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How to shoot a video on your smartphone

How to shoot a video on your smartphone

Tips on stability, focus and framing

It’s likely that you have an incredible, ready-to-use studio inside your pocket, you might just don’t know how to use its full potential. Your smartphone is a powerful tool to create videos and tell stories. A few simple tips can help you to improve the quality of the videos you create with your smartphone.

The instruction videos below were created using only a phone, without any supporting equipment such as a microphone or a tripod.


Mobile phones are small and light, making them hard to stabilize. A tripod is an obvious solution. A phone clip would be necessary to attach your phone to the tripod. But no need for despair if you don’t have one. Alternatively, you can hold your phone steadily using both hands and locking your elbows into your body, or place the phone onto a steady surface.


Your videos will look much better when they focus on the subject. It’s an easy thing to do. Before pushing the record button, get your frame right. Once done, simply touch your screen right on top of the subject you would like to focus on. When recording a person, remember to focus on their eyes. Now there are no excuses anymore to have blurry videos.


Frames are an important part of creating a storytelling sequence. Variety in framing offers the viewers different perspectives. There are many things to consider when creating your frame. Here are some basic rules to help you:

  1. Lead Space: is the distance within a frame between the edge of the subject’s nose and the edge of the frame. The subject looks in the direction of the side of the frame in which he is positioned. This will create the sense of being trapped, not knowing what the future holds. Leave extra space in the direction your subject is looking at. When following an action, leave extra space in front of a moving person or object, like a runner, bicycle, or a car. Not doing so will make it look like your subject is running into the edge of your frame!
  1. Headroom: is the space between the top of a subject’s head and the top of the screen frame. When framing your subject, pay attention to it and don’t leave too much nor too little space. Imagine an apple on top of your subject’s head to help you to determine the right amount of space.



Some Extra Tips

  • Avoid zooming in digitally as it affects the quality of the image. Instead, “zoom with your feet” simply by walking closer to your subject.
  • Be aware of where your main light source is and avoid back lighting. Avoid having a window or light source behind your subject. Instead, have the light source on the side or behind you. Light not only defines your subjects but also sets the mood or evokes emotion. Experiment with it.
  • Use an external microphone to guarantee good audio quality. If not possible, get closer to your subject with the camera and look for a quiet place.

This article was written by Amanda Nero, IOM Regional Media Development Officer for Migrants as Messengers project.