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It's very common for beginning shooters to be so concerned with the subject of their video that they forget to look at anything else—often leading to a messy, cluttered frame. Nothing is more distracting in an otherwise good shot than the odd fire hydrant, trash bin, or unknown passerby in the background—yet it's surprisingly easy not to notice these things creeping into your frame as you're shooting. In fact, it's much easier to let these elements into videos than into still photography, since shooters are so concerned with tracking the subject, listening for audio, and holding the camera steady.

To avoid having a cluttered frame, pause for a moment before you start shooting, and check the edges of your frame. As ridiculous as it sounds, often just a tiny step in one direction or a small zoom will change the look of the shot entirely, by eliminating unwanted elements (see Figure 5). The complicated step of the process is rarely the adjustment itself—it's stopping long enough to make that adjustment. Pausing to check your shot is a habit that will improve your shooting enormously—and not just for the edges, either. All of your framing will improve if you take a moment to preview your shot composition.

Figure 5

Figure 5 While neither background is entirely clear, framing a little tighter and shifting the focus slightly can eliminate some messy distractions (left) to highlight the subject naturally (right).

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