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Old June 16th, 2010, 12:51 AM   #1
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Who DOESN'T shoot from front of church?

I am having more and more churches request no one in front of the bridal party, and to stay behind the last row of guests. I know much of this is because in this area, every wedding you go to there are 3 or 4 family members being photographers / videographers, causing distractions.

I have to say I do not mind too much, I still use multiple cameras, just from the rear or balcony. I still get the close up, wide shot and medium shot, and even some ultra closeups of rings etc.

I also like knowing everything is working fine with all the video cameras.

I can't remember the last time I had a good position from the front, guess I have been doing a lot of Catholic weddings is part of the reason.

Just wondering if this is isolated or becoming the norm.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 01:39 AM   #2
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Hi Denny

I try to have the main camera one row back from the front pew..sorta between the 2nd and 3rd rows...going further back means you need to elevate to get over the heads of people standing. Some of our churches that are more modern actually have aisles that widen drastically when they get to the two front pews so that provides a neat alcove to set up in. If I can setup on the front row then I will do it provided that the bridal party are not too close.

For me the closer to the front row I can get, means that no-one will block the main camera and I also can pan the main camera over to the readings without people in the way. I have had just too many issues with the camera further back!!

I tend to use the A-Roll cam for just the Bride, Groom and Priest.. and then a CU on the readers when they do their thing. My B-Cam does all the cutaways of the guests and all the wide shots too.

Chris

Last edited by Chris Harding; June 16th, 2010 at 06:05 AM.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 02:44 AM   #3
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Happily we're invariably able to set both our forward cameras "ahead" of the bride and groom with an eyeline to each - our third is generally at the back of the church straight down the aisle or to one side depending on the "geography". However, it is true that sometimes we have to work hard at meetings with the clergy to achieve that - ie after we've shown ourselves to be professionals and respectful of the ceremony, regardless of the actual religion.

Ironically I'm going out for one such meeting this morning, but I've had to have two emails and a telephone conversation to even get this far.

The problem I see is pretty much what you've described and one which I was invited to write an editorial about in one of our national bridal magazines yet to be published. The amateurs and the ill-behaved guests have driven many clergy to confining all cameramen to the back of the church. Most photographers can live with that provided the clergy accept and fulfill their job to make sure recalcitrant page boys and overcome bridesmaids are moved into pews and out of their sightlines.

In our case we can, if really pushed, put all three cameras on hotheads but they're not the same as cameramen and one must play safe with framing, focusing and movement if either or both the forward cameras is remote controlled.

As I say, the key we've found is to prove our professionalism but that adds to the workload and time investment and time is money.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 05:48 AM   #4
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Denny,
in my area MOST churches and officiants today will not let you shoot a manned camera from the front of the church during the ceremony. An unmanned camera is OK in most instances but there are some where even that won't work.
As for the processional, again, most will let me shoot that from the aisle in front of the altar (gotta stay out of the way of the bridal party) but as the B&G make their way to the altar I (we) have to make our way towards the back of the church. I have done a few church weddings where the officiant has said it was OK to be on the altar, Greek ceremonies come to mind but then I have to place a camera to the rear of the church to get the recessional, no big deal. Shooting from the back isn't that big a problem, you get the people at the lectern reading, the officiant uses it and the B&G face each other for the vows, the 2nd camera, mostly unmanned for me, generally gets me a pretty good face shot. There are some churches I shoot at where you can't be upfront for the processional and that does make problematic but hey, their house, their rules.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 06:14 AM   #5
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The powers that be at Churches here usually have no issue whatsoever with setting up as long as you don't cross the "sacred line" which seems to be somewhere between the couple and the front row of pews.

However I have had some absolutely brilliant priests who are happy for me to go behind them and off to the side so when the couple do their declarations and are facing towards the altar you can still get nice shots... Catholics seem to be the most strict but probably 30% of ceremonies happen where I can go even behind the altar!! Did that only once though!! as I found myself as part of the wedding video from the main camera and not really enough 2nd cam footage to cover my "walk" into view! and out of view again!

Some Catholic Churches here actually totally ban any photo or video work within the "sacred" area and also ban any shots in the aisle too!!! Luckily it seems to be just one Church that's fussy about that here!!

Chris
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Old June 16th, 2010, 07:01 AM   #6
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I guess this has to do with the powers that be at the Church. Two weeks ago, I have encountered what could be the strictest Catholic church ever.

They even handed an instruction booklet for Photogs/Videogs

1. After the march, you are not allowed to shoot. If you are not partcipating in the service, you should wait at the Church lobby for the vows.

2. You can only shoot vows in front of the altar.

3. After the vow, go to church lobby and come back for signing of registration. At all times you can not ask the Bride & Groom to pose.

That was a good 10 minute of footage at the church.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 07:15 AM   #7
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I have to admit that most priest keep the bride and groom facing the guests, or each other.

I have tried at an angle near the front, seems to be tough to get a good shot, and rarely get a decent shot of father walking bride down the isle, once people stand its over.

When the weddings are somewhat local (an hour drive or less) I try and go to the rehearsal its makes life much easier. I do however do a lot of out of town weddings where this is not.

I do several 1 camera video coverages a year, these I have not problem setting up both cameras in the back. The B cam is as much for my peace of mind as it is a "bonus" to the couple.

