Anietra videotaping guide in Cambodian jungle
Anietra videotaping guide in Cambodian jungle

Be honest. How many of those 15, 20, 30 minute vacation videos have you actually watched again? How many vacation videos have your family or neighbors asked you to see again? Chances are, your answers are likely “never.”

The reality is that while the vacation moments are ones you never want to forget, once you strip away the ambiance and excitement, they do not hold the same thrill once you return home. With my background in television news and a career telling interesting stories with pictures and words in 1:30 or less, I cringe when I watch people on trips shoot endless minutes and hours of monotonous and frankly, uninteresting video. I cannot help but wonder WHO will be victimized by that treacherous and long video—that guy? his family? his neighbors?

In this age of Hi-Def video capabilities in our cameras, phones and notepads, there are even more opportunities to shoot vacationers aimlessly walking around at Disneyland or endless hours of your family playing in the Myrtle Beach surf.


Here’s 4 Tips for shooting vacation video you will actually watch again and tell a story your neighbors will be anxious to see:

1. Pretend you are a reporter – Assess the scene. Believe me when I say that every single detail is not important. Look at the moment with a “why do I care” lens. What are the highlights? Why is it exciting or interesting? Does this moment or location have special meaning? Decide what it is that you want to shoot based on its overall value to your life, trip or general interest.

2. Less is more – get to the point, shoot the highlights. Don’t shoot an entire parade if the highlight is the high-flying Superman float at the end. Do a nice 10 second pan of the crowd, a few shots of the parade and diversity of floats, some good close-ups of crowd reaction or your kid’s smiles and, of course, the flying Superman. Then, call it done! I promise, that’s all anyone wants to see, it sums up the experience and it opens the door for conversation.

3. If it’s long — edit it. If you shot an hour of video of your children on the boogy board in the ocean and you have one great wave ride or one great wipe-out, edit the video to capture just those moments that you want to share. Save the extended-remix for yourself.

4. Shoot with purpose. While crawling through the temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, I saw many tourists aimlessly shooting OTHER tourists walking around the grounds of the complex looking at ancient sandstone carvings. Again, all I could think about is who in the world is going to watch that!? When you DO shoot, shoot with purpose. Choose one topic for the moment. If the temple carvings are your topic…pick a cool one to shoot and either provide a cliff-notes version of the explanation or shoot your guide explaining that unique piece. The point is you do not need real-time video documenting your tour through endless carved murals.

EXAMPLE: Here’s an example of a short video I shot on a trip to Cambodia. Traveling from Siem Reap to Battambang, I crossed Tonle Sap lake by way of a rickety local boat and had one chance to capture life in local fishing villages. While the ambient noise of the boat is a little loud over my voice and the video is shaky on occasion (again, rickety boat), it still provides a good example of the above tips. I tell you who,what,when,where…I tell you something interesting from my observations…it is less than one minute in length…and it is one topic shot with purpose.

Before you set out to shoot the exciting moments on your next vacation…think like a reporter…who is your audience? How will you use this video? What do you want to get out of it? With that mission in mind, your video will instantly transform into something somebody actually wants to watch and provide a snapshot of the great moments you enjoyed.