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Old November 28th, 2014, 03:01 AM   #1
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What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

So, I'm shooting one in two weeks' time, and can't remember the last time I filmed one. Maybe January or February.

Does anyone have any particular tips?

Thinking it through, here's some of the things that are on my mind:

-- Lav mics on groom and priest. Unless you're running the transmitter into your camera, or otherwise carrying the transmitter with you, it might be better for them to wear lavs into pocket recorders. Otherwise, if they're walking from ketubbah-signing room to bedekin to ceremony, they might pass out of transmission range depending on where you've got your gear.

-- Signing ketubbah. Often this is done before bedekin. Part of the trick is that you've got to be ready on a steadicam or shoulder rig to be with the groom's party as they walk, singing, to the bride. But the actual signing might be better covered with a stationary camera. So, this is the sort of situation where a Steddiepod/Steadicam Solo might come in handy. I think what I did last time was use two cameras in the ketubbah room (one safety, one close-up), and then quickly switched out the close-up to a steadicam and balanced it before they left the room. Madness.

-- Lav mic on groom while his groomsmen accompany him to bedekin. If you want to use that lav to capture the groomsmen singing, the problem is that it might peak. Or, if you set it at a level where it won't peak, then it might be too soft to capture whatever the groom says during the bedekin and the ceremony. So, it might be better to put a recorder at a lower level on a groomsman.

-- Wearing a skullcap for the ceremony... I've never worked out the trick of putting these on so they don't fall off. Maybe with a safety pin. Don't know.

-- Covering the ceremony. It can get really crowded under the chuppah. I think the way I've covered it in the past is two guys with monopods under the chuppah, and a safety camera in the aisle or elsewhere. I've seen Ray Roman do something similar: aisle camera, side-angle camera, and one creative camera roaming around getting Besteady One shots. I think Nigel's tip about attaching a GoPro to the top of the chuppah is really useful: you could either somehow try to put it directly above the groom, to get a good angle when he stamps, or you could attach it to a corner to get a safety angle of the action that won't get blocked.

-- Horas (dancing) later on... I think some videographers actually take ladders to the reception, to get a high angle to cover these properly. Rob Adams mentioned he once did.
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Old November 28th, 2014, 03:38 AM   #2
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

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Wearing a skullcap for the ceremony
Is that a requirement from the family? I have had a groom call me to shoot a Jewish wedding a few years back, his first question was; "do you have any experience shooting Jewish weddings?" and I said "no" when he replied, "oh sorry, then we don't need to discuss this any further, have a good day" :)
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Old November 28th, 2014, 05:34 AM   #3
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

Wearing the cap is a sign of respect, like taking your shoes off when you enter the mandap in a hindu ceremony. Even if your not jewish its ok to wear one.

Depending on the particular denomination the bride may say nothing at all. We mic the groom and the Rabbi and that normally covers it.

Its tight under the chuppah. Be prepared to move around if needed.

Anything else depends on your style and your couples. We don't film the cutting of the bread as our couples don't care.
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Old November 28th, 2014, 06:11 AM   #4
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

I guess that would mean I never will be doing any Jewish weddings :) No way I would put such a skullcap on my head.
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Old November 28th, 2014, 08:00 AM   #5
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

