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How To Create Attention-Grabbing Vertical Photo & Video Content

With over 1.3M followers on his TikTok and 38K on his Instagram, you could say that photographer and video content creator Jeremy Cohen has cracked the code for making vertical videos that people want to watch. “I enjoy creating content on TikTok and Instagram,” he explains, “because I found that creating short-form videos can be a more compelling way to tell stories.” Cohen, who is also a member of the Sony Alpha Imaging Collective, likes to utilize this way of storytelling to bring even more eyes to his photography work. In this video we sit down with him as he shares his top videos for making better vertical video content.

Sony Alpha Collective member and creator Jeremy Cohen shares his content creations tips for photography and videography.

As a photographer, Cohen notes how it can be frustrating at first to take the leap into video creation content. The algorithm can be so video-centric that as a photography lover it’s just not what it wants to feed you. He took this as an opportunity to find a way for them to coexist. “I took it as, OK, how can I incorporate my work to keep it true to myself still while also being a part of this short form movement. I went into it open-minded and just trying to find a new style for myself within working in short form video and by doing that I kind of found a rhythm, I found a formula for what works for me. And I found it as a really fun and compelling way to tell stories, actually.”

He has different ways that he incorporates his photography into short form vertical videos. “People really like seeing behind the scenes and how something is created,” he explains, “so when I’m working on a photo project I’ll be sure to keep it in the back of my mind to get a little behind-the-scenes video or get something to take a behind-the-scenes video of me photographing whatever moment that is. It can be as simple as that.” Cohen will then put up the behind-the-scenes video connecting to the final results to make it relatable and show where it’s happening.

Shooting Vertical Video

Traditionally filmmakers were brought up creating horizontal video. Now with mobile devices, so much of that has switched to vertical content. Since we’re consuming content vertically, Cohen has started shooting much of his photo and video that way so his work takes up more real estate on the screen. “When shooting vertically, filling up the frame I find to be pretty easy because it’s not as big of a frame as wide so it’s not as much to play with, especially if you’re photographing a person. People are vertical structures so they fit the frame pretty easily. 

What I think of is trying not to have too many mergers in the frame – things like trees sticking out of the back of your subjects head. “The way I do that is just being mindful of the background while I’m photographing subjects, or shooting at a very shallow depth of field. So my advice to you is still shoot horizontal for certain things but when you’re specifically making Reels or TikToks I would definitely be mindful of trying to shoot vertical so you can get the highest quality picture in full frame of the vertical content.”

Shooting Vertical Stills

Cohen’s biggest piece of advice for shooting vertical still photos, especially when making Reels and TikToks, is to create a series of images that are cohesive. Possibly compositionally cohesive or whatever story you're telling cohesive.” He recently did this using the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G lens and photographing the eyes of runners in the New York Marathon, resulting in a cohesive story.

Just. Keep. Creating.

The thing about Reels and TikToks that Cohen wants creators to know is that any of your videos can change your life. “It takes one person to see your work to change your whole career path, so keep creating, keep putting stuff out there. Do it at your own pace and do what you enjoy. Stay true to yourself.”

You can find more of Jeremy Cohen’s work on TikTok @jeremycohen and Instagram @jermcohen.

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