CLOSE-UP… With Patrick Stephens

As a State, National, and International Executive Director of Pageants, I have had the rare privilege of meeting the people that make the final product worth the wait.    From lighting directors, to set designers, choreographers, hosts,  writers, photographers, and videographers, it’s their special talents and expertise  that I most appreciate working with.     My guest this month is a videographer whose innate talent takes the audience, the viewer, on a journey beyond where one expects to go.   And when we go back to watch the videos months, and even years later, everything about that memory comes to life, with all the meaningful moments captured as memories to treasure forever.   So, once again, relax and enjoy my conversation in a CLOSE-UP… With Patrick Stephens.


How did you your love for capturing moments as a videographer begin?   Was there a prior journey that brought you to this moment?


I think the love for being behind the camera was in me since I was young. My father turned his hobby of film making (yes, film – 16mm and 8mm) into passionate storytelling and training films. He produced the first 16mm training film to teach the intellectual and physically challenged how to swim as part of his employment in the State Developmental Hospital system. Ironically, swimming and just being in the water, is my happy place. 


High School was not so easy for me. I struggled to concentrate through my education at the private all boys high school in Anaheim, California, Servite High School. It was during my senior year, that the administration saw an opportunity to give me a purpose (and to remain on good terms with the Dean of discipline); to record the football games used later to review for training purposes. I was forced to concentrate and think by securing the best location, finding power, changing out tapes, not missing plays, and returning the equipment as I found it. By having a purpose, I then volunteered to film for the soccer and water polo teams (when I was not in the water playing.) Twenty-three years later, I have turned my hobby into a fun and successful business that continues to bring smiles, turn heads, and allowed me to develop friendships and professional relationships with people all over the world. 


What was it about this line of work that you found exciting or satisfying … or perhaps challenging?


The most exciting part of event videography for me, is going LIVE. When you flip the switch (click the mouse) to go live, everything changes for me and I am in the zone. Its game time. The margin for error is small and all eyes are on me. I have to talk to my camera operators, communicate with the house, and depending on my crew size I must operate graphics, video roll-ins, audio controls and camera switching. When I am behind the camera of a live production, I enjoy the freedom and creativity of a mobile camera. Nothing tells a story better than an operator in the middle of it all with eyes and ears in the scene and close to the action. 


As a Pageant Videographer, I know you’ve worked with women of all ages from around the world.  Is there one thing in particular that you look for, or perhaps that you envision, as your creation of the final product?


There are several micro films, or video roll-ins that are produced for a live pageant or for marketing highlights that I find most enjoyable to produce. There are short windows of time for a small crew to capture these moments and edit them during pageant week for the prelims or final coronation. At a national and international competition level, I enjoy gathering the reigning queens for one last on location farewell video. They have traveled from all parts of the world to gather one more time to be together. Let’s make the best of it and complete their journey where they earned the crown. A song is chosen sometimes months in advance and yes, I obsess about it; listening to it nearly every day up until production day. I have every shot and scene storyboarded and perfected in my head and then it gets transferred to paper for a second by second shot list. I listen to the message that the pageant director gives the year they were crowned and create an energetic and creatively shot final product that reflects their passion or journey. The bottom line – there is not much time to get this all done. Budgets can be tight, but that does not limit where my mind can go. 


When not working in “pageant land”, your creative talent is also working on different projects and locations.    Tell us what your “checklist” is when taking on a project.    


The most important thing for me to know when going into a project is to have an understanding of what the strategic message is; to know what story the client wants to tell. This will help me check the right boxes for gear, crew and the creative thinking cap for the project. From a talking head interview, boxing match, football game, corporate, and government video to pageantry, there is a message to be given. I tend to be a little extra prepared when on location even with the non-video related supplies. I bring plenty of water, snacks, proper shoes and an extra set of clothes. Sometimes a location shoot can lead to an adventure that you definitely want to be prepared for.


What advice would you give us, the reader, who would like to create some memorable family videos?


Making family and vacation videos for me may be a little different than the average person. The basics still pertain when just using a phone and a drone like on my last vacation on a 7-day canal cruise in England. There are a few basics that I consider the most important. Telling a good cohesive story and having good audio are the ingredients to an enjoyable video. If you are putting together B-roll, shots that do not contain a person talking on camera, choose a nice music track that accompanies your message to edit your video to. When using your phone or DSLR camera to capture someone talking, try to get as close to the subject as possible, maintaining a medium close up shot. Audio can make or break a video. Compose your shots with the basic methods of starting out wide, go in for medium shots and then go to close ups and detail shots.  Using simple editing software will enhance your final product. Products like Adobe Rush can be a nice alternative to many other free products available on the App Store and Google Play such as Splice or Moviemaker. Look for a highly rated program that is compatible with your mobile device if that is your primary hardware for editing.   


I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at  (909) 286-4348.  My website is


Lynda Samuels