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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old June 2nd, 2008, 01:21 PM   #1
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Missing shots

Over the weekend, I struck up a conversation with the photographer. We were talking about horror stories and he told me that he accidentally missed the cake cutting because he had to go to the bathroom and the DJ basically went on without him.

Which got me thinking - we are only human and inevitably, there will come I time where I will miss an important shot like that - it's bound to happen, right?

Naturally, there are precautions that you can make (communicate to the DJ, etc). But, if and when that happens, how do you deal with it?
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 01:38 PM   #2
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It will happen that is for sure, at which degree? Only time will tell.

I do put a very important clause in my contract that states "...to the best of our ability..." Which mean as humanly possible. This clause covers miss hap or simply things that our out of our control.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 01:57 PM   #3
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During one ceremony, I told the 2nd cameraman (via two-way) "Get ready, the kiss is next". Of course, I meant "Stand still and be watchful", while he understood it as "Move to a good position".

We were both moving when the B&G kissed! Amazingly, both of us had left our cameras rolling while we moved, and with some zooming and image stabilization in post, I was able to get a passable bit of footage of them kissing. Pretty crappy in my opinion, but the B&G never complained.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 02:08 PM   #4
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I just posted a similar thread about this so I'm curious to see what others say!

At the weddings I've been at I've seen two "styles" of shooting fromo Photographers. Those who capture "what happens" the best they can. And those who "stage" moments and ensure a "wonderful" product. I think both have pro's and cons as I mentioned in my thread.

As I've never seen another videographer in action, I've just assumed that the same "styles" apply there as well.

In my own experience, I have certainly had times where I got the bride to "fake" getting into the limo so that I could get to the church early to set up, do checks etc and still have that footage.

However, I'm not comfortable with asking a B&G to stop dancing at their first dance and pose for me as I've seen some people do.

This is something I'm still struggling with...
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 02:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Kelsey Emuss View Post
However, I'm not comfortable with asking a B&G to stop dancing at their first dance and pose for me as I've seen some people do.

This is something I'm still struggling with...
We shadow the photographer..........that is if they know what they are doing. I recently did a dark reception, and yes, I turned on my two camera lights and lit the floor very well. This time the photographer would shadow me using my light. But I digress.

One of the greatest benefits we did this year was to go with a tripod and steadicam at the wedding receptions. What this allowed us to do is chase shots more. So if the B&G are dancing and they turn, I can turn just as they do.

As for the original thread. The closest we've come to this was I had one camera late on the introductions because I didn't know exactly where they names would be anounced, but we had the other going, so we're good, just not perfect on that one shot.

We try to plan and find out who is in charge at weddings so we know what is going on, and even then you depend on people to let you know what is going on.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 02:59 PM   #6
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Nightmare story...

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Originally Posted by Nick Avdienko View Post
Over the weekend, I struck up a conversation with the photographer. We were talking about horror stories and he told me that he accidentally missed the cake cutting because he had to go to the bathroom and the DJ basically went on without him.

Which got me thinking - we are only human and inevitably, there will come I time where I will miss an important shot like that - it's bound to happen, right?

Naturally, there are precautions that you can make (communicate to the DJ, etc). But, if and when that happens, how do you deal with it?
I saw one real horror story at a wedding a few years back where I was the organist. We were past the first hymn and into the ceremony proper, and I was facing the cameraman over the top of the organ console as he stood beside his camera, which was set up for the shots of the vows. I wasn't particularly paying attention to him but I remember being vaguely aware that there was something not quite right (ie "wasn't there a red light on that camera before?") I must have been looking puzzled because he suddenly checked the camera, saw it wasn't recording and I shall remember his reaction forever. He went white, then red, then white again, and then spent the rest of the wedding looking a sickly green. Then I had do do my bit on the organ again, and he was busy filming again when I next looked, but with a sort of quiet desperation.

At the end of the wedding, as soon as I could after I had finished with Mendelssohn, I asked him "Did what I think happened just happen to you?" He looked even more worried until I said " Right, I'll ask the minister if he can re-run the main ceremony for you if you don't mind breaking it to the happy couple. If you shift the camera round a bit you won't see the empty pews. I'll ask the piper outside if he can shut up for 10 minutes."

So that's what we did - the B & G and I think best man etc came back in, and the still photographer waited until Take 2 had finished before he carried on with the job. The B & G were very understanding, it was sunny outside and the day was apparently saved. I think that was my good deed for the day because I don't know if the cameraman was in a fit state to make that decision himself.

Glad it wasn't me, though I've had an off-day at the organ when it was a 3 betacam job for the video :-)
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 03:39 PM   #7
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Yowsa - more horror stories!

How do you break the news to the B&G when you don't have the footage? Do you offer their money back?
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 04:07 PM   #8
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This is the primary reason I use multiple cameras for every ceremony. One camera is unmanned, and "should" always have a safe shot. The 2nd camera is manned, and I give the operator detailed instructions before the ceremony on what shots to have when ... and I make sure that 95% of his footage is shot static (with as few shot changes as possible), so this becomes another "safe" camera. I operate the 3rd camera and I move between shots a lot more and try to be more creative as well.

For the reception I shoot 2 cameras. My assistant always has a wide to medium shot of the action (toasting, dancing, etc.) and I go for the closeups and creative shots. I make it a point to talk to the DJ or coordinater right away, and then I check back with them VERY often to make sure they remember I'm important and need to be kept up to date.

