The Power of Solo Videography in Capturing Intimate Stories

MargoReed MargoReed

The Power of Solo Videography in Capturing Intimate Stories
The Power of Solo Videography in Capturing Intimate Stories

Whether I'm working alone or with an educated team, the goal of any video project remains the same: to tell compelling, authentic stories through the powerful medium of video. Each project is a learning experience, where I collaborate with clients — who are the real subject matter experts on whatever the project is aiming to capture — at the beginning to tell an authentic story. But most importantly, each project presents an opportunity to create something meaningful that resonates with viewers. Whether it’s an oral history video or a documentary video series, the same tenants ring true.

Embracing the One-Woman Band Approach

Working solo on a project, especially something as delicate as an oral history video, is a decision that comes with both challenges and unique advantages. For starters, the solo work comes mostly in the production phase of a piece. Before going out to film, it’s up to me to consult experts on accuracy of the story and guidance from the main character and client. The decision to film solo is often driven by the nature of the story. For intimate narratives, particularly those addressing or about a single person, the presence of a smaller, more discreet setup is beneficial. This approach fosters a tight-knit atmosphere that can make subjects feel more comfortable, leading to a more candid and personal narrative—something that larger crews might struggle to achieve.

This was my approach when I was commissioned by the Philadelphia Inquirer to create a mini-documentary series about Villanova’s Maddy Siegrest. And it was the same approach I used for my oral history project about Richard Schlegel and his farm. That project helped list the entire town on the National Historic Register, protecting it from development long into the future. For both, I was able to weave together stories with a personal touch. Ultimately, the stories are solely told by the subject, but they are crafted through my lens with historical context provided by experts. This method not only allowed me to maintain a documentary-style feel but also gave me the flexibility to adapt the storytelling as the project evolved.

Pros and Cons of Solo Videography


  • Intimate Storytelling: Working alone, I can create a space where subjects feel more at ease, sharing their stories more openly. For instance, when I was working on a piece about Floridalia Lozano, who has battled a rare bone cancer for most of her 20’s, the one-on-one discussions we had as young women lead to a much more efficient production, and more comfortable experience for Lozano.

  • Relationship Building: This setup allows me to build a closer rapport with my subjects, which often leads to more depth in the narratives captured. For example, while filming Villanova’s Basketball team playing at the Big East Tournament in 2022, I was invited behind the scenes with the team. It was an easy switch to make without a production crew because there was only one person (me) to gain trust with the team. A crew of 2 or 3 people would have meant the need to build more trust.
  • Flexible Storytelling: If I’m not coordinating with a larger team, I can make spontaneous decisions that adapt to the flow of the narrative or the environment. I filmed the Zabala family’s project 24 hours after booking it on the day before Thanksgiving because I wasn’t battling a crew’s schedule. 


  • Single Camera Angle: While this can be a limitation, it challenges me to think creatively about how to use the camera to capture the essence of the story.
  • Audio/Video Monitoring: Managing both video and audio alone increases the risk of missing critical issues during shoots. On larger teams, these would be handled by multiple people. On a solo team, it can be risky and challenging.
  • Limited Scheduling Flexibility: Solo projects often mean tighter schedules since all pre-production, shooting, and post-production are on one person's shoulders. Oftentimes photographers and videographers are juggling multiple projects at any given time.

When to Choose a Team

While the solo approach has its charm and benefits, larger productions often necessitate a team. This is especially true for projects that aim for a cleaner, cinematic or commercial feel, where the intricacies of sound, lighting, and multiple camera angles come into play.

The video above is a project I worked on in New Orleans, LA back in 2023 when a solo approach would have been near impossible.


  • Cleaner Footage and Sound: More hands on deck mean more opportunities to catch and fix issues on the spot. 
  • Broader Scheduling Options: With more people, we can cover more ground and handle more complex scheduling needs.
  • Refined Pre-Production Meetings: More minds contribute to a richer brainstorming process, leading to a well-rounded final product.


  • Increased Coordination: More people involved requires more organization and management, which can complicate logistics.
  • Less Personal Interaction: With a larger crew, maintaining that intimate atmosphere can be more challenging.

Striking the Right Balance

In videography, understanding when to deploy a one-person team versus a full crew is crucial. Each project has its unique demands and audience, and the method of capture should reflect that. For personal, intimate stories, I've found that working alone allows me to connect deeply with the subject and the essence of their narrative. For larger, more commercial projects, a team approach ensures that every aspect of the production is polished and precise.

Whether I'm working alone or with a talented team, the goal remains the same: to tell compelling, authentic stories through the powerful medium of video. Each project is a learning experience, a chance to refine skills, and, most importantly, an opportunity to create something meaningful that resonates with viewers.


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