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


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Old August 10th, 2014, 11:23 AM   #1
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Covering the first dance at the reception.

Curious how others handle the couples first dance, and the subsequent father daughter/mother son dances.

I have started have one "wide" shot, locked on a tripod, while the second shooter gets close ups etc.

What do you guys do?
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Old August 10th, 2014, 11:35 AM   #2
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Re: Covering the first dance at the reception.

I use a blackbird steadicam for the first dance and for any following dance a combination of steadicam and tripodshots.
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Old August 10th, 2014, 01:04 PM   #3
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Re: Covering the first dance at the reception.

If it's just me, 2 cameras, right next to each other, one medium/wide, and one tight shot.

If there are 2 of us, we are on two different corners of the dance floor, wide, medium and tight.

Part of it depends on if they're really dancing, or just doing the slow sway. If it's just the slow sway, I don't care about a wide shot, except maybe right at the beginning and end, because there is nothing to see.

The tight shot really gives a chance to show the emotion of the moment (hopefully there is some!).

I also usually stand on the DJ/band side so that people and tables are in the background, instead of gear.

See what I mean starting at the :30 mark. (this is just a little highlight video I made as their MC/DJ)
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Old August 10th, 2014, 04:48 PM   #4
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Re: Covering the first dance at the reception.

I've noticed in my area over the years that the father of the bride dance doesn't always happen, it's probably the choice of music or something i'm not sure.

A lot of the time here, the DJ/Band leader will ask the crowd to form a circle so the videographer(s) and the photographer can be caught out for the first dance, so you find yourself either inside the circle (which is not too bad as you can get the shots, but may annoy others) or outside which is worse, trying to get a shot!

so what I do, is myself and my partner have monopods that we can raise up over the heads if a circle forms and we try and stay at 45 degree angles of each other, this has proved to be pretty successful and it's usually only required for the first dance after which the remainder of the bridal party will join in on the dance floor and indeed the rest of the crowd will too.

Of course we still have to contend with garish lighting, strobes from the bandstand, focus assist from the photographer etc. all very colourful!!
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Old August 10th, 2014, 08:18 PM   #5
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Re: Covering the first dance at the reception.

Single camera, on my shoulder with my usual support rod/belt so it's as stable as a tripod but I cam shift position and follow the couple.

Due to the latest and greatest in blue LED lights I do my best to stay close to the couple and splash a bit of light on them otherwise they just look like smurfs!!

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Old August 11th, 2014, 01:18 AM   #6
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Re: Covering the first dance at the reception.

I'm with Noa - I use my Laing P04 and go round and round... I have two Sony CX730 on tripods which cover wides for when my arm gets sore and I have to rest it!

(I get really pissed off when guests don't think and just stand in front of my locked of cameras!)
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Old August 11th, 2014, 04:29 AM   #7
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Re: Covering the first dance at the reception.

Seeing as most first dances these days are less than a minute before the DJ encourages everyone to join in, it's too risky for me as a solo shooter to try any fancy steadicam stuff - I have a camera up high with a 16mm wide lens and get close up shots from my hand held camera. I try and position myself so the guests and table are in the background but if all I'm getting is a shot of the groom's back I'll scoot around the other side.
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Old August 11th, 2014, 04:37 AM   #8
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Re: Covering the first dance at the reception.

Hey Kyle, I continually change the way I do it, but here's my current practice:

First thing -- beg MC for a gap between speeches and cake-cut, so that you've got time to adjust lighting, change lenses, move tripods.

Secondly -- set up three cameras. Usually: one unmanned tripod; one monopod; one steadicam. I usually end up shooting towards the bridal table, but I'd rather shoot towards the audience if lighting and logistics allow.

Thirdly, even if you have three cameras, one of the operators should have the safety shot. If you have a close-up lens and a steadicam, either person can be the safety. Main thing to bear in mind is it's risky if both are trying to take creative shots. The way two-person teams do it, generally the steadicam is the creative cam, but it doesn't have to be.

If the steadicam is the safety, then I expect them to hold a wide and slowly circle or change height, then move in closer for a roundy-round for the chorus. If, on the other hand, the steadicam is the creative camera, then they can do things like take shots from behind the first row of guests, walk in from the door towards the couple, run up to the second storey of the reception (if there is one), get cutaways of smoke machines, get reaction shots from the guests, lead in to the couple from the cake, lead out from the couple to chandelier, etc.

If the close-up is the safety, then I guess you're generally holding a chest-high shot; if you risk going tight, you're going to set yourself up for focus problems and tracking problems. But at some point or other you should push in tighter to get more intimate shots. I envy those guys who are shooting on 4K already -- I'd love to be able to just hold a safe chest high shot and do a digital zoom for the tears.
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