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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old September 18th, 2014, 01:36 PM   #1
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Video vs photo

Been photographing a lot of weddings lately... Here's a quick comparison.

Video: Paid less, scary to guests, not valued as much.
Photo: Paid a lot more, and more welcomed by guests, but higher expectations (posing people, directing the day, putting people at ease), brides are more critical of photos, and market more competitive/oversaturated.

Video: Can get away with messier shots – gear in the background occasionally, etc.
Photo: Expected to get cleaner images and pay more attention to subtleties. But can use Photoshop to help.

Video: Can "get away" with shooting close-ups to frame out mess and instantly produce an eye-catching image with shallow depth of field; a sequence of close-ups can tell a story.
Photo: Couldn't supply too many close-ups in a row -- a close-up, without context, is less meaningful; need wider shots, which are more difficult to compose and to shoot without mess.

Video: A lot more gear, effort, expense, setup time, packup time. And then more costs in terms of licensing music.
Photo: Can run into a ceremony 10 seconds before it starts and be ready. Can easily shoot a wedding with one camera body, one lens, one card, two batteries. However, taking photos "hurts" the equipment more than video – cameras have limited shutter activations in them.

Video: To shoot a wedding like Rob Adams, that's a $50,000 investment in gear.
Photo: To shoot an awesome wedding, you could get away with a $5000 investment, or $300 hiring equipment for the day.

Video: Has to record continuously and reliably (no camera shake, bad focus, etc -- takes a lot of concentration). Can't miss part of a ceremony or dance.
Photo: Only needs one or two good snaps of each event (eg a dance), and can get away with sitting around a lot.

Video: Fights contrast problems constantly.
Photo: Can use not only raw, but HDR in camera or in post.

Video: Editing takes forever. Usually expected to deliver around 2 hours or more of final product.
Photo: Editing is over fast. Images can even be batch processed to an acceptable level automatically. Can get away with 300-500 edited images.

Video: To get a sequence of images, has to work long and hard. Has to get a lot of good shots over the course of a day to fill a 15-minute short film, bearing in mind that each shot lasts 3 seconds or less on screen. To get really good quality, needs at least two people.
Photo: Can shoot "loose", and still get something interesting without effort. Can take time to set up to get one good shot. Doesn't need, like video, to spend a while recording something to show it – just needs one frame, and any more starts to look samey.

Video: Limited in manipulation of image.
Photo: Image manipulation is unlimited, from cropping into a good frame, to using raw to save bad exposure, to content filling mess and retouching skin blemishes.

Video: Generally has to work around photographer.
Photo: Often (unavoidably?) oblivious of videographer, particularly in the case of multiple video cameras.

Video: Can see straight away what an image looks like, and doesn't have the problem of people blinking.
Photo: Difficult to judge exposure and depth of field and motion blur without looking at image afterwards, but to some extent can compensate by machine gunning and exposure bracketing.

Video: Can press record and wait for decisive moment.
Photo: Has to press shutter at the right moment, but can also machine gun.

Video: During formalities, can, in an ideal case, press record and walk away from the tripod.
Photo: Is more likely to make a nuisance of self and to get shouted at by priest for moving around during the ceremony clicking away.

Video: Can take ages to set up a shot. Lot more fiddly to adjust tripod, slider, focus, etc.
Photo: Can breeze through getting detail photographs of a reception venue in minutes.

Video: Has to catch a real moment to make it look real. Has to anticipate what will happen next, and be already in position with focus set.
Photo: Can take time, pose, and set up shots. Can react faster than a videographer to catching a fleeting moment.

Video: Has to be conscious of sound while recording, even of sound of traffic or television turned on in room, etc.
Photo: Can chat away to people while photographing them, and make them feel more comfortable by doing so.

Video: Couples don't know much about video. Will often interrogate you as to what gear you have, what your methods are, whether you're intrusive, whether you use lighting, etc.
Photo: Couple doesn't care what equipment or methods you use.

Video: 1/10 weddings have video.
Photo: Almost all weddings have photographs.

Video: With exception of A7S, low light is very challenging.
Photo: Has flash to help with focus as well as exposure in low light.