I generally work like a dog on a wedding day, so I rarely miss anything. This past weekend I had a quick breakfast (a tiny breakfast burrito) and started shooting at 7:30am. I didn't eat or use the restroom until the end of the reception 9 hours later. It's a rough day but I just never want to miss anything.

I think as long as you are making a solid effort to capture things, then if Murphy's Law shows up and you miss something then that is life. Like you said, we are only human. Maybe if something goes wrong just remind the B&G that Janet Jackson had a "wardrobe malfunction" during the Superbowl halftime show. Stuff just happens and you can't be perfect.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 04:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Nick Avdienko View Post
Yowsa - more horror stories!

How do you break the news to the B&G when you don't have the footage? Do you offer their money back?
I had a couple several years back who paid me $500 to shoot their wedding. It was my first wedding shoot. After the wedding they were supposed to give me a bunch of materials to use in the video. For 2 years I tried to get those materials. When I finally got them I realized I was missing 2 tapes. I had moved across town since their wedding and apparently lost the tapes in the move. I ended up editing together what I had and didn't bill them for the 2nd half of their $500. I had mixed feelings on that since they had taken 2 years to get the ball rolling.

I had another wedding where I lost a tape that had most of the important reception stuff on it (toasts, first dance, etc.). I was sick. I spent 2 days looking for that tape before I gave up and called the bride. I had an assistant cameraman who had some of the footage, but it wasn't great footage since they were shooting for "B roll". I offered the bride a discount in the neighborhood of 20-25% which seemed reasonable considering that I still had 90% of the footage. She was definitely not happy and I'm not sure how things would have worked out. In the end, it turns out that the tape had just gotten misplaced with another wedding I had shot, so I had all of the footage afterall.

I think if you miss something you should first determine the value of what you missed (both in terms of cost and sentiment), and then come up with something that you can offer the bride (extra service, discount, etc.) that more than covers that value. If they aren't happy with your offer, then it's probably time to explain that you are only human and that mistakes DO happen.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 04:30 PM   #10
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Sorry to be a post-hog, but here's a better example.

I shot a legal deposition a few years ago and it was the first I had ever done. I was very much up front about this, and made sure the client knew I needed to know EXACTLY what they wanted so I could get it all right.

I had to record video and audio directly to VHS, and also record the audio separately to audio cassettes. I was instructed that the date/time had to appear on the video footage. During a trial run 2 days before the deposition started I felt everything went perfectly. The job took 4 days and the hours were much different than we had agreed to in my contract with the client (one of the days ran like 12 hours - contract stated 6 hour days).

Anyways, I get a call later from the client and he is livid that the letters "REC" appear onscreen on the video footage in addition to the date/time. Now, I noticed this during my trial run but thought nothing of it. It didn't seem like an issue to me at all. The job paid about $2,000, and this was for delivery of quite a few VHS and cassette tapes. All of these tapes worked just fine and had all of the information the client needed. The ONLY issue the client had was with the letters "REC" being onscreen.

The client requested a 50% refund. I refused. I offered the client a 50% refund on all future jobs until they had been refunded the full amount of this job. So basically the client brings me 2 more of these $2k jobs and saves $2k and is able to give their own client a full refund if they choose to.

They did not accept this offer, and eventually dropped their asking discount down to $500. I still refused, because I had delivered the client a fully-functional product, and the issue was about something that I had not been instructed on as an issue. In the end we just went separate ways and the client filed a complaint against me with the BBB. Nothing came of that because the BBB is a somewhat pointless orginization.

The moral here I think is that sometimes you have to stand your ground and not get pushed around. If you tell the DJ that you're heading to the bathroom for a second and ask him to wait until you return for the 1st dance, and he ends up starting the first dance before you get back, then I would tell the B&G and probably wouldn't offer them much in terms of extra services or a discount. You only have so much control at a live event and you can't be expected to act like Superman.

If you've done everything possible to avoid missing something, and it still happens, just be up front with the B&G and see where things go.
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Old June 2nd, 2008, 05:14 PM   #11
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there are only 2 types of wedding vidographers. Those that it HAS happened to and that it WILL happen to. Be in the business long enough and there is very little that won't happen to you or that you won't see. Man could I tell stories.
We all feel bad about missing any shots but it has happened and will always happen. Some B&Gs are cool about it some aren't.
For me the most important person to talk to at the reception is the DJ or band leader. I find out whats going to happen when and TRY to be ready for it. At the ceremony once the music starts both cameras roll and don't stop until the recessional is done. I also make sure I have a program with me to look and see what's going to happen next but that doesn't mean it will. Things change, officiants forget things...all sorts of reasons.
The thing I have to cover me just in case is in my service agreement. It says and I quote "...will not be held liable for any footage of events not captured due to restrctions placed upon the contractor by either the event's officiant or venue or interferences from guests, participants or other vendors or if the contractor is not informed of an event about to take place".

Now please understand my lawyer wrote this and in all th eyears and events I have never had to enforce it but it's there just in case. I hope I will never have to use it but just between you and me, I've missed stuff also. Nothing big luckily and not in the last roughly 10 years BUT...

It sucks to miss something but at some point you need to go to the bathroom or eat or whatever you have to do.

Live with it and move on.

Don
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