A Reminder to Shoot the B Roll

When I talk with people about writing blogs (either regular blogs or periodic guest blogs) one of the most frequent questions I hear is “where do you find good copyright-released images for your posts?”

In my case, the answer is always: on my computer and my phone.

And, in the case of the squid chips pictured above, in the local Tokyo 7-11 . . . but I digress.

In addition to shooting images for my posts on mountain climbing and Japan, I’m always shooting what cinematographers refer to as “B Roll.” In film and television, “B roll” refers to the shots that bridge the primary action shots – an establishing shot of a building, or the cup of coffee the host is drinking while talking about a special cafe. “B roll” isn’t as glamorous as the primary footage. It’s basically shots of things to support the narrative.

In blogging, “B roll” consists of images that can lead a post that might not have a natural leader image. For example, a post about mentally preparing yourself to start a new project might benefit from a photo of hiking boots (because each journey, even a mental one, begins with a single step…)

If you’re not prepared, you might end up spending longer scouring the Internet for a copyright-released image than you did writing that post in the first place.

On the other hand, if you’re paying attention when you’re getting ready to leave the house, you could always just snap a photo of your own feet in hiking boots . . . and presto!

B Roll. There when you need it.

Anything that’s legal to photograph and attention-grabbing can make an excellent B roll shot. Building a library of images can take time, but if you try to take even two or three shots a week, in a year you’ll have over a hundred interesting images waiting to add spice to any blog.