I travel the world for a living, making videos of the places I visit, people I meet and experiences I get to have. These videos inspire people of all ages and races to go out and explore this beautiful planet for themselves.

Some of the most common questions I get about my job are surrounding the video making process itself: What cameras do I use? How do I edit my videos? How am I so comfortable on camera? They’re great questions, and they lead to an important starting point in taking your own travel video skills to the next level.

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Kristen Sarah on location in Newfoundland for a video shoot © Hopscotch the Globe

What cameras do I use?

Visual storytelling is my business, so having top gear is important to me. My camera collection is constantly evolving as new tech is released. I’m currently shooting with a Sony A7SII, Sony RX100V, Go Pro Hero 5, Osmo+ and DJI Phantom 4. The lenses I use on my A7SII are the FE 85mm F1.8, FE 16-35mm F4 and FE 24-70 F4.

This may sound like a lot, but it’s also not necessary to have all this gear to make good travel videos. There are many affordable cameras out there that will help you do the job well. Many people buy great cameras and never take the time to learn what they’re capable of.

I would suggest mastering a cheaper camera before investing in something more high tech and expensive. I would also suggest making good audio a priority over picture quality. I would much rather watch a video in standard definition with great audio than high definition picture with poor audio. If the camera you are using has the capability to attach an external microphone, I would highly recommend purchasing one. I am currently using a Shure VP83 LensHopper Shotgun Microphone which creates excellent audio quality. It’s also very compact, making it easy to take on the road. I also have a Zoom H4N Handy Recorder which I use for voiceovers. If your camera doesn’t have a external mic input, you can still use your internal mics, but purchasing mic muffs will make a huge difference when shooting outdoors. The mic muffs helps control any wind interference. 

How do I edit my videos?

There are several options for video editing software. If you use a Mac, there’s an editing program called iMovie already installed onto your computer. This program will allow you to do very basic edits – combining a variety of clips in a meaningful way to tell your story is the essence of creating videos, and this will get you there.

If you want more room to play and get creative, I’d recommended Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. I’ve used both, but prefer Final Cut Pro, which I’ve been using for the past 12 years. I would suggest signing up for a free trial for both programs. That way you can get the feel of how each works and choose which one you feel more comfortable with before purchasing.

How do I keep viewers engaged?

Engagement is key when creating any type of video content. If you can’t keep your viewers engaged, they will stop tuning in. So, how can you keep them watching? I always make sure to get a variety of shots when out filming. This means close-ups, mid-shots and wide shots of the same subjects along with pans and tilts. Movement is important for keeping viewers engaged, so I don’t use a tripod very often. I think movement in the frame keeps viewers watching because it’s more stimulating than a static shot. Pacing is also important to consider. I like to keep the shots I use in the final edit short and sweet rather than long and lagging.

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Sarah and Hopscotch partner Siya Zarrabi © Hopscotch the Globe

Where do I share my videos? 

There seems to be a new video-sharing platform introduced to the world every week. While I’ve experimented with several, YouTube and Facebook are my main and most engaged platforms. While Facebook is great for view count and gaining new eyeballs, YouTube is all about community. My YouTube audience is made up of a dedicated following who have been watching my content for the past five years. For me, YouTube is the most important because building a community number is my top priority.

Those who tune each week to watch my videos are just as much a part of Hopscotch the Globe as I am. They are the reason I keep creating video content. I also embed every video onto my blog Hopscotch the Globe (HopscotchTheGlobe.com). Everything I create, whether it’s videos, photos or written content, lives on my blog. I think it’s important for any type of creator to have a blog because other social media platforms aren’t as reliable and may not stick around forever.

How am I so comfortable on camera?

Being comfortable on camera isn’t something that came easy to me. Rewind to about 12 years ago when I was extremely nervous while recording a video for a college application. I had to tell everyone in my house to leave because I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone hearing me record. I was THAT nervous being in front of the camera.

Today, I am more comfortable in front of the camera than speaking face to face with an actual human. This comfort came with A LOT of practice and patience with myself. The more I filmed myself on camera, the more relaxed I came across on camera. I even forced myself to vlog in highly populated areas where I knew people would stop and watch. Although this made me uncomfortable at first, it really helped me to learn not to care what others think.

A real turning point for me was when I realized the importance of being myself on camera and not trying to copy others. As soon as I taught myself this, I started to shine and my business really took off.

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Getting comfortable with your video platform is key © Hopscotch the Globe

Keep working at it

I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error over the years to get to where I am today. If you’re serious about creating travel videos for a hobby or a living, I’ve created “The Art of Travel Vlogging” video course with travel vlogger Nadine Sykora and the travel blogger Nomadic Matt. This course gives you pointers on how to create world-class travel videos and succeed on YouTube.

Everyone who creates starts from nothing and builds there way up. Keep doing what you love, learning all you can and success will follow.

Discover Lonely Planet Video, your home for travel videos featuring content from globetrotting filmmakers.

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