Making Friends with the Photographer(s)

Don’t underestimate the need of making friends with the photographer, or the photographers. They are usually coming in two.

While looking for the best shot you may be bumping into each other if you think similarly. If the church is fairly small, you may have to compete for a place in the aisle or by the altar.

I have a habit of making friends with the photographers, introducing myself in the morning and checking on status of our relationship during the course of the day. I usually say: “If I am in your shot, just let me know”. That’s a good start. I give away some of my turf. If I get to work with the professional, they would probably do the same – put some consideration towards my needs. If not, it won’t make you broke.

Better yet, work with the team member. This happens if you hire the photographer, or the other way around – if you get hired by the photographer. That makes for good working relationship, especially if you have more than one wedding to shoot shoulder to shoulder.

Finally for fun – the video about the war between the videographers and the photographers. Unless you had seen it already – enjoy!

Original Ideas

Any wedding videographer can assure you that many creative ideas are not so original. The shots are often based on TV shows and the movies (think of Men in Black and Sopranos, for example).

As the pop-culture affects us all, I wonder if the 2011 Victoria’s Secret commercial recently nominated to run in the CBS ad competition is going to create new following among wedding videogarphers and, most importantly, the brides.

More on Wedding Video Marketing

Few words of wisdom from the wedding video guru, the book writer and Videomaker forum moderator Earl Chessher.

I stumbled upon a recent Earl’s comment and asked his permission to use it. Earl graciously agreed.

The comment pushed the same button I tried to approach from the other end - prospects’ ignorance. I don’t mean it in a bad way. By ignorance I mean brides’ unacqauintance  with the concept of the wedding video. And this is clearly the business that needs to acquaint the prospects with the knowledge. But let’s listen to Earl Chessher:

ANOTHER thing it takes, but is grossly overlooked, is the 78+ percent of the wedge of the bridal video pie where prospective customers are NOT sold on video.

It never ceases to amaze me that, given the talent, the tools and the experience, that five percent (maybe 10 percent) AND the other 90-95 percent are all fighting to get a taste of the 22 percent, give or take, of the bridal market where they are already SOLD on having a video of their wedding produced. These guys are competing on creativity, giveaways and price, and sometimes some unique aspect of what THEY do that nobody else does … yet.

Give it time though, every GREAT new creative bent soon becomes a cliché as more and more non-creatives jump on the FEATURE wagon. Started with strobe, went to the color bouquet with everything else black & white, to slow motion, extreme slow motion, love stories, bridal elegance, and now of course EXTREME depth of field with DSLR rigs and multiple lenses for CREATIVE effects.

All well and good. BUT, if ANY PVA, group or other association that professes to “support” the wedding video production industry could wrap its collective minds around the simple fact that there’s a market out there that isn’t even being considered … the 70+ percent who don’t want, don’t think they want, or THINK they couldn’t care less about having video of their wedding ceremony, event, reception or day.

A campaign that somehow would bring in this significant chunk of NON-business for video producers would not only boost the upper scale professionals, perhaps even increase the overall perceived value of video production, but spread a good bit more wealth and business around to the other 90 percent of the wedding videographer base.

Instead, everyone, well nearly everyone, is vying for that small wedge of pie, the EASY targets (in that they already KNOW they want video) but the hard targets because they have a boatload of producers from amateur, hobbyist, cheap or affordable and inexperienced, to well-funded and equipped and extremely capable/creative experienced professional to compete with for a very small taste of what’s possible.

The day the industry-at-large discovers that a campaign like “Got Milk” or “Where’s the Beef?” is started that convinces the unconvinced brides (and their grooms) that video is “all that” AND a bag of chips, is the day the wedding video services industry is going to burst wide open and spread the wealth of a multi-billion-dollar industry to MORE of us.

Could not be put better than that. Many thanks to Earl for sharing!

Earl Chessher is a book writer with a collection of titles on wedding video and other aspects of life (and funerals too). Please click to visit Earl’s online book store.

Earl is an active blogger. His blog EC Come, EC Go is a well of practical day-to-day knowledge for anyone in video production business.

Using Lights at the Wedding

Using lighting equipment during the wedding is an evergreen topic at the Videomaker. With equipment getting more and more sensitive, and especially the DSLR cameras crushing the market, more videographers feel less need for the extra lights to top up the available one.

This is how I go about using lights. I never use lights during the Ceremony, and rather increase GAIN (same as ISO, I dare to say) on my camera. But I always set at least one, or more often two Lowell Pro 250 W lights, both diffused, remotely controlled at the reception.

Before the reception I set the lights in such a way that they lit the head table and the podium. Remote power allows for awkward placements: in far corners, behind the guest tables, etc. Key-chain type power controller from the local electronics store in the pocket allows me to switch the lights on and off from any place in the room.

When the time gets closer to the formal dances, I may move my lights near the dance floor. It may take some cooperation from, or cause some inconvenience to the guests. Be super nice.

And I also use my camera light, it’s usually 20 W halogen light balanced to 3200K.

