All too often I see beginners in video get hung up on things like finding the perfect tripod, the lighting set with the best reviews, the perfect furniture setup. But, the truth is...a lot of this is simply, procrastination. I know, because I've been there. But, you wanna know a secret? I didn't use half of the gear my classmates did in college, and I still pulled out better grades for creativity...because when it comes to creating something, it's all about using what you have. In fact, I didn't buy my first light kit until two months ago. Granted, I have a director of photography who has some amazing lights, and that's what we used for professional shoots - but, when it comes to my personal vlogging setup, I was simply sitting in front of a window, so my eyes would pick up the window panes and sparkle. Tah dahhhhhh. See below:
It doesn't look bad, right? Because using natural light in the right circumstances can be awesome! I was lucky to have an apartment at the time that had great natural light not only in front of my face, but streaming in from other windows behind me, at a lesser intensity.
Whenever someone takes one of my video boot camps or mini sessions, they are allowed access to "Team Puke Rainbows" - a private facebook group to bounce ideas off of each other. I love this, because all too often I've seen newbies post the work they are proud of in a forum of Film School grads who tear it apart to feel better about themselves. WTF. Ugh. Not necessary at all. So, we have our own small safe space for Team Puke Rainbows folks to show their setups, gear, toss around ideas, ask for feedback on new videos, etc...
The Innovative Setup
One of our team members, Valerie, posted this photo the other day - when I mentioned that I love the innovation of her tripod setup, she said it actually made the interview easier and more dynamic because she would swivel the chair for some subtle movement. Genius! She also used the lighting she had, and angled it in a way that would minimize shadows. Boom Diggity!
Other ways to use floor lamps would be to take the shades off and point them at the wall directly ahead of you if it's white, and bounce the light off. Or, by using a window as natural light (like I did above) and simply putting daylight colored bulbs in the lamps behind you, so they don't look orange in comparison (they'll say "daylight" bulbs in the store), this is a pretty good bet in Minnesota - because winter light is such a "blue" color outside anyway, so it will match the color temp bouncing off of the snow.
Here are 4 other "how to" hacks if you don't have equipment and are using a smartphone:
1. No Tripod? Use books. Stack them up, lean your phone or camera against them, and go to town!
2. No mic? Slip another phone into the front pocket of someone's shirt, and hit "voice memo" - then sync up the audio in your edit.
3. Another mic workaround is using your headphones, but maybe disguising the earbuds by threading them through your shirt, so just the mic area is sticking out like a lapel mic.
4. Use natural light, outside - try to stay in the shade, unless it's the "golden hour" - within 2 hours before or after sunset, when the sun isn't direct, and is really flattering.
Of course - buying video gear isn't a "bad" thing. Have the budget? That's awesome. If you're looking to invest in some of the more inexpensive gear, take a gander at this blog post I wrote last month.
So, get out there and create! Stop waiting for permission and the perfect gear setup, because it probably won't happen if you do ;-) Plus, the more you practice without the fancy gear - the more you'll appreciate it when you DO invest, and the more ideas you'll have for how it can make your videos even better.
Keep puking rainbows, friends! And if you need other tips on how to get started, click here for a free guide for beginners. Try something new, you've got this!
As always, I'm here if you have questions!