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Old August 7th, 2011, 12:11 AM   #1
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Wedding Videography Decorum

I'm not a professional videographer, wedding or otherwise, but since many of you here are this is the perfect place to ask a question about what I would call "decorum." I was at a wedding recently that employed two photographers and a videographer. It was an Indian wedding, so the ceremony was quite involved and rather long.

Naturally, many of the wedding quests were taking pictures of the event. (I was shooting video.) Or I should say "trying". The problem was that the three pros were doing such a thorough job covering the event that few photos could have been taken that did not include their backsides. They're all over my video shots, certainly. Since they constantly orbited the proceedings (I do understand they need to move around) there was no location where one could avoid them even part of the time. Quite often all three of them would converge to get closeups - and I'm talking a few feet from the wedding couple - and all _anyone_ in the audience saw in those moments was their backsides. (In case you are wondering they did the same thing at the reception to cover the first dance, cake cutting, speeches, etc.)

This behaviour struck me as more than a bit rude. Speaking with other quests at the end, I was not the only one who thought so. I realize that the photos and video they were taking were extremely important to the wedding couple. I'm sure serious money was paid for that service. But when you invite guests to your wedding ceremony you presumably want them to see something of it. Prior to this I had never seen this kind of behaviour from photo/video-graphers at a wedding. They were always far more discreet.

PS. I should also mention that the videographer's technique appeared to be influenced by the Bourne movies. He was almost never standing still while he shot and he did a lot of "zooms" by walking closer or farther away. His motions were for the most part very quick. Quite often I observed him tilting the camera's horizon by tens of degrees. He also tended to stop shooting before the end of defined portions of the ceremony, thus missing what I thought were important parts of them. I am really curious what the final, edited result will be. Since I'm not a professional videographer I can't really judge his technique, but I can say my instinct would not have been to cover that particular event in that particular way.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 12:27 AM   #2
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

Hi Alen

We always try to stay "out of the way" but there are situations where you just need to be "in the way" to get the footage that the bride expects!!

With speeches where we are, they are done from the lectern, usually to the side if the bridal table and I have a camera and softbox light set up in the middle of the dance floor so yes, when I'm at that camera, the guests DO see my backside while I'm shooting and the tripod and camera do block some views. I think that most guests do put up with the visual blockage because they do realise that it has to be done and I can only remember one instance where a guest complained about my camera blocking their view.

If you add 2 photographers and 2 videographers to the mix then it does appear to be blocked off for the guests a lot more!! We obviously try to be as unobtrusive as possible but sometimes you just have to block some guest's views and most do understand that you are not doing it to be annoying!!!

Chris
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Old August 7th, 2011, 01:41 AM   #3
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

Alen, the best thing you could do would be to find out the names of the photographers and video man and tell everyone you know who's getting married NOT to book them. Just because these hacks take money doesn't make them professional.

There are plenty of people like Chris who don't impose on the wedding.

I don't think Chris was one of them but ask yourself how many cameramen of the scores involved you spotted at the recent Royal Wedding.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 01:43 AM   #4
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding
...most do understand that you are not doing it to be annoying!!!
"Rude" was probably the wrong word to use. I do realize they don't do it to annoy the guests! They do have to "get the shot." That's what they are paid to do. However in this particular instance I personally think they went overboard and were not giving even a single thought to what everyone was seeing in the process. Or how, by becoming active participants in the proceedings they changed the event (or at least the experience of the event) for everyone else. Akin to how a quantum event is changed by the act of trying to measure it.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 01:47 AM   #5
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
Just because these hacks take money doesn't make them professional.
I was being kind. :)
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Old August 7th, 2011, 02:48 AM   #6
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

We do our best to keep out of the way but sometimes that backfires badly - guests with cameras video or otherwise can be a giant pain and block shots at the worst moments.

"sorry about missing the kiss after the cake but uncle Joe must have got a great shot, perhaps we could use that?" as the bride looks at the back of Uncle Joes head filling the screen.

I'm beginning to hate iphones that seem to come from nowhere blocking my shot, like the hand moving out into the middle of the isle as the bride walks up.

every Tom, Dick & Harry has a digital camera / video camera and has no concept of 'being in the way' I even had to compete with an 8 years old wielding an throw away instamatic as I circled a couple on their 1st dance with a steadicam.

I had a bridal entry to the reception ruined by relo's with cameras - there were 7 of them standing and shooting away oblivious to the fact that they were blocking both operators.

I now ask the MC and the celebrant to mention that there are professional photographers and videographers employed by the couple and to please let them get the shots they need.

