An Open Letter To The People Filming Sermons


First off, kudos on your ability to use a camera. My mom and siblings bought us a video camera almost 7 years ago. When I was pregnant with Graham. I have 19 useable minutes of footage. Apparently, I cannot learn which flashing light is pause and which one is record. But if anyone ever needs b-roll of me talking about random things or reminding people to be quiet during an important event, we’ve got hours of that. What we don’t have: our son’s first everything.

Secondly, I appreciate what you do. I am thankful that I can view such great messages from all over the world while I fold the laundry, meet up with fellow mommies, or sit in my LifeGroup smack dab in the middle of this fine country.

But we need to talk about the panning. And the close-ups.

When I go to a game, I watch the game. I watch the scoreboard. I look around to see who wears the same jersey. I feel a bit sorry for the folks in the wrong colors…poor souls at an away game. I people-watch.

When I’m at church, I watch the Pastor. That’s it. I focus and try my hardest not to be distracted by the occasional highschooler who is goofing off in the obligatory youth section up front. I keep my eyes on the prize. I’m not a looky loo, glancing up into the balcony.

So why are you constantly panning? Showing the congregation? Here I am, minding my own business. Filling in all those blanks and taking good notes. And you pan away from Pastor to show me random strangers.

“He has a great fauxhawk.”
“I love her earrings. I wonder where she got them.”
“That chick looks like a brunette Drew Barrymore! Does she get that all the time? How could she not?”

I have no idea what the teacher just said. Literally, couldn’t tell you one word. Because you panned across the audience, like a kiss cam looking for the next couple who will go viral. You know the ones. He is ignoring her, so someone else kisses her. Or he proposes and she says no. Or they go to kiss and the drunk guy behind them throws up. Everywhere.

And the close-ups. I don’t understand why we are zooming in on a woman concentrating on the message. Seems ironic. Or a couple giving a playful punch to the shoulder during one of those awkward preacher jokes about how long it takes your spouse to get ready in the morning. Or a poignant shot of someone crying. Or someone feverishly flipping through gilded onionskin pages.

I’m sure film school, which I obviously didn’t attend, says all of this is artistic and desirable behavior on your part. But to the people-watchers like me, it’s the equivalent of having an ice cream truck show up during your cardio dance fitness class.

Let’s not even start on the shots looking down on the pulpit. I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. Or we’re filming for Hitchcock. Or I’m a ghost.

They don’t hand out Dove Awards for Best Cinematography During An 8 Part Series. Therefore, I am begging you to keep the camera on the person delivering the message.

But I find it highly unlikely that this practice of panning and zooming and choosing a diverse group of individuals will stop.

So, I’m asking a special favor. Because I may be able to train myself in certain scenarios to stay focused. But only if you avoid showing interesting infinity scarves, perfect eyebrows, and anyone who resembles anyone I’ve ever seen before at any given time in my 32 years walking this planet.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours truly,
Lady Who Is Distracted By Lipstick And Eyes That Look Anything Like Lenny Kravitz’s

(Photo credit)

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One thought on “An Open Letter To The People Filming Sermons

  1. Amber says:

    If they must show something else, pretty (but not super distracting) shots of an applicable slide is helpful. Or move from the speaker’s right to their left. But otherwise I agree. If I’m bored, I can stare at something away from the TV.


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