Here Comes a Better Talking Head Shot
Published on May 8, 2013
We love to see people talk in real life, so it makes sense that we'd like to see them in video too.
But it's important to get the talking head shot right. There are several ways the shot can be wrong, so let's talk about some ways to get it right...
Here are a few tips for talking head shots:
Get the framing right.
Should you use a close-up, a medium close-up, or something else? That depends on the situation, but a medium close-up might be a good place to start.
One common problem I see is talking head shots that are far too wide.
Get in close (but not too close). Again, this depends on the situation.
Make sure you can see both eyes of the person in the video.
If you can only see one eye, that means you're likely shooting too much from the side (their profile). Generally as viewers, we don't want to look at the side of someone's head as much as we want to see the front.
My personal preference is to bring the camera around the front a lot more.
Get the camera height right.
If the camera is too low, it emphasizes the person's chin (likely not flattering for them).
If the camera is too high, it makes them look small and sends a message of insignificance.
Maybe you want that, but maybe you don't. I find that if the camera is placed around the person's eye height, or perhaps a couple inches lower, this usually works well for me.
Put the talking head in front of a good background.
You have a zillion choices here. Good backgrounds in the video are critical.
Backgrounds need to be interesting, but not distracting.
Use a proper shutter speed.
I'm always a little shocked to see a fast shutter speed used in a talking head shot. It doesn't look natural at all.
I suspect this problem is related to the popularity of DSLR video shooting, because an improper shutter speed seems to be the biggest error I see with DSLR video.
Use a proper shutter speed for talking head shots so there's an appropriate amount of motion blur.
There's probably more I could say here, but I hope these few tips will help take your talking head shots to the next level.
Do you have more tips for better talking head shots? Post them in the comments below...
P.S.> I have several videos that cover how to do all of these things in the membership library (great looking backgrounds, medium close-ups, proper shutter speeds, etc).
If you're shooting talking head shots and you want them to look better, click here.
This article was last updated on October 6, 2020
Download a free collection of 35 templates for Final Cut Pro.
Yes, they're really free, even for commercial purposes. Click the link below to get started:Get Started