Please Critique this Practice Reel - I don't think I shoot that well! HELP ME!


Hey everyone, glad to be a member here now! I've been a photog for 4 months now in Texas and I'm wondering what I could do better. I don't have a superb package to show as of yet but I did include 3 pkgs in the reel though. Please be honest, I do not mind harshness, I just want to get better, A LOT BETTER!!! I think I'm creative with editing but I want to be even more creative with my shooting. I want to SEE more, when I'm out in the field. Again please be honest, and harsh as you can! I'm not feeling real good about my shooting as of now!:confused: Thanks so much in advance, and I appreciate all the responses that you guys will give!

Here it is:

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Well-known member
Only had time to check out first my former mentor (Willie Kee) used to tell me: zoom during a shot and I'll break all of your fingers. Pick your shot and stay with it...with children, initially it is best to stay wide and get down to their level. See the world the way they do. Once you've got your establishing shots, then get close ups of the child's face and hands as he plays, the parents watching and interacting, so you have material to edit with. And listen as you shoot - you may get some good natsound for the reporter to write to.

If you can, get a fill light for the interviews...fill in their faces so we can see them in more detail.

Nice you used a tripod on interviews...if the interview is emotional might work to get a tighter shot. Good basic job...especially for your experience.


Work on your framing, with the exception of some circumstances, interviews are the only thing we have complete control over. I watched the first two stories and they just looked boring. First, always use rules of thirds and dont center your interview, next try to find an object that helps convey the story in background or if your really creative in the foreground. Last comming from a small market myself I know what its like not to have a light kit handy so I can excuse the dark interview, but if you have a frezzi use it indoors when the natural light wont work.

Tom Servo

Well-known member
Watch your axis line. Look at the first 2 shots in the first package to see what I'm talking about. The first shot, the kid's nose is going this way: < The second shot, it's going this way: > That can be visually confusing - picture watching a football game where the camera changes sides every play. It'd be hard to tell which team was doing what, since they'd be going different directions on your screen all the time.

I agree with Cyndy. Can the zooms. The only time you should zoom (or do any camera movement for that matter) is when you are following motion. So it's OK to zoom out if you're shooting a race and a race car is driving straight at you, but it's jarring to zoom when the action on the screen doesn't call for it. Try to make your camera do what the human eye does. The human eye doesn't pan or tilt or zoom unless it's following motion. Otherwise, it cuts, and so should your video.

I agree that you showed some areas where you're creative with editing - I liked the standup in the ID card - but you are also sloppy with your editing. Look at 4:02 - the blind fire victim. You start on him, kinda lazily slide to the right, and then anemically pan over to the left to show. .what? Nothing. That shot shouldn't have made the cut, and if it was the only shot of the blind guy that you had for that segment, then you should have cut to another before the wandering left pan. And watch your audio editing - the blind guy's audio was significantly lower than the reporter track.

And use your tripod. If you don't have your tripod with you, go back to the car and get it ;)


Thank you guys so much for the critiques, they are really helpful! I looked at the first pkg again and watched what you mentioned about the axis line and understand exacly what you mean. You (tom) and cindy both mentioned watching the zooms and as I looked at it again I was frustrated at how much zoooming I saw, I did not recognize that before. No more of that!!! I'll be sure to look at things like the human eye, so I can use the camera more effectively.

I actually did not edit the blind fire pkg, I did one man band but did not have time to edit it when I got back to the station because I had to shoot something else, but nevertheless I saw many mistakes in my shooting and the lack of shooting on a tripod was really exposed.

Thanks for the compliment on the ID standup!

Thank you all, I will work on framing (compostion), lighting my interviews better, using my tripod a lot more (which I did today:D), and canning the zooms!

Thanks again everyone and if you guys have any more I'm open to hear and learn!