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


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Old July 7th, 2010, 10:35 AM   #1
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How do I ask to shadow/apprentice?

I come from a live production background (sports/concerts/presentations) where I was on camera getting exactly what the Producer or TD asked for. Most of the time, it was "follow the bouncing ball" style. There was never really a chance to unleash my creativity. That's why I'm excited to start getting more into event/wedding videography where I can be more creative and take the footage home to edit and display the way I want it to.

I'm a trial and error type of person but I am humble enough to admit that I don't know nearly enough to start out on my own. I'd love to have the chance to shadow someone who is in the field to see how it is done. If that even turns into a part time gig, I'd be elated. I realize this is a process and I'm willing to invest time up front to make sure this side job/career turns into the most it can be.

My problem though is, where do I start? I've compiled a list (not exhaustive) of most of the videographers and companies in the Charlottesville/Richmond VA area that I thought would be good places to start.

As a videographer yourself, what would you want to hear from a potential apprentice to make you want to bring them along on your next shoot? Is it seen as a hinderance to bring someone new along?

Do I need to have good equipment to bring along or have gear to contribute to the production? (maybe a boom pole audio setup or a DSLR B-cam) or would you be looking more for someone to help with the gear you already have?

How much is too much to ask for? Should I be satisfied with just tagging along behind someone for the day dragging cables or holding extra equipment, or is it appropriate to ask to spend some time with them while they edit?

I'm sure other questions will come to mind but I'm curious to hear what your opinions are. Thanks in advance for your responses.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 11:59 AM   #2
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I don't know about your market, but you sound like an experienced cameraman, just not in events. So I would advise approaching studios looking for work as a second cameraman at weddings. I don't think you need to work for free. If you had no camera experience at all, maybe, but that's not your situation

Usually, you would use your own equipment as first camera, but second camera might use their own, or the studio gear. You'll never use a boom at a wedding, so don't worry about that.

Useful equipment would be an acceptable camera (whatever that might be), good tripod, on camera light, wireless lav, or small stand alone recorder.

You could probably get $200/day as an assistant cameraman without too much trouble. More as you get experience.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 01:35 PM   #3
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IMO....look OUTSIDE of your immediate market for agreeable tutors.

What you REALLY are asking someone is to show you how to do it, so you can become THEIR NEXT and NEWEST COMPETITOR.

Now, ask yourself, once you are up and running, have gone through all the pains and expense of starting up, are you going to want to train someone who you know isn't staying, in everything you do, all your tricks and twists that make you unique in your market and why people come to you ???

To find someone who has nothing to lose, and your assistance to gain, it has to be someone who you are never going to compete against for work in the future.

Six months ago I was looking for a second shooter, and had numerous responses from people like you, who want to get into the biz so they can be on their own in the future with their own gigs. Each one of those responses, hit the circular file as there was no way I was going to educate and train my newest competition. Had one of those responses been from someone with the same goals, yet 2 hours away and outside of my market, it would have gotten looked at and probably even pursued.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 01:55 PM   #4
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That's a great point, Chip. That's is what I was thinking it would sound like which is why I asked the question. Here's something that may help in that regard...

As of right now I'm in the Charlottesville/Richmond VA market. My wife is just about to finish up her PhD and then I'll be following her to her first job which will certainly be far from here. I'm more looking for the training that will help me start my business in a different place 2(ish) years from now.

I agree 100% that I should share this information with prospective mentors and from what you've said, that should be one of the very first things I say to them. I'd hate to get the door shut on me before I have a chance to show my talent.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 09:49 PM   #5
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Brad with your experience, unless there's a good opportunity as a second shooter/editor that is going to compensate you well, 2 and half years is a long time to wait to dive in and get your own feet wet.

Also, unless you get some free rein, you could be just as stymied as assistant shooter/editor as you are by not doing weddings now. You are going to be shooting/editing to someone else' choices, most of the time.

IMO, if you did volunteer go-fer stuff on several wedding shoots over the course of the next 3-6 months, you are probably going to gain enough to dive in and make all your own mistakes......and those are the best teacher of all !!!!

If the game plan is move in 2.5 years, being on your own already with demos and the experience of fixing numerous screw ups behind you, you will go into a new market and be ready to market yourself as proven. You aren't going to be going in to a new hometown and telling people "well I was one heck of an assistant, give me a try" as your sales pitch.

Do your preliminary work there, cut your teeth, your new hometown will get someone ready to go "right out of the box" that way. They won't ever know of the struggles, the screw ups, because you are going to show them your polished work, and leave the rest back in VA.

