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


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Old April 19th, 2014, 07:40 PM   #31
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Re: Hybrid shooting -- good/bad idea?

This has been an interesting thread because of the various viewpoints. After reading the posts there are some who work as a husband-wife team and, from my perspective, I can sure see that as a plus.

Besides the fact that when working as a team, because both of you have "been there, done that", the routine is pretty-well memorized. Discussions of details can occur the event, so that is one aspect.

The maine thing, for me at least, would be that my wife has a different view on the same scene, what ever it is. Call it a male or female thing, whatever, the focus different. While I don't do weddings, she'll take pictures in the yard, say of a plant, a sunset, or whatever, and the choice of the item or scene, the picture angle or perspective, is different. I would often overlook taking that shot while she comes up with some very interesting ones. I'm absolutely positive she would do a better job than me with the choice of the shot and the composition although I'd do better, generally speaking, from the technical angle. I think the woman's brain in a wedding scenario, picking up the little details and nuances, would be a real plus. As a guy, I guess I can lug the camera gear and do the video part.

While our Government says we're all "equal" and from a legal point of view that may be so, but outside the courtroom I'm not as convinced. I'm wondering if any of the duo husband-wife or male-female teams notice something similar, a different way of looking at things?
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Old April 20th, 2014, 04:32 AM   #32
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Re: Hybrid shooting -- good/bad idea?

John I would have to agree with that point of view, my wife sees things in a subtly different way to me. Although we both film weddings in the same sort of way and have the same shot objectives, there are distinct differences in style. She seemqns to often pick up tiny details that I may not even see for a really interesting composition of an ordinary scene. On the other hand, I am more likely to construct a shot that has more technical input, perhaps with a filter or movement.

She is exceptionally good with the girl's preps, seeming to get more emotionally involved, whereas I can built a male rapport with the guys, to get humour in the early shots. I'm sure that working with a subject the same sex as yourself gives an edge in that area and when we work together on a wedding, she will always handle the girl's side. She is also fantastic at arranging the dress and bouquets for the still shots in ways that always just seem to add something special to a shot.


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Old April 20th, 2014, 05:11 AM   #33
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Re: Hybrid shooting -- good/bad idea?

Most weddings have plenty of time to alternate between video and photography and of course when doing both, you are able to structure the use of time to suit yourself much more than when working with a photographer.

At last the voice of actual experience rather than inexperience and speculation!

Really Nigel if you could get that chip off your shoulder about CCTV you might do yourself a favour. Frequent camera movement is very much the exception not the rule in film and particularly TV production. And when it is used its wobble-free except for effect.

I just watched last weeks episode of Endeavour (a big budget – because of period detail – detective series of 2 hour episodes set in 1960's Oxford). There was as good as no camera movement at all, nor rack focusing, and all the rest of it. Just frequent cuts to different camera compositions.

Then Elementary. A US import based around a present day Sherlock Holmes. Might have expected lots of “effects” but no. Virtually nothing. Just a couple of zoom outs to give sense of location.

Then Mad Men. 1st episode of new series. Surely that wouldn't as it were let you down? But again very little movement just straight cuts between multiple angles. Just one highly stylised short of the lead meeting his actress wife at Los Angeles airport, which was so over the top that I suspect it was put in to poke fun at the show's critics.

All these productions know what their job is – and that is to tell a story in an engaging way without unnecessary distractions

Then a 4th production – W1A. A BBC2 show staring High Bonneville of Downton Abbey fame. Its niche is to poke fun at a shambolic disorganised disfunctional (fictional) version of the BBC. In this case there is camera movement virtually all the time, purposefully shot like that to give the viewer a sense of being in the room amid chaos and panic.

Getting back to weddings. The ring shots and the first kiss are some of the easiest moments to shoot in dual stills / video mode as you know exactly where and exactly when and for pretty much how long they are going to occur. If you cannot get them thats down to the one-off circumstances such as a large groom moving to block a petite bride or a celebrant inadvertently blocking your view. Then it'll be messy no matter what you're trying to do.

Nigel I watched all 5 of the samples you have online. I have to say I did not see ideal framing and smooth execution which surely ought to be easier to achieve with just one main video cam to nurse. Again in a recessional why am I seeing heads cut off? Or bride's head cut off as she exits her car on arrival? Or all that wobble? I could go on but there's no point.

Why do many members perceive the break point between what is achievable and what is risky or unachievable to be the point at which you introduce stills? There is no sense in that. Thats like saying you must use two video operators or don't bother getting out of bed. Or what about using steadycam vests? Are you shortchanging the clients by not offering that style or are you creating unwelcome and potentially dangerous distractions for the guests plus missing valuable moments whilst you are getting kitted up? What about wives / husbands as 2nd shooters? At what point are they genuine 2nd shooters and not just there because it suits you?

