Everyone is posting videos these days via an iPhone, Go Pro, or heck, you can even do Facebook Live.

However, I believe that nothing beats the quality of video that comes out of your DSLR. Grab your “big girl camera” and let’s take a look at shooting some video with it.

Video fusion combines video with still photography and usually has the audio set to music. It gives your viewers (potential clients!) a peek into a photography session with you. By presenting the photography session in a “movie style” set to an upbeat and catchy tune, your viewers will feel the fun and joy you experience when working with your clients.

My goal is to give you a few tips to get started creating your own promotional video with video fusion. After making promo videos for local photographers, one day I thought, “Hey, why not make one for me?!” My video below was spur-of-the moment and handheld. You can do this, too!

Video Fusion combines video with still photography and usually has the audio set to music. It gives your viewers a peek into a photography session with you.

Most DSLRs these days are able to take video. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Plan your shoot.

Think about your final video product and plan the shoot just as you would for a client session. Think about which location is best in terms of location and lighting. Are you known for your wildflower locations? Then shoot there. Be sure to have cooperative children or models and coordinate their clothing for the look you love.

2. Think about your lenses.

Video can be captured with any lens you have. However, I’d recommend you use the best lens in your bag. I’ve used my 24-70, 85, and 135. My favorite has been the rented 70-200 lens as the ability to zoom in and out gives the video fluidity, a sense of movement and a cinematic look.

3. Set up your shot: switch from camera mode to video mode.

For video, you will need to be shooting in manual mode. Be sure your lens is in auto-focus mode. There are no standard settings for shooting video on a DSLR. In camera mode, set up the shot as you would for a still photo by setting the aperture, exposure, white balance, ISO and shutter speed.

For the aperture, I’d stay with a lower number in the f/5-8 range as you begin to learn the tricky part of focusing. More to come on focusing…

Take a few still shots here.

Now go ahead and switch the mode from camera to video mode.

Video Fusion tips by Eliz Alex

4. The tripod is your friend.

Get that tripod out of the closet! Using a tripod will stabilize the camera, it will be less shaky, and will help the video to look more professional. My video above was handheld. And while it is fun, you can see a bit of shaking.

You will need to learn to adjust the height and angle of your tripod rather quickly. As you move from one location to another, small adjustments will be needed to get the camera in the right position.

5. Manual focus – the hardest part!

Start by switching the lens mode over to manual focus. Now you will view the video through the LCD screen on your camera.

Video Fusion tutorial by Eliz Alex Photography

Zoom in on your subject and manually turn the focus ring to be sure it is crisp and clear. Get accustomed to adjusting the focus manually as your subject moves forward and backward; you will need to rotate the focus ring. You can also create those movie type shots where a subject is out of focus and smoothly comes into focus by just turning the focus ring.


Below you can see I have moved the focus point from the maternity model to the photographer by turning the focus ring. Thank you to Courtney Blissett for her video debut.

To help me get great focus, I use an LCD viewfinder that secures to my tripod mount, camera and it magnifies my screen by 3x as well it has a diopter that adjusts to my vision.

how to record video on a DSLR by Elizabeth Alexander

Remember to start out with the aperture at a minimum of f/5! Trust me, you’ll be less frustrated later.

6. Ready for action!

Hit record! You are video recording.

Think about the storytelling aspects of photography and keep those in mind when shooting your video. I’d recommend shooting in 15-second clips. This will make the editing and culling easier and will help to create an interesting video fusion. You will also need room to trim the clip on both ends while keeping the main moment intact.

Try to shoot straight on and from the side. Move the camera from the ground to your subject. Be sure to shoot a variety of close ups, medium shots and wide shots. Shoot from all different angles to add visual interest to your final product. Remember to shoot small details such as close ups of a dress, flowers or a toy in a child’s hand.

Here we have an example of moving the camera from the flowing creek to our photographer in action:


For a bit of movement, you can pan or zoom if you have a zoom lens. Panning is moving the camera from left to right and I’m guessing we all know what zoom means. Be sure to pan and zoom slowly and controlled as moving too fast with video will render the video unusable.

7. Take those still shots!

Don’t forget to take some still shots along the way. These will be used later when you pull together your footage for the video fusion. My camera is able to take a still image in the middle of recording video although I do prefer to switch from video mode to camera mode, take a few still photos then switch back to video mode. This would be your next step as each time you switch modes you’ve got to remember to change back the focus mode on the lens from manual in video to auto when shooting stills.

My last piece of advice?

You do know what they say about practice, right?

Happy shooting!