Shooting a Sequence

A sequence is a scene that is broken up into a series of shots that the viewer interprets as a narrative. Any action that can be broken down into various shots that include wide shots, mediums and close-ups is considered to be a sequence. Photographers who think like editors will often shoot in the order that they think the shots might appear when they're edited together. During editing, the shots are assembled in some logical order that makes sense to viewers.

Creating a sequence can make your story more interesting and captivating to the viewer. Also, it makes it easier for the editor to vary the length and emphasis of the shots. For example, instead of looking at one long shot, viewers can see several in the same space of time. See
Creating a Sequence.

Photographer Tip #1 -- Shoot everything as a sequence

All you need to make a sequence are a minimum of two or three shots for every object of action. Or think of it this way - 


That's all it takes! 

Photographer Tip #2 -- When shooting a subject on location, start with a wide shot and then 2-3 tight shots (medium and close-ups). 

Hold each shot for at least 10 seconds and then change the camera's position to get a new angle. Repeat WIDE, TIGHT, TIGHT, TIGHT every time you change angles until you have enough shots to convey the sequence for that single object or action. Each shot should involve a change in both image size and camera angle, which should change by as much as 45 degrees. Don't be afraid to move the camera.

Below are images from scenes that took no more than five-minutes to shoot. The images are assembled to tell a story. With enough variety of shots, you can start the sequence with a tight shot and then end on a wide. The shots are edited in a pattern that is called a Reveal, which typically begins with a close-up and then opens up to a wide shot -- as the shots progress, more information about the subject is revealed.

Below is a sequence that uses four shots. Each shot is taken from a different camera position. This sequence has more variety of shots and can tell a more interesting and dynamic story.

The sequence below uses three shots. The camera position between the first two shots changes only slightly.
Finally, the simplest sequence uses two shots as shown below. However, the two shots were accomplished by simply zooming out. Using the zoom can be helpful if you're not able to move around much at the location. But as a photographer, you never want to come away with just two shots. The shooting ratio for a typical news package is 10:1. That's roughly 10 shots for every one that gets used in the final package. Also, hold each shot for at least 10 seconds to assure that you'll have enough video for padding when you edit. 

   Photographer Tip #3 -- Use a shooting ratio of 10:1 and hold each shot for at least 10 seconds.

You need to work the scene, getting as many shots as needed to help tell the story. Also, getting a good variety of shots helps the writing become more creative. A 10:1 shooting ratio is ideal for news-gathering, but for documentaries photographers might shoot at a 50:1 or even a 100:1 ratio. As a tip, when shooting for news, it's best to avoid shooting everything in sight. Try to have a focus, which will inform you what b-roll to get. Then shoot what is necessary to tell the story that supports the focus. Remember your deadline.