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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old January 11th, 2009, 05:31 PM   #1
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How do you Start.....

OK. You have the equipment. You know how to shoot. You know how to edit and to post work. But you never did a wedding? How do you start doing weddings when you never have done a wedding.
The organization I work for ( approx 40K employees) I create, produce and edit training videos (with a team of course) which have a cinematic flow. The video they were producing before one would have more fun pulling their nails out with pliers.
I dont think I can go out there and set-up shop and show a potential client that I never did a wedding. "Hold on a sec....check outthis training video." Not a good marketing tool.
Anyone have any good advice?
I would love to hear your suggestions.

Tom Marks
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Old January 11th, 2009, 05:58 PM   #2
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Hi Tom,

Actually, you can use your "other" video experience as a selling tool to potential clients, you just can't expect to charge top dollar at first...most likely. Craigslist is an option and there are a lot of new companies and new videographers who offer very inexpensive services for the demo material on Craigslist.

Before you get going with your first wedding, I would highly suggest either doing a training camp or at the least purchasing some training material from a respected company/wedding videographer such as Mark VonLaken. I do not think you would regret it. I think Glenn Elliott does this as well but I am not sure.

As much as already know about production, cameras and all....weddings will have their own new challenges for you so ask a lot of questions on this forum(wedding and events)....guys like Glenn Elliott, Mark Von Laken, Jason Magbuana, Chris Jones, Travis Cossel and others will share a lot of good advice and their work is top shelf.

best of luck to you.
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Old January 11th, 2009, 05:59 PM   #3
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Find someone getting married (friend or family preferably, or someone with no budget, but good people who will actually appreciate your offer). Be sure to go to the rehearsal, read this forum at length, pack your kit the day before (I like to take a partial kit to the rehearsal too to test framing and maybe catch some good antics), be prepared for ANYTHING, wear comfy shoes/sensible clothing (most prefer black for "stealth"), and get yourself a "demo" with the first or second one.

Myself I did a couple because I had equipment (pretty crappy stuff now I look back on it)... and NO experience, yet I still managed to get good results somehow (at least the people who got the videos were thrilled... I still twitch if I watch the "old" stuff), so you're at least a big leg up to start. And if you utilize the resources of this forum and the collective skills and talent you'll find here, you'll probably be better than 90% of the competition right out of the gate!

As for actuallly doing a wedding shoot... some go well, others are absolute nightmares... may you have an easy one first , and a nightmare shortly thereafter so you know how the gig works!

You'll either decide the wedding video business is "fun" (in which case welcome to the asylum <wink>), or decide the rest of the regulars here are quite truly beyond help!
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Old January 11th, 2009, 06:14 PM   #4
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Dave has it right I think.

I'm no expert, but I can tell you what I am doing. I also make training videos at my work, and have been producing video for my church for 8 years. To get started doing weddings, I have done 4 weddings for friends, but only ceremonies (no receptions, highlights, etc). In March, I am doing my first serious cinematic wedding. I'm doing it for free again, to hone my skills and to have something to show prospective clients. The hard part is committing to do that much work for free, but its what I am going to have to do. Its easier to work for free when those who are benefiting from it are friends, as this couple is. They are also aware that I am new to weddings, do not claim to be the Michelangelo of wedding videography, and make no promises about not screwing up, which is harder to do when someone is paying you good money. There really is no pressure, although I want nice footage for my demo reel. In the end, I plan on giving my best and providing them with a finished product they will (hopefully) love. I'm planning on keeping it simple but with some nice cinematic details to hopefully make it stand out in their eyes. I'd love to try a same day edit, as there will be many young people there (i.e. future brides and grooms), but I think I'm best off keeping it simple for this one.

BTW: I have purchased some of Von Lanken's material, very good. I plan on using some of his techniques to enhance my production.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 02:15 AM   #5
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I started 5 years ago. NO weddings. How did I start? Its always hard but you need a wedding under your belt to get into the business and show prospective clients.

A friend of my wife is a nurse. Nurses get married. There's always someone getting married almost every week at the local hospital. So as a favour she put on their internal bullitin board that a videogrpher was offering to shoot a wedding for free for the first person that answered the message. Within an hour the phone rang nd I had a wedding to shoot two weeks later.

I was extremely nervous but had prepared before hand and had a list of "must film" shots.

