Keep yourself aware of the situation, wherever you go. Just as you are always aware that you may take a funny photo or video of yourself or your friends, you may also think of how to capture events or situations that may contribute
to a positive change.

Some basic rules need to be adopted and remembered. This is a short guide for citizen journalists and all that are interested in making photos and videos. Even most experienced professionals make mistakes. Here we will try to list the most important rules and mistakes, that you need to keep in mind at all times. So, let’s skip further introductions and start right away.

When you want to take a photo or a video: Enter the situation.  For us, a good photography or a video is not the technical perfection; it is the subject and the context. And nothing else. Absolutely clear photos or videos do not necessarily mean they are always the best. However, try to avoid the mess in the frame. Throw everything that is not part of your message out of the frame. Get closer or zoom in as needed, or as much as the performance of the device allows it. And, do not forget: stay safe!

Know your camera
It is important to know what you can do with your device, and what its limitations are. Take your time to learn about performances of your camera (phone) and how you can use it for your activities as a citizen journalist.
Hold your camera/phone steady
A steady hand is important, but never give up. You can also buy a small mobile tripod or a selfie stick. You can also use something else to keep your phone steady: a wall, a table, a fence... Stand still, take breath and start taking your video. It is important to get the information, rather than to have a perfect quality shot.
Use the natural light
Avoid using flash. The flash can ruin the details and accuracy that may be important for your story. Moreover, the flash may attract attention that you don’t need for the purpose of your activity. But, use your flash if you have a counter light.
The rule of thirds
The rule of thirds help you frame your shot correctly. You need to imagine your shot as split up into thirds, so you have nine identical segments. Keep important objects while taking your video or photography along these lines or close to the intersections of the lines. Breaking the rule may also bring interesting results.


Empty battery - Make sure your battery is always charged. Charge your batter at the end of the day
and start your day with freshly charged batteries. Power banks are handy. But, they
also need to be charged.
Full memory card - If possible, empty your memory card every day. You may need to consider to have
your material sorted out on daily basis or as often as possible. A reserve memory
card is recommended.
Mixing up the REC and STBY buttons - Huh! Well, yes, it’s the same button. That’s how it may happen that you are recording when you do not want to record and stopping when you want to record. That’s really a slip-up. Take care to always have the right button pressed for the right purpose. Don’t shoot your shoes, you need to take a video of the event.
Excessive zoom/pan
Every camera has limitations, particularly those of the mobile phones. Don’t us the zoom, especially when shooting from a distance. It may result in a blurry image. Same is with the panning. Excessive panning may ruin the footage, even if it’s made with a professional camera.
There’s a lot to say about composition, but for this occasion, for starters, it should be enough to remember not to let too much space above or under the object. Use the Rule of the Thirds. When you are recording an event, it’s best to keep the objects in the middle of the frame, or in and around the second third. Make sure it is clear
what happens.
Turning on effects
Don’t turn any effect on. This may ruin both the quality and the accuracy of what you are documenting.
Date imprint
Shooting with a date imprint on the image/frame is entirely unnecessary. Each digital feature has its metadata, including date and time of creation.
When you are shooting outside, the wind may ruin the sound of your recording. Try to protect your microphone with your body.
Stay focused
You might miss the action because you were shooting something else. You need to stay focused on what you want to document. When you are out there, events will not wait for you. Seconds matter very often. Be there with both your body and mind.

This post is also available in: Macedonian