"Surprise" Wedding Videography? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 14th, 2009, 10:49 AM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Kerrville, Texas
Posts: 75
"Surprise" Wedding Videography?

Tomorrow I leave to shoot a wedding out of town. The bride had contacted me previously about our prices, and she just could not afford to hire our services. I felt really bad, because I am friends with her, but we just can't afford to sell our services too low any more.

The next week, the bride's mother called me and hired us, but she wanted to make it a surprise for her daughter. So we'll show up at the rehearsal tomorrow night and we'll tell the bride, in front of everyone, that her mother has hired us as a wedding gift. Should be a cool moment! We'll have to film that part just to see her reaction!

This is all well and good, but I'm worried about a few things. We haven't been able to contact anyone else involved in the wedding because of this secrecy policy. We don't know what we can and can't do in the church, we don't know the photographer and what he/she is like, and we don't really know what type of wedding video this couple wants. I hate to ambush the bride after the rehearsal with a bunch of questions, as I'm sure she's nervous and stressed as it is. I guess we'll just be shooting from the hip, so to speak.

Has anyone else ever filmed a "surprise" wedding like this? I'd love to hear about anything I haven't thought of in a situation like this.
__________________
kerrvillephoto.com
Photo & Video specializing in real estate and events
Aaron J. Yates is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 14th, 2009, 11:03 AM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Surrey, UK
Posts: 680
"We don't know what we can and can't do in the church, we don't know the photographer and what he/she is like"

I wouldn't worry about it, i turn up to every wedding not having seen the church or heard about the photgrapher! maybe i just like the element of surprise and improvisation...

and the fact she contacted you previously means she already knows your style of filming and editing, so again, i wouldn't worry about that.

just trying to be optimistic for you here :)
Richard Wakefield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 14th, 2009, 11:48 AM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 1,104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron J. Yates View Post
We don't know what we can and can't do in the church
Someone recently made the comment, "Ask for forgiveness, not permission" with respect to this issue. I would be interested in comments about this from experienced videographers who have shot a large number of church weddings. It seems to me to be a good approach as long as good judgment is applied. For example, it's probably a good idea to ask before setting up an unmanned back camera on the alter. To some churches, this is Holy space. To others, this is just a place where the choir sits.

I do know that people have a wide range of personalities. Some are just natural contrarions. They seen to thrive on taking a difficult position on anything they are involved with. If you ask someone like this, they are very happy to give you a list of 47 things you can't do and then say "no" to anything you ask about specifically. Some might even ask that you not breathe if you asked it you could.

A specific example - If you ask if you can move around, you run the risk of being told "no". Of course your own good judgment should tell you to be careful to not be a distraction. There is some common sense that should be applied. But if you like to move to the back of the isle to shoot the recessional, you aren't likely to even be noticed if you move into position for the recessional. All eyes are on the bride and groom and if you slip down the side aisle you won't even be noticed.

In the weddings that I have been involved with, the photographer was vastly more of an obtrusive distraction than the videographer was.

I would like to hear other thoughts on this subject.
Jim Snow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 14th, 2009, 12:09 PM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
Aaron, since you'll be at the rehearsal why not ask then. Either the officiant or someone from the church will be there. As for the photog, I can't tell you how many I work with that I never met before and other than a couple of "hotshots" I 've never had a problem. I act like and treat as professionals and only ask the same in return. It works for me, but maybe it's because of my age, my experience or maybe it's because they see the handle of a very large gun in my belt. I don't know but.... ;-))))


Personally I really have a problem with the ask for forgiveness thing. Piss off the officiant and guess who suffers. The next person in. It's happened to me and frankly it really pissed me off. It's not fair, it's not right but it is...
Do you really gain anything by doing that? Wait till you go back the next time and this I HAVE seen. I saw 2 different officiants 1) throw the photog out of the church 'you are not welcome here as you were a distraction, yada yada..' and 2) the officiant waited until the vid guy moved his camera off the altar where he was told the last time he was there NOT to place a camera there AND he was to shoot the ceremony from the back of the church which he did not do the last time. He had been told previously those were the rules of the church and he choose to break them. Guess who went in after him and suffered because of him.
It won't kill anyone to follow the rules.
Just my opinion
__________________
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
Don
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 14th, 2009, 12:37 PM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 1,104
Thanks Don. I agree with the examples that you gave, especially the one about the videographer who knowingly disregarded previous direction about not putting a camera on the alter. That's totally inexcusable. I'm not implying that someone try to be caddish. I guess what I'm asking is; to what extent or detail do you ask permission? For example, if the church is OK with shooting from the groom side aisle, do you ask permission to move to the back of the aisle during the recessional or do you just quietly do it? You are answering a different question that I asked. You are using examples of obvious thoughtless jerks. I am asking just how much detail do you ask permission to do such as the example I just gave.
Jim Snow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 14th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
Hi Jim,
yeah they were extremes so to answer your question here's the way I personally handle it.
I introduce myself to the officiant (if at a church because no matter what, he's the boss) and I simply say, " If you have a minute I just wanted to go ask a couple of questions. First can I place an unmanned camera anywhere up front and 2nd I usually do the processional from the brides side up front not on the altar and then when the couple move forward together I move to the back. OK?"
Generally they will answer something like this " no camera ON the altar but if you want you can place it off to the side over there" (that can mean alot of things so I stand where he was pointing and ask "OK?" he generally says yes. Then he says OK about the processional. This assumes of course that I haven't worked there before.
Now there is a reason for this. When the officiant says OK first I get it on tape (sneaky) just in case and also let's face it, shooting from the front side angle ain't so good. The vows are said face to face or facing out towards the guests so shooting from the back is good. So in answer to your question (taking the long way...sorry) I make the move as most all officiants I have worked with pretty much require. Please keep in mind I'm talking about church weddings of all denominations in the greater Chicagoland area and again, if they say no camera up front or no moves period, I do abide by that. I also bite my tongue ;-)
I hope I answered your question. If not let me know and I'll try it again.
__________________
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
Don
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 14th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
To the OP - the bride already "priced you", so she knows what you do, she'll be thrilled.