I didn't have radio mics at the time so used my MHK 416 shotgun, which did a very good job considering. ( it was only 10 feet from the couple)

I spent the next couple of weeks editing it and the couple loved the results so much they gave me 200. I had something to show clients. Within 2 months I had filmed 3 weddings and was on my way. Now I do a yearly sample dvd with about 8 weddings on it and his brings me a lot of work
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Old January 12th, 2009, 07:36 AM   #6
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You need to have something to show your client on DVD or website. One way to get materials is to do a free wedding video for a friend or family or if you know someone who does wedding video to assist, be a 2nd shooter.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 08:30 AM   #7
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I think you're getting some good advice here. The one thing I would add is just do it. Find a way and start doing some.

I don't do weddings but got roped into one for a friend and client last August. In preparation I started reading this list (so you're already ahead of the game), and checking out online clips to see what others were doing. Armed with that, I shot the service and all the key action at the reception. Aside from the challenges posed by an outside wedding shot in the shade with the rest of the world bathed in bright sunlight and a very persistent wind it all worked out. The couple was very pleased with the result and if nothing else should help retain the client's business for the coming year. As a result, I have two more booked this year. Again, I don't do weddings but it's hard to turn down money.

Dave said his work improved with experience and I'd say that's very true if you care about the craft. I started shooting motor races at a local track last spring and the difference in quality between the first and last races is remarkable. I don't expect Fox or ESPN to call any time soon but it's opened doors and I'm producing the track's TV spots for this year.

From what you've said, I think you're doing it right. Set the couple's expectations accurately up front. I've always believed in the adage "under-commit and over-deliver". That way no one's disappointed with the result.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 03:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Marks View Post
OK. You have the equipment. You know how to shoot. You know how to edit and to post work. But you never did a wedding? How do you start doing weddings when you never have done a wedding.
The organization I work for ( approx 40K employees) I create, produce and edit training videos (with a team of course) which have a cinematic flow. The video they were producing before one would have more fun pulling their nails out with pliers.
I dont think I can go out there and set-up shop and show a potential client that I never did a wedding. "Hold on a sec....check outthis training video." Not a good marketing tool.
Anyone have any good advice?
I would love to hear your suggestions.

Tom Marks
couple easy rules of thumb for weddings (which are almost 90% of what I shoot). since you;ve done other videography, you know the tech, now time for the nich specific stuff

Assume unattended cameras will be blocked by people standing in front of them
Assume you need more tape & batteries
Assume the client will want the world at dollar store prices (just kind of comes with the territory).
Assume something will change since the rehearsal, but attend it anyway. very valuable. write down the order of events.
grab one of the programs at the wedding. good idea for bride's taste, good place to find names usually spelled correctly, and handy to keep as a reference when editing.
Shoot everything, and don't stop recording or else you could miss something great.
You must have fun. Nothing clams up a smile on a guest like a "hard at work and concentrating" look from behind a camera.
Get lots of sleep the night before and don't drink (much) coffee / tea the day of. Your bathroom breaks seem to be when the DJ ALWAYS decides to start the first dance, or anything else important.
If possible, get a list from the bride / groom of important people to get on video (like the long lost relatives, etc) and have a bridal party person in charge of pointing them out to you at the reception. I've had more than a few requests to "add more footage of so-n-so" who came in from across the world for this wedding, etc.
Watch lots of sample to see what sort of presentation style is "in" at the moment, and eventually shoot to your own style or version. We all learn from others because they have so much to offer.

Hope that helps you out.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 04:02 PM   #9
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Great advice Jason and everyone else. I would just add that it's so important to just do that first wedding, whether it's for free or for a minimal fee. You will need work to show future potential brides and you'll need the learning experience as well (without the pressure of having a full-fee booking). I thought the idea of looking on Craigslist wasn't bad. Also, family and friends of family can be great.

I charged $500 for my very first wedding AND I shot the full day and used three cameras. It was one heck of a learning experience.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 03:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Tom Marks View Post
OK. You have the equipment. You know how to shoot. You know how to edit and to post work. But you never did a wedding? How do you start doing weddings when you never have done a wedding. (cut)

Tom Marks
I've been lurking around this forum for a while so I hope my two cents worth is of value to Tom.

I came to weddings after 30 years in corporate, training and a little broadcast. Very wide range of clients meant I'd worked in most parts of the world, and got paid to do it. I'd done a few weddings - mainly "freebies" for corporate clients - but they weren't the real thing in the sense that we used a single BVW507 workhorse of a camera which was completely wrong for weddings even then.