Video: High ISO noise is less distracting. People accept it as the limitations of the camera or the look of the scene.
Photo: High ISO noise is more distracting – image doesn't look as clean. But easily cured with flash or with moving to a grainy black and white look.

Video: Constantly worries about focus, and uses all sorts of devices to double check it.
Photo: Presses a button to focus, and can even set camera to track focus as subject moves around frame. At night time, many flashes can fire a focus assist beam.

Video: Limited in ability to light.
Photo: Can bounce flash off buildings 10m away in outdoor daylight. Can position radio-triggered flash for fancy effects. Can shoot at any aperture wanted during the reception, just using flash to fix exposure problems.

Video: Limited to landscape framing most of the time.
Photo: Can get away with Dutch tilts all over the place and portrait framing.

Video: The worries and complaints of video are endless, from battery life to uncooperative priests to dodgy venue sound systems to people blocking shots.
Photo: The complaints of photo are about having to do table shots.

Video: It's not ultimately a big deal if the photographer gets in your shot. The bride will understand it's just part of the day.
Photo: Has to work to keep the videographer out of shot.

Video: Can capture a lot that photographers can't – a moving light, a speech, all the moments of the bridal waltz.
Photo: Has more ability than a videographer to create a "dream"; not restricted to the real.

Last edited by Adrian Tan; September 18th, 2014 at 08:39 PM.
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Old September 18th, 2014, 01:42 PM   #2
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Re: Video vs photo

Almost depressing why us video guys continue to shoot video when you read that extensive comparison.

I guess your moving in to Photography permanently then, and no more video?
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Old September 18th, 2014, 01:52 PM   #3
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Re: Video vs photo

Well, I'm a much better videographer than photographer; no one's booking me for photos except as an add-on to videos.

But here's another comparison: I couldn't do video when I'm 70 or 80 in the same way I'm doing it now, but I could still do photos.
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Old September 18th, 2014, 06:03 PM   #4
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Re: Video vs photo

Photography can be very tiring on your feet and back especially for the ol' timers like myself. Considering photos past 70 ? I'm 64 and my main gripes are:
It is always a constant battle of fetching people for group formal shots. Bending down to fix the bride's dress becomes a pain in the back and a%#, especially when you tell her to stay put especially when she has a buildup of wax in the ears. Then there is the bride's preference to be photographed on the good side of her face, whatever that means. You gotta look out for that one. And of course the acne, blemishes and zits along with pimples and reflective makeup foundation. Questionable closeups. Better stay back, way back for that one, unless you have the desire and time for photoshop. Then there is the slimming down request to get rid of her 28 lbs. that dieting couldn't muster. Oh, and let's not forget the parrot nose profile shot or the double chin no no. Yes, we must be really vigilant on those too. Those are stuff to really get her pi#$%d off.
All in all video has it's share of challenges too many to list, but I think Adrian nailed that one.
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Old September 18th, 2014, 06:17 PM   #5
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Re: Video vs photo

From the comparison Adrian are you asking us something like "Please convince me to dump video and do photos only?" It certainly sounds like it??

Sure it looks better on the surface but there are so many wannabes out there who do a 6 month photo course and Daddy buys them a 5D and they are automatically "professional wedding photographers"

This is nothing to do with work it's to do with business and you certainly don't want to be swimming around in the pool with hundreds of other photogs all claiming to be the best and fighting for survival. I still am 100% happy doing video. It gives me more satisfaction and that's why I do it. I so far have a bunch of combined photo/video jobs this season but only one shoot for photos only (next weekend)

Business wise you need to be head and shoulders over the rest and having products like being able to offer video and photo will keep you clear of the rest.

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Old September 18th, 2014, 07:11 PM   #6
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Re: Video vs photo

Hey Chris, I'm not throwing in the video towel anytime soon. That list was just for fun -- I was just thinking about the differences between the two, and I surprised myself with how many more advantages there are to photo than video.

