freelance videographer illustration

How to start making money as a freelance videographer

An introduction to a freelance videographer job

We are used to dividing people into “technicians” and “humanitarians”. On the one hand, a freelance videographer is an obvious technician. It’s got to be “on you” with video equipment. And these are not only professional cameras, which require some qualifications. A videographer must also be able to work with lighting equipment. It’s a whole set of spotlights, lamps, reflectors.

At the same time, you must be an artist. He should have an excellent spatial imagination, eye and color perception.

A good operator is the rarest combination of “physics” and “lyrics”. Like Leonardo da Vinci.

Besides that, a professional must have several personal qualities: ingenuity, observation, high speed of reaction, the ability to instantly make decisions. On top of that, the operator does not mind good physical training – not always shoot in the pavilions with rails for cameras, most often the equipment on a tripod has to be repositioned by hand.

What are the freelance videographer rates?

To calculate the appropriate cost of their services, it is necessary to evaluate competitors’ prices, their portfolio, and quality of work. Correct and objective drawing up of the price list is a very important factor at the beginning of your career. You should agree that there is hardly a client willing to pay a newcomer to the price list of a professional freelance videographer with years of experience. And a demanded specialist, whose working day is painted in minutes, certainly will not lose his time working “for the idea”.

But a novice cameraman, who has no experience in shooting, may well devote a few weeks or even months to volunteer. Take part in all kinds of projects on a voluntary basis, support interesting ideas of your friends, attend workshops/ seminars and try to make useful contacts with future colleagues. Such activity will help you quickly build a great portfolio and gain valuable experience.

Your first projects do not have to be completely gratuitous. Remuneration may be something insignificant, but it is important for you. The price for work in the very first shooting can be, for example, marketing your services in social networks of the client, so to speak, a mutually beneficial exchange.

What are the freelance videographer prices in the USA?

You can make au much as $400/hour as soon as you get more experience. If you’re just a beginner, you can start at $25/hour.

freelance videographer illustration

What to start with to get a freelance videographer job?

To try yourself in the world of video shooting, you will need not only a camera and a microphone. We tell you about the basic principles of framing, lighting and other aspects of a good video.

To learn how to make videos professionally, you do not have to enter the Faculty of Cameramen at VGIK. You can easily find many short courses on the Internet where you will be taught how to shoot video, but thousands of successful video bloggers did not receive specialized education.

Now you can try yourself as a cameraman, armed with the cheapest smartphone with an acceptable camera: you should at least outline the basic principles of shooting.

No matter what video format you decide to start with – whether it’s an amateur video of a children’s matinee, an interview about the family history with your grandfather or a beauty vlog about the right manicure – the following universal tips, based on the experience of practicing cameramen, will help you organize the shooting process correctly and avoid the most common mistakes that can nullify all your efforts.


Any video starts with an idea. Even if you don’t know how to create a video yet, you should make the idea as clear as possible. Any video, even if it doesn’t involve live characters, is first and foremost an interesting story to tell. You have to understand not only what you want to tell, but also to whom you tell it.

Even the best idea should be framed in a script. In the case of a small amateur project is not necessary to paint all the scenes and dialogues with timekeeping, sometimes it is enough just to keep in mind a whole plan of shooting. But if we are talking about more serious projects aimed at the mass audience – do not do without it.

Shoot a video blog – write your speech in advance, structure it by points and speak out loud before recording. This will avoid unnecessary pauses during the recording, “catch” and rewrite it difficult to pronounce moments and phrases that make it difficult to understand.


If you want to achieve a cinematic effect, to professionalize your video, think about buying a digital camcorder or SLR camera. Don’t save money on lenses – they open up a huge field for experimentation. A good portrait will refresh your video with the “bokeh” effect, while a TV with a powerful zoom lets you shoot live lions in the savannah without any risk to yourself. Even the best skill will not teach you how to shoot video, but with a quality tool, you will learn much faster and more enjoyable.

