Full, Medium and Close Up Shots?

Photograph by Donald Tong

What are the key differences between full, medium and close up shots?

A full shot or full body shot is a shot that encompasses the entire body of your subject. It is important to remember with this shot to never cut off your subject’s foot (unless you have a good intentional reason for it) or it will look both accidental and unprofessional.

A medium-full shot is when your subject is cut off somewhere between the knees and the hip, and a medium shot is when you frame at the waist up.

A close shot consists of the chest up, and a close up is when only the subject’s head is in the shot. With close up’s, the shot should be framed to show some of the subject’s neck or shoulders to avoid a “head served on a platter” appearance. When you frame closer, however, cutting off the subject’s chin, forehead or even only show the subject’s eyes, this is referred to as an extreme close up.

How does this apply to over the shoulder shots? Two shots?

These shots directly apply to over the shoulder and two shots (mostly used for conversation between two or more characters).

How do different lenses affect these shots?

Regarding lenses for these shots, there isn’t one correct answer. These types of shots have very little to do with the lens that is being used. For example, a wide 16mm lens can accomplish a medium shot just as well as a 50mm lens.

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