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


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Old September 19th, 2008, 01:05 PM   #1
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Tomorrow is first paid wedding--any advice?

Tomorrow is my first paid wedding job--feeling the pressure now--from pleasing the B&G to making a good impression at the venue to working with the photographer. I will only be able to shoot from the balcony during the ceremony, but really want to get the bride arriving. May have to run (literally) from her arrival to the balcony. Do you all have a prepared shot list? Equipment check list? I pulled one from Videographer magazine to use for equipment. I have a lot to learn for sure but will do the best I can. My biggest issue is the weight of the A1 and the resulting shakiness of the shots. I have a tripod and monopod so will use those as much as feasible.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 01:20 PM   #2
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First off BREATH!
There feel better?
OK, since you're relegated to the balconey, get up there after the bride arrives, start the camera and let it go. Do not stop the camera EVER during a ceremony. Get a program (printer bulletin) if they have one and use it as a guide as to what is going to happen next. Be ready for it and anticipate it. For example, in a Catholic ceremony after the bride is handed off to the groom the preist does a welcomimg message some do a prayer then it's time for the first reader. While the reader is making their wy to the lectern you can pan over to the lectern tighten up the shot and be ready when they start speaking. Conversely, when the reader is done as they walk off the altar from the lectern pan back to the B&G and maybe widen out to get the preist in the shot as well. Do the same for the 2nd reader and when they do the hymn use your best judgement. The preist will then go to the lectern to do the gospel and maybe stay there for the homily, maybe not.
Anyway that's why you want a program-it gives you a great run down of what's about to happen. Remember, start the camera and let it run until the parents walk back down the aisle for the recessional. Let them pass thru the shot THEN you are fairly safe in shutting down.
Most of all RELAX, BREATH and remember, you're there to document the happenings and things sometimes don't happen in the way we are all used to. It's like shooting a breaking news story. Things sometimes happen fast and loose. Do the best you can and above all, keep calm.
Good luck and have fun.
Don
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Old September 19th, 2008, 01:40 PM   #3
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Hi Wendy,

Don made some very good points, my concern is when you say Balcony I am assuming you are shooting from the back? I also assume you are using 1 camera.

In my opinion, I'd try to sweet talk the priest about shooting the procession in front before heading back-up to the Balcony. You'll miss a couple of blah-blah from the priest but you captured the emotion of the Bride walking down the aisle. You'll probably make it in time for the ist reading.

Always have your 2nd, 3rd tape with you and a battery. The last thing you want to happen is running downstairs because you run out of tape and it's in your camera bag somewhere.

Enjoy the shoot Wendy. Let us know how it turned out.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 02:11 PM   #4
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Thanks guys!

1 operator, 2 cameras, one is emergency backup only and probably will set up and unman during ceremony, then won't use at all during reception. I will let you know how it went.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 02:52 PM   #5
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How come your at the back? Im guessing its because the officiant made you. Always try and talk to them nicely. Assure them your not going to run around and yell CUT! halfway through. Some have some strange ideas about what we get upto.

What are you doing about audio as you are at the back.

Roll it, have tapes ready. Avoid zooming at all costs unless you plan to edit them out later which is where a second camera comes in. you can use it for cutaways. Zooms also cause the iris to close so your light goes.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 03:08 PM   #6
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Forced to be in the balcony due to the church's rules. Audio: using two H2s, one with lapel mic for groom (he's in wheelchair, will clip to his belt inside jacket), and one to set near altar as backup. They record very clearly and are so easy to use SD cards for transfer to computer. I will try to film entrances then get to balcony (as suggested) where A1 is already zoomed for altar. Thankfully, they are facing each other the entire time so I won't have to see only their backs.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 02:20 AM   #7
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Forced to be in the balcony due to the church's rules. Audio: using two H2s, one with lapel mic for groom (he's in wheelchair, will clip to his belt inside jacket), and one to set near altar as backup. They record very clearly and are so easy to use SD cards for transfer to computer. I will try to film entrances then get to balcony (as suggested) where A1 is already zoomed for altar. Thankfully, they are facing each other the entire time so I won't have to see only their backs.
If you can bring a still camera, use it to take some wide angle shots of the entire ceremony while your cam is zoomed in. This will help "fill" for any emergency occasion, or provide good DVD cover material.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 09:16 AM   #8
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If you can bring a still camera, use it to take some wide angle shots of the entire ceremony while your cam is zoomed in. This will help "fill" for any emergency occasion, or provide good DVD cover material.
Now we're photographers? :) That would really irk the ones I work with.

