The difference between a good wedding filmmaker and a great one doesn’t come down to having the best camera or gear. The difference is you. Are you the type of person that a couple wants to have attend their wedding? These are a few ways you can make yourself a better wedding videographer.
Well before the wedding date, you should have a sit-down meeting with the engaged couple. Get to know what they are looking for in their video. Do they want to make sure you capture certain moments? Will there be any surprises or choreographed dances you need to know about? Will the bride be wearing her Great-Great Grandmother’s earrings? Being ready to capture these moments will truly make your work stand out.
Reach out to the ceremony and reception venues and find out if they have any rules or regulations. Many churches won’t allow videographers in certain areas, so it’s important to note if you will need to bring a zoom lens. Some large reception venues require a proof of insurance before they let you shoot on the premises. It’s your responsibility to have everything in order before showing up.
Talk to some of the vendors, mainly the ones you will work with on the wedding day. Knowing vendors in the industry is your gateway to success. Their recommendations can help you land future weddings. First get to know the Wedding Coordinator. Ask for a copy of the schedule and contacts for the other vendors. Then you can ask the DJ about their setup. Will they let you plug into their sound board to get backup audio? Will they bring a high end light kit for the reception? See if the photographer is willing to collaborate with you. Can you shoot side by side and rotate for closeups? Getting acquainted with everyone will help the shoot move along much smoother.
Bonus tip: Don’t wear shorts to a wedding. Otherwise you might look like the odd one out in the video.
The morning of a wedding is a fairly typical operation. The groom and his groomsmen hang out, the bride and bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done. After that, you will be running around until the wedding is over. So it’s best to set the heavy bag in the corner and take it easy on your shoulders and back. Only carry what you need.
Having every lens option at once is no use to you. A camera and two lenses are perfect for running around. Be sure to have extra batteries and formatted memory cards ready to go. Nothing is worse than having to tell the couple to hold off on tossing the bouquet because your batteries died. I’ve seen it happen. Don’t be that person. If necessary, find an outlet and have a charging station for any batteries you have already used.
There are no re-“I Dos” in weddings. If you don’t capture things as they happen, then you didn’t do your job. It’s best to have multiple audio sources recording. Does your camera capture quality sound? If not, have external recorders ready to go. Try to avoid putting the mic on a bride, instead go for a lavalier microphone on the officiant or groom.
If the DJ is running sound, you may be able to plug into their sound board. That’s why it is beneficial to have talked to the DJ before hand. Keep in mind every DJ is different, so it’s no guarantee that you will get quality sound. That’s why you should only rely on them for backup audio.
You may feel the need to experiment on the wedding day, but be sure to always get the typical wedding shots too. Experimenting is a great way to help you find your style, but don’t forget that couples want to see their vows, first dance, and cake cutting. Make sure you have the important things covered before you get all those cool transition shots.
Stabilization is necessary. Going handheld is not going to cut it. Whether you use a tripod, monopod, glidecam, slider, or a shoulder rig, be sure that you can quickly switch between your support gear. By putting the same quick release plate on all of your gear, you can easily switch on the go.
Tripods are great during the ceremony, but can easily get in the way elsewhere. When you’re in a tiny hotel room with the entire bridal party, family members, hair stylists and makeup artists, you won’t have much space to work. Being able to quickly switch to a monopod or glidecam will keep you shooting.
B-roll will be your best friend and worst enemy when editing. Not having enough will make you job much harder. It’s easy to remember to shoot exteriors of the venue, but don’t forget that there are people coming to these venues. When the bride and groom watch their wedding video, they will want to see their friends and family in attendance.
Have an extra camera capture parts of the crowd during the ceremony. This footage will always come in handy to hide any rough edits. It’s also great to cut to the crowd if the photographer walks into your shot of the couple at the altar.
Evening receptions can be a nightmare for wedding filmmakers. Indoor or outdoor, it will probably be dark. After dinner is served, venues dim the lights so the party can begin. Hopefully you and the DJ also talked about his light setup, but you will still need your own lights to help you get certain shots.
If your camera doesn’t handle low light well, keep in mind that guests don’t want to be blinded by video lights all night. When you use lights, be sure to use them sparingly. Don’t kill the mood by leaving them on during the entire reception.
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