I do however agree that we should not become 'active participants' we are there to record not to intervene.

In 12 months or 2 years the bride & groom & family want to enjoy quality photos and video - that they paid for.

in 3 months the 'snaps' that guest take will have been downloaded, viewed/emailed and deleted.

this is a bit of a rant but gee it pisses me off sometimes.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 04:02 AM   #7
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

Hi Paul

I must admit that the MC's I work with will always convey the correct message when prompted..ie: Let the professionals take the cake cutting without interuption and then you guests are more than welcome to take as many shots as you want to.

Normally works quite well but you always get the enthusiastic amateurs that spoil it!! I had two photogs (guests) either side of my camera (and actually blocking my movements at some stages) shooting probably 1 frame every second during a speech ...heaven knows what they were going to do with 200 +++ exposures of someone standing behind a lectern !!!!

I guess it's part of our job to put up with them??? I usually try to cover enthusiastic photogs during the ceremony who are constantly in frame with cutaways but if it becomes too bad, I whisper a gentle warning in their ear and if that doesn't work, I leave them in the frame (and let the bride know that Uncle Joe blocked my field of view almost constantly)

It's the cross we have to bear!!! and as Alen can now see, it's quite often the other way around at weddings where guests are not only in the way of the other guests but also block both video and photo pros!!!

Chris
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Old August 7th, 2011, 04:07 AM   #8
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

I was shooting a large Muslim wedding a few weeks ago where none of the three photographers appeared to have a lens longer than 24-70mm so spent the entire time clustered around within a few feet the action. I had a better view than most as I was operating a camera up on a crane from the back but all the guests must have had a very obstructed view. Doubtless the photographs will be great but at the expense of the event.

Last edited by Nigel Barker; August 7th, 2011 at 05:43 AM.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 07:12 AM   #9
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

I try to stay out of the way of the guests as I know how frustrating it can be to have someone suddenly appear in your viewfinder (or LCD screen)...HOWEVER...I am getting paid by the couple to document their day and I WILL get the footage I need to do that and if it takes blocking aunt Sally and keeping her from getting "her" shot so I can get mine, I guess aunt Sally will have to get hers later or not at all.
Don't take this wrong, I am as genial, cordial and easy to work with as anyone and really do try not to block out the guests but when 1/2 the congregation has either a camera phone or some sort of digital camera and without using the common sense they were given at birth I get a bit put off as it were. the same holds for receptions, cutting the cake is by far the worst. It seems that everyone wants to get into the act. I have been blocked by "relatives and friends" enough times over the years to know they aren't being malicous, mean spirited or deliberate they are just being stupid, moronic and downright dumb. They know I am there as well as a professional photog, hell, they've seen us pretty much all day, so it's not like we just suddenly appeared, they have seen us shoot the intros/entrance of the bridal party and bride and groom, and as they (the B&G) make their way to the cake to cut it and the DJ is playing Sugar Sugar by the Archies (I really have a dislike of that song) and the guests crowds around the cake as the photog and I try to elbow our way in to do what we are being paid to do, you bet your bippy I'll do what it takes to get in there including telling the B&G to "STOP" and not in the name of love either. I've had so many people crowd around the cake that I have had to use my drill instructor/ father of 3 voice and make a simple satement..." Make a hole, make it big". People look at me like I'm crazy but folks I have a job to do and by gosh, I'm going to do it. If I get in your way I'm sorry but I think the B&G will be more interested in my footage than the picture you are trying to take with your IPhone, the picture that will never leave your phone, will never get emailed to the B&G, the picture that will die a lonely death in your phone.
So if I get in your way to do my job, lay it off to my time doing news and fighting for position, or the fact that I'm only 5'6" tall and perhaps have a touch of little mans syndrome, or the fact that I'm old and forget to say excuuuuuussssse me everytime I have to move to get a shot and I get in your way or maybe I'm just plain rude. In anycase, get the hell out of my way, I got a job to do.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 09:31 AM   #10
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

Evidently this discussion has touched some nerves and what is coming out is not so pretty. Interesting to see so much rage against wedding guests bubbling to the surface. I appreciate that they can be a big PITA. However, in this case the guests did not get in the way of the photographers, or at least only infrequently. In the case of the ceremony everyone was seated, including me. No one could possibly have been in the way of the photographers there. At the reception, again, people taking photos were either seated or standing at the periphery of the dance area - no one was blocking the photographer's shots.