IMO, being the new person in town, no track record locally, nor of doing weddings on your own..... it's going to be a tough sell to the locals, wouldn't you say ???
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Old July 7th, 2010, 09:59 PM   #6
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Brad I wish you were in the metropolitan area. You could definitely shadow with my company
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Old July 8th, 2010, 08:24 AM   #7
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I appreciate the thought, Monday. I was actually in Baltimore this past weekend at the inner harbor for fire works. It was a great time. If there is enough work up that way, I'd be willing to make a trip once in a while. It'd be nice to experience different markets so keep me in mind!

Yet again Chip, good points. This gets me back to how to market myself then to not be considered "future competition".

I have been one to just dive into an area where I have some expertise (thus my trial and error statement). So maybe diving in and making mistakes while learning from those and this wonderful board is the way to go. One example is currently why I'm waiting about a year before I dive head first into event/wedding videography. I am actually a local DJ at the moment and have been kept busy DJ'ing many weddings in the area. I have 5 more lined up until October. Trying to fit in video with that will run me into the ground. In addition, my assistant/sound man is leaving town next June and I won't be able to do it on my own. At that time I'll sell my DJ equipment which will finance the Video equipment.

So in all reality, I'm about a year away from being able to go out on my own anyway. Perhaps being someone's shadow until next June will be a great way to slowly ease my way in without overloading myself with DJ'ing and Video.

Now, to figure out how to not come across like I'm saying "Hey, I would like you to show me how to become a wedding videographer and then I'm going to leave you to become your competition".

Any ideas?
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Old July 9th, 2010, 01:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Owens View Post

Now, to figure out how to not come across like I'm saying "Hey, I would like you to show me how to become a wedding videographer and then I'm going to leave you to become your competition".

Any ideas?
OK..... you get that down pat and be able to do it with a straight face so it comes off as believable, and you are ready to go sell used cars and make some real cash !!!! :-)

There are times when a guy has to walk up to his best lil buddy and "whoop him upside the head" because he is staring at the obvious, but still can't see it.

Consider yourself "whooped".

Right now you have an offer to shadow in Baltimore. The people you are going to shadow know what you want to accomplish and are going to tell you the straight scoop, because you are NOT their competition. You are going to invest a long drive each way, a motel to crash at the end of the day, and hours of your time. You have a year to match up your free weekends, with their schedule and pick several to go and shadow and learn.

How long do you think you are going to have to look to find that same opportunity closer ???

Now along with while doing your shadow, you already have BRIDES who you could ask if you might be able to go and shoot portions of their wedding, for your education and training purposes. Offer it straight forward that if they don't have a video guy, may you please shoot some portion, and they are more than welcome to the fruits of your efforts (if there is any value to it), free of charge.

Don't ask to shoot the whole thing, ask for portions and see what you encounter for each segment. Maybe ask for just the ceremony to start, then later add a pre to the ceremony.... or do the ceremony and the speeches. Edit up what you get, and see what worked and what didn't. Bust it up, experience it in parts and pieces and shadow as well, giving you a complete "learning experience".

Lastly, take the gear you have, toss a cam up on a tripod while DJing, and shoot some of the reception, for your own promotion, as well as experiencing how crappy reception lighting is. Work on your audio, both room and board feed. Sync the two, clean it up, and see how much time you invest there.

If you do go down the obvious road, in a year you are going to know what you are wanting for additional gear, and what it is going to give you to improve your product. You will most likely begin "gearing up" even before a year from now as the budget my permit. You also have a year to do your market analysis as to what people are charging, and who is actually working for those prices. Watch your receptions and talk with the photogs. They should know who's doing what as they should have to share the spot light with them. You see video guys working your receptions, chit chat, find out what they are shooting/using for their gear. Guys will talk about their toys, usually readily, long before they are ever going to talk about their business model.

In a year, you should have a good idea how well your ideas and creativity are going to work.... or if they "suck rocks" when tried in reality.
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Old July 9th, 2010, 07:22 AM   #9
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<bows>

I agree on all accounts. Just last night I was thinking of recording my (DJ) feed from the speeches and putting them over the couples' first dance song. Next reception I can do that AND include the video from the speeches and first dance. Next reception I can record the vows on top of that. Next wedding I can VIDEO the vows on top of that.

The ideas are flowing now.

Thanks so much for the advice Chip. Consider me "whooped" indeed.

In that case, anyone in the DC Metro, Northern Virginia, Fredericksburg area that is looking for an eager 25 year old with shooting/editing experience and great client skills as a 2nd or 3rd camera op for the day, I'd be more than happy to help out!
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