While I was helping out a friend photographer as his second cameraperson, I had the unique opportunity to witness another videography team in action. I was not hired to capture their event on video and that is OK. After seeing what the couple went through to get their perfect wedding video, I can safely say that Gracenote Films was probably not the right fit for them. The scripted approach of the team they hired was notably different than my own videos when it comes to documenting a wedding.
A four-person video crew descended upon the wedding like a Hollywood production house and us photographers became “obstacles” rather than allies. From the moment they arrived the couple were directed in every aspect of the situation, even to the extent of interrupting the photo session to meet their video agenda. When I film I never, ever do that to the photographer. It is not respectful to other documentarians and it contributes to perpetuating the us-vs-them photographer/videographer animosity that has never needed to exist.
“Action” was the word of the day. Literally, they said that…a lot. During getting ready it was not about the bride and groom causally hanging with their wedding party, laughing and reminiscing, it was about the video team acquiring the shots in their predefined shot-list. They came to that event with the wedding film already done. The bride awkwardly read a letter from the groom (I have been in the business long enough to know that is a hallmark of a contrived “high-end” wedding video included for the “sake of the video”). Her bridesmaids were then strategically placed where the videographer could pan up and get their reaction to her. Needless to say, that videographer did not like their attempt at genuine sounding “awwwws,” so he told them to do it over.
I never approach a wedding with a preconceived notion of the end result. I remain completely open-minded and allow the story to unfold naturally. If I think that something would work well in the final video; for example better lighting from a particular window for buttoning up the last few buttons on the brides dress, I will ask politely if if would be OK to move that moment closer to the window. I understand technically why a videography team wants to control the situation: it is about getting a perfect video for their portfolio so that they can sell that to the next couple.
What I observed compelled me to make couples aware of a key line of questioning that you need to ask your videographer when you are going through the interview process. When you hire a videography team to do something cool that you see online, you are also hiring the experience you have with that videographer.
3 things you need to ask yourself when you are selecting your videographer
- Does this video look natural or directed?
- If we are OK with being directed how much are we willing to let that impact the enjoyment of our day?
- Is this how we will want to remember our wedding day 20 years from now?
3 things you need to find out from your videographer
- Do you direct or set up any shots?
- Will we be “acting” on our wedding day?
- How much time are we going to need to satisfy the video shot-list?
The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to make your decision. If you are OK with being told what to do and pulled away from your guests for the sake of your final video than you will going into experience with your eyes wide own. For Gracenote Films a beautiful video is not the end result of being told what to do, and if it is not “right”, being told to do it over again. For me it is about capturing you and your friends and family enjoying the experience of your day naturally. The choice is always yours.