Axel Rothe - Cinematographer (Kameramann) / Colorist - Leipzig, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt

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How to use Pinterest for Preproduction in Cinematography

The Question

"Hi Axel,

I remember a while back you mentioned Pinterest was your favorite source for reference images. 

I'm a bit new to Pinterest – do you mind sharing what you find are effective search terms? Do you browse generally, not looking for anything in particular? Or do you have success finding very specific scenes like INT gym night as an example. 


I like using Vimeo, but it's tough to find specific locations if it's not from a video I've already seen and saved from a prior date. "

– Ryan Sherwood

The Answer

Pinterest is a little tricky to get behind. Most only know it as that app that their significant other uses to find new cupcake recipes. And while those are generally some great lactose free all vegan cupcakes with gluten free chocolate topping, Pinterest can be pretty much anything you want it to be.

Pinterest is not very good at finding specific things, since most images are not tagged well. But what Pinterest is amazing at is finding and recommending visually similar images. So what you need to do is get a kick start of your preferred visual style. Find something that you like. If you need some help check out my profile and just pin some of my pins to your board.

The app is best here. Open the app and it will recommend images based on what you already pinned. Tap an image and it will recommend images that are visually similar. Tap one of them and off you go down the rabbit hole. Tapping away and pinning for hours.

It’s a lot about doing this every now and then, because new images appear and each pin influences what you get recommended.

Pro Tip: You can select a portion of an image and find something that appears similar. Great for finding more specific images.

I tend to have several boards I pin my stuff to. General post that I find interesting are pinned to “Inspiration”, and then I have specific boards for each scene type: INT, EXT, Day or Night.

That way when a client wants a certain style I can sift through my pins and make a moodboard pretty easily and efficiently. After a while of using Pinterest it will represent your taste and style – be sure to not use the account for anything else though! You don’t want woodworking or cooking DIY tips cluttering up your perfectly honed Pinterest wall.

I see Pinterest as one of the many tools for preproduction. I often will send Vimeo Links to clients, because I want to show them a certain camera movement or color grading style. Pinterest is great for reference work when it needs to be a little more specific, since there is way more material.

Another interesting thing I have recently discovered is that the Instagram app offers a new feature that is to save posts for later review. This is great and I have been starting to save images I really like as reference images. You can’t save the images to your device, but it’s still nice to have them in case you are standing next to the director and need to show him a certain idea you have.

Follow me on Pinterest or Instagram to get a kick start on your reference catalog.

I love answering questions you guys send me. Feel free to drop in and ask me anything.