She's got a 2nd camera, I think she'll be fine using that for her filler.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 11:54 AM   #9
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Now we're photographers? :) That would really irk the ones I work with.
She's got a 2nd camera, I think she'll be fine using that for her filler.
In my opinion, any photographer that is too stuck up and afraid to have the "video guy" use a little still camera in the middle of the ceremony (no flash obviously) ..... is a bit too insecure about their position & skills. I've worked with several DJs that take stills of their crowds for their marketing. I've seen the florist take pictures of their flowers for their portfolio. I would find it satisfying to know that other vendors were using my chosen medium for advertising because they believed my chosen medium was best to advertise their business.

If the photographer showed up with a pint sized GS320 (like my emergency camera) and set it up on a tripod in the back I'd say "hey nice little cam" make with the small talk, etc, possibly even offer to share a short final clip shot with my GL2 (with watermark) with him/her if they like. Same if the DJ had a little consumer camcorder to shoot the crowd dancing.

But then again, I'm a pretty relaxed guy and I realize not everyone else is.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 12:32 PM   #10
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Hey guys, thank you all for the input. Being a one person operation here, I think I would have to relegate the still-camera to staying put at home, but thanks for the idea. I have too much to carry as it is and I don't think stills belong in a video UNLESS they are really awesome, which mine wouldn't be. Amina (stillmotion) is an exceptional photographer and I see why they sometimes include those in the videos! I hope I remember everything! I'm off to the wedding....
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Old September 20th, 2008, 04:01 PM   #11
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In my opinion, any photographer that is too stuck up and afraid to have the "video guy" use a little still camera in the middle of the ceremony (no flash obviously) ..... is a bit too insecure about their position & skills.
Yes Jason you could say that and I might agree but it still doesn't change the fact that a lot of them have clauses in their contracts which forbid any other paid vendor from taking stills without permission - just like many of us have about video.

These formal "understandings" might not be necessary and one could argue they wouldn't hold up but they do keep the peace. :) And since you're a nice guy you could probably get away with getting a complimentary pic (or 2) from that same photographer if you just ask.

Quote:
If the photographer showed up with a pint sized GS320 (like my emergency camera) and set it up on a tripod in the back I'd say "hey nice little cam" make with the small talk, etc, possibly even offer to share a short final clip shot with my GL2 (with watermark) with him/her if they like
Careful now... that same photog may one day convince a couple that this GS footage is all they need for the low, low price of $300. :)
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Old September 21st, 2008, 06:18 AM   #12
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Back to the wedding results--if anyone is interested. I learned a few things, got some practice and things went differently than I had 'dreamed'. Unfortunately, videography still seems to be misunderstood and/or not yet fully appreciated. The photographer was obviously well respected, and his directions were followed. While I was relegated to the balcony, he was allowed to stay down on the main floor, albeit in the back. Thankfully he was a nice guy and did not give me any problems at all. However, the general assembly tried to avoid being in the video shot (close-ups), as if I was always trying to shoot someone 'else'. Only one person I asked felt comfortable being on camera. I felt what I got on film is not going to be anywhere near what I had hoped, but I would have had to direct people, something I'm not yet comfortable with. Plus most people just avoided--I almost felt like I was crashing their party. This was not a traditional wedding due to the groom's disability and the church's rules. The Pastor was strict and would not let me film the entrances. There was no garter toss, no bouquet toss and no entrances or departure. The B&G stayed at the reception while I was contracted to leave before they did. One more thing that I couldn't control: The groom was staying in the back of the church and I HAD to mic him, so I finally interrupted him (he was talking to the pastor and his brother and it was apparently a private conversation); however I still HAD to mic him! So the brother took control of the H2 and said he would put it on the groom and turn it on. They didn't want me to touch the groom (too personal??) and they didn't want their current conversation recorded so I HAVE NO IDEA YET if that audio was recorded correctly! I did however put a second H2 nearby but the groom's voice is really low.

Lessons Learned:
1. Turn off red light indicator! I'll have to read up to find out how.
2. Make it clear to B&G that I need to direct some shots.
3. Higher prices ??? (this one is a two edged sword), but once I feel I've attained a certain level of expertise, my prices will definitely go up!
4. Need diffuser for light--my Canon VL-10Li II is way too bright and blinded the bride immediately, she commented, and I turned it off. Unfortunately I don't think there is a diffuser made for this light (I had looked in the past for it).
5. My new Monopod was great! I have a monster of a tripod and it was only useful for ceremony. I could not carry that thing around anywhere.
6. Be proactive in talking with guests to help them relax about the camera.

