Shot Distances – Close Ups

ACTION! A Hands On Guide for Shooters and Filmmakers.

15 Dec Shot Distances – Close Ups

This week, we’re moving nearer and nearer to our subject to focus on details. At the first of the month, we started with wide angle shots; then we moved into the mid-shot. Today, we’re working with close ups.

Close ups focus on a certain feature or part of the subject that takes up most of the frame. In an interview setting, this typically means focusing on the face. The subjects talking head filling the frame commands the viewer’s attention and draws the viewer in. Below, we’ve taken a frame from our shoot with The Catholic Foundation as an example.


Sometimes videographers use close ups to “punch in” on a subject. In a video, close ups bring viewers closer to the subject to create more intimacy. Imagine speaking to a someone and then leaning in as they continue to talk. Close ups can essentially have this same effect, punching in on the subjects face to create an intimate and engaging feel.


Close ups certainly offer more detail than context. The shot is meant to focus the viewer’s gaze on something detailed and specific. Because faces can show such a wide variety of emotions, close ups tend to work very well with capturing facial expression. We snagged our friend Gavin at Slow Hand Coffee in a melancholy mood.

Just because the close up works well with faces does not mean we that can’t use it in other contexts also. Hands, feet, utensils, you name it–all of these details lend themselves to engaging shots that draw viewers into the story you are trying to tell.

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