When does the church use photography?
There are several different areas in which the church uses photography:
Events: Such as special occasions: guest speakers, conferences, baptisms, which may need coverage for marketing/personal/social media purposes
Commercial: Generally used for marketing purposes such as ministry promotional materials [e.g. Marriage Course flyers], leadership headshots for corporate usage, or for asset materials [e.g. Easter or Christmas or promotion of a particular event/program/course etc.].
Social Media: Is a very important tool… Essentially a ‘shop window’ that allows people from outside the church to peer into what a church is about. For example, Instagram can be a very powerful tool to show the culture/ heart of who a church is, and photography/imagery is very important in showing this.
Photography is a powerful way to communicate your unique identity. Having a brand standard in your imagery helps create awareness of your church and differentiating it from any others. It allows you to communicate what type of church you are and the culture within it. Here are a few Instagram accounts for examples:
HTB Church: London church, all about diversity, community, worship.
C3 Brooklyn: Very New York, creative, youthful church.
HTBB Church: Malaysia based, all about the people and community, showing a sense of family.
Creating a brand standard
Knowing the vision of your church is vital and it allows you to differentiate yourself to what you aim to capture in your images.
Choosing one colour and black and white preset [colour settings] for when you’re editing your images helps a lot! As it creates consistency in your photos.
Choice of tool: whether it be an iphone, a DSLR or a 35mm Camera, try and stick to using the same kind of camera, as it will allow for consistency.
Photographic equipment that is generally used on a regular basis:
Camera body: DSLR that is able to shoot in RAW [higher quality images compared to JPEG files] e.g Canon 5D MK III, Sony Alpha 7 MK2
Lenses: Having a wide angle and telescopic lens can come in handy. E.g Canon 24-70mm can be used in smaller settings or for photo-shoots whilst a Canon 70-200mm is perfect for shooting during services or bigger events as you don’t need to be so close to the subject of your shoot which minimises your disruption of a congregation member experience if a photographer is standing in their way.
SD or CF Cards: In order to be able to shoot you will need a memory card to access the images. Wi-Fi SD cards are fantastic! They allow you to access the images on your phone whilst shooting from your camera [allowing for up-to-date instagram/instastory images without diluting the brand standard of your images].
Card Reader: To access the images from your SD/CF cards.
Kit bag: DSLR cameras are expensive so it is important you get a good waterproof camera bag to keep the kit in.
Flash light: Can be useful for dark settings and events where flash won’t be distracting to the attendants.
Hard drives/Backing system: All final selected images [edited and RAW] need to be backed up somewhere [in at least two places, e.g. an external hard drive and online server] to avoid losing your photographs.
Lighting: Not immediately necessary but these do come in handy for photo-shoots/commercial photography. E.g. Profoto flash lights or Kino Flo consistent lighting, which can also be used for video.
Lightroom: Which allows for bulk editing/ colour correction of images.
Photoshop: For more advanced editing/ touch ups.
Use of Imagery
Some people love getting their photo taken and others hate it. It is important if you are shooting within your church services regularly that you have, signs up warning people that photography is used during services. This allows them the opportunity to notify your team if they wish to not have their picture taken.
For any commercial photo-shoots it’s important to get your ‘models’ to sign a release form, acknowledging that they are allowing you to use their faces for promotional/marketing purposes.
IMPORTANT: it is vital to have parental consent if you are taking any pictures of children under the age of 18 years old.
There will often be a large pool of gifting and talent within the church and this is a great place to look for volunteers for your team. It is also a great way to empower congregation members in helping them to further release their gifting and serve the wider church. Having photographers that go to your church is fantastic and the best option as they already have an understanding of the vision of your church.
www.lynda.com is a fantastic website you can sign up for to learn new skills from beginner’s photography, to editing on Ligthroom or Photoshop etc.
Camera Operation and Editing
When focusing on your subject in frame I would suggest either zooming in manually on the lens or use zoom on the display of the camera first and focus. Then zoom back out not changing the focus at all. There might even be an option called ‘Focus Assist’ either on a hardware button or in the user menu this is either a digital zoom effect or where coloured lines will show you on the display what is in focus.
Generally with ISO and Gain keeping it as low as possible is very important otherwise noise will be created on the video. In some low light circumstances. Choose between 100, 160, 320, 640 (max) – use a higher ISO/Gain for lower light. Of course there are exceptions to the rule but only when in very low light circumstances and you need to get that very important shot!
You can set the aperture on the lens ring. On some cameras, you set the aperture on a scroll wheel toggle or within the user menu. A Lower F/stop will widen your aperture and therefore let more light in to the sensor and make the image brighter. The lower the F/stop the shallower the depth of field (blurry background in comparison to the subject in focus).
In some cameras there might be a feature called ‘Peaking’ otherwise known as ‘zebra bars’ (as they look like moving black and white bars), either on a button or in software. This will bring up striped lines where the image has more than 80% brightness (generally). With a white subject you need just a small amount of lines to be showing on the subject.
If applicable you might also have in built or external ND filters (Neutral Density filters). These are put on to darken the image especially outside or to have a low F/stop to get that shallow depth of field (blurred background).
An industry standard rule for framing is the Rule of Thirds - putting your subject/point of interest of the shot, on these ‘thirds’. In the example below you can see the subject on the left is the point of interest and therefore put in one of the top ‘thirds’.
Of course, there are times when rules should be broken. For example, this shot below. To emphasise importance and when symmetry is at its best.
Fun fact! Putting the subject on the higher points make them seem more important but when put near the bottom they will seem less important and sometimes even frail.
If you have control over how you light your subject three-point lighting is a great industry standard. You have a key light at the front, a fill light that is not quite as bright as the key to fill in shadows created by the Key light and a backlight to make sure the subject doesn’t blend into the background and to highlight the subjects hair. Here’s a handy diagram.
