Church restrictions and how we work with them

One issue that videographers have to work with is restrictions that are sometimes placed on us by churches. We want to cover your wedding ceremony in the best way possible. However we also need to be respectful of the fact that we are in a house of worship. Rule number one is always that we will abide by any any restrictions placed on us by the clergy or church wedding coordinator.

I always talk to the officiant and the church’s wedding coordinator before the ceremony. I let him or her know where our cameras are and what we will be doing during the ceremony. I then ask them what considerations that we should make to assure that we will be working within the guidelines of the church. Most clergy appreciate the fact that we talk with them as many photographers and videographers do not communicate.

This is also the time when I ask the officiant if we can place a microphone on him or her. If they object, we tell them that the bride and groom would really like to hear the words that they will be saying. This flatters them and more often than not, they agree to the microphone.

What if the officiant does not agree to allow us to cover the wedding properly. In this case we have little choice but to work within the guidelines set down by the church. We will do the best we can, but if we can only shoot from the back of the church, you can’t expect to have those wonderful closeups that you may have seen in our sample wedding videos.

Most of the time however, we are not restricted in a way that we will be unable to cover your wedding properly. You should talk to your minister or priest well before the wedding about having video. That way you will know about any restrictions. As I mentioned, we can often get some of these lifted just by talking to the officiant. They may have had a bad experience in the past and just want some reassurance that we will conduct ourselves in a respectful an professional manner.

Technorati Tags:

If I could only hear it all again.

One comment that I often get from couples is that they will always have memories of loved ones who are now gone. That is one thing that your wedding video will do. There is much more though. What about the vows, the minister’s sermon, the readings? What about the best man’s toast? No matter how many pictures you have of your wedding, without video you can never hear those words again.

I will relate a story here about my own wedding. We didn’t want to pay for video, but we had a friend shoot with my camera (a Canon GL1). The resulting video was shaky, with poor audio, but because it was a very small church and reception location, at least the day was preserved on tape. I am happy that we do have a video. One of the bridesmaids gave a beautiful reading, and the minister did a funny, upbeat sermon. If we just had photography, we could never hear any of that again. I mentioned that because of the small size of the church, we had intelligible audio. But just barely. Two of our friends sung a song that they had written. But it came out too distorted to listen to. This is why we should have hired a professional. So say the least, this is before I became a videographer, although editing my wedding as well as my sister in law’s wedding the following year, got me thinking about wedding videography.

I am not discounting preserving the memories of those who are no longer with us. My father passed away last month, and although he really didn’t play much of a part in our wedding, at least I have him in the video when he was still vibrant and healthy.

So when you think about whether you can afford video, remember, while your photos will preserve the look of your wedding day, nothing but video can preserve the words.

Technorati Tags:

Being Unobtrusive

Too many couples today choose not to have a video of their wedding because they have heard “that it will be obtrusive”. Often this is because they heard a story from a friend or relative who had a bad experience in the past. Most of this comes from the 1980s and 90s. At that time cameras were less sensitive, and larger. So it wasn’t uncommon for the videographer to use large lights for their big shoulder mount cameras.

Today it is much different. Our cameras are smaller and much more sensitive. Videographers are more sensitive too. We know that it is your day, not ours.

Every videographer is different, but here are a few things that we do to maintain a low profile.