A good tripod with a video head and a quality microphone is also included in the minimum set for quality shooting. Before each shot, check the free space on the memory card and the battery charge – there’s nothing more frustrating than being with a fully discharged camera in the middle of a shooting day.


Not every shooting budget allows you to build a separate set for each scene or rent a suitable pavilion, but it is not the main thing – you can do fine without them. Take responsibility for the selection of the location, and it will implement any of your ideas.

The frame should be concise and carry only useful information. If you shoot indoors and you have time to prepare – remove all unnecessary things from the frame, move or move objects that interfere with the perception of the main idea. A washable cat in the background can easily overshadow the protagonist, while an unsuitable palm tree looking over his head will bring his hair back to life and turn a serious interview into a comedy.

Chromakey and subsequent post-processing can move the character to any location you want. But even the highest quality computer graphics and color correction will leave a sense of artificiality and unrealism of what is happening on the screen – so do not abuse this technique.

Viewing and framing

Selecting the shooting angle and marking the frame boundaries is the most important element of preparation. This is where you choose how the viewer sees your story. The right angle will focus attention on the important details, and a clear frame will create a boundary to the perception of your directorial vision.

In most cases, when shooting a live character, you should put the camera at eye level. This perspective is as close as possible to your visual experience and helps you “erase” the boundary of the TV screen.

No one prevents you from experimenting even in traditional formats. Try shooting a character from unusual angles, take an extra-large plan and make some unexpected breakthrough. Immerse the viewer in the middle of the action and show them angles they’ll never see in normal life, helping to revive the video sequences and keep them boring during a long monologue.

Leave enough “air” around your characters, especially above your head. People have a “bad” habit of moving around in the frame, changing the position of the body, and the character can suddenly get out of the frame and become a “headless rider”.


Even the brightest lenses can not convey a picture as seen by the human eye, so to shoot quality video most often requires additional sources of lighting. “Darkening” frame is used in rare cases when the author wants to achieve a special dramatic and artistic effect, but most often the viewer wants to see what is happening on the screen, and this requires a lot of light.

Remember, lighting is another full character of your video. Proper use of light accents and shadows will allow you to focus attention on important details and hide the secondary ones. When you’re shooting an interview, try darkening the background and highlighting your character in the foreground – you’ll immediately see how beneficial this will be to your video quality.

You don’t have to spend money on expensive spotlights and movie projectors. For starters, you can easily limit yourself to a round reflector and a pair of flicker-free LED lamps. Do not forget about the sun – the most budget and natural lighting device. It gives soft, natural scattered light, ideal for a quality frame.

When shooting in the wild, don’t try to put your character in the sunlight – it’s better to put him in the shade and illuminate with a foil reflector. Artificial light is much harder to work with – it gives you sharper shadows, too bright highlights and requires much more attention. Please note – artificial light from the ceiling will create bluish shadows under the eyes of the characters, so they will always look awake and tired of life.

The main rule – never take them off against the light! This method is only suitable for the operational shooting of classified witnesses, where their face is hidden in the shadows.


Static video sequences quickly tire the viewer. That doesn’t mean your camera has to keep moving and changing angles, but even the most restrictive formats, like a video business card or a first-person interview, can be brought to life by moving your camera. The more movement you make in the frame, the more “cinematic” your video looks. You don’t need to buy expensive sliders or video screens – you can use video editing software to playback the effect of motion or smooth zoom – you just need to shoot a slightly wider frame in advance so you can use the space for different effects.

And remember, your hands are always shaking. Only the tripod doesn’t shake. If you want to shoot dynamic scenes with the camera moving freely, buy a tripod. You can use the “shaking” camera as an artistic trick, like this.

And this is it! You’re ready to hit the ground running.

Prepare your freelance videographer resume

See the example below. And don’t forget to be creative: remember, your resume must stand out!

template of a freelance videographer resume

Search sites with freelance videographer jobs

And good luck! 🙂


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