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Old October 8th, 2012, 01:06 PM   #1
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Not disconnecting from couple

Wondering if anyone has thoughts on this topic.

A big part of being a photographer I think is social skills. So, not only the technical knowledge of how to work a camera, and the ability to envisage a shot before shooting it -- but knowing what to say to a couple in this or that circumstance, to make them feel comfortable, to defuse tension, to get the reaction you want for the image, etc.

Videographers, in contrast -- at least in my case, and in the case of basically everyone I've met -- have unwonderful social skills. The job is usually different. You usually don't direct the day. You try to get natural as opposed to staged. You want to be as unobtrusive as possible. You want action and verbs; not static shots and nouns. It's like portrait photography vs photojournalism.

This often creates a slight tension through the day, I think, because you're basically paparazzi. I've had this pattern quite often: in the morning, when it's quiet, you say a few things to the couple, make a bit of a connection. As the day wears on, that connection diminishes. The couple obviously have their minds on other things during the ceremony. The photographer takes over during the afternoon. The reception is full of noise and guests congratulating them. You lose contact. And increasingly you take on the role of annoying stalker. I find that many brides -- not sure how many exactly -- do get sick of it all by around start of reception, and just want time to themselves. Many (most?) are physically tired by the time of the photoshoot, and haven't had much sleep the night before.

It's pretty natural, after all, when someone points a camera at you, to turn away. In the morning, there's a face behind the camera. In the evening, I think it can become more like a machine.

So I guess my main question is -- what do you do at this point in terms of removing yourself from the role of annoying stalker? Do you simply back off? Do you try to reconnect with the couple in some way? If so, how? What are your techniques?

One thing I've done a few times is approach the couple and simply say to them, "If it gets full on, just ask us to back off." Always seems to get a good response. They appreciate that you're aware of the issue. They're reminded that you're just doing the job they hired you for, recording their memories. But other than this sort of approach, I really don't know. Thoughts?
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Old October 8th, 2012, 04:24 PM   #2
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Re: Not disconnecting from couple

It's a simple as going with the flow. It's a organic process. It's different with every wedding. It's not predictable. Every couple is different, every video person is different.

I would suggest to not get too familiar with a couple too quickly to begin with. Instead, be friendly, but professional, saying less, directing less, being less involved and more removed, yet engaged at the same time. It's a balancing act.

Videographers are sometimes nerdy types, and some have poor people skills. There are those who are very personable as well. Then, there are those who are not good with people who are not aware of their clumsiness with people, and they cause problems for themselves by being too forward or inappropriate, because they have no sense of timing or discretion.

For me the key is discretion at all times from beginning of the day to the end. I keep conversations short, I smile a lot, and remain amiable yet businesslike at all times, and remember I am a vendor, not a member of the family. Some people get overly comfortable too quickly early in the day because everyone is perky and friendly, and forget what their role is.

These days, I lay back more and I'm more reserved from the beginning. I smile a lot, and talk less, direct less, and I try to act less self-important. I make myself scarce whenever I can without missing things. I get what I need, and then get away, fade into the background.

An air of confidence and humility is what I attempt to project. If I am not feeling confident on a wedding shoot, or am distracted by personal issues, it can really ruin my interactions with the customers.

The most important thing is to pay attention to the bride and groom from a distance, and as the day goes by you build a connection with them built on you always being there within eyesight, but I don't stare at them, I just keep tabs on them at all times. The alert customers see this and really appreciate it.

This allows me to move in close for short periods, and by the time of the reception I have built a level of trust, and people don't run from me. I dip in for short bursts, then get out. People seem to appreciate it.

Consideration for others and discretion will win the day for a videographer, every time.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 06:06 PM   #3
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Re: Not disconnecting from couple

I actually never had an issue with a couple who thought I was on their back too much, all say they hardly even noticed me which I take as a compliment. Most of the time I keep my distance but when needed I get up close enough to make sure I get the shot. I often see the photog as an annoying stalker, when I run 3 camera's from a fixed tripod position during a church cermony, the photog is always all over the place, so I"d sooner expect a couple to get fed up with the photog before they are tired of me.

because you're basically paparazzi
You are a paparazzi if you are taking images from people without their approval, during weddings you are paid and asked by the couple to do that so I don"t see the paparazzi link here.

In almost every wedding it is the photog that is directing, I almost don't, most want staged shots, I never do, my style is to capture all highlights during the day as it goes by in a natural way without interfearing too much, just like Jeff said, get what I want and fade into the background. I also never talk while I"m filming while a photog always has to, to get peoples attention but that's what you have to do when making staged shots. I even include the photog in my footage as they are also a part of the day.

I also never get too "personal" with the couple, professional yes, smiling, keeping friendly throughout the day, making sure they get what they are paying for but I"m not looking to make new friends, just happy people that forward my name to their not married yet friends because they liked my approach and result.

I"m actually a quite quiet guy by nature but when a client is visiting me and I show my work I talk about 95% of the time but that's just me rambling because I like what I do so much and I think you might call it "passion" but at the job I talk maybe 5% of the time and I"m looking to get good shot's the other 95%. :) A smart friend of mine once said; you should let your client speack at least 50% of the time when you first meet and I know he's right but a client once told me she saw how passionate I was about my work and that's why she choose me.

Last edited by Noa Put; October 9th, 2012 at 01:43 AM.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 09:23 PM   #4
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Re: Not disconnecting from couple

While I am there to document their day, I also make a nice connection with the couple. I joke around with them, talk to them about lots of things, just basically have fun with them. I'm not trying to be their best friend or their drinking buddy but for me using some humor and some conversation works. I've always been like that.
I also take into account that in almost every case, I'm older than their parents, have been married almost as long as their grandparents, my youngest child is in most cases at least 5 years older than they are and have way more experience about weddings and life in general than they. I don't take them over, I simply work with them to get the best out of their day. I can get along with pretty much anyone for a few hours so no matter what I put a smile on my face and do my job.
In almost 30 years of video and 12 years of still work doing mostly weddings (probably somewhere in the range of 2300 or so) I've never and I mean never had a bride or groom complain about the way I work. They might complain that I missed something (happens to everyone at sometime and never anything in the ceremony but maybe a grandma kissing the bride when she leaves the reception) or I may have mis-spelled a name (corrected quickly without charge of course) but never a complaint about the way I do my job.
Last night was a great example. I did number wedding number 3 of a group of friends (all in the last 1 1/2 years) with 2 more already scheduled for next year. The comment I heard from all of them was how easy it was to work with me and how much fun I am. (my own kids have never said that although my g-kids have said it once). ;-)
This works for me-but I always say, I can say things and get away with things that others might not be able to. Why? Age! I'm like the likable grandpa I guess.

What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 10:14 PM   #5
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Re: Not disconnecting from couple

I always make friends with not only the couple but the wedding party and the parents! I do a video guestbook too and it helps to be friendly. You still have to be professional of course and not chat up the bridesmaids but I think it's critical to be friendly with those who count.

Then again some people find it difficult to talk to strangers and striking up a conversion is hard for them.. luckily I have no issues with that at all..In the supermarket I can easily strat a conversation with a complete stranger!!

Maybe, I'm just a likeable grandpa too, like Don and at our age I very much doubt that being friendly to younger people would never be considered "hitting on them"

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