  • Minimal lighting. For wedding ceremonies we only use the light that is already there. This is true of most videographers today. While we usually have to use additional lighting at most reception locations (these are often very dark), this is usually a small (10 watt) light mounted on the camera.
  • Respect. We often encounter reluctance from the clergy about video during the wedding ceremony. This as mentioned above, is sometimes the result of a bad experience in the past. While we want to place our cameras where we can get the best shots, we always work within the limitations placed on us by the venue. This may mean filming from the balcony, or off to the side. Even when we don’t have any limitations, we prefer to have two of our three cameras tripod mounted at all times during the ceremony. The tripod mounted cameras stay put. The only time they are moved is if our view is blocked. During the ceremony we always keep our distance. That is what zoom lenses are for.
  • We wear dark clothing at a wedding. This doesn’t seem like it would do anything, but we have found that it really helps us to remain inconspicuous.
  • As videographers we do not have to interact with the wedding party as much as the photographer. So we will not pose people, or ask them to look at the camera. We prefer to work with the photographer when shooting formals rather than duplicate their efforts.
  • Speaking of photographers, it is important to know where they are and not get in their way. While I admit that I haven’t always been successful, I make sure that I maintain an awareness of the photographer’s location. I expect the same of them (only a few photographers have ever been a problem).
  • At the reception we can be somewhat looser. However we are much closer to the guests here and have to respect them. One thing that I like to do is to be mobile during the main dances. I will not go on to the dance floor unless the couple agree to it (most do). The same thing goes with using a light. While I highly advise using one, I won’t if the couple doesn’t want it.
  • We are at the reception to work, not party. While we are happy to talk to guests, we avoid joining the party. You will only find us at the bar to get a soft drink.
  • We never stick a microphone in a guests face and ask them to say something. In fact we only do interviews outside of the main reception room, and only with guests who come to us (we ask the DJ to make an announcement that we are doing interviews). Also interviews are only conducted if specifically requested by the couple.

This is the way we work. Your videographer may be different. The important thing is that if you have any concerns, to express them to your videographer. We will make sure that we respect your wishes. We will also let you know if there will be any impact how your video will turn out.

Technorati Tags: ,

Finding your videographer – The Meeting

Second in a series

You have picked out a videographer who you would like to know more about and have arranged a meeting. As I explained in the first part of this series, a meeting is not strictly necessary. If you feel comfortable with your choice, or it isn’t practical to arrange a face to face meeting (you are booking someone in another city for example), you might be doing everything over the phone. Even if you do, this article will still be relevant.

You might have the meeting at the videographer’s studio, in your home, or at another location (coffee shops are popular). First impressions are important. Is this someone who you would like to have with you on your wedding day? They don’t have to be the life of the party. I am much more of an introvert than an extrovert. That works for many couples though, as I prefer to stay out of the way and let my camera tell the story.

If you haven’t seen samples of the videographer’s work, now is a time to do it. Is their style what you want? Does it look and sound good. If you have a hard time hearing people, if the camera work is shaky and unfocused, or if the editing is choppy, you might want to look elsewhere. Ask if they have a video that was done at your ceremony or reception location. If they do, you can get an idea of how it will look in your video.

Ask how long it will take to get your DVDs. If you are getting a basic video in the off season, it might only take a few weeks. However it could take several months. Many videographers are heavily booked during the peak season, and it takes quite a few hours to edit everything, particularly if you are getting a high end package. So don’t be surprised if they say six months or more. I normally deliver the DVDs within two to four months after the wedding, depending on the package and my backlog.

Ask about payment plans.  Most videographers require that a deposit or retainer fee be paid to reserve the date. This typically varies from 20 to 50 percent. Some videographers require that the balance is paid before the wedding date, others before they begin editing, and some when the DVDs are delivered.

Most videographers prefer that editing decisions be left to them. You should certainly inform them of any special request, such as including a favorite aunt in your video, as well as anything that you do not want. However once we start editing, we prefer to edit in our style. We will usually make corrections such as misspelled names or other minor corrections if notified right after delivering the DVDs, but it is impractical to make major changes. If we do, we will charge for it.

You should ask if your videographer carries liability insurance. Not only is this a sign that he or she is a professional, but some reception venues require it. There was an example on one of the bridal shows last year where a couple had hired a uninsured photographer. When the reception location told them that vendors would have to have insurance, they were forced to get someone else.

When you have decided on a videographer, the next step will be to sign the contract and pay the deposit. Read the contract before signing. It explains what is expected and what is not. You should also know what the terms are if you have to change or cancel the date. In most cases the retainer fee is non-refundable unless the videographer can get another booking on that date.

Technorati Tags:

Finding your videographer

First in a series. 