Wireless Lavalier Microphone

As a frequent member of the Videomaker community I get to read questions about lav mics again and again. It’s needless to say that good quality wireless lavalier microphone is not a luxury, but rather a necessity in the cameraperson’s tool box. Or camera bag. Recently I had encountered a questions form the beginner videographer about what to choose – the shotgun or the lav mic. Videomaker community known by its great mutual respect came out with suggestion of the need of both.

Few members suggested the Sunnheiser ew100. Being a Lectrosonics fan myself, I still couldn’t avoid joining the choir. First of all – I want to see German product badly made. If you see one, please let me know. Secondly, small start up productions are often tight on budget, and that’s where ew100 hits the point – making perfect value-for-money product.

I would add to that little known wonderful gadget – Sunnheiser charging unit L2015. It has two slot, fitting one transmitter and one receiver right in. Both mic units have side contacts allowing to take charge without fiddling with the batteries. Out in the morning, in in the evening, no hassle charge, assuming you don’t mind rechargeable batteries. By the way, you can get Sunnheiser brand AA batteries too.

What Does Hiring a Videographer Signal to the Wedding Guests?

“If there is ever one picture your ancestors have of you, that’s the one in your wedding dress,” – this is how a dress designer speaks of her product in this National Public Radio story.

“The birde’s dress signals how wealthy she is,” – continues the narration. “But it can also signal how seriously she is taking this marriage.”

OK now. What is the point of putting on a “signal” dress if the ancestors have no chance to see the photo if it’s not been taken or filmed? Does not hiring a videographer signal a seriousness of intentions for both bride and groom, and also the one of their families?

Email from Jason

I have recently received request from Jason J. Young, Executive Producer with J-NIC Video Productions for a copy of my Shoot-It-Yourself Wedding Video Guide. Canada Post strike slowed down the delivery by a short while. But lately I received an email from Jason. I liked it so much, that could not but post it in its entirety:

Jason with his camera

Received the book last week and it is great!  An indispensable guide, has all the information needed for producing a good wedding video.  It’s much like some articles I’ve read online from wedding video sites and Kirk Barber’s book, The Wedding Video Handbook.  His book has more details with photos, but yours is a good size to pack in the camera bag as a handy reference guide.  Here are my responses to your questions for publishing:

What is your experience in the wedding video business?

I have 14 years experience–have been in business for 16, beginning with school memory and sports videos, expanded into wedding video two years later.  Have produced 17 wedding videos, looking to do many more in the near future, keeping up with the new trends in wedding videography.

Was the book helpful, and if yes in what way?

It was (is) very helpful–has detailed step-by-step instructions on what to cover on the wedding day,  ways to make the video interesting–using different angles, lighting techniques, etc.  For different kinds of weddings, good advice on what to cover there.  Whether just beginning or having been in the business, it’s a good basic guide.

What topics have been left uncovered, or was there anything wrong or confusing?

None left uncovered that I noticed, but some of the techincal details could have been expanded–for instance, what kind of wireless and shotgun mics to use, light kits and on-camera lights, etc.  Also, a short chapter on using tapeless cameras or SDLRS (could be included in a revised/updated edition), etc.  Otherwise, an excellent book, highly recommended.

I look forward to using it on all upcoming wedding video sessions, may also download the E-book to use for reference here in my studio.  Photos are attached to use along with the above information, pick the one you think works best.  Look forward to reading it on your site and/or wherever it is published.  Thanks again and look forward to hearing from you.

Jason J. Young

Executive Producer, J-NIC Video Productions

Thank you Jason. In my book I tried to stay away from technical details of working on the wedding. It was addressed to the wedding videographers using all kinds of cameras. Approach that I offer may be similarly applied to anyone working with MiniDV,  BetacamSP or P2 cameras. Lighting is a similar issue, and I touched on that in the book. I will try to elaborate on that topic more here and at the Videomaker forum. All the best to you and to all who purchased my book. I wish you well in your uneasy but rewarding endeavor.

Self Conscious Brides?

 Last weekend the DJ working at the reception with me shared his observation, and here it is: if 5-7 years ago 4 out 5 wedding parties hired a videographer, today’s ratio is 1 out of 5. What is it: crisis, bad marketing, generational change, combination of factors?

Here is in my opinion typical aftermath conclusion, borrowed from the Brides.com forum:

“I spent $10,000 on flowers and event design – all my own money because my mother thought I was insane (I probably was insane). Looking back at it later, I am acutely aware that my wedding would have been just as beautiful, just as memorable, just as fun for my family and friends if I’d spent $1,000 on the flowers. I’m ok with having spent it because I didn’t go into debt to pay for it and learned a valuable lesson about needing to say “do I really need that??”, but if I had it to do over again I’d have cut it back and put that money to better use. This is why I said to really think about whether you NEED a videographer – that’s $1500 you could save just to have another layer of permanent memories on top of the photos, which you’ve already paid for (and will probably look at a billion times more often). “

And there is also very interesting response to that entry:

“When I heard the videographer was going to be $1900 extra I said HECK NO. I hate my voice on video and I hate seeing myself on video too. I wasn’t going to pay thousands knowing I’d never watch it.”

I’ve heard similar words said right into my face. It seems to be just fact of life – people hate seeing themselves on the photo, never mind the video. Is there more self conscious brides nowadays then 10 years ago?

What do you think?