When did you first hear the phrase "acting for the camera?" And if that's hard to bring up, how about what you changed because of those four words?
Acting for the camera is a misleading statement for some actors. Misleading because you can't affect, impress or cause any effect on a camera so why act for it? If you want to affect a camera, take the batteries out or smear the lens.
How about acting for yourself? Many actors engage in this fruitless activity onstage. This is like laughing at your own joke. My question is why? If you want to impress yourself with your acting, stay home and work with the mirror, as you are your audience. And there is the key ingredient in all acting- audience.
Actors act to affect an audience. Yet, as an actor you can begin to think you are to act for the camera or yourself and not the audience. As a result, acting for the camera makes actors too aware of the camera, and acting for yourself makes you only aware of you. Both of these can cause such an actor to fear the camera or an audience who isn't being cooperative. This apprehension affects an actor's performance.
Creating an effect on a person or many people is an entirely different matter. People can be affected, made to feel or think something. This is the real actors’ job - creating a strong impression on an audience of any number.
Actors' job is to tell a character story to and for the audience. As for the camera, it records this character story for an audience to be affected. You also record what is going on as you gain experience. The camera or your ego are not the targets, the audience is.
Do you ever hear about acting for a theater audience as opposed to a casting audience? Both audiences must be affected.
So the correct phrase should be, not "acting for the camera", but "acting for your audience, whether or not a camera or a full house is there". That may be a bit wordy but you get the idea. Get your ego and anything else out of the way that comes between you and the best performance you can dish up. Simply realize that acting is for, and only for, an audience. People can be touched, moved or affected if your character story is strong.
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