If you are a bride or groom and you are reading this, you are most likely considering a videographer for your wedding. How do you find the right one? To start with, every couple is different, and an important thing is to find someone who’s style and personality is compatible. The other important factor is choosing someone who they can count on to deliver a quality product. Therefore a good starting place is to ask friends who have had video at their wedding if they would recommend their videographer. If they do, ask to see your friend’s wedding video to get an idea of the videographer’s style. Styles change however. The work that I was doing two or three years ago is different than what I do now. Most of us evolve as we learn new things and gain experience.

If you have already hired your photographer, ask him or her for a recommendation. Photographers will often recommend someone who they work well with. Reception venues can also be a source of recommendations.

The next place to look is on the web. Search for local videographer’s websites. If they have video, look at what they offer. If they post prices, you will have an idea whether or not you can afford them. Overall the web is the best source of leads, as most videographers have a website, and many do most (or all) of their advertising there. Don’t forget to visit some of the commercial web portals like WeDJ for a list of videographers. These often have direct links to individual websites.

Another place to find a videographer is the local bridal show. Not every videographer goes to these, but there are usually a few. The nice thing about a bridal show is that you can talk to them and get an idea whether they will be who you are looking for.

Local bride’s guides can also be consulted. These as well as other print publications are much less popular than they were a few years ago, and you will not find as many companies to choose from.

Once you have picked out a few companies, the next step is to call or e-mail. Make sure that you let them know your wedding date so they can check their availability. But don’t ask the price just yet. Listen to what they can do for you. You might find that the person you are talking to is someone worth spending more on than you had originally budgeted. If they do not have any video on their website, or you can’t view their videos (this often happens if you don’t have a fast Internet connection), ask for a sample wedding or demo DVD. The preference here should be for a complete wedding video where you can view the full product, but if a demo is all that they can offer, request that. Some videographers will request that you visit them at their studio to see their work. There is nothing wrong with this. Many videographers have spent a significant amount of money to display their videos in the best possible environment.

If you want to proceed further, arrange a meeting. This may take place at the videographer’s studio, your home, or over coffee at the local Starbucks, wherever you are comfortable. Most videographer who maintain a storefront studio will want you to meet them there. Many top notch videographers have home based businesses however. In this case you might be meeting them at your home or an intermediate location.

In the next post I will talk about meeting your videographer and what to ask.

You may prefer to do everything over the phone. This is OK if you are comfortable with your videographer, especially if they are someone who was recommended to you. I have booked many clients without meeting them. Occasionally I have not met my clients until the wedding day (although I prefer to get to know them ahead of time). I have also booked clients without even a phone call. Everything was done via e-mail. I do not recommend this however. You should at least talk to them directly.

In the next post, I will discuss what to ask at the meeting.

Technorati Tags:

How much light do we need?

One thing that we sometimes hear from couples who do not want video is that they don’t want any bright lights shining in their face. This misunderstanding comes from the early days of event video when cameras lacked the sensitivity that they have today. Modern equipment is not only smaller than a decade ago, but much more sensitive. There is almost no situation short of a candlelight ceremony where we would have a hard time shooting without additional lighting. Even darker churches usually have enough light for a good image.

Receptions are another story however. It is common for reception locations to turn down the lights so low that if we go with just the light in the hall, we will get nothing but dark grainy images. We just can’t shoot in the dark and expect to get anything worthwhile.

I always advise my clients that I would prefer to use a small on-camera light during the reception. Of course the more light that there is in the room, the less light that I will need to use. Another thing that I request is that they talk to the banquet manager about leaving the lights up for the introductions and main dances. If they do, we can often dispense with the light for these. Unfortunately this is sometimes not communicated to the staff and the lights are turned down anyway.

There are some videographers who bring in lights mounted on stands to light up the dance floor. We do not do that as it would create a safety hazard as well as ruining the atmosphere. But having some additional light is a given at most receptions. I usually use a 10 watt light on top of the camera. It doesn’t flood the room, but provides just enough light to make the image pop.

Technorati Tags: