Helpful Hints for Shooting Family Videos

Even someone who is not an expert at shooting or editing video can turn out a very memorable video if they follow just a few tips. Family videos make excellent memories and can serve as an important part of family genealogy for those in the future trying to learn about their past.

Think about how you would like the video to look when it is finished, namely, are you telling a story or recording an event?

Go over in your mind the type of activities that are taking place at the family event so that you can make mental note of the things that you would like to capture on film.

Find out the scheduled timing of the event and when certain activities will occur so that you will not miss any opportunities.

Bring extra batteries and tapes so that you are well prepared.

Before the guests arrive, take some shots of the setting so you can use it as part of your introduction, conclusion and transitions
(i.e., b roll).

Begin filming the event when guests arrive and make sure to capture all the things that
you planned.

Consider including the following extra footage to make the video more interesting:

  • posterity - having the elders in the family talk about the past, family traditions
  • food - if the recipe has meaning
  • memorable or exciting gifts
  • memorable moments - funny stories, meaningful quotes or thoughts about what the holidays mean; and
  • skits - mini plays that the children might put on for the family.


  • Use the strategy of starting off with a wide shot then move to a mid shot and end with a tight shot.
    This is a great way to tell a story.
  • As an alternative, use a reverse build strategy where you start tight, move to mid and end wide.
    This leaves the viewer in suspense.
  • When filming children, remember to get down on their level so you can catch the right perspective and pick up
    their voices on camera.
  • Do not overuse the zoom feature as it can make the footage blurry and unsteady. It is safer to keep the shot wide and physically move closer to the action.
  • Try to find even light and avoid shooting into bright sources of light like a window.
  • When filming people at an event, make sure you focus on each person for the count of three so the viewer can really see each person. You can always edit out but you can not add in.
  • Speak only if you have to explain something or ask a question. There is nothing worse than having a narrator talking constantly through a family video.
  • Have a partner take some great photographs of the event so you can integrate them into the video.
  • Give the camera to one of the younger members of the family and ask them to get some footage. This will integrate an interesting perspective into your video.
  • If you are conducting holiday interviews, consider using a tripod so that the camera is steady.


  • Make sure that your camera is actually on and recording when capturing important activities and events.
  • Check out the focus and sound by doing a quick test prior to the event

Remember the helpful hints above and you’ll be on the right track to make a decent and well received home family video. Setting up a family website to share your family videos is easy and free.