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How to take cinematic BTS Photography

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

Purpose = Act = Story = Drama = Cinematic ???

When I shoot Behind The Scene photography, it is usually a combination case of event photography and documentary photography.

BTS Photography can also mean Still Phototography that some movies use for their posters.

The main objective is to capture the movements that are going on behind the scene, or you may say, outside the camera.

There are a few things that I focus on when I am on set, but consistently, the movement.

Focus Point 1: Actors

One of the things that I love about taking BTS photography is that the subjects often show a strong sense of purpose.

Purpose creates movements. Movements create actions. Actions create changes. Changes create extraordinary cinematic elements.

Such as acting.

I think there is some beauty in people who are doing their job with a strong sense of purpose.

That could be why these casts shine, not only by their great look?

They are taking an action to one purpose, to fight, to run, to smile, to make someone laugh, to frighten, to stand still...

it truly is an act-ing, maybe.

Focus Point 2: Crews

Crew's objective is, essentially, to create.

To me, at least visually, their concentration and sense of clarity make their presence very very attractive.

To create something together.

Purpose = Act = Story = Drama = Cinematic?


I got this idea when I was filming kitchen hand people for a restaurant that I used to work for haha

Focus Point 3: Connections

BTS photography hardly requires you to set up the props, lighting, or makeups, it gives you a chance to see what other professionals are doing (observation is a vital part of your job).

It is also helpful to communicate with people on set, learn from them, and get to know each other.

When you know people, it will be much easier to predict what is going on set, therefore capture the moments of people sharing their creativity and do your job.

Say hi and introduce yourself to actors, talk to the sound guy about the shutter sound, ask the DP about frames, say hi to makeup artists, props artists, and gaffers...there are many things that you can do.

Especially for actors, cinematography departments, and art departments, your works can be a direct portfolio of their works.

AD working ↑

Focus Point 4: Editing

Like any other photography, it is always important to think about the direction. What kind of film they are making, what is the story, what is the vibe that you want to deliver?

This applies to the editing process if you were involved in editing.

It is your work. Yes, you captured these shiny moments of people like event photography, but also, kind of documentary that you are responsible to reflect the reality that was surrounding the scenes.

I kinda escaped to safer options by editing some pictures with monochromatic colors as the lighting was too dark for my camera and lenses and the fighting sequence was too fast to follow.

So I rather turned these blurry pictures into noisy and sharpened black and white ones.

In the end, it also helps my eyes to see their aura more clearly somehow.

I guess black and white photos have very colorful expressions.

Focus Point 5: Silence

Make sure that you pay attention to the story and what people are doing, and be absolutely sure not to make noise or shutter sound when they are recording. But if it is outside, sometimes you can shoot too, so, talk to the sound guys to make sure of it.

That is all for now I think.

I feel like if we see only shadows it grabs more attention on their movement, not only the sense of unusual uniqueness.

Maybe put a mirror somewhere?

But then if I do that, would that still be BTS photography?

See you next time!

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