Vertical Videos

Everyone has seen them, most everyone has done them. Videos shot with a phone held vertical have their purposes, but when should we not?


I have a pretty general rule for shooting vertical videos. Never. Now, I admit that shooting video is part of my job and passion, but let’s examine why that would matter to me. TVs are not vertical. Computer monitors are almost never vertical. Yes, you can rotate some monitors, but that’s fairly uncommon. Phones are both vertical and horizontal. Which of these can more easily adapt to the others? Phones. The one time I say to shoot vertical is if you never plan on it being seen on a landscape device like a TV or computer monitor. You can see why I say never, since I typically shoot video with plans to show on multiple devices.

But is it that simple? It can be. However, I am not just a guy who holds a camera and captures images or frames. I also care about the composition. Vertical videos are almost entirely about a person. It takes the shape of us standing up. It’s a selfie style, so I get it. We all want to be in front of a camera and force a viewer to focus on all the incredibly important things we have to say. Ha ha. But why can’t that be landscape as well? Is your location not important? Does it not offer a compliment to what you are doing? Aren’t our eyes typically side by side? Isn’t our natural view more wide than tall? By shooting vertical we are treating the platform as the most important part of a video, when the content should always be most important.

So should you ever shoot vertical? Of course! Shoot however you’d like, but for me, I’d say seeing you with landscaping around you is more important than the ground and sky. If you ever pan side to side in your videos you should always consider shooting landscape. It’s a much more natural flow and it allows people to move in your frames. Shooting vertical almost always requires you to pan exactly with your subject and keeping them somewhat centered. That results in a faster moving background, and that can take away from the video’s quality. Shooting horizontally, you can pan slower and the subject has room to move in your frame for a more pleasing effect. Remember that it’s always easier to make a landscape video vertical later than a vertical video landscape later.

This is all personal preference, but if nothing else, hopefully it at least gets you thinking about your creative process. The what, when, why and where are all very important decisions in making any photo or video. If you don’t think it’s worthy of at least these thoughts, why should a viewer think it’s important to see?

Nick Hemphill

Queen Bee