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


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Old October 30th, 2012, 06:01 PM   #1
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Compliments

Random thought for the day...

My social skills are awful. I hate giving compliments for the sake of it. I can't direct a couple like a photographer. But it does surprise me how much of an effect a word or two can have.

A month ago I was filming a bride adjusting her hair in the mirror, and I muttered "Beautiful" to myself, under my breath, entirely accidentally (and, to be honest, more about the image and framing than the girl). But it was like direct cause and effect. She brightened up immediately. I was astonished.

Similar thing happened a week later. Left the bride to go shoot rings for 10 minutes. Came downstairs, and she was walking around in her dress already. I said, "Wow", partly because I was surprised she'd got changed so quickly and I'd missed it. But, again, cause and effect -- her mood changed immediately, tension momentarily dissipated.

Would it have had the same effect if I thought to myself, "I should compliment her now," and then said "Wow"? In my case, probably not. Would have just been kind of awkward and fake.

Anyway, I find this sort of thing worth bearing in mind in a general context -- that the videographers and photographers are with the couple the entire day, so can have a big effect on their mood...
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Old October 30th, 2012, 06:30 PM   #2
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Re: Compliments

Being personable is a big part of the business for me at least. The bride can look awful in her dress but she'll never hear that from me. She will hear, "hey, looking good" or "Wow" or "beautiful dress" or some other compliment. Not so much for me to get better footage but to validate her choices. I'm an outsider and if I think she looks great she brightens up light a light bulb which in turn gives me a better subject to shoot and hopefully it will carry out during the rest of the event.
I kid around and joke with all my clients to keep the mood light and it does help. At least for me.
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Old October 30th, 2012, 06:31 PM   #3
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Re: Compliments

Hi Adrian

I normally compliment the bride when she steps out of the limo at the ceremony location...It's a genuine compliment too as she is probably at her very best at that stage with dress and makeup and sorta perfect so it's quite normal to say "Wow. you look fantastic" simply because she does!!

What always gives me a chuckle is when the DVD's get delivered (I deliver all mine personally) and you knock on the door and it's answered by this woman with hair tied up in a bun, no makeup, scruffy top and either barefoot or in thongs and you realise that, yes, you ARE at the right house and this is indeed the same stunning woman that stepped out of the limo.

Chris
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Old October 30th, 2012, 07:48 PM   #4
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Re: Compliments

I guess I'm totally opposite of Don. I stand in the corner, keep my mouth shut, and wait for a shot to happen. I can't talk and shoot at the same time...it's way too distracting for me. I've seen many photographers joke around with brides and the girls, and they miss so many good shots because they're distracted. All the interaction I capture are the people around me, but never me. In fact, one of the first things I tell everyone is to pretend I'm not there! I shut up, but keep my eyes and ears wide open for opportunity. If I need to have the bride smile, I'll secretly tell the maid of honor to tell the bride something funny, then keep the conversation going until I get my reel of smiles and laughter. I'm always out of the picture.
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Old October 30th, 2012, 09:49 PM   #5
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Re: Compliments

So funny... I cringe at the comments I hear myself giving (when I listen to my footage). "Beautiful", "Nice", "Wonderful". I know I mean it at the time, but I hate the sound of my voice on film. !! I don't say much, but of course there are times when you're alone with the bride and you have to say something! I just hate to hear it back as I listen to the footage.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 12:56 AM   #6
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Re: Compliments

One issue I sometimes have with compliments -- is it creepy, or does it seem like you're hitting on the bride? It totally depends on how you do it, of course. I guess, in everyday life, I don't tell anyone apart from my girlfriend that they're looking fantastic.

If the bride is genuinely gorgeous, then I find it's even harder to keep this edge of "I'm hitting on you" out of your compliment.

On the question of how much to interact with people... For me personally, I sometimes want to disappear and be a fly on the wall, and I sometimes want to be chatting to people, so that they forget they're being filmed or aren't as awkward when I'm in the room. I quite like talking to mothers, actually. They also help you through the day if you've made friends with them in the morning.

