Ok, you would like to have a video of your wedding. What do you look for in a videographer? Like with photographers, there are a wide range of styles, personalities, and prices. Lets take a look at each of these.
Style – First think of how you would like your wedding day story to be told.
Go on the Internet and visit as many wedding videographer’s sites as you can. They don’t have to be local, you are trying determine what type of video is meaningful to you. Look at samples clips on their sites. You may prefer a romantic approach, a fast paced “MTV style” video, or perhaps a no-frills documentary of the wedding. One thing to remember however, is that your wedding video will be viewed many years from now, by yourself, your children, and perhaps your grandchildren. So before deciding on something really contemporary, and cutting edge, think of how it will play twenty years from now.
Once you have an idea about what you are looking for, the next step is to narrow your search to local videographers (unless you have the funds to pay for out of town talent to fly in for your wedding). Again, use the Internet. But don’t stop there. There are some excellent videographers who do not have a web presence. Ask friends who had a wedding video made for recommendations. Photographers, reception venues, DJs and other vendors can also supply names. If your are having a church wedding, ask your pastor if he or she can recommend someone. In a church wedding it is important that the videographer (and photographer), be unobtrusive and respectful. If the church has had a good experience with a videographer, they will be happy to recommend them. This is also a good time to find out if your church has any restrictions on video. You wouldn’t want to hire a videographer and find out that video isn’t allowed during the ceremony. Church restrictions can also affect the style of video that can be made. If for instance, cameras are only allowed in the balcony, you might not be able to have the tight closeups of your vows that you will see in many demos.
Once you have narrowed the list down, the next step is to call or visit. Yes, call. While most videographers, myself included, are happy to book a client by e-mail, a phone call will tell you a lot more about them. It is important to get a feel for the personality of your videographer. He or she will be with you all day, from getting ready to the last dance. Think of it this way, would you invite them as a wedding guest? If you are not comfortable with that person, you don’t want to have them as your videographer. Also ask to see a complete wedding. Most of us have streaming video on our websites, usually short clips, not complete weddings. You want to see the whole package. If you are visiting a videographer at their studio, they will usually show you a full wedding right there. If you are calling, ask to have them mail you a sample, or to arrange to view a wedding at the studio (whatever they prefer).
Full-timer or part-timer? This is not as important as you might think. A large proportion of professional videographers (almost half in my market), do not have a full time video business (I am a part-timer myself). This does not make them any less capable or reliable. I know of onepart-time videographer in our area, who has probably won more artistic acheivement awards recently then anyone else in the country. What is important is that they love what they are doing. Most people who I know in this business, whether they are full or part time do. Seeing their work will tell you. Like any art form, the passion that the artist has for his or her craft is reflected in their work.
Price – I left this for last. While it is natural to ask about the price first, you should really look at a videographer’s work first. All couples have a budget, In most cases it is flexible. If you find someone whose work is astounding, but is a bit too expensive, think about stretching or reallocating some of your wedding funds. Remember, this is something that will be a family heirloom.
You can spend $500 for a wedding video. You can also spend $10,000. Do you get what you pay for. To an extent yes. I know of several high end videographers in our area who start at $5,000. Are they worth it. In their case yes. They do outstanding work. But if you don’t have that budget, don’t assume that you have to settle for mediocre work. A talented part-timer might produce a fantastic video for less, often a lot less. I for example, currently charge from $1700 to $2600. I can do that and still turn a profit because I don’t depend on my video business to pay the bills. As I work out of my home, I don’t have rent to pay on a studio. In addition I have no full-time employees. Just one assistant working as an independent contractor. In some cases people just starting out might even do a few of weddings for free to build up their porfolio. You take a chance with them, but if you are short on cash, it is often a good deal. You may be plesantly surprised. I did my first three weddings for free. All three couples loved their video, and I had my protfolio.
The price that you will pay also depends on where you live. Small towns typically are much less expensive than big cities. Another big price factor is whether you want a full package, or a no-frills video. For a few hundred dollars you can have someone turn up at your wedding with one camera and a microphone, and tape the ceremony and reception. The only editing will be in the camera. Some couples may be ok with this type of no-frills video. Just don’t expect a full package for this price (unless the videographer is just starting out). For full service companies the work has only started when the videographer packs up at the end of the night. Editing takes up most of the time spent producing the video. It is not uncommon for an editor to spend upwards of 40 to 60 hours on one full wedding package.
I haven’t talked about the technical aspects yet. We have to shoot in dark churches and reception halls with (in the case of churches), no supplemental lighting. We have no script. There are no retakes. What we do have is the knowledge and equipment to create the best possible product. This is reason enough to hire a pro. Another is audio. While we call ourselves “Videographers”, we are as much (if not more so) “Audiographers”. Try watching a television show with the sound off. Then try listening without watching. It is easier to follow the action by listening to the audio, than by watching the video. Most of us use tools such as wireless microphones, and multi-channel pickup to capture the best possible audio.
When evaluating a videographer’s product, watch and listen carefully. Is the video unsteady most the time? Does the color shift? Is the audio clear and understandable? We can’t achieve perfection technically, given the circumstances, but we strive for the best that we can do. As a few flaws are inevitable, you should judge the video on the following: Do technical flaws (bad video, audio, or poor edits) draw your attention. If they do, would it bother you if the flaws were in your video? Then you can decide whether this videographer’s product is acceptable technically.
In conclusion, decide what style suits you best, what you can afford, and most of all, decide on someone whom you can trust to retell your wedding story in a meaningful way.