Recently I blogged about the importance of ensuring that the images captured on your wedding day are the best quality they can be (see here). Of course, people have different tastes in photography and videography styles, but the underlying theme is the same – those images are one of the few things you’ll have long after your wedding day is over, so it’s important to pick the right people to capture them. That piece focused on wedding photography, and here I’d like to turn to videography. I have to admit, I get nervous when brides say they’re planning to forgo hiring a videographer, or that they’re calling the film studies department at their local college to see if they can “just get someone cheap.” The truth is, as we are reminded every year when awards season gets underway, making great movies requires a lot of skill – and wedding videography is no different.
For our wedding, we again turned to the Best of Boston issue of Boston Magazine. In 2008, Generations Cinemastories became the first wedding videographer to receive the coveted prize – and when you see the work of husband and wife team Naomi and Jack, it’s easy to see why they won. Naomi and I chatted recently about why videography is so important and what separates good wedding videos from great ones.
ME: What advice would you give a couple who is undecided about whether to hire a videographer?
NAOMI: Ask couples who hired a top wedding videographer/cinematographer if, after the wedding, they felt it was worth the investment. Ask yourself what words mean to you – especially when spoken by people you love; and how you might feel listening to those words many years down the road. Think about all the toasts that photography just can’t capture. Think about the sound of your partner saying his/her vows – and what your first words will be to one another as married people. Think of your mom’s smiles and looks as you put on your dress and what your dad said to you right before he walked you down the aisle. Think about capturing a grandparent’s blessing. Think about all the subtle gestures and looks that only great wedding film can capture and only a great editor can put together into a seamless film. Then, watch a few great wedding films and learn the difference between an OK wedding video (which may NOT be worth your while) and an amazing wedding film which you simply cannot live without!
ME: What should a couple look for when choosing a wedding videographer?
NAOMI: First and foremost, a great reputation. While talent is very important, how a professional treats his/her clients over time speaks volumes. Check wedding forums. Google various studio’s names and see what comes up. If you think the studio has an excellent reputation, then meet the talent. Be sure you are on the same page regarding what you want and what they do. View their work. Ask HOW they work. “Unobtrusive” means different things to different people. We’ve seen one videographer with a shoulder mounted camera and a big light on top running around to get “the shot” calling himself unobtrusive. Several videographers standing still can be far less intrusive than one running around. Ask how they shoot the first dance. Will the videographer be circling the couple on the dance floor in order to get their shot? Or somewhere off to the side, with 2 or more cameras hiding, out of everyone’s way and sight.
Ask how much footage they shoot compared to how much they use. The difference can tell you whether they use a formula for shooting or are open to watching for special moments. Look at several of their trailer and highlights and see if they all look similar or does each one have its own style suited to each couple? Then choose one of the films and ask to see the full length version. You can use the remote to fast forward through certain parts, but be sure you have a sense about how the videographer or studio covers each part of the wedding. Also see if you like the “look” and “sound’ of the studio’s work. Some studios are big on HD – although we find that HD is ruthless on older women and anyone, frankly past 20! Beard growth looks like black flecks in close-ups, and the nicest skin suddenly shows tiny bumps and lines. Some studios use a lot of slow motion which can be very romantic in small doses, but I think can also get boring pretty fast. Music is another very personal choice. There’s been a trend in the last few years toward very dramatic, “cinematic” music. Some couples love it, i personally think it overshadows the real emotion in the film. So what I’m saying is that it’s got to be a good stylistic fit as well as a good personality fit.
ME: What can a couple can do to maintain a good relationship with their videographer leading up to the wedding?
NAOMI: Meet with the videographer at least twice before the wedding. If at all possible, have them attend the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. That way they will get to know the key players and feel part of the event. Introduce them to everyone – the officiant, the photographer, event planner. Let the videographer know what is most important to you about your wedding film. Is it the capture of the decor? Conversations with family and friends? Story line? The couple’s love story?
ME: What advice do you give to brides who are not comfortable being filmed or speaking on film?
NAOMI: Have them request that their videographers keep cameras below eye level. There are many ways to film and we have found that camera-shy brides should never find themselves face to face with a camera. if a videographer is chatting with the bride, either someone else can film from a safe distance, or the videographer can film from a low angle. People shouldn’t try to relate to cameras. They are just tools. People should relate to people with good eye contact. And a good videographer looking to capture people naturally, can’t hide behind the camera! Also, if you don’t want to be interrupted during the day, let your videographer know that. Some videographers pose their couples, others do not. Some may ask you to do a brief interview toward the end of the reception. Discuss all these elements in advance so that you can know what to expect from each other. Let our videographer know what works best for you. Discuss everything important in advance.
ME: What advice do you give to couples to ensure you get great shots of their day as it unfolds?
NAOMI: Do a love story film shoot before your wedding (like a photo engagement shoot) so you and your videographer(s) can get really comfortable working together. Spending an hour or two hanging out and talking, walking, playing with the camera on will smooth the way for spontaneous, natural filming on the wedding day. Also – I would advise discussing with the videographer how they plan to shoot different parts of the day. Will they shoot the groom getting ready as well as the bride? Guests arriving? The reception area being set up? The photo shoot and cocktails? We find that careful advance planning and teamwork with several cinematographers works for us and ensures that everything gets covered even several events simultaneously! Also, I strongly suggest that couples hire videographers and photographers who have established excellent working relationships with one another. We find that when we work with one of the 6 or 7 photographers that we work with regularly, it’s like a wonderful dance. We know how they move, light, and they know the same about us. So not only don’t we get in one another’s way, we actually help one another! It becomes such fun for us, and we can then do so much better work for our couples. We’re now offering collaborative packages with some of our photographer friends as well as doing engagement shoots/love stories together.
I was amazed when I saw the moving images of our wedding unfolding on screen, and I hope this conversation provided some useful insights to help you choose the person who will capture the images of your big day!
Here is an example of one of Generations Cinemastories wedding videos …