I will start asking about non manned cameras in the front, if I can start getting the ok, will invest in a smaller cam that is easier hidden.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 07:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel Lising View Post
I guess this has to do with the powers that be at the Church. Two weeks ago, I have encountered what could be the strictest Catholic church ever.

They even handed an instruction booklet for Photogs/Videogs

1. After the march, you are not allowed to shoot. If you are not partcipating in the service, you should wait at the Church lobby for the vows.

2. You can only shoot vows in front of the altar.

3. After the vow, go to church lobby and come back for signing of registration. At all times you can not ask the Bride & Groom to pose.

That was a good 10 minute of footage at the church.
LOL - we have a church like that too...and once the photog got on the altar, I disowned them immediately. We've worked there many times now so they don't give it to me anymore
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Old June 16th, 2010, 12:17 PM   #9
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I'm doing mostly Roman-Catholic churches and I never get to film from the front of the couple. I can setup with a tripod and maned camera on one side, so I can capture the bride & groom from their side, as well as the priest during readings and at the altar. I never move that camera (just pan & zoom). The 2nd cam is "mobile" and setup on monopod. That cameraman is moving on the other side of the church filming altar/couple and moves to the center for vows (few rows back).

Last year I had very "media-friendly" priest who showed me the best spot to film - at the altar, next to him :-) It was once-in-the-lifetime experience :-)
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Old June 16th, 2010, 06:45 PM   #10
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It is interesting reading the issues many of you have filming in RC and other traditional churches. I live in the Deep South USA and the handful of weddings I have done so far have all been at rented venues including one outside. Chances are most of my weddings will continue to be that or modern more informal churches where camera location will probably not be an issue.

However reading your experiences made me wonder if you have any language in your contracts pointing out that the finished product will be impacted by the constraints / rules put upon you by the venue?

Sounds like a contract should note that camera location, quality of sound system, and quality of lighting at the venue will all affect the quality of the finished video.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 06:54 PM   #11
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In the Terms and Conditions of my service agreement there is a clause that states to the effect that I will work within the rules of the venue and officiant and have no control over that.
I have never had a couple not understand that. Quite the contrary, many churches in my area have written rules they give to the couple to give to the photog and video people and in some cases we have to sign it and mail it back to the church. Now having said that, I seem to continually work in many of the same churchs over and over again and they know me some by name. There are some that when they see me they say "glad it's you we had a guy last week that...(fill in the blank) and some even let me bend the rules a bit. Just a little but still.
It's my opinion that when you put together a service agreement you need to think of every contingecy you can think of and CYA, hence the statement about camera placement.
Works for me, YMMV.
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Old June 16th, 2010, 07:55 PM   #12
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I'm sure that the churches see their share of "wanna-be papparazzi" shooters, and it's always fun when every family member wants to join in the scrum... with their cell phone and cheap digital pocket camera, of course!

Can't blame a church one bit for wanting to put some reasonable restrictions on that sort of behavior, and maintain a proper decorum and ambience. Heck we've discussed electric cattle prods and monopod blowguns here ourselves... I'd imagine if we could summon bolts of lightning from the sky, there would be moments...

This is where being able to explain the "ninja" shooting techniques where we disappear completely into the background is probably handy. I try NOT to be noticed if at all possible, wherever I or my cameras may be positioned. We've had complements at how we were almost invisible when doing a shoot, and I'd rather be discreet (and still get my shots) than be a part of "the feature". Seems only sensible to me!
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Old June 17th, 2010, 02:37 PM   #13
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What really needs to happen is that churches need to start laying out the rules for photo/video coverage to the couple BEFORE they book the venue. I know many couples still wouldn't know the difference, but some of them wouldn't like the idea of having all their photographers and videographers shoved up in a balcony together. The way it stands now, they don't know there is an issue coverage access until it's too late and they have already put their money down.

As for footage quality, yes, you need to have something in your contract that states you will abide by the rules of any venue/location that you film at .. and that the quality of the footage may depend on the restrictions imposed.

And Noel, that's the first I've ever heard of a church asking photo/video pro's to leave at points DURING the ceremony. Crazy.
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Old June 17th, 2010, 03:47 PM   #14
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Another thought - I came from Poland, and there Polish RC church (as whole organization) requires from all photogs and videogs special certificate of completion of a course, which suppose to teach them how to behave during ceremony in the church and where they can move around or not. It's kind of good - everyone plays by the same rules (both priests and vendors). Btw: the course is organized by dioceses.
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Old June 20th, 2010, 01:01 PM   #15
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While I realize that there are a few clergy in churches who are over-controlling, I suspect that many who are difficult to work with became that way because of a reaction to some jerk(s) photographer or videographer whose thoughtlessness at prior weddings left them resentful of the intrusion. I have seen some amazing stuff with a few photographers who just didn't care how disruptive they were. It's as if they thought that the most holy 'calling' on the premises was their 'call' to get their shot. I'm sure there are videographers who are just as thoughtless; it's just that I don't get to see as many videographers.

I'm curious if anyone has ever worked with the event florist to place a fixed camera in a floral arrangement at the front. Sounds silly - - unless it's the only way to get a camera angle that you need. A couple of locked-down cameras can be very liberating because you can take the higher risk shots that may not always turn out well. Without the cover cameras, you are forced to be more conservative with your shooting so that you don't miss coverage at key moments of the ceremony.
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