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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old January 3rd, 2011, 08:55 AM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Santa Clara, CA
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Avoiding the Jimmy Durante look...

I see a lot of wedding videos where the people in it have unusually large noses. Do you deliberately pick clients with big noses? Seriously, what I am referring to is the use of wide lenses to shoot people especially for prep shots. Wide lenses are great for use in small rooms. They are also useful for artful composition of architecture and scenery. But they are horrible for faces. I think some videographers don't even notice it - - or care.

Portrait photographers use somewhat long lenses around the 35mm equivalent of 105mm for a reason. These lenses don't distort faces. People are sensitive about how they look. Invariably people don't want to look like they have huge noses. If they have a big nose already, they can really freak out when they see a 'big nose special' produced by they friendly videographer.

I just thought this deserves mentioning. If you're stuck and have to use a wide lens for people shots, it's a good idea to keep your distance. Don't get closer than a head to foot shot. For closer shots of faces, use a longer lens or you will be delivering video with a custom Jimmy Durante look. Believe me, you really don't want to do that.
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 10:08 AM   #2
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I had to laugh a bit when I read this. I 100% agree but I remember back in the 70's (don't remember exact date) but I was doing a portrait for an executive and he had a rather large nose to be mild about it.
Anyway although he was a very heavy hitter in the business world he was also self deprecating and used his nose as his main point of attack about himself. When the portrait shoot was done he suggested, actually insisted that I do a shot with a wide angle and made his nose the point of impact of the shot. I was relunctant but hey it was his money, his shoot and his nose. I used a 24mm on my truty NikonF got in about 6 inches, focused on the end of the nose from a slightly low angle shooting up (which I hated doing except for certain model poses) and fired off exactly 1 frame of Kodacolor ASA100.

Long story short, he LOVED the shot. I had a majority of his face in it with his eyes looking straight down at the camera. It was really an awesome look. He laughed and said he wanted it for his office. I had the lab make it B&W and cropped to a bit under 7wide by 10 long. He framed it and it hung in his office for over 10 years until he left his job and then passed away.
Too bad that over the years and numerous moves that negative has been misplaced. It was a fun shot but I do agree 100% if using a WA keep your distance. ;-)
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 09:24 AM   #3
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I think it's a flow on from photography... it seems to be fashionable at the moment for wedding photographers to shoot the entire day with a 17-40mm lens and never be more than 5 feet from the bride. So, the videographer has to move in closer so the photographer isn't in his shot. I've come arcoss a few shooters lately who work with this style, and they all seem to be younger photographers.

It is likely also also be due to the HDSLR revolution which means now many guys are shooting with much wider lenses available to them - which is great, if you choose the right time to use them.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 02:49 PM   #4
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mostly from one photographer - Platon.

He shoots portraits medium format with a wide-angle lens. Normally crouched below a large softbox right in front of the subject.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 02:27 AM   #5
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Jim you have to remember that portraits are usually shot with plenty of light so a hand held 105-135mm can give acceptably sharp results and/or that the portrait photographer is using a tripod mounted camera. How many wedding video people shoot with neither plenty of light nor a tripod?

Some facts about photography (including moving pictures) remain inviolate and one is that if you want a picture to be sharp, absolutely sharp, at the edges as well as the centre you can only rely on it if you use a tripod and a very good lens. I'm using the word rely because you can get lucky but that's not the way to ensure it. And a very good lens doesn't necessarily mean expensive - I have a 100 snappy (35mm film) camera with a Tessar three element lens which is so sharp you'd cut yourself.

Unfortunately the reading of books on photography is declining as fast as all other reading - if only people anxious to get into this business would learn their craft first they'd have so much more success and so much less disappointment. Trial and error can be very tiresome and discouraging.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 04:01 AM   #6
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"Trial and error can be very tiresome and discouraging. "

and also very unfair to the paying clients who are practised on.

One of the reasons that wedding photography and video are held in low esteem by many is that people know that anyone with 1000 to buy a camcorder can present them self as a "professional" without any need to substantiate their credentials, nor have any understanding of the craft/art other than what they've seen others do in short clips on the internet.

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Old January 12th, 2011, 04:45 AM   #7
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Absolutely right George, and of course you highlight an aspect which I'd ignored but which adds to the frustrations of a business like ours ie when people take money before they're really equipped (and not just with their 1000 camera) to do the job.

The irony is that whereas I and perhaps you too had to fork out for developing and printing of our mistakes as we learned, today's learners can practice digitally at virtually no cost.

I know this sounds is if I'm leaning towards sympathy for the so called professional body for which you and I share some disdain but it's not. I learned my craft from a postwar weekly series of magazines which purported to grow into a cinematographic encyclopedia which the father of a pal loaned me. Later I bought books by and about the great photographers and and film makers - and years later got to work in the Mosfilm studios which happily for my sense of awe and occasion hadn't changed much since their time.

I had and still have a 9.5mm Pathe Baby (which cost me 1 - an important sum for a 10 year old) and if you want a lesson in why cameras should be tripod mounted try hand-holding a camera that has to be handcranked twice a second!

I so admire the work of many of our contemporaries in this and similar forums whose work is spectacular but equally I could scream with frustration at the other people who seem destined to fail simply because they're starting with the wrong priorities.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 06:49 PM   #8
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It's been one of my complaints with short films or ultra low bydget movies. I had one guy I was helping with his film and he had no concept of lens selection (in this case zoom level). "Uhm...you know, we CAN move the camera, it doesn't have to be shot from where I happened to be standing."

Sometimes with low budgets shot in a house etc there just isn't enough room for a long lens, but still, it's amazing how many filmmakers don't seem to get that lights can be moved and same with the camera.
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