About fetching people for groups -- I normally persuade a bridesmaid to be my assistant, and ask the bride in advance to have a list of groups ready to go, so it doesn't seem all that arduous.
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Old September 18th, 2014, 08:01 PM   #7
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Re: Video vs photo

coming from the photography side, I now appreciate how much more demanding video is in comparison! as a photographer you are expected to 'take charge' which can be difficult at times.
I can remember a winter wedding that I was filming and the Bride had gone off to a room with her friends to hang out, the photographer was frantic watching the light fading away, she eventually graced us with her presence the shoot was done just as dusk set in, my little Sony PJ760 coped really well, I asked him for copies of some of the portrait shots but never got any!
That is typical of what a photographer can get from time to time, but I'd say if i had cooperative subjects and nice atmosphere, I'd reckon I'd have the whole thing processed in a day or so, what with the likes of Lightroom and a good slideshow program and album creating software!

Strange how video is so under-rated in comparison to still photography by most clients?
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Old September 18th, 2014, 09:58 PM   #8
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Re: Video vs photo

Whew!! That's a relief Adrian. We didn't want you jumping ship!!

I must admit I get a bit envious when I get to a reception venue with all my gear and the photog has just one bag over his shoulder!!

I started life as a photog as in those days video cameras with huge UMatic recorders and big tube cameras were big, cumbersome and very expensive. I switched to video when VHS arrived along with "all-in-one" cameras.

I still like the idea of doing combo photo/video shoots since you have total control and no darn photog standing in front of your main camera with her little 550D, pop up flash only and just one lens!!

Then again I have no issues bossing people around in either format (I do it nicely!!) and yes, if we are doing stills I get the bride to allocate a runner to gather up the right people for the groups so they go quickly!!

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Old September 19th, 2014, 06:03 PM   #9
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Re: Video vs photo

Chris, I always had one bag over my shoulder, in fact when I do video it is much more lighter than my photo gear. 6 lbs. vs 15 lbs.
No tripod, slider, monopod, just the camera with on cam LED. The spare I keep in the car. Cameras today are really reliable since they record on card rather than tape transport. I love doing video since I don't have to talk to anyone, don't have to pose anyone and don't have to go fetching anyone. I am like a sniper, like the movie The Good The Bad and The Ugly when Eli Wallah was in the tub " when you gotta talk, talk..when you gotta shoot, shoot"
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Old September 19th, 2014, 09:52 PM   #10
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Re: Video vs photo

Adrian - I am TOTALLY impressed with your list. Really well thought out and detailed. In your next life you should consider becoming an engineer!

Here is a thought how it might be put to positive use as a marketing tool: Go down the list and tweak it a bit so it can be used to show prospective clients why video costs what it does.

Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
About fetching people for groups -- I normally persuade a bridesmaid to be my assistant, and ask the bride in advance to have a list of groups ready to go, so it doesn't seem all that arduous.
Smart move! Like having a free assistant! Who can resist doing what one of the cute bridesmaids ask them to do? Not only creative with video but also in getting work done.

As a photographer there was one thing I never liked and that was the shadow created from using just one flash. I used to have a nice slave unit for a second flash until someone "borrowed" it. With video I still like more than one light.

Nice list!
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Old September 20th, 2014, 03:52 AM   #11
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Re: Video vs photo

Great list, although I think some of them may not be quite as simple as you think.

The real advantage the photographer is not having to worry about audio, and not needing to capture entire moments, instead being able to capture just a 'snapshot' in time. A picture of the B+G exchanging rings is great, but with video you need the entire thing.

I hated the post production of photos which honestly took me 2 or 3 days because boredom would set in and I'd have to keep taking breaks! And that's without a final album design....

With video you shoot what's there. With photography you're expected to make the bride look beautiful, lose 10 pounds in the shot by turning them this way or that and make them look like front page magazine models even though they gave you fat and spotty. If you make them look fat it's all over. At least with video they're a little more accepting that that's how they were.

And then there's the 'album' problem. The first couple of albums were kinda fun to design and then I got really bored of doing them. People really don't understand how much albums really cost and think you're screwing them.

I know some people can design an entire album in an hour, it used to take me 3 or 4 (sometimes more). Then they'd want changes, including a photo that just doesn't fit with the rest on the page (either size, shape or content), but they insist and it spoils the entire thing. Then they come back for more changes and they don't understand why you want to start charging them for the extra time.