If you don’t have any lights to use, a great source of light is the one we have at our disposal all day. The sun! If filming in an indoors setup shoot with your subject facing a window, you can then use a reflector as a fill light or backlight.
When filming you will want to be in Manual settings, when you do this you need to set the White Balance. (You need to tell the camera what white is to get the colours correct.)
So for Indoor tungsten lights you need a colour temperature of 3,200K and for filming daylight you will need a colour temperature of 5,500K. This will depend upon what time of day it is though.
Here’s a handy scale - when it comes down to it generally, the numbers you need to know for colour balance are:
4300K- Indoors with Natural light/Cloudy
Fun Fact! The hotter a temperature is the bluer it becomes on the Kelvin scale.
Depending upon what camera you are using this will make a difference.
When it comes to resolution you want to start recording in a 16:9 aspect ratio at either 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels or sometimes called 1080P (Full HD), or 3840 pixels by 2160 pixel otherwise known as Ultra-HD There’s also another slightly wider version called 4K at 4096 pixels by 2160 pixels.
Fun Fact! P stands for Progressive as the whole frame is shown at any given second. An almost obsolete old format called Interlaced or (i) was used before. Have a google of the difference between progressive and interlaced if you are intrigued!
Fps stands for Frames per second. It does exactly what is says on the tin. Tells you how many frames you will be recording per second of footage.
The U.K. standard frame-rate is 25fps. Generally, this is the frame-rate you want to set your camera to.
The standard frame-rate for feature length films are 24fps.
American standard frame-rate is 30fps. If this is the highest frame rate your camera can do, you can film at this speed and slow the footage down very slightly in editing (post) later.
Slow Motion can also be achieved at much higher frame rates with more expensive cameras such as a Sony FS7 and Sony FS5. Which can go to 60fps and even super slow-motion at 150fps. If there is a flicker when you playback the footage it’s because you can see the lights turning on and off. Bring the fps below 50fps in this case.
When choosing your video editing software of choice. I would strongly recommend ‘Premiere Pro’ for a paid editing software and Davinci Resolve for a free editing software. You get what you pay for but both are very capable.
Firstly, create a new project in you editing software in the case of Premiere Pro (File – New – Project).
With most editing software you will need to create a ‘Sequence’ or ‘Timeline’ (File – New – Sequence) to add your footage to. In the case of Premiere, you will drag and drop your footage and assets to certain ‘Bins’, and then drag them onto the timeline.
With the basics of your editing software there will be great tutorials on YouTube and online, for example for Premiere Pro, click here to watch a Premiere Pro tutorial.
There are many reasons to cut; your subject has finished speaking, cutting on movement, or cutting when your subject blinks. But the gist of it is, cut when you feel the audience will not take any more information in from this scene. Of course the length of cuts will differ. Generally, with an interview situation for example cuts will go on for a long time in comparison to say a promotional video for ‘Focus’; As you want to get as much information in a very exciting way while bringing across the energy of the event at the same time!
To cut in Premiere for example you can use the shortcut key C. This will bring up a razor like icon on your mouse, then click where you want to cut your clip or ‘Rush’ and then select the clip you don’t want and hit delete. Then drag and drop the footage you want together to each other.
Fun Fact! The Razor icon for cutting is a throwback to when editing was done with film strips and physically needed to be sliced and stuck back together by hand!
Generally, I would suggest straying away from crazy transitions but using a cross dissolve to fade to black is very useful. When it comes to audio transitions Crossfades can be very useful also, for example fading to silence. Combining/transitioning to another music track or earlier in a piece of music can also be done quite well this way.
Depending upon your editing software, there will be a lot of variety when it comes to how you implement these transitions. For example, in Premiere Pro, these are called ‘Effects’. And the shortcut for a crossfade is cmd D on a Mac or ctrl D on a Windows machine.
Initial Colour Correction and Grading
If you have perfectly set up your camera correctly, you won’t need to change much in this section but you will need to match the exposure and contrast as well as colour etc. between shots.
There are many great colour grading software to choose from on the market, some built in. Some external. For example, Sony Vegas Pro and Premiere have great built-in grading software. A favourite is ‘Lumetri Color’. It goes from the basics all the way to very stylistic choices you can make in film. An example of a great grading software that is external and free! Is ‘Davinci Resolve’. Absolutely great if you are on budget.
When it comes to Colour Correction you have to start by making your images as close as you can to real life. The main way of doing this is matching the whites to pure white. To do this with ‘Lumetri Color’. A great starting point is the colour dropper.
As you can see Nicky looks very orange, this is due to the white balance being wrong. So I’ve headed to ‘Lumetri Color’ added it to the clip and chosen ‘Basic Correction’ Then Clicked the colour dropper. You then click on a white point of the image. For example, Nicky’s shirt. Lumetri will then edit the temperature and tint to make the image pure white. If this wasn’t correct you can then tweak more with the temperature and tint in Lumetri.
Now with some cameras you can record in SLog, if this is the case you will need to add an input LUT to the image go from being flat to look how an image is usually processed. You then either choose your camera in the options or find a LUT to add for your specific camera online. This is quite a professional feature so I shall be skimming over it. A great resource for example, the Sony FS7 and FS5 is linked here when it comes to LUTs.
Fun Fact! LUT stands for Look-up Table.
Changing the colour temperature of a shot can make your video seem warmer and more intimate at a lower kelvin number. In comparison making your kelvin number higher might make a shot seem cold and maybe even clinical at times.
If you want to know more about grading these are some great tutorials you can apply to any grading software:
There you go! You have created your first Church Video from start to Finish! If you made it this far. Have a virtual Cookie and dunk it in your virtual tea.
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