There is so much you can do to make things run well. For example if you use multiple cams and you cannot access them during the ceremony or speeches you have that same problem regardless of whether you are shooting just video or photos and video. End of. But if you can access them and they are on lightstands use pan and tilt heads such as small Monfrotto 701's, or Manfrotto quick release monopod heads and NOT ball heads as that will save you valuable seconds in levelling horizons plus you can do it one-handed. Pan to recompose by loosening a lightstand shaft joint – don't try to use the pan head. Oh and use lightstands that fold their own feet when lifted such as those from Cheetah.

Again the moment you have separate video and stills guys you are compromising the coverage. Thats because at most venues – in the UK at least – there is seldom enough space and you will always be fighting for the best shooting positions, trying to manoeuvre around each other, with degraded results regardless of the level of co-operation between each other.

As an example, the Oak Room at the Elvetham Hotel a high-end venue in north Hampshire. This jpg shows the view from the back. Its wide obviously but at the front left you can just make out that the space is occupied by a string quartet. On the right is a desk with a registrar sitting at it filling out the paperwork as usual mid-ceremony. As the shooter you have to share that space. How would you get a photographer and videographer in that space? I've tried, its rubbish!

Ref 121-0704-04_gmrs Ashton Lamont Photography, Copyright

Oh and you'll inevitably be in each others shots at most weddings.

You need to come up with a business plan and method of presentation that works for you. The most obvious way is to have a menu with each option itemised. But that does not work well when adding video to a photo package because most photo enquirers have a negative image of wedding videography and they simply won't engage. It will actually put some off. But if you structure it so that they – as it were – appear to receive video unless they opt out of that then the take up rate is very high. Its just a different route to the same destination.

I perceive that it may be a great deal harder to add stills to video than video to stills. That is when you are dealing with the wider public rather than the ones who have contacted you because they already know that want video. Competition is fierce, standards are high, fees are dropping sharply, SEO is at an advanced stage, and it is very easy for clients to compare stills work online.

But you have to start somewhere. And you have to force yourself to learn additional skills. For example you will need a thorough knowledge of supplementary lighting both on and off camera. Much of the time you will not need it unless you choose to use it to achieve a particular style, but then one will come along which will break the unwary. This will take a long time. But the sooner you start the sooner you'll get there! Shoot tethered to a laptop when training yourself so that you can review the results on a big screen straight away. And get thoroughly familiar with all the manual functionality. I also recommend that you set your stills cams to focus with the * button rather than the shutter release button as this will enable you to lock focus on your chosen point without affecting the exposure etc.

Pete
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Old April 23rd, 2014, 09:07 PM   #34
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Re: Hybrid shooting -- good/bad idea?

Well, I did my first engagement photoshoot yesterday (a freebie). A pretty uncomfortable experience, to be honest. Very much missed the what-you-see-is-what-you-get aspect of video, and my interacting-with-couple skills were wretched to non-existent.

In terms of thinking differently about shots... Well, portrait framing didn't take much of a mindset change. Lighting was all daytime natural light, so no big issue there. Posing the couple -- if you just Google for poses, there's plenty of pages along the lines of "101 posing ideas for weddings", so that wasn't an issue. Directing the couple -- I was lucky with these guys, and didn't have to say much more than "Big smiles", "Have fun", "Pretend I said something hilarious" to get natural responses.

Having to take a whole bunch of shots so that you don't miss the decisive moment was a surprise, though. I suddenly sympathise with the machine-gunners. And, to be honest, just general camera operation was frustrating. I was completely off my game; nothing was instinctive or automatic. And I sort of felt that until all that stuff becomes second nature, you can't start to get creative or take good shots.

Results here: Benita and Garry

But the biggest surprise was when it came to post -- the freedom of raw images to colour things and pull information out of highlights. I also found you can get away with more relaxed framing in photos, for some reason, and it actually adds to the natural look. You don't have to keep your horizons level all the time, for instance.

Makes me think: if you're going to do hybrid shooting using the one camera, as I was originally planning to, maybe shooting in raw (with something like a 5D3 with Magic Lantern hack) is smarter than shooting in 4K... photo-wise anyway (would be an even bigger pain in the butt than 4K video-wise).

Anyway... Can totally understand that it's not a strategy that would suit everyone, but, for my own part, I think I need to move into hybrid shooting to stay competitive.
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Old April 24th, 2014, 04:19 AM   #35
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Re: Hybrid shooting -- good/bad idea?

