FINDING A GOOD CINEMATOGRAPHER
Thinking about hiring a videographer or filmmaker? Caution: this can make a big difference to your photos.
We honestly never get tired of hearing the reasons why our clients book us. Sometimes it’s simple (“My cousin hired you years ago and I’ve been planing on hiring you ever since!”), sometimes they find us online through recommendations or a Google search. Sometimes it’s purely personality driven: we like to have fun, and we often connect with strangers in the first moments of a meeting. But for the most part it involves something to do with our style, with the emotion we see, with the candid moments we seek out and capture. That’s why we love what we do, and that’s what we strive to create with every client’s day.
For that reason, we find it hugely important to think carefully about what kind of videography you choose for your wedding day. We’ve found that videographers can mostly fall under three categories:
THE PAPARAZZI TEAM.
This is our least favorite, and it usually is the kind of videography that is booked last-minute, almost as an afterthought. While our style is based on a mostly documentary approach, allowing real moments to unfold and be documented (with some limited posed portraits), a paparazzi style videography team will literally be that: a team of people, swarming around you, staging “events” and inserting themselves into every aspect of your day in order to create a full length movie. (In our worst experience of this, the team wasn’t even using professional grade cameras, requiring them to be no more than a few steps away from the bride and groom the entire day.) Not only is this seriously irritating for everyone involved, it ends up restricting our abilities as documentary photographers and changing the style in which we usually work.
THE HUGE TRIPODS AND STADIUM LIGHTS.
Despite amazing leaps in camera technology in the past ten years, many videographers are still operating under the assumption that to film a wedding an enormous tripod and blinding stadium lighting is necessary. While tripods are sometimes a necessity, one with a six foot stance isn’t. Ever. (Can you say “trip hazard” for your guests?) Giant lighting in your reception can ruin the ambiance you’ve planned and designed, and is also completely unnecessary. Make sure you discuss this with your videographer in advance to be sure you can expect a realistic portrayal of your wedding and venues. While slightly better than the Paparazzi Team, this kind of videography generally doesn’t help us much with the way we work. We prefer the ambiance of the reception the way it’s supposed to be, and we try to minimize our presence by avoiding giant tripods.
Ahh, now this one we love to work with on wedding days! We love videographers who see weddings the same way we do: as an important, amazing, beautiful, emotional day, where the couple is the most important part. Generally videographers like this will present themselves as “film makers”, and stress the importance of candid moments, standing back for most of the day while it unfolds, and posing a few individual moments as needed for the film. Sound familiar? We’ve found that we are able to weave a delicate and friendly dance with videographers who also understand that they aren’t the raison d’être for a wedding day, allowing both of us to create our respective art without stepping on any toes or causing problems for each other. This is a win for us, a win for them, but especially a win for you.
We’ve also found that Artists tend to have their final product be a "highlight reel" (a short film similar to an extended music video), rather than a 3 hour movie of the entire day. Honestly, how often will you watch a 10 minute video? How often will you sit down for longer-than-most-movies DVD? If you’re even hesitating for a moment, stop. You’ll watch the 10 minute video dozens of times, and if it’s done well you’ll cry, your family and friends will cry, and we’ll probably cry too. The 3 hour movie will possibly be watched once, but only by you. (Don’t make your friends watch it. Just don’t.)
What if I want more video footage of friends and family?
We were wondering when you’d ask that. We definitely recommend hiring an Artist videographer as described above. Our strongest recommendation for additional coverage may seem strange coming from an imaging professional, but honestly: find a friend or relative who can be trusted not to drink themselves into a stupor and ask them to take some casual video for you; even better if this person is friendly and good with people. Provide them with a camera that takes good video even in low light, and extra memory cards and batteries.
Be honest: if someone you knew to be a friend of the bride with a handheld camera asked you to say something to the happy couple on tape, would you be more likely to be honest than if an intimidatingly large professional camera was staring you down? For most people the answer is a resounding YES. This kind of “coverage” may not yield professional results, but coming from personal experience, you won’t care too much. Your professional video will be amazing, and your friend’s video will add a more casual result, giving you a good balance overall.
Have more questions? Want us to "vet" a videographer you're considering? Just ask.