Jul 8, 2022

Four easy-breezy smartphone tips for summer shoot success

It’s finally summer!

My smartphone video hub is out and about shooting in the sunshine, so I thought it would be a perfect time to share four top shooting tips for success in the sun as part of my mission to make smartphone video easy for EVERYONE.

As you know, my mission is all about creating smartphone videos the SIMPLE way, giving you all the insider hacks and shortcuts I have picked up over 30 years of producing and presenting in TV and video. Shooting great smartphone video should never ever feel time-consuming and overwhelming, I am here to help you out.


When you are shooting on a sunny day, be aware of the direction of the sun. The best time to film in the summer months is just after sunrise and just before sunset, these are known as “the magic hours”. Remember, you will get more flattering light when the sun is lower on the horizon. Avoid shooting when the sun is too high as your videos can look harsh, and also we want to avoid you creating long shadows down faces. Remember the simple but effective tip to cup your smartphone with your hand to prevent strong sunlight from hitting the lens from an angle.


Remember if you are shooting a chat or interview on camera, eye contact is essential for establishing trust, so try and avoid putting on your sunnies. Also don’t EVER put on mirrored sunglasses as you will just see you and all your smartphone video kit reflected! You always want your videos to look like you are having a relaxed fun chat so it’s essential that your audience to see your eyes and feel that extra personal connection.

Live focus video is a feature that works on both the rear and front cameras, allowing you to blur any scene that is behind you or an interviewee. You can swap between foreground and background focus with ease, just switch up the focus with a tap. You just open the camera app, swipe to Live focus video and adjust the blur to suit your preference, shifting the mood of your video as you shoot.


Remember to look professional. It can be hard in the heat, but don’t have too much flesh on show, wearing vests or very casual clothing can be a bit off-putting. Stick to simple colours, a smart plain cotton tee under a lightweight jacket or a short-sleeved shirt. Jackets are good for reinforcing expertise and remember if you want your video to have longevity it can look really strange for your audience in mid-November seeing someone doing a chat in summer gear. Keep your makeup soft and understated, think light bronzer and a hint of lip colour, and do remember to take some mattifying lotion out with you. Apply this frequently to avoid looking shiny. Also be aware of how the sun can give a bald head extra shine, so get the lotion all over it, wear a hat or shoot in the shade!


How to work with summer lighting shooting video

When you are shooting in the summer, treat the sun as you would any other controlled light source and if you can, get it behind you, casting it directly onto whoever or whatever you are shooting. Be aware of your own shadow getting into shot as well. Shooting against the sun can look great if you shoot when the sun is low, and you can use it as a backlight to create some cinematic lens flares if that is a stylised look you like. If your smartphone is on auto settings, the sun can confuse your video settings, so put your smartphone in manual mode and frame the sun into a side corner of your shot and let your subject remain as the focus and your device should calm down!!

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