It will certainly open more opportunities for you Adrian. I have found that many of those that have booked me for both, are from the 90% that wouldn't have had a video at all, but as they liked my stills and the price, decided to have the joint package.

That would suggest that 100% of the available market is open to me rather than just the 10% for video only :-)

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Old April 25th, 2014, 02:14 PM   #36
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Re: Hybrid shooting -- good/bad idea?

Adrian, pre-wedding shoots are notoriously soulless affairs if the truth be known.There is none of the clothes, the hair, the makeup, the electricity, the excitement, the buzz of a wedding day. Just a couple of people in everyday clothes one of whom doesn't even want to be there looking to you to work some kind of magic.

Even for a portrait shoot unconnected to any wedding you might expect some - sometimes considerable - effort to make their personal appearance a bit special. That might include several changes of clothing, and multiple locations if its not studio based. But for an engagement shoot ..... well people just turn up.

Its important to separate the marketing from the reality. Many photographers offer a free/inclusive pre-wedding shoot on the pretext that it helps to get to know each other and to practice posing for the big day. Which is bull%"*t and unnecessary for any photographer with even the most rudimentary people and technical skills. They know full well that very few clients will actually take them up on it. They achieve this by excluding times of the week when clients are most able to make appointments - Saturdays and Sundays - and only accepting appointments for times when most clients cannot possibly make it due to their work commitments unless they take valuable annual or unpaid leave.

In other words its often a way to pad out a photography package to make it look more appealing without actually costing much in time or money.

Its similar to the two photographer trick. Most clients are not aware that they are not getting two accomplished experienced photographers, but rather one tog and one spouse who acts as a bag carrier and occasional shutter button presser. Try to find a photographer package where both are the real deal and you will almost certainly fail. Try to find a deal where the 2nd is the wife / husband / boyfriend / girlfriend and you'll find about a million.

So don't be disheartened. You just experienced what pre-wedding shoots are like :- ) Take a look at the samples that are the subject of frequent posts in the wedding section of fredmiranda.com Boring or what!!!

On a more general note, clients do have an expectation of receiving several hundred edited digital files from their wedding day. You need to be on top of editing individual images obviously but also the various batch processing of multiple images which you can automate for things like resizing for print runs, unsharp mask, gallery creation etc. If you don't it will break you.

Pete
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Old April 27th, 2014, 10:30 AM   #37
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Re: Hybrid shooting -- good/bad idea?

So Adrian, are those stills extracted from raw video on a Canon 1DC? If so, great job on a first attempt!
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Old April 27th, 2014, 03:45 PM   #38
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Re: Hybrid shooting -- good/bad idea?

Hey Warren, I wish! But, nope, these were just plain stills.

Promise I'll post some 1DC frames when I can, but it will be a while. Probably: mid-June. Not only trying to improve first in terms of pure photography skills (mainly: directing the couple and getting used to the technical side, especially use of flash), but trying to get clear in my head the logistics of shooting, if I'm trying to do both video and photo on the one camera. (Am I trying to shoot the whole day in 4K, or is it 4K + stills + some 1080? For a two- or three-person team, could multiple people work at once capturing both video and stills? And, for a multi-shooter team, is just one 1DC + some 5D3s good enough, or do I need two 1DCs?)

In terms of packages, thinking of offering:

-- 1. Photos only (where I'll only use 4K occasionally to "cheat" and not miss some moments -- eg catching that ceremony kiss with two cameras, one on 4K on a tripod and another shooting proper stills; and using 4K for general candid stuff)
-- 2. Photos + highlights -- which will hopefully be the main product and selling point. I'll need to make a compromise on both the photo and video side to make it work, but I should still be able to offer a high quality product at a much cheaper price than if the couple were to hire two vendors. The compromise on the photo side is reducing the number of photos taken -- maybe 200 edited photos as end product -- shooting in a particular style, more candid than posed, so that I can maximise amount of usable video content, and creating many of the photos from 4K frame grabs rather than raw stills. The compromise on the video side might be mainly in terms of spending less time shooting video, so reducing the number of good shots, if I'm spending a lot of time doing posed photos and table shots, etc.
-- 3. Photos + highlights with two camera operators shooting both photo and video (with more photos and better quality video than package 2, to justify the upgrade to the couple)
-- 4. Photos + highlights + short form

And maybe no long form (so that I can try to market and differentiate myself as a specialist -- "Adrian is the go-to guy if you want a great short form" -- and I'm not confusing people with too many choices).
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Old April 27th, 2014, 11:33 PM   #39
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Re: Hybrid shooting -- good/bad idea?

Well stated Peter. Could not agree more.
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