I think a lot of people are a lot more unnerved, and a lot more self-conscious, when you're this nameless, faceless machine in the corner recording everything they're doing. This is one problem with viewfinders -- yes, your image might be sharper, but they bury you in the camera. I'd rather that people can see my face, see that I'm smiling, see that I'm human. I think of it as me radiating "positive energy" in order for it to bounce back to my lens.

If I'm able to do a video guestbook with guests while they're having canapes, I do find that that connection makes you less unwelcome the rest of the night.

If I'm filming a guest dancing, and they suddenly notice and give a start, I'll often wave to them instead of just continuing to film them or pretending I was filming something else. And if they laugh and wave back -- great.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 03:35 AM   #7
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Re: Compliments

A lot depends on how easy going the bride/groom are, it can happen they just start chatting with me during bride prep or even just walk up to me in the evening to check if I had something to eat and if I"m ok. Only that's a very small percentage of the people I work with. Most are so preoccupied with their wedding they don't say anything to me and I usually don't start a conversation either. Like Warren I like to be invisible and focus on getting my shots.

I have done only one save the date so far and that was totally the opposite, it was a scripted work and I had to work very close with the couple. It was a shoot that took 3 days (each time a few hours) and 2 times we went out to get something to eat, there I really got to know them as a couple and it was also a much more relaxed shoot. Wish I could do much more of those. Here I would be giving instructions, especially about their expressions, as they wanted to keep the speech part to a minimum. I remember we had to redo a particular shot several times where I had the camera right next to her face and she had to look irritated but she couldn't get the right look on her face to express that feeling. It was this kind of direction and feedback I had to give to get the best out of a shot that was so different to what I do at weddings where I usually don't give any feedback at all.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 06:10 AM   #8
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Re: Compliments

Hi Adrian

That isn't an issue for Don or myself at our age..(I'm 66!) so I'm sure they consider us kindly old grandpas!!

I guess it could be an issue if you are in the same age group as the bridal party but I always make a point of letting people know taht while I'm "on duty" I'm a total professional so I would never hit on a guest or member of the bridal party.

I have however been chased by guests (normally semi-drunk ones) who either want to take me home or be my new assistant!! I'm sure they breathe a sigh of relief in the morning when they realise what trouble they could have got into.

Don has some good stories about being chased by guests but I leave that to him..I seem to remember that one was not even female...scary thought!! !!! I think just be professional yet friendly and you will be OK

Chris
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Old October 31st, 2012, 08:38 AM   #9
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Re: Compliments

While I like to stay in the shadows as well, I'm not a fly on the wall and I have and use my personality. As Chris said, us older folk (same age as Chris) can in many cases say stuff that younger folks would get into trouble by saying. Don't get me wrong...I don't try to be their best friend or drinking buddy. I just have natural conversation with them and in many case they start it. They sometimes look to me for validation of how they look or how they planned since they know I've been around and done my fair share of events. Trust me, their event is always GREAT and one of the BEST I've ever been to, and THEY look MAAAAARvelous (as Billy Crystal would say).
As for some guests getting a bit too friendlywith "the help"...yeah, it's happened and one has to be a bit careful how you handle it. Except in the case of a certain male not so much making a pass at me but touching me...Let's just say, he had a hard time using his right hand for a while.
Do anything long enough and there is virtually nothing you don't see, hear or have happen.
Oh the stories I could tell ;-) {No I won't}

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Old October 31st, 2012, 09:36 AM   #10
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Re: Compliments

Just for all to know, we have bugging Don to write a book on his experiences as a wedding videographer..despite the chance of being a famous author he still refuses to be bullied into it but we do keep trying...What a read that would be!!!

Thanks anyway Don for the odd snippet that you do let slip!! We do enjoy your escapades over the years.

Yeah there are (but not many) advantages of being in the "mature" age group!! If you did catch a flirty little cute bridesmaid we probably wouldn't know what to do with her!!

I am definately not outspoken at a wedding but try to keep a friendly banter with the bridal party and it usually works. Flattery and praise do make our job easier and shooting solo, I do like to chat to people especially during the reception when not a lot is going on ..I mean who films 2 hours of dancing????

Chris
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