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


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Old September 4th, 2014, 10:36 AM   #1
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Setting up stage shots

Hello, I was wanting some advice for staging shots. I usually hang out with the photog while they take pics of bride and groom and get some of my shots then. I wanted to know what you guys do with bride and groom to spice it up. Any ideas? I was thinking of having them alone maybe walking towards the camera while I shoot with my stabilizer and follow them. I am sure I can get some great suggestions though from you guys. Thanks in advance.
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Old September 4th, 2014, 01:12 PM   #2
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Re: Setting up stage shots

Coordinating with the photographer is key, especially if you decide to take them away from the reception at night and do some shots outside or away from their party. You want to take up as little of their time as possible. What me and one of my shooting colleagues usually do is set up the shot, frame it and light it with one of us as a stand-in, and then go grab the B&G and have them pose for a minute. That way we're not wasting their precious fun-time with messing around with cameras, sliders, lights, etc.
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Old September 4th, 2014, 01:15 PM   #3
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Re: Setting up stage shots

Jeff, I always thought of these as glamour clips, same as the photographer taking pictures. All I'm looking for is (usually) a great 5 second clip. At the same time, I'll often take some photos to use for DVD cases/labels

*Walking hand in hand is good. I'll often be down, and let them walk past me, their hands going right over me.
*other walking idea is to have them start, then after 5 seconds a pair of important people join in, like best man/MOH, or parents.
* The dip and kiss
* If they do a 1st look, and then want to wear their rings in the pictures, then this is the time to get those tight shots of a ring going on the hand, or their eyes, etc, especially while the euphoria of the 1st look is still there.
* walking away, and/or waving goodby, etc. Something that you can use to end the video, if needed.

Also take a look at the cinegraphs (fancy GIFs) some photogs are making. I'm trying that out because I think they'd make great DVD menus or even movie posters (for online, obviously).
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Old September 4th, 2014, 04:59 PM   #4
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Re: Setting up stage shots

Thanks for the suggestions. Robert, I never thought of them walking past me while being low to the ground. I like that alot.
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Old September 4th, 2014, 08:42 PM   #5
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Re: Setting up stage shots

It's from a year ago, but here is the only time we were asked to do this kind of shooting. Skip to 3:17, and it lasts until about the 4:00 mark

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Old September 5th, 2014, 01:49 AM   #6
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Re: Setting up stage shots

Hey Jeff, for my own part I keep rethinking how I cover this part of the day and what I'm trying to get out of it. Currently, the main thing I do is I don't pretend it's not a photoshoot. But I'm pretty much the only person I know who does this. For instance, I video the photographer, but most people I've discussed this with, and most companies I've worked for, don't want to see a photographer in shot.

I suppose one opportunity with the photoshoot is that it's one of the few times of the day when you get to see the couple alone by themselves. So, particularly if you're doing some sort of short form edit, it's useful as overlay to accompany any parts of the speeches at the reception that talk about how they're such an amazing couple, they belong together, they're so much in love.

If you're going down this route, then the first thing you want is activity, enacting a mini scene. Doesn't mean motion necessarily -- just means that the couple have got to appear to be doing something other than posing, because that displays obvious awareness of the camera ("breaks the fourth wall"). For instance, don't ask them to jump in the air -- that's posing.

The list of possible activities could include: walking; talking; hugging; kissing; doing some sort of "first look" thing; rehearsing the first dance (quite a popular option -- means you can intercut it with the actual first dance); or simply standing and admiring the view.

It can be helpful if the activity has some sort of climax or leads up to a kiss or an epic lens flare or whatever (whereas random walking might have less of a sense of structure).

There's limited things to do in a park, so, beyond those sorts of activities, you've either got to get lucky (ice-cream truck rolls up, and you can shoot a sequence of people buying and eating it) or else you could go kill-me-now cheesy ("draw a heart in the sand, guys"). I suppose one source of inspiration is to try to take advantage of the environment somehow -- park bench, tree, beach, the hired car the couple were driven in, etc.

In terms of the practicalities of how you do it: while the photographer is doing his shots, leave him to it, and avoid shooting any of that. Instead, you're thinking about what you can set up, and rehearsing it. Eg, change lenses and practise the slider move. Then, in the brief pause when the photographer wants to change locations, you interject and grab the couple. "Could I just borrow them for a few minutes?" Generally, photographers are at least going to pretend they're fine with this; they'll be snapping away while you're doing your thing.

In terms of the actual shots to get, that's up to your own creativity. But I'm sure you're capable of breaking down any activity into a series of shots that could cut together.

Example 1: you've decided the activity that suits the environment is a first look where the bride walks up and taps the groom on the shoulder. Well, you can string together a series of temporally-consecutive shots showing different part of the process. Random shots establishing the location. Low angle of bride's feet. Groom's face, pulling focus to bride in background. Steadicam behind bride leading up to groom. Cut back to groom's reaction. Close-up of bride's hand on groom's shoulder. Two-shot of the couple embracing.

Example 2 (how to make something out of a static scene): you find a railing that the couple would look picturesque leaning against and staring out to sea. Just to give the scene some sort of structure and climax, you ask the couple to walk up to the railing, count ten seconds, and then the bride should place her hand on her new husband's hand and nuzzle into his chest. Now, you could easily shoot a series of temporally-consecutive shots again, showing action, reaction. Or, you could shoot a series of spatially differentiated close-ups when they're doing nothing but standing and staring (feet, hands, hair, bouquet, etc), or could shoot a series of different angles/shot sizes. The logic of what shot follows what shot in the editing is up to you. For instance, could be as simple as: wide shot, medium, over-the-shoulder, over-the-shoulder, close-up, medium, wide. Or the way shots follow shots could be some sort of "gradually adding more information" or "question-and-answer" logic.

Anyway, these are some ways to methodically think about what the hell you're actually doing in the photoshoot. There are plenty of other ways... For instance, you could see your task as photography-with-motion -- just amassing a random montage of pretty shots. Or you could take the opportunity to get short interviews with the rest of the bridal party or get them to sing the next part of the marryoke. Or you could simply be on the lookout for nice candid moments in between the photos.
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Old September 5th, 2014, 05:09 AM   #7
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Re: Setting up stage shots

Jeff, I would say don't sweat on it. If you give them a bunch of clips featuring scenarios you have set up its of little value to the clients - its only a memory of when the video guy asked them to do this or to do that. Its not a valuable memory of events of their real day. Thats all it is.

Its quite different to the stills photo shoot on the wedding which is always an integral part of the day and therefore doesn't jump out at you as being false. Even though it is :- )

However such clips may be of value on a showreel because the prospective clients have no point of reference to what actually happened and the setups may look pretty and emotional.

Pete
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Old September 11th, 2014, 05:41 PM   #8
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Re: Setting up stage shots

@ Peter and Adrian,
Thank you for all your in depth ideas. I will use them this week.
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