Valuing your videographer (and photographer)

Both the videographer and photographer work harder than any other vendors on your wedding day. We are there from the time the bride is getting ready, to the end of the reception. That can often be a 12 hour day. When we leave our work has just begun. Videographers have anywhere from 20 to 80 hours of capturing video, editing, and making DVDs. Photographers spend a similar amount of time working on the photos.

You can help make our day better with a few simple tips:

  • If you are planning both photos and video, let the photographer know that you are having both. While videographers usually assume that there will be photography, photographers don’t always do. The vast majority of photographers and videographers work well together, but there is a small minority who don’t. If you have any objections, you should consider hiring someone else.
  • Let your photographer and videographer know when events are occurring during the day. If we don’t know about the special toast that your uncle will be giving during dinner, we can’t cover it. You can appoint a member of the bridal party to keep us informed.
  • Let us know who is special to you. If you have an elderly grandparent who you really want photo and  video of, let us know.
  • Meals. We work a long day. It is considered good form to make sure that all vendors who will be at the reception are fed. The photographer and videographer should eat when the guests eat, as this is when there is not many photos or videos being taken. As mentioned above, make sure that if something does occur, that we know about it beforehand.
  • We don’t expect tips, so don’t feel that you have to. But we do love a compliment. Let us know if we did a good job. The best compliment of all is a referral. If you like our work, recommend us.

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Professional organizations for videographers – Should your videographer be a member?

Most professions have their organizations. Wedding videography is no exception. We currently have two, the Wedding and Event Videographers Association International (WEVA) and the 4Ever Group. Both of these groups represent the interests of the wedding and event videography industry. Both have annual conventions. Many videographers (myself included) belong to both. What they do not require however, is any form of professional certification or licensing. WEVA does offer a certification, but few have obtained it. Anyone who calls him or herself a professional videographer can join.

Does this mean that being a member of these groups says nothing about the professionalism of your videographer. Not necessarily. For one thing, membership dues are high enough that someone who is not making a serious commitment to this business is less likely to join. The other thing is that both organizations put a major effort into education. The 4Ever Group has their convention in January (just concluded), and WEVA has theirs in August (with a second smaller show this month). These are incredible opportunities to learn and to take event video to a higher level. I always say that the couple who’s wedding I am editing right after the WEVA Expo is lucky, for they are the first to get the benefit of all that I have learned there. Like any profession, education never ceases.

Besides WEVA and 4Ever Group there are a number of local organizations. These in my opinion, are even more valuable than the national organizations. For it is here that videographers really exchange ideas and learn from each other. As a group, event videographers are very open. The good ones do not feel threatened by their competition. As a result, ideas flow freely. In Philadelphia our local organization is the Greater Philadelphia Videographers Association (GPVA). It is one of the largest and most active in the United States. GPVA’s membership is also one of the most talented. This year four of our members made the EventDV 25 list of the top 25 event videographers in the world (Dave Williams, Tim Sudall, Glen Elliot, and Darrell Aubert). That raises the bar for all of us. I have learned from all of them, and it makes me better at my own work.

Finally there are the online forums. While these don’t qualify as professional organizations in the classic sense, they are a fantastic source of information. I have learned as much if not more here than from WEVA or GPVA. If your videographer frequents them, they will be ahead of the game. The two main ones are Video University, and WedVidPro.

Does all of this mean that if your videographer is not a member of a professional organization that they are not as good as someone who is? No. There are a lot of excellent videographers who for reasons of their own, do not want to join. The point here is that being an active member of an organization (or online forum) indicates a desire to improve one’s skills and professionalism.

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My style, or theirs

One thing that I notice when talking with other videographers or looking at their work it how different we all are, even if we are covering the same thing.  When viewing someone else’s video, I often think “why don’t I edit that way?” or “I would never thought of using that camera angle”. The fact is that as individuals, we each bring a different way of looking at things.

Like most of us, I am influenced by what I see my peers doing, as well as what I see on television or in the movies. All of this affects my own style. But that doesn’t mean that I am copying others. I have my own style because that is how my mind works. I can’t (and would not want to) get inside someone else’s head.  So, what I produce is my own way of seeing things. And that is true for everyone else in this industry.

 My style is what I would call “cinematic/documentary”. It uses a lot of music, soft imagery, slow motion. I believe that I appeal to the bride who wants a soft, romantic story of her wedding day. That said, I have been making some changes. I have been using less slow motion, and have been adding more fast cuts (particularly during the reception coverage). Why? Because of what I have seen others doing. I liked what I saw and want to incorporate this into my own style. But it is still my style.

What does this mean for the bride and groom looking for a videographer to cover their wedding? The important thing is that they find someone who’s work fits their personality. Some couples want soft/romantic, others fast/cutting edge, others do not want anything more than a basic no-frills record of the day, without any interpretation (we can give you that in our Basic Package). When shopping for a videographer, the first stop should be to visit their website. Many videographers have samples  right on the site (including us). If they don’t or you can’t view them online, call and ask for a sample DVD. Even if you can’t afford them, look at samples for the top videographers in the country (try Googling “EventDV 25″). Now most of us are not in that rarefied category, but we still produce very fine work. What it comes down to is simply what do you like. What moves you. It is a personal decision. There is no one right or wrong style. It comes down to how you would like YOUR wedding day to be recorded.

Beyond basic competence, it really is all about our style fitting your style. If you educate yourself on the range of styles that we are doing, it will be easier to find that videographer who is “just right” for you.

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I’m back

I haven’t been posting on this blog much recently. Work (both video and non-video) and family issues have been keeping me away from here. Well I am going to keep this blog updated on a more frequent basis. Currently I am working on a redesign of the bonnie-blink.com website using WordPress, not just for the blog, but for the entire site. This should go live in the next few days.

We have also made a few changes with Bonnie Blink Productions. For one thing we have started the move towards High Definition production. A Canon XH-A1 camera has been purchased and we hope to add another in the coming months. This will enable us to film an entire wedding in HD. While we will shoot and edit in HD, we will still deliver standard definition DVDs that can be viewed on any television. While it appears that BluRay will win the HiDef DVD format war, most people do not have BluRay (or HD-DVD) players yet. We hope to be able to provide HD video content to those who do however. One thing that the move to HD will do though, is to allow us to shoot in widescreen, perfect for those widescreen televisions.

We are also restructuring our Deluxe Package. In the past we have offered in addition to the Highlights video, a Documentary style video of the complete ceremony and main reception events. This was presented as a single long program, similar to what we deliver with the Basic Package. In the future we will be dividing this up into individual segments (ceremony, first dance, toasts etc.) for easier access.  Other than that, it will be the same content.