Bill Nichlos identifies six modes of documentary films: poetic, expository, participatory, observational, reflexive and performative.
Cinematography/videography is an art of thinking in picture, writing in movement and filmmaking. Camera is the main medium that takes first place in filmmaking.
In my classes, when I talk about a film/video production, the main purpose is the images and camera position in mechanical and mental way, and my first impression is how the film is recorded and the minds – director and cameraperson – behind that medium.
In this way I see the visible camera character in any films and not the words.
The character of a camera has two interdependent parts:
Mechanical position: The camera movements like panning, tilting, craning, tracking, Steadicam etc.
Mental position: The Framing and aspect ratio: Close shot, long shot, Medium Shot, Panavision, wide screen etc.
Camera angle: Low angle shot, high angle shot, fish’s eye view, bird’s and worm’s eye view etc.
Both parts give a visible personality of camera:
Camera has a neutrals view like Science and Natural documentaries, newsreel (without any manipulation), educative, informative and history films.
Camera is dynamic and active in different ways: judgmental, participant, attached, responsible, dedicated, intimate, interactive, curious, etc.
Try to be your own camera. Visualize your thoughts and move your body as a camera moves. With each movement, you would be able to understand the feeling how a camera observes its environment. But there is a big problem with our eyes! Our eyes are not able to make any medium and close shot.
To solve this natural weakness we can create a virtual world by closing our eyes. In this was we are able to fantasize whatever we wish to see.
Those virtual imaginations are the most important ability of a camera.