Medium Close Up: A Key Shot for Filmmakers and Photographers - B&C Camera

The medium close-up shot perfectly showcases characters within films, as it displays them from their chest or shoulders up to the crown of their head. It's an ideal balance between being slightly wider than a close-up and closer than a medium shot, though those exact boundaries are not precise in any particular case.

How to Use a Medium Close Up Shot

There are often fewer visual elements when shooting with medium close-ups than when utilizing wider shots. Use this to your advantage by carefully placing essential items in the center of the frame and giving them extra emphasis. This can be a person's face to emphasize their expression or reaction, or it could be a prop. Regardless, you will draw viewers' attention directly where you want it most!

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Character's Face

A wider shot size captures a character's environment and body language more precisely, while the medium close-up pays attention to smaller details such as facial expressions. This type of shot implies body language by including portions of the upper part of their bodies in focus, all while magnifying subtle nuances on the actor's face.


By capturing a medium close-up, filmmakers can incorporate extra emotional weight or narrative purpose into the image. Because fewer elements are visible in this shot compared to wider angles, each element has a more significant impact and relevance when emphasizing what is happening with the character. This highly effective technique lets you get up close and personal with your characters while communicating with their environment.



Combining a medium close-up with other shot sizes in the edited film can emphasize an important scene moment. For instance, by filming two people participating in a dialogue from a wider angle (such as a medium long shot) and then cutting to an image of one character up close, you can emphasize what they are saying or how they are reacting to something another said. This creative editing technique helps draw the viewer's attention and adds more emotion to the story-telling process.

Related article: What is Emphasis in Photography

The Medium-Close is an essential shot – one that evokes emotion without being manipulative and one that gives information without expository. For me, it's the perfect shot!

Be sure to read "Insert Shot: How to Get Shots That are Important for a Movie" next to help you with your filmmaking journey.


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Related article: Insert Shot: How to Get Shots That are Important for a Movie


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