Working with a photog - take a few to introduce yourself, and plan any potential conflicts - make sure you both know you will not be blocking and will still get your shots. I regard the photog as if he is another of MY cameras, and that sort of acknowledgement should reduce any stress. I've had good luck with photogs so far, and find that everyone usually thinks we are a "team"! Working together as professionals shouldn't be difficult... but I know there are "some" photogs out there...

For the venue - another good place to be super personable and genteel - make notice of any unique features of the sanctuary, be thoughtful of the ambiance, show respect and you'll likely receive it back. It's a shame that some "amateurs" disrespect the sanctity of the location. I wear black, and strive be the "Ninjavideo" - if anyone actually notices me, I have failed miserably... I use remote cams on tripods, carefully placed to be as much out of sight as is humanly possible.

I know I've had comments from officiants that they didn't even know we (my wife shoots photos) were there, and the couple can never figure out how we get the shots we do, but once you've learned how a wedding is scripted, you can shoose your marks and cues to take the best advantage of your equipment.

I've placed cameras in behind a floral display, but ON the altar... hmmm, not unless there's a way to make it "invisible". There are far better locations for a tripod mounted cam anyway.

I have to guess that some priests/pastors/wedding co-ordinators have had nightmare situations, so they prefer to be restrictive. Being thoughtful towards the stewards of the venue shouldn't be optional, and being able to explain how you can do your job without being noticeable or disruptive should be mandatory, then strive to be invisible!
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 15th, 2009, 12:19 AM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 1,212
The focus of this thread seems to have moved a little so in answer to the original question I'd recommend that you get the officiant in on the secret (with the bride's mother's permission - explain the reasoning to her) and do your usual negotiations with him/her.

Regarding permissions in general, we always meet with the officiant months before, show him oiur work, explain why we need certain positions and give him telephone number of other vicars/priests with "difficult" places and invite him to talk to them and confirm our professionalism. Every celebrant has an armful of horror stories and once he's happy that we're not going to be another no problem.

It also confirms your professionalism for the clients.

Recently we had a bride who was told by her vicar that only one camera would be allowed at the front, no exceptions. We had a meeting, explained everything and now have three cameras, two at the front, one radio controlled hothead at the rear. The process has never failed me. For the techs, we use three Z1s and up to six channels of radio mic - generally three plus three AT897 short guns

Incidentally, to link the two threads, the bride's mother in this instance called and said there is to be a surprise release of Chinese lanterns into the sunset. The reception's in a marquee (large tent in the UK) on top of a hill - if the weather's good it'll make a great close.
Philip Howells is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 15th, 2009, 11:29 AM   #9
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Kerrville, Texas
Posts: 75
OP here. Thanks for everyone's insights.

I have been researching the church venue and found out that they broadcast every Sunday for television, so they should be fairly receptive to video. I'm hoping this will make them a little more open to suggestions for where we can and can't be.

The rehearsal is tonight, so I'll probably ask to speak to the officiant and/or church coordinator in private and negociate some parameters. We've never had a problem in any church we've been to so far, so I don't anticipate any trouble here.

The secret will be out tonight! We plan on taping the bride's reaction when we see her at the rehearsal.

And some of you mentioned the fact that she already "priced" us, so she already likes our style. I hadn't thought of this, but you're absolutely right. She likes our style, so we should be able to create something she'll love!

I'll post here after the weekend to let you know how it goes.
__________________
kerrvillephoto.com
Photo & Video specializing in real estate and events
Aaron J. Yates is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 15th, 2009, 12:10 PM   #10
Trustee
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 1,104
Good luck Aaron! Let us know how it goes.
Jim Snow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 18th, 2009, 12:33 PM   #11
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Kerrville, Texas
Posts: 75
Results, as promised

The wedding was a success. We arrived at the rehearsal and surprised the bride. All were very excited that we were there to film. The church pastor had ground rules which we were happy to abide by. Also, the A/V guy for the church was able to give us an audio feed that worked out great for one of our audio inputs. All of the church folks were happy to have us.

I can't say that everything went as well with the photographer. Not to say that they were rude or unprofessional in any way, only that they were some of the worst we've ever had to work with. I'll just leave it at that.

All in all, everyone was very happy. We got some great footage that will make for a great wedding video. Thanks for everyone's input and recommendations. This is the best videography forum on the net, in my humble opinion.
__________________
kerrvillephoto.com
Photo & Video specializing in real estate and events
Aaron J. Yates is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:53 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network