Telling great video stories, fast

The first word in telling video stories efficiently is “focus,” according to videographer Lisa Berglund.  The former  National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Photographer of the Year says your story assignment is a location, it’s up to you to find the actual story.

“It’s not just shoot it,” said Berglund.  “Before you pick up your camera, be sure you understand the assignment and where it fits in to the big picture.”

Berglund says she mentally storyboards what she will shoot for each story — thinking through the shots she will take and how she will sequence them.  For less experienced photojournalists, Berglund suggests creating a shot list — simply writing down all the video elements you might want to gather and then actually checking them off as you get them. Berglund says you’ll get better at it by forcing yourself to critique your own work.

“Take the first paragraph of a story you’ve done that you don’t think you shot well.  Draw out a storyboard of how you wish you would have shot it,” said Berglund.

For a piece she produced on the impact of a wildfire, Berglund says she found a great character, and as she listened to what he said, she came up with the shots she needed to visualize the story.

“Im always moving myself toward the power of the story — the most important character, the most interesting visuals.”

But Berglund is frank about how powerful visual stories get produced.

“Until the camera becomes an extension of your your eye, where you don’t have to think about the technical stuff, you can’t focus purely on storytelling.”