How to Shoot Natural Light Video Portraits

Capturing a video portrait is delicate work. The scene needs to be shot smoothly, feature unique and interesting locations, have clean audio, and display the subject’s personality. When done properly though, it is possible to produce great video portraits with just natural light.

In this new ten-minute video from the team at Syrp Labs, they explain in great detail how it is possible to create an artist video portrait using just available natural light.

The Syrp Labs team says that its a good idea to work on the skill of making video portraits because they play well into the short attention span of viewers in this rising age of video. Here, competition is fierce, and advertisers are pushing more of a mini documentary-style video to capture the life of their subjects in order to stand out.

Like all art styles, there are bad ones, good ones, and great ones. A good plan and great lighting are key to make sure a particular project succeeds. As an example, Syrp Labs decided to split the shoot up into two locations.

The first shoot was set on the beach on the west coast of Auckland. Taking note of the lighting conditions and key times, the team was ready to bring in the model to start the golden-hour shoot and filmed the session on a gimbal at 100 frames per second to allow for smooth and dreamy-like effects when the video was slowed down in editing.

Syrp Labs Video Portrait Shoot BTS 1

Syrp Labs Video Portrait Shoot BTS 2

The next location was set for the following day in a busy downtown street to create a stark contrast in imagery to maintain the viewer’s attention. In this location, Syrp Labs provided the model (Alaina) with some context for the shoot so she wouldn’t look the same in every shot. Leveraging some scrims and reflectors to bounce and diffuse the lighting, the team navigated through the busy street to an interesting alley and then finished at a waterfront wharf. In contrast to the first day, the team stayed out well into the last moments of light to capture the best and most vibrant pink and blue light.

Syrp Labs Video Portrait Shoot BTS 4

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In editing, the Syrp Labs team added a voice-over to the recordings that provided additional information on the model in a way that isn’t possible with a still photo. Once they recorded a few takes and captured what they needed in the sound-treated recording booth, it was time to start the color grade and edits for the final product. Deciding on an old-school faded film look, the team adjusted the color to feel more nostalgic and vintage film-like, making targeted adjustments (like lifting and clamping the blacks so that nothing is ever 100% black) to balance out the subject’s skin tones and avoid overprocessing.

Syrp Labs Video Portrait Shoot BTS 3

To see more educational content and tips from the Syrp Labs team visit their website or YouTube Channel.