-The-Scenes Photo Shoot Video

I recently published a Behind the Scenes video to Vimeo of a fashion photo shoot I did at Motor City Casino in Detroit.  After the emotional high wore off from producing it, I sat down with my creative team to begin planning the next video.  We spent a lot of time discussing the types of video shots we wanted, but we also spent time discussing what worked well and what would do differently next time.

Based on everyone’s input, here are the “Lessons Learned” from my creative team … our Top 3 Tips for producing a behind-the-scenes video from one of your own photo shoots.

Behind The Scenes Photo Shoot Video with Paul Manoian
Behind The Scenes Photo Shoot Video with Paul Manoian

#1 – Plan.  When you think you’re done planning, plan some more.  

We spent an incredible amount of time planning the video portion of the photo shoot.  We knew all of the keys shots we wanted, angles to capture and more.  Short of creating a storyboard for the entire video, we essentially had it all planned out.  Considering we only had 90 minutes for the entire photo shoot including the equipment setup/teardown time as well as shooting the actual video, we absolutely hadto.  We were not going to have the luxury of reviewing the video footage and reshooting anything.  The were multiple times when out “Plan A” fell through and we immediately went to our “Plan B”.  Even will all of that planning, we felt we could have done more.

Behind The Scenes Photo Shoot Video with Paul Manoian
Behind The Scenes Photo Shoot Video with Paul Manoian

As photographers, we are used to working in confined space to get the shot.  However, capturing video of that process is a completely different endeavor.  There was a lot of the shoot we didn’t capture simply because it wasn’t practical given the space we had. If you are interested in producing a video, be sure to visit your location in advance and walk through all of the shots to ensure it’s physically possible to capture them!

Photographers often say it is better to get it right in-camera than have to Photoshop it later.  The is 100% true with video.  You’re not going to be able to go back and remove annoyances in the background.  What you shoot is what you get.

#2 – Think beyond the strobes and soft boxes.

Lighting, just like with still photography, is absolutely key. To get high quality video, just like you would expect with professional strobes and light modifiers, you need to light your scene for video. This is one area where we were completely under prepared.  We had a LOT of video that was unusable because of a significant back light due to the enormous windows in the location.   Of course, having hot lights specifically for video means you will require more time for the shoot since you will have more equipment to move around.

#3 – Be prepare to invest significant time.

Unless you are just going to shoot a video clip and post it as is, professionally producing a video requires a significant investment of time.  If you would like to shoot something similar to the Motor City Casino video, plan on at least spending an hour of editing for every 5-10 secs of finished video.  That may sound like a lot, but finding the right 2 sec clips of video from the 30GB of HD video you’ve shot, determining where it should be used in the storyboard, syncing it up to the background track all require time.  In fact, it can be a significant amount of time.  We spent over 6-8 hours scouring audio tracks we could license to find the “right song”.   (LICENSE is the key word there.  You can’t legally use any song you want that you hear playing on the radio.)


Paul Manoian is an award winning Detroit photographer specializing in fashion and editorial photography as well as lifestyle senior pictures.  You can also find him on Facebook at Paul Manoian Photography.


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