Background Non-participatory video research is useful for observing and analysing interactions between clinicians, patients and technology. However, few clinical nursing studies have used non-participatory video observation and there is limited literature describing the approach. Aim To describe a study that used non-participatory video observation in general practice. Discussion The authors' experience of non-participatory video research methods indicates that the acceptability of the technique, workplace organisation and consultation space have implications for preparation and data collection. Strategies for success include engaging stakeholders early on, obtaining contextual knowledge and piloting the approach. Conclusion Non-participatory video observation is valuable in understanding interactions between nurses and patients in a naturalistic setting. Careful planning is essential to ensure alignment between research aims, context and technology. The methods for analysing data must be chosen carefully to ensure the research question is answered. Implications for practice Video observation provides rich data. Careful planning and engagement of participants is required for successful conduct of studies that use the technique.