Capture usable interviews using your iPhone

You carry a fantastic storytelling tool on your person every single day. So let’s arm you with a few technical and practical interviewing tips to capture amazing impromptu interviews.

Camera Settings

  1. No digital zoom – shoot in the widest zoom setting that your phone has. When you zoom in you lose out on all that pixel goodness that Apple has given you.
  2. Exposure/focus lock – Use exposure and focus lock to keep your phone from searching and focusing on other details within the frame during the interview.
  3. Airplane mode – Engage airplane mode before you hit the record button. Sucks to get calls or texts during an interview.


  1. Horizontal – Only shoot horizontal or “landscape.” Vertical video is not useable. When we have verticle televisions, I will redo this post.
  2. Steady Eddie – Hold the camera steady and at your subjects eye level or slightly above.
  3. Rule of thirds – Here is a good video on overall composition
  4. Handles – Let each of your shots have a little extra time at the start and end. It will give the editor more possibilities in the edit. Handles.


  1. Indoors – If you’re shooting indoors, position your subject facing a window and use the sun.
  2. Outdoors – Look for a light-colored wall that you can use as a giant bounce card for your subject.
  3. Shade – Harsh overhead lighting is not flattering. Look for a shaded area to place your subject.


  1. Close – Pull your subject as close to the camera as possible (without looking like your up their nose). Your audio will sound so much better.
  2. “Show me the money” – Do not try to hide distracting background sounds. Position your subject so your audience can see the noise in the background. It becomes a part of your story.
  3. Rest assured, as soon as you begin shooting all leaf blowers will start along with you.

Performing the interview

  1. Three minutes max – Do not shoot for over 3 minutes per question. Your arms will get tired holding that iPhone up. In between questions, let your arms rest.
  2. Asking for help – If possible, enlist someone to ask your questions just off of your shoulder as you hold the iPhone. Your subject will be more comfortable talking to a person rather than a phone.

In the end, a compelling interview happens because we are interested in a person and their story. Plus, a little homework before hitting the record button can undoubtedly help. That’s for another post.

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