Hey readers, I’m AJ Marino, a adventure filmmaker/photographer from South Lake Tahoe, California. This is my third installment in Mountainsmiths’ adventure photographer series. I’ve been creating content with a camera for almost 3 years now and I feel others might want advice on how to start, or continue in adventure photography/cinematography. So I’ve come up with 10 tips to becoming a better filmmaker behind the lens and outside of shooting.

1.)  Do it for yourself: No matter what others tell you, or whatever you hear on the internet (ironic I know). Make sure you are doing truly what you want and getting the shots that are unique to you. Nobody likes seeing shots that have been mimicked, break the rules and create your own style of filmmaking.


2.)  Take inspiration: Find other filmmakers that have more experience than you. Watch their work and think how you could better your filmmaking. Usually watching a cool video is enough to get me outside shooting.


Emerald Bay Sunrise3.) Shoot everyday: Take video as seriously as any sport. You have to get out everyday and force yourself to learn something new. If you film at least one clip a day, just trying something different, it can make a huge difference in your filmmaking. If you work hard enough and put enough effort into it, there will be a positive outcome. At the same time have fun, enjoy the moment, and make sure you’re doing it because you have the love and drive to do it.


4.) It takes time: Realize that the first time you pick up a camera you’re not going to be assigned to locations by National Geographic. Take your time, be patient and learn everything possible. Even the best Cinematographers out there are still learning. Again, if you put enough time into it there will be opportunities opening up.


5.) Make connections: Don’t look at other filmmakers as enemies or competition. Reach out to them for help and tips, everyone in this world knows something no one else knows. You could learn from someone else and likewise. Help others that are reaching out to you. Helping someone improve themselves as an artist is a great thing to do.


6.) You’re not the best: Stay humble and know that you have a lot to learn. When someone compliments your work, don’t blow them off. Thank them with the utmost enthusiasm and respect. People remember that, and later on when you’re struggling to get work it’s because word got around that you were disrespectful and full of yourself.


7.) The best shots come at times when you’re not ready: So be ready all the time, I can’t tell you how many great shots I’ve missed because I wasn’t prepared or didn’t have all of my equipment. I can also tell you how fast and sudden a great shot can appear, and when you’re ready it’s going to be a whole lot easier to get. Remember the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. I usually keep my Borealis pack with me at all times just so I don’t miss anything.


8.) Be a half hour early: Be early to any outdoor shoot. That way if the light, subject, or background changes you have time to adjust and rethink the shoot. This also will give you more time to set up and perfect shots.


9.) Look around: When you get to the location that you will be shooting. Take a look around, walk around corners and make sure you’re not missing a better shot.Lake Tahoe at Sunset


10.) Don’t forget the emotion: Tell a story, and don’t forget to include emotion in your shots, shoot what you feel. Record the athlete or subjects emotion as well show the work and pain they are experiencing and it will be a much more compelling shot and edit into a much more interesting story.

Thank you for reading, now set down your device, pick up a camera and go shoot.

– AJ Marino

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