Stupid Question On Ceremony Position at

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Old November 19th, 2008, 06:02 PM   #1
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Stupid Question On Ceremony Position

Hey all..

I know this is a pretty stupid question to most people here, but I have a question on where to stand when shooting the ceremony. My question goes thusly...

I have done a few weddings so far, but with all the weddings I have done I have been lucky and allowed to pretty much set up the camera anywhere I wanted without any kind of restrictions from the church. However I have a wedding coming up in a couple of weeks where I have been told that I can only shoot from behind the couple and can't be anywhere in front of them or on the side.

Now where would most people put the tripod for the best shot? I know that in the aisle makes most sense, but wouldn't that be rude to all the guests? I can't see the bride and groom liking that very much.

Once again, stupid question, but would appreciate any input you can provide.

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Old November 19th, 2008, 07:21 PM   #2
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I usually have a tripod in the back, off to one side of the aisle. Sort of a boring angle, but at least you can tighten up the shot as needed.

Do you have a small cam you can set up unmanned for second angle? I personally don't want to be in the "front" of the action if at all possible, but I use multiple cams preset for the angle and framing I know I'd want if I were manning the camera. Even hiding a cam forward behind a flower arrangement can be effective to get you SOME coverage of the bride/groom during the ceremony. Just some thoughts, don't know if it will give you some ideas, but worth a shot!
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Old November 19th, 2008, 07:26 PM   #3
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I only have one camera, so I can't really set up unmanned anywhere else.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 08:36 PM   #4
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I shot single cam weddings for about 10 years before I could afford 2 cameras and while it is tough and you only get the one angle, I still shoot as if I don't have a 2nd camera running.
Here's what I do. IF I can I stand at the front for the processional. NOT on the altar but in front of it and off to the right when facing down the aisle. IOW on the brides side. I then get the processional, the handoff to the groom as as the couple make their way up to the altar I move around to the center aisle and back. I shoot the rest from the back. BORING but in many case necessary. I adhere to the rules of the church and the officiant. Some may just say the heck with it and do whatever but I prefer not to as I may be going back there again (I've shoot over 100 weddings in one church over the years-they know me and trust me not to break the rules but they also allow me more latitude than all the other video guys). I can get the readers at the lectern the cantor, the priest doing the gospel and homily, the vows (since the couple faces each other for that) the candle, and all the other things that go on during a Catholic ceremony or any other for that matter. I'm also in position to get the recessional as well.
Again, perhaps not the best place but over all not the worst either.
Best thing to do is go to the rehearsal and check out where everyone will be standing and what is going to take place AND talk to the officiant if he/she is there to double check as to waht you can and can not do.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 07:32 AM   #5
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I agree with everything Don said. I've been shooting single camera weddings for years, and I usually have to shoot from the center aisle. - If there is a balcony, you might want to consider setting up there.

In smaller churches, I will be all the way in the back, most larger churches there is a split aisle about halfway back. I usually set up there and usually don't have a problem with blocking the guests view. If I have to be in a spot that blocks the view of some guests, I usually speak to them ahead of time. Sometimes, they'll move, but mostly they're cool about it. They know I'm their for the bride and groom and understand I'm there to get the best shot I can.

Before the wedding, find out what podium the speakers will be reading from. You will want to make sure that when the guests stand, they're not blocking your view of the priest/rabbi/readers.

The reinforce what Don said, always follow the directions of the priest/rabbi/minister. It's an important part of being seen and treated as a professional. As Don said, if you go back to shoot there again and they see you aren't being a distraction,they will probably give you more latitude for future shoots.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 07:39 AM   #6
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I know you shoot single camera, but to make your life easier you might want to consider buying a used HV20 and cheap WalMart tripod to set up a wide safety cam in the back of the church. That way, if you have to move around a little to avoid unexpected groomsmen, gigantic flower arrangements, or pushy photographers you've got an angle to cut back to while you're getting re-adjusted.

If you look around, I'd bet you can get what you need for around $500.

-Ethan Cooper
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Old November 20th, 2008, 03:28 PM   #7
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The second cam doesn't have to be the greatest, but one cam is "flying without a net". In the case of equipment malfunction, that second cam is "cheap insurance", and I can't imagine a reason NOT to have one.

Even an HV20/30 or similar Sony HD camera will do fairly well, and come in handy - and for a fairly small investment. Sony HC5's can be had for under $400 on eBay, in some cases WELL under... message me if you want one and don't "do" eBay. Seriously, having a little second angle cam should be mandatory IMO.

Whether you have a safety cam in back and follow Don's moves (which are excellent advice and mirror what I do with the "manned" camera), or if you set up the second cam up front somewhere if you can find an angle (some church layouts don't lend themselves to this, others are ideal), you've got a cutaway shot, and if the camera is set right will get you coverage you might otherwise miss.

It's up to you, but it's worth considering adding a bit to your kit, and it can solve many problems! If you're facing a restircted shoot zone, letting them know you'd like to remain discreet and your unmanned camera could cover the necessary angles if they wouldn't mind you setting it up before the ceremony should get some brownie points too! I have a case with various small tripod/clamp solutions, so I can place my small cams virtually anywhere... and I have!
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Old November 21st, 2008, 10:53 AM   #8
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To echo everyone else, rule 1 is find out what you CAN do. Get the guidelines from officient. One of my best positions was during a shoot in a reformed church. The pastor very sternly told me up front. You can only put your camera in one spot... but, you'll like the spot. It was in an elevated choir stand behind and to the right of the alter. It was perfect. I've since moved off the tripod and now use a Bogen 561B monopod. I'll position myself in the center aisle as close to the front as feels comfortable without being a distraction. Also let the photog know your plan so you can coordinate moves up or down the aisle. I also place a second unmanned camera up close and to the side of the alter.

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