Only when the French government screwed up my plans to live in the French Alps and teach English (for which I paid to acquire a quaification that even the French would accept) did I come into weddings exclusively - at the suggestion of a former employee who had long been a wedding still photographer. His view was that the standard of videos, in contrast to most stills work, was pretty poor. It still is.

We've now been doing this two years. It's been tough to get started because here at least word of mouth is the most important sales factor. We did two freebies for clients of my photographer pal and one for the daughter of another friend. That, with the material we had from the earlier productions gave us something to show.

We attended scores of wedding fairs - and still do. We give away demos like crazy -since those who don't come by recommendation will do so because of your work and the price. We use both our cars as adverts and always remind friends of what we're doing. Constant promotion is the word I think.

What makes me smile are the youngsters who announce they're starting with weddings before moving on to greater things. Frankly I've used all the 30 years production experience - and more - in the last two years doing weddings. Expect the unexpectable, plan for the most unlikely and then still be prepared for someone or something to surprise you. And it's not just in the recording but organising your editing workflow for the peaks and troughs of weddings is another science in itself.

In contrast, my life in corporate - much of it in studio - where you have control:
over the sound (no babies screeching over the vows),
over the lighting (no sudden changes from 3200K under lights in a dark nave to 9000K as the sun suddenly streams from a clear blue sky through the windows),
over the talent (no vicars moving directly into your eyeline - exactly as they said they wouldn't at the rehearsal),
over the crew (no stills photographer demanding "precedence" for their shots as they climb all over the church architecture)
and over the running of the event (one more time please), feels like the easiest job in the world.

Having said all that I have no regrets. Weddings are a great environment in which to work - after all who goes to a wedding to be miserable? And these days at least there seems to be a competition amongst the girls attending weddings to see who can wear fewest clothes!

We use three z1s, up to six radio mics - there is simply no alternative for people speaking, a Fig Rig, two manually operated cameras and a third radio controlled on a hothead at the back of the church which gives us a tremendous edge over the competition. We use three 3W LED maglights on microphone stands for the first dance - you don't need to destroy the ambiance of the event - and an H2 for wild sound. If there's a band we'll take a feed from their mixer into one channel of the Zoom and record the drums via an AT4040 for the live element. We edit on a beefy PC with 2.5Tb of storage and two 24in monitors, using Liquid - most of the work is edited multicam - for which Liquid is superb. We have our demo blanks printed and coated by a local duplicating house and burn our own as we need them on a seven station duplicator.

We take great care to know as much about the wedding in advance as possible Our clients complete a 25 page questionnaire which gives us the clearest possible idea of what they're going to do and what's going to happen and when, and it gives them the chance to tell us what the do and don't want to see in their video. It forms the main specification against which we do the first edit.

The other thing I'd recommend is that you dress for the occasion. If the clients are wearing morning dress, so do I. If they're in dinner suits or lounge suits, so am I. My wife is always in black. Clothes were the least expensive and most commented upon part of our gear.

So Tom, good luck and have fun. It's better than working!

www.phpweddings.co.uk (shortly to be updated)

Last edited by Philip Howells; January 17th, 2009 at 03:52 AM. Reason: additional information
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Old January 17th, 2009, 05:48 AM   #11
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re

do one for free. Thats it.
If your good at something dont do it for free
i cant see the point of doing 3 or 4 weddings for free, unless your really bad and have no idea or passion for the medium.
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Old January 17th, 2009, 02:35 PM   #12
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do one for free. Thats it.
If your good at something dont do it for free
i cant see the point of doing 3 or 4 weddings for free, unless your really bad and have no idea or passion for the medium.
Hi Luke, I didn't think there were any wedding videographers on Guernsey! I got a call last year by a couple who were getting married at Vale Church and then on to Le Fregate. Very nice as well. I had to come over from Weymouth on the Condor, stayed two nights then get the Condor back to Poole.

They phoned on the Wednesday with the wedding on the Saturday. Talk about a rush. Ended up slighty under charging as it turned out he was a banker and dripping in it. Oh well!

The photographer was a girl who was very finger happy on the camera. Click click click click......must have taken 3000+ pics.
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Old February 8th, 2009, 04:10 PM   #13
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Hi Tom

I knew nothing about shooting weddings but read as much as I could about the subject.
I shot my first wedding in Dec 2008, enjoyed every min of it room for improvement charged 330 now charging more . Have another wedding in April and perhaps a second one in april also just booked a couple for May 2010 just go for it. You have alot more experience than I do that will help and will be a great selling point.
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