These tips will help you to enhance the quality of your recorded, on-camera interview. It covers lighting, how an interviewee should be positioned, avoiding distractions, calming nerves, and making the interviewee feel good.
1: The right location
Allow lighting, composition and external noise control to be the most important factors when you and the photographer select the specific interview location.
2: Remove barriers
Don’t feel the need or obligation to place the person behind his or her desk. By removing it as a protective barrier and a symbol of power, you’ll see the difference in his or her demeanor and attitude.
3: Avoid walls
As much as possible, avoid shooting situations where the there’s a wall or other flat surface within two meters behind the person you’re interviewing. It gives the viewers less of a feeling of confinement – they want to know where they are in the environment.
4: Relaxed and casual
There’s no rule that says every person you’re interviewing needs to be sitting in a chair. Ask them to lean or sit partially on a desk or other piece of furniture. It will put them in a more relaxed and casual state of mind.
5: Light, shade and color
Allow the photographer to take advantage of background colors, shades and light levels to enhance the contrast of the picture. For example, someone with dark skin, hair or clothing may photograph better if the background is also darker. Too much contrast makes the camera very unhappy.
6: No swivelling or rocking
If you have the people you’re interviewing sit in a chair, never allow them to sit in a chair that has wheels, that can swivel or that can rock. The person’s nervousness will materialize in telltale movement of the chair.
7: Remove fiddling distractions
Remove any items from within reach of the person – items that he or she could pick up and fiddle with during an interview. Again, it telegraphs to the view that the person is nervous.
8: Empty hands make interview work
Don’t allow them to be holding anything in their hands during the interview, such as a pen, their glasses, coffee or a cigarette (except when there is an overriding reason for it – as in a demonstration or a story about coffee, cigarettes, smoking, etc.).
9: No reference materials allowed
If they want to have notes, books, files or documents in front of them to which they can refer for information, politely ask them to put them somewhere out of reach and assure them that if they absolutely, positively, no-way-around-it need to refer to the materials, you’ll stop the interview so they can refresh their memories. However, it’s best if you tell them to speak only about what they know.
10: Make use of natural light
If the photographer has only one portable light, allow him or her to use the main light from a window to light the subject’s face and the portable light to act as a backlight or hair light.
11: Be prepared to move furniture
Don’t be afraid to open or close drapes or shades, move furniture or remove items from the walls or from flat surfaces to enhance the composition and lighting of the picture.
12: Avoid reflections
If the person is comfortable doing the interview without wearing glasses, consider doing that. It will prevent reflection and glare problems during the interview. No matter how well the photographer plans the picture, the subject of the interview will always shift positions so that the light reflects off the glasses and into the camera lens.
13: Limit distracting noises
Help the photographer by listening for and preventing unwanted noise to make its way into the interview. Ask them to turn off mobile phones, unplug or turn off regular phones, turn off any clocks, fountains, radios, aquarium filter pumps, air conditioners, heaters or refrigerators that can generate any sounds whatsoever. Be aware of pets, birds, activities in adjoining rooms or activities that might take place outside the windows. If there are workers outside with lawn mowers, power tools or other tools that make noise, ask them to take a break during the interview. If children are playing outside, find a way to encourage them to play somewhere else.
14: Shhh, inteview in progress
If you can, put a note on any doors that lead to your interview location. “Shhh. We’re taping an interview. Can you come back later? Thanks!”
15: Limit invites to the party
The optimum number of people in the room on the scene outdoors for an interview is three: the person you’re interviewing, the photographer and you. Do not allow anyone else to be in the room of near the outdoor interview. If any other people must be there, never allow them to be anywhere that the person you’re interviewing can make eye contact with them. You want the viewer to understand that the person on camera is speaking to just one person. If the person you’re interviewing sees other eyes, he or she will politely talk to them also, as if they’re in an auditorium. That’s confusing to the viewer.
16: Keep it natural
Avoid coaching the person before the interview. About the only thing you need to say is that they should not look at the camera – they should be talking to you. Any other coaching or directing will almost always put them in the role of “actor” or “performer” and they’ll feel – and display — even more fear and anxiety. Hone your own interviewing skills so that you can elicit complete sentences and complete thoughts.
17: Thanks the interviewee
At the end of the interview, make certain that you put everything back where it was, close or open window shades or curtains to return them to their original positions, wipe down any surfaces you might have soiled, pick up any tape wrappers or other debris and return the location to exactly as it was before you invaded with your intrusive equipment. No matter how unhappy you were with the interview, tell the person that he or she did a great job and thank them from your heart.