The album can be such a drawn out procedure. The very last wedding I shot for photos + album the bride is still undecided on her album shots even now. We've been back and forth a few times and two years later we're still not done! Album costs have gone up since then and they're not going to like it when I tell them it's going to cost more.

A tip for groups: I used to tell them if they want more than ten groups I need a spread sheet with all the shots they want and everyone's names listed in alphabetical order with their shot number next to them. So, Uncle Bob now knows he's in group 5, 6, 10 and 18.

We'd print the list to give them in the church then we'd just call "group 6", "group 7" and so on. This typically went much faster on the day because everyone knew what group was being shot now and when their next group was so they didn't wander off.

Only on a couple of occasions did people just not understand group numbers concept and insisted on names being called, which slowed things down considerably and we didn't get through them all.

One couple come up with a list of 42 group shots they wanted (every possible combination of aunty and uncle and cousin etc) and thought we could do that in 25 minutes. Dream on. And then the mother of bride calls you screaming that she wants all these shots and you're being paid to get them.

I used to tell the brides allow an average of 4 minutes per group, with the small groups going faster and the large groups taking longer, but of course to them it only takes 2 seconds to lift the camera to the eye and press the button, so how can it possibly take 4 minutes?

When it rains, the video gets the day as it happens, it's crap but we live with it. With photography, if it rains you're still expected to get premium beauty shots, but now you're in an environment that is too small, littered with fire extinguishers and emergency exit signs and the venue staff are not happy that you're even inside at this time.

The one thing that used to get me every time, that never bothers me in video..... the blinks! I shot a couple who both normally wore glasses but for some reason both decided to get contact lenses the week before the wedding. Throughout the entire ceremony and group shots it was blink blink blink blink..... I never managed a single shot of them during vows or rings where both of them had their eyes open and only about 25% of the group shots! So that meant a horrible time cloning from shot to shot to try to get just one or two usable shots.

The video we shot shows that they blinked, but who cares?

Large groups often needed four, five, six shots to get one with enough family eyes open to be a keeper, otherwise you're back to cloning. PITA! If you keep looking at the LCD to check eyes you look like an amateur!

In the old film days we'd shoot maybe 3 or 4 rolls of film total and if people blinked it was accepted that it happened and nothing could be done. With digital you're expected to notice it right away and re-shoot, or shoot thousands of frames to make sure you can clone later, all of which is time they don't see, care about or think they should pay for.

It's nice to look over the fence and think the other guy has it easier, but sometimes he's looking back at you thinking exactly the same thing!
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Old September 20th, 2014, 05:45 AM   #12
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Re: Video vs photo

Adrian and others thank you for your extensive list of comparisons.
From my point of view video challenges my creativity in ways that I could never get from photography. The photographers I know, for the most part, are a mean spirited group who will do anything to augment their shots at the videographers expense during the Big Day.
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Old September 20th, 2014, 07:40 AM   #13
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Re: Video vs photo

Most phototographers I work with are gracious and a pleasure to work with. They are highly skilled professionals and I admire their work ethic as well. Most work hard to stay out of my shots.

Many photographers now offer slideshows during the reception, so during dinner instead of eating they are sorting through photos on their laptop preparing a slideshow, it seems to be expected in these parts.

Photography seems to me to be a much more challenging way to make a living, I want no part of it!
The horror of what I saw on the timeline cannot be described.
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Old September 20th, 2014, 10:43 AM   #14
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Re: Video vs photo

Funny I have come across this thread, because this week I have been thinking about how I can educate people on video, especially planners. I have a sense a lot do not have any clue about the video process. I have received a few inquires and I send them quotes, and then they mention they weren't trying to go over say $600. Being a videographer is frustrating! lol.
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Old September 20th, 2014, 07:13 PM   #15
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Re: Video vs photo

Hey Greg

The word I tend to use is arrogant! I do come across the occasional photog who really feels it's his wedding and everyone is there to do his bidding. Besides it's HIS wedding anyway, not the brides

Luckily they are not too frequent and by doing photos too I eliminate the bad guys anyway. Now you need a new list Adrian, comparing video shoots with us nutters who do both video and photo..often solo too!! I had to crawl out of bed as I was exhausted after a wedding yesterday but it was fun!

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