5 Big Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

Few situations encapsulate the true essence of a trip like a travel video. Whether it be the rushing sound of waterfalls or the shining ocean during a tropical sunset, moving pictures can immediately transport you back to the best parts of a trip — or life. 

However, not all video is created equal. As a filmmaker and travel journalist, I’ve learned a lot about what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to travel videography. I’ve made some incredible videos that I’m very proud of, but I’ve also had some embarrassing mishaps and failures.

In this post, I’ll concentrate on the failures, highlighting the five mistakes you could be making as a travel videographer based on my personal experience.

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You are unaware of your camera's capabilities

Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

If you’re going to buy a nice camera or gadget, learn how to use it first (is what I told myself after not taking my DJI Mavic 3 out of the box for five months). It should go without saying that owning the equipment is only half the battle; learning how to use it is the critical next step. 

I watched YouTube videos about the DJI Mavic 3 and practiced for days in a drone-friendly field before I felt confident shooting with my new drone. 

Take a class if you want to speed things up, but keep in mind that practice time is still necessary. (To put it another way, one class will not turn you into a videographer, but shooting video will!)

Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

You forget to record audio

Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

Visuals are only one aspect of the story of a travel destination. Sounds such as cars honking in the busy New York streets or peppers sizzling from a hot god vendor will make your travel video more authentic, engaging, and memorable for the audience. Use an on-camera microphone, such as the portable Rode VideoMicro microphone, to capture this audio. 

Turn on your smartphone’s recording app or leave a small lavalier microphone in your front pocket while you explore the town for a less expensive option. I tried this trick all over New York and was blown away by the Tascam DR-10L’s quality, even when it was tucked away in my back pocket.

Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

You don't get enough coverage

Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

The best travel videos combine wide-angle and close-up shots to give viewers a sense of place. It’s all too easy to whip out your wide-angle GoPro and call it a day, but if you want to elevate your travel videos from mediocre to fantastic, you’ll need to approach the filming process differently. In fact, you should approach it as if you were a filmmaker. 

Consider food frying, your Uber driver honking (with their permission), or foot traffic — at foot level — on a bustling main square. Combining these close-up detail shots with wider cityscapes and views will provide you with a tonne of fun editing variety, resulting in a high-quality video.

Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

You go completely hand-held

Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

I’ll be the first to admit that a gimbal isn’t always necessary. It takes up space in your luggage, takes some time to stabilize, and can create quite a commotion at airport security (I speak from experience).

Nonetheless, if you want to sell your footage or make a high-quality film, you should consider using a stabilizer. The smooth-moving motion of the gimbal can make an average film look high-quality and polished, allowing you to sell your film for its true value.

The good news is that you don’t need a large gimbal for your mirrorless or DSLR camera. A GoPro or phone stabilizer can actually do the trick. For example, when I spent the day walking the streets of Paris, I brought my Sony A7III and A7sII cameras because I knew I wouldn’t have the time or energy to stabilize them on my Zhiyun Crane (it’s big, and I was planning on a lot of walking!).

Instead, I used my GoPro for smooth-moving tracking shots and my Sony Alphas for tighter shots in and around the streets of Paris, and the results were fantastic. 

Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

You do not obtain the necessary permits and releases

Every city, state, country, and park has its own set of rules regarding what can and cannot be filmed for commercial purposes.

For example, if you’re filming in a U.S. National Park for fun, you don’t need a permit; however, if you want to sell your footage or make a post-trip film, you’ll need one. This applies to the majority of parks, large cities, and privately owned facilities.

As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so thoroughly research regulations and call the institution’s mainline if you have any questions.

As with permits, make sure you obtain releases from anyone who appears or speaks in your films. I had to do this after the fact for a film I decided to sell from interviews I did from the passer’s by walking the streets of Los Angeles (do as I say, not as I do!) and ended up chasing people down halfway around the world to get the necessary paperwork.

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Do you feel ready to begin? Hopefully, this guide gave you the information and inspiration you needed to start your travel videographer.

Always remember that mistakes will be made along the way to becoming a better videographer, but if you pay attention to the key elements of a great video, such as including more than a few different types of shots in your videos, securing the right permits if you wish to upload your content to a streaming platform, capturing great audio, understanding your equipment, and packing light, you will be well on your way to becoming a great travel videographer.

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

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