The issue here shouldn't be amateur vs professional. The issue is, rather, as a wedding photo/video-grapher can you get your shots without blocking the audience's views of the event most of the time? This is what happened here. Speaking of the cake cutting, since it has been used as a specific example, I can guarantee you that almost no one saw the actual event. The three photogs were clustered so close all most of the guests would have seen was them. The wedding couple was almost hidden from view. Speaking as a hypothetical _customer_ (been there, done that already) I want you to figure out how to cover my wedding without being a major part of it (sorry, you're not in the wedding party). Yeah, it's what I'm paying you for.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 10:48 AM   #11
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

Please understand that first, this type of thing doesn't happen as often as people might think. 25 years ago, yeah because the vidguy was new and a real novelty to most people at a wedding. Today it's a lot better but it does happen and while I really do try to be polite to guests sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns so to speak. Second, guests do get in the way more at the reception than the ceremony but it does happen and there you have little chance of moving or correcting for it. If anyone thinks it doesn't happen, then you haven't shot a lot of weddings. At the repception for the most part simply asking them to move slightly works if there is no where else for you to go. Thirdly I'm not the big bastard everyone thinks I am, if I were I wouldn't have been around and self employed for 39 years with 27 in video.
However, again I must say that if I do happen to block aunt Sally's shot of whatever, well I'm sorry but that's how it goes sometimes. As for not being a part of the day, well, hells bells man, I AM a part of the day. I've been hired and paid, they know I'm there to do the job THEY want me to do and they know that I am NOT a fly on the wall. AM I obnoxious and interfering? 100% emphatically NO but I am a part of the day, just as the photographer is. Never have people spent more time and energy watching me than the bridal couple. If they want a fly on the wall, then they, the bridal couple, should hire one.
Everyones style is different, what works for me might not and probably wouldn't work for someone else. It's MY style and MY personality so I use it. If people don't want it, hire someone else, a weekend off now and then is kind of nice.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 11:59 AM   #12
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

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Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
If anyone thinks it doesn't happen, then you haven't shot a lot of weddings.
I do not doubt you and I haven't shot _any_ weddings! Actually, I did "shoot" one very recently. The couple hired a photographer but not a videographer. When they heard I would be bringing my camcorder they requested copies of the video. Naturally. Since I wasn't there as an official videographer I was not accorded ANY leeway in terms of blocking, etc. I still managed to record the important bits, although obviously not with the skill that you guys here do. I'm not keen to give the couple copies of the unedited clips. I will have to mount the NLE learning curve (Sony Movie Studio Platinum 10, DVD Architect 5, Soundforge, etc.) and see what I can accomplish. I'm very new at this (although I have shot and edited a couple 10-minute "movies" for a film class back in the days of Super8) so I will no doubt be asking for advice from the experts here and in the other forums from time to time on my journey.

Quote:
As for not being a part of the day, well, hells bells man, I AM a part of the day. I've been hired and paid, they know I'm there to do the job THEY want me to do and they know that I am NOT a fly on the wall.
I think we're agreeing. I said a "major" part of the wedding, and by that I mean my guests should not be looking at your backside ALL of the time during the important bits. You are not the event nor are you even directing it (although in my experience attending weddings photographers do often direct certain portions - "now pause as you take a bite of the wedding cake...got it"). But neither would I expect you to be a fly on the wall. It sounds to me like you strike the right balance, if sometimes it makes your job much tougher. You are to be commended. It's unfortunate that the "pros" at the event I described didn't have your attitude. I should add, just to be clear, that the wedding was still a success and a wonderful experience and I was very honoured to be invited, but it could have been even better.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 12:53 PM   #13
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

Hey Alen,
I wasn't aiming at you and sorry if it sounded like I was. You happened to bring up some valid points and I responded as if it was directed to one person and it wasn't. I just felt those points needed to be addressed in a general manner. Again nothing aimed at you or anyone in particular for that matter.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 01:28 PM   #14
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

When I shoot the cake cutting, I usually kneel down or get down low so that people behind me can see what's happening.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 02:37 PM   #15
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Re: Wedding Videography Decorum

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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
Alen, the best thing you could do would be to find out the names of the photographers and video man and tell everyone you know who's getting married NOT to book them. Just because these hacks take money doesn't make them professional.

There are plenty of people like Chris who don't impose on the wedding.

I don't think Chris was one of them but ask yourself how many cameramen of the scores involved you spotted at the recent Royal Wedding.
Unlike the Royal Wedding, here in the States the guests hold their cell phones in the aisle to take photos. The guests here would block many of those Royal cameras. Philip, did you see the Royal reception footage or are you only commenting on the Royal ceremony? I'm sure the Royal reception would have every camera angle perfect too..unlike a real wedding.
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