5 Tips on How to Shoot Content that Looks Authentic

There's a certain look in photos and footage that advertising agencies are drawn to. To keep it simple, they search for that "authentic look" in the content that they source out. Getting that authentic aesthetic in your photos and videos is easier than you think. We've put together some crucial tips for you to try out!

Here are 5 tips on how to start shooting this authentic aesthetic in your photos and videos

1. Try out Prime lenses

Try shooting with a prime lens to make your subjects appear sharper and more cinematic. Prime lenses provide a fixed focal length instead of zooming options. Why would you want that? Well, due to this fixed focal length, your background environments will always be blurred out, while your subject remains in focus. This is how photographers and filmmakers achieve that sharp, movie-like vibe in their shots. 

It's no surprise that film cameras are coming back! The most popular prime lenses used today are 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm. 

In comparison, zoom lenses offer more focal lengths to account for. This means there is more room for image distortion and fuzziness. A zoom lens is definitely a great option when you need to achieve different focal lengths with ease. Simply put, prime lenses are fun and easy to master and give you that crispy image quality that you've been searching for.

5 Tips on How to Shoot Content that Looks Authentic_try out prime lenses

2. Establish a feel with angles

Different camera angles exhibit different moods. It's up to you to decide on the many elements included in your shots, and portraying a tone through angles should be an important decision.

Do you want your audience to feel connected to your subject? Shoot at an eye-level shot. This shot replicates the intimacy when individuals see eye-to-eye. Another shot that portrays closeness is the over-the-shoulder shot. Commonly found in scenes where two individuals are talking to each other, this shot establishes an eye line and allows you to experiment creatively through storytelling.

If you want to make your subject appear unguarded, vulnerable, or small, shoot from above. On the other hand, if you want to make your subject appear mighty, dominant, or influential, shoot from below. 

Another popular angle that provides an authentic feel is the Dutch angle/tilt. Simply tilt your camera to one side to make your frame not leveled. Unusual and unsettling, this angle tends to draw viewers into feeling the dramatics of a shot. 

5 Tips on How to Shoot Content that Looks Authentic_establish a feel with angles

3. Lighting is important

The art of good lighting is an important one when it comes to authentic-looking content. Light can dramatically impact the overall feel and atmosphere of your photos and footage. 

The two main types of lighting you should familiarize yourself with are hard lighting and soft lighting. Hard lighting provides an edgy and gritty feel to your shots while soft lighting provides a dream-like vibe. 

Hard lighting requires compact artificial light sources. The more compact the light is, the harsher and brighter the lighting becomes. The goal of hard lighting is to achieve very distinct shadows that supply a high-contrast scene. 

Experimenting with lighting to achieve that "authentic look" can be inexpensive and super enjoyable. You don't need crazy expensive studio lights to set the right mood. There are a bunch of affordable color-changing and LED lights available on popular retailer sites like Amazon. 

Soft lighting often requires a larger source of light. Don't have access to large studio softboxes? No problem. The sun is the #1 source of soft lighting, especially during an overcast day. Placing your subject next to a bright window can also help diffuse the light to give off the perfect soft lighting. 

The use of neon signs for soft, multi-colored lighting is a crowd favorite for the edgy tones often provided. Take a stroll with a friend throughout the city and see what window shops you score with pretty fluorescent lighting!

5 Tips on How to Shoot Content that Looks Authentic_have fun with color grading

4. Have fun with color grading

Who doesn't love experimenting with colors? Colors directly affect your mood, so in turn, they directly affect the tone of your photos and footage. Muted and vivid color grading is often depicted in authentic-looking content.

A muted palette often creates realistic, peaceful, dull, and subdued environments. Think of grayed-out blues and purples. 

A vivid palette can push a more cinematic, youthful, and moody presence. Think of bright yellows and juicy oranges.  

When adjusting the temperature of your shots, use more yellow tints to achieve a warmer mood, and use more blue tints to achieve a colder frame of mind.

In the long run, color grading has no rules and is simply there to allow you to show off your artistic decision-making. Adjust the values of your luminance, hues, and saturation until you achieve the palette that you desire.

5. Research and study other work

Taking inspiration from other pieces of art should never be frowned upon. After all, all art is a mixture of different elements taken from other pieces of art.

The best way to study the composition of cinematic photos and videos? Plainly watch your favorite tv shows, films, and music videos. Pin down the elements you enjoy and start taking notes. Break it down and always ask, "How did they achieve that look?"

Write down and explain the angles, lighting, and color grading chosen in each composition. Use these explanations as inspiration- do some online research and get to shooting! 

5 Tips on How to Shoot Content that Looks Authentic_research and study other work


To achieve an authentic look in your photos and videos, you need to start paying attention to all the little details. Be ready to dive yourself into the process of experimenting, failing, and learning. The more you practice calculating the elements of your shots, soon enough it will become second nature to you. In conclusion, to achieve the authentic aesthetic in your content you'll need to focus on the type of lens you shoot, angles, lighting, and color grading. The best source of inspiration to shape your look around is the pieces of art you genuinely enjoy.

You can easily practice manipulating elements using our library of free stock photos and videos on Dissolve Creators (no sign-up required!)

When you've shot some content that you're willing to share, create a profile and share it with our community of creators. Get your work seen by an array of photographers, filmmakers, graphic designers, and illustrators. Creating a profile is easy and free- so what are you waiting for? Sign up here.



Posted by Dissolve

Dissolve Premium (dissolve.com) has been the go-to for quality stock footage and photos by the world's top creative agencies and production houses. Some of the best filmmakers and stock producers from around the world are with Dissolve — our rapidly growing collection of unique, compelling footage is a testament to that. In addition to our quality stock footage and photography business, we launched Dissolve Creators (dissolve.com/creators/community). A platform for photographers, filmmakers, producers, and designers to connect and share their work as free downloadable content. We offer these creatives (amateur or pro) a bridge to our clientele, gig opportunities, networking opportunities, as well as our knowledge of the stock industry.

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