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

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Old June 20th, 2010, 02:27 PM   #16
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Red Lodge, Montana
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"I'm curious if anyone has ever worked with the event florist to place a fixed camera in a floral arrangement at the front."

I've done variations on this with some regularity with both indoor and outdoor weddings. I've been using a Canon HV20 for this. It is pretty small and can be unobtrusive when placed on a tabletop tripod sitting inside a floral arrangement behind or to one side of the altar. Several of our local churches have pianos and organs situated behind and to one side of the altar area, and I've sometimes had space to place the HV20 back there, as well.

Over the last few years, many officiants here have taken to having the couple face the guests in the pews or at least face each other. So, there is not always the need (or availablity) for usable views from cameras behind the altar area. Conversely, it has become increasing popular for couples to light unity candles, placing them behind or to one side or another of the altar. A stashed fixed ("locked down") cam is useful for that. For outdoor weddings, we may have unity sand pours rather than candles (late afternoons can be breezy at the foot of the mountains here), but the tables are usually placed behind the officiant. If there isn't a convenient bit of shrubbery, I've sometimes just stuck the HV20 on a tripod a discreet distance back with the tripod set low (legs not extended). The couple sees the camera back there but most of the audience does not. In several local venues (both indoor and out), the space is such that musicians (such as string players) have to be placed back there, which makes for a more convenient stash than floral arrangements. There have several times when the florists/wedding planners have set-up a large arch with intertwined flowers, and stood it back from the couple. I've been able to bungee the HV20 and tripod to one side of the arch where it sort of blends in with the arch framework.

All this usually requires conferring with the florists, the officiant, the couple, their wedding planner (if they have one), and the bride's mother. Usually, it is enough to simply talk to them. There's rarely any negotiation required. The mere fact that I ask is taken as a sign that I'm a professional and respectful of their views and work.

With regard to the Original Posting, I can think of only four of five weddings over 15 years where I've ever stood with a camera in the front area. Most of those were outdoor weddings where I had cameras to the sides and could stay out of the view of the guests. In only one (which was one of the few single camera weddings I've shot), I was in front; in that one, I was seated on the aisle in the second row of seats with a camera locked down on a low tripod mount. (The couple were explicit that they only wanted to see what the ceremony looked like from a few feet away.) For as long as I've been doing this, almost every church in this area and almost every officiant has had rules about photographers and videographers staying out of the field of view of the congregation during the ceremony. Some are stricter than others. Several say that photographers and videographers have to stay behind the back row of seats during anything ceremonial. In virtually every wedding I have done, it would be unthinkable to stand with a camera in or next to the front rows of pews.

These restrictions were caused by certain local photographers who treat ceremonies as press conferences. (I've taped a couple of civil weddings where they have walked up and leaned over the officiant's shoulder during the exchange of rings!)

As for bending rules, it helps that I've been doing this for 15 years and that I am the only regular wedding videographer in this area so most officiants now know that I set my stationary cameras and rarely move around once the ceremony starts. The movement exception for me is weddings in very large venues where I may have cameras against the back walls in a place with widely dispersed areas for lecterns, musicians, candles, altar, and etc. In particular, the Catholic churches in this area tend to size, being set-up like arenas with seating nearly all the way round the altar area and reader's lecterns situated 40 feet to one side of where the priest stands in front of the altar; the musician's positions are 40 feet (or more) to the other side. With such large areas to cover, I sometimes need to re-aim cameras during different parts of the ceremonies. I position fixed cams behind the pews and try to be relatively discreet about moving to re-aim. I always mention this possibility to the priest before ceremonies and all the local priests all have been fine with my doing this. The size of these venues is not always a detriment because these arrangements often furnish places to discreetly stash fixed cameras looking back towards the couple from far enough away to not be obtrusive. There have been several times where I've used as many as six cameras. (There's still life in the old VX200s, yet).
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