Overall the wedding reception was extremely fun, they played really great dancing music and I had a hard time standing still! I wanted to dance! Their love story is one that could make you teary eyed, but I don't think I'll be able to portray that in the movie. He had a swimming accident at a beach and a wave hit him very hard and he ended up with a broken neck and a quadripliget. She was his grandmother's answer to her prayers (I did get this on tape but given the loud music, not sure how much can be heard).
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Old September 21st, 2008, 07:07 AM   #13
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put a piece of black gaffer tape over the tally light. I've done this for years on small form factor cams.IMO it helps alot.
As for micing the groom, when you talk to thecouple BEFORE the wedding make sure you tell them that you will be micing the groom before the ceremony and it is important that YOU do that to insure the unit is on and set correctly for proper audio pickup.
As for the priest's rules and the photog being able to be downstairs and you not, well, that's how it is sometimes. It his (the priest) house and his rules. He either has a big misconception of what we do OR someone in the past overran his bounds and ticked off the priest hence "all video people are jerks-banish them to the balconey". nothing you can do.
To difuse the light either get some 'tough spun' OR use a coffer filter (white) cut to fit, a couple of peices of gaff tape,BANG, instant diffuser.

Not quite sure whatyou mean about being proactive with guests to get them comfortable with the camera or directing shots. First for the most part I amthere to document the day as it happens although there are a couple of shots I do 'direct'. The guests in attendance well frankly if they don't like the camera then they can move andIwon't tape them. I'm there for the B&G not the guests and if they don't like me or my being there or taping them, TOUGH!
Now having said that, I;ve had people cover their eyeswhen I start to tape. OK fine, Ican take a hint and I turn towards other action. I've had people say nasty things to me,great, I love morons so I just say something back. That's my nature-like, "wow, I didn't realize that they served booze to 12 year olds that have the vocabulary of a teenager and the IQ of an 8 month old. Do you eat with that mouth?" But that's just me. I have also had people try to cover the lens. Uh, NO! DO NOT TOUCH MY CAMERA! Period, in no uncertain terms. You don't want me to tape you, fine just turn away but do not touch the camera or me.
No that doesn't happen but every once in a blue moon so no worries.
I am there for the bride and groom not the guests not the parents not the bridal party and if the guests don't like that fact that I'm out there doing my job, too bad.
By and large most of the people I have run into at weddings over the last 25 years and 1600 weddings I've done have been really nice people but every once in a while there is a jerk alert.
It's good to get the 1st one under your belt, I'm sure it will be fine and I'll bet you learned a lot to take to your next one.

Don
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Old September 21st, 2008, 05:38 PM   #14
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Don, thanks for the tip on the tape for the light! great idea! No one was rude really; just wanted to avoid being filmed and no one seemed to appreciate the skill set it takes to do this. I think I need to be more assertive, that's all. Thankfully!!!! my audio turned out well from the H2s. I made a HUGE mistake and turned off the audio on the A1 (I think by just holding it against my body) and no I did not monitor the audio! I know, I know, big no no. Another lesson learned! Now, on to making a movie....with no music! The B&G said they would provide it and they didn't have time yet, so instead of editing to the music I will have to add that when they send me their CD. They can't blame me for holding up the project. They are into Celtic music and apparently they want specific songs.... I AM glad the first one is over--all my other weddings were for friends so I was pretty nervous with this one. Now...how to get more bookings????
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Old September 21st, 2008, 06:30 PM   #15
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I AM glad the first one is over--all my other weddings were for friends so I was pretty nervous with this one. Now...how to get more bookings????
1) Finish: Get this project knocked out the door unless it truely is on hold till the clients provide music. IF so, go to step 2.
2) Demo: assemble several clips of important parts from all of the weddings you have shot. Putt them into a Demo DVD (I have yet to do this step actually).
3) Network. Get to know a wedding coordinator. Show them the demo.
4) Referrals. talk to previous clients (even if they are friends) and get quotes from them.
5) Advertise. Nothing brings in the business like Referrals. Second to referrals is being where the brides are when the brides are looking for vendors.

Note I'm still working on the Ad & network part. All my clients found me via either referral or my web site (very little ad budget spent on it.... may be $100 in PPC via Google AdWords).
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