First off...The officiant is a RABBI not a priest. A priest is in the Catholic religion.
The way I've mic'd up Jewish Ceremonies is simple. BTW I AM Jewish but that's really not important since I've shot more Catholic ceremonies and spent more time in church than many of the Catholic religion.
I mic'd the groom and put another mic on the stand mic the RABBI and Cantor would be using. Generally it's a house mic but sometimes it's the DJs mic going back thru the DJs system. FYI the Cantor is the one who sings and assists in the ceremony.
The signing of the Ketubbah ALWAYS happens before the ceremony takes place and it is at this time the groom lifts the brides veil. This is a 2000 year old tradition to insure the bride is the female that was promised to the groom. My suggestion is to simply shoot the entire thing and edit later. Also the audio is quite important here but the best way to capture it (unless you have an audio guy who can mic up 3 to 5 people) is to use a shotgun or hyper mic. The Rabbi says a lot and the groom also speaks and there are others who might also, depends on the sect of the Jewish religion.
WEAR A YAMAKULE!!!! It is a sign of resepct and again depending on the sect...Traditional, Orthodox etc. you would insult the families and the RABBI if you don't. A bobby pin (hair pin) will hold it on and if you have little to work with on top as I do, then just slam it on top of your head and go with it. I think a safety pin might hurt.
Also keep in mind the bride and groom are on opposite sides generally. Bride on the right as you look down the aisle to them.
Also remember the RABBI reads the Ketubbah, the B&G drink wine and the MOST IMPORTANT SHOT.... The groom smashing the glass at the end of the ceremony. Miss that and you might as well not even shot the wedding. That's when everyone yells MazelTov. (Good luck)
A Jewish wedding is actually pretty easy to shoot. I always had one or 2 cameras behind the Chuppa one on each corner to cover the couple with a master shot straight down the aisle.
As for the dancing....Yeah a ladder can be helpful but I also went so far as to have the groomsmen put me up in a chair as the had just let the B&G down to the floor so I could get the high angle POV shot. Hang on tight. I did it with a full sized camera. It can be a bit scary.
Noa, if you can respect others religious beliefs by wearing a simply "beany" for the length of the ceremony, then don't bother doing Jewish weddings. That is quite disrespectful and frankly the gentleman did you and himself a favor by not hiring you to do his wedding.
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Old November 28th, 2014, 08:59 AM   #6
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

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Noa, if you can respect others religious beliefs by wearing a simply "beany" for the length of the ceremony, then don't bother doing Jewish weddings. That is quite disrespectful and frankly the gentleman did you and himself a favor by not hiring you to do his wedding.
I do respect the fact that everyone can practise their own believe wherever and whenever they want but that doesn't mean that I can be forced to participate in the rules of a religion I don't believe in. If that means I don't get a job shooting at such a wedding so be it, if your believe would say you had to wear that "beany" at all times, no matter what, and you would go out to shoot a catholic wedding and they told you to take it off, out of respect for the Christian church and maybe wear a cross around your neck, just because that religion would require that, out of respect, would you do that? Respect works both ways...
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Old November 28th, 2014, 09:02 AM   #7
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

Danny and Don, thanks for the wisdom.

Remind me to stop calling synagogues "churches" as well (I'm pretty sure I'm going to forget, but I'll try).

But as for Jewish weddings being easy to shoot -- Don, when I've shot as many as you have, I might change my mind. But for now, I find them pretty much the scariest type of wedding (second to the mayhem that is an Indian wedding... and narrowly ahead of the chaos that is Asian door games and tea ceremonies).
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Old November 28th, 2014, 09:54 AM   #8
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

Don, is that right about the B&G being on non-standard sides?? I saw that once a few weeks ago & thought the whole thing was unplanned. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure it was one where the bride was Jewish.

I've shot a few, and some where both were jewish. TBH I've never been 'asked' to wear a Yamakule. Nor was I ever handed one or anything (I was when I was 13 at a friends Bar Mitzvah). Hope I'm not being disrespectful but I just assumed some are less traditional than others & don't 'require it'.

Ultimately tho, would you agree with my that jewish weddings aren't that much different than other weddings?? The only differences I find are:

1. Kettubah - signing which doesn't happen at all weddings.
2. Yamakule - not always required
3. Mazeltov - Smashing of glass at the end of the ceremony.
4. Dancing - Traditional line dance as well as boosting B&G up onto chairs.

Aside from that I don't really think its a "Have you ever shot a Jewish wedding before?" "No." "Ok, nevermind." type of event. Its funny, there's probably more challenges to outdoor & beach weddings, or wedding days where it rains.
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Old November 28th, 2014, 12:49 PM   #9
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

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Aside from that I don't really think its a "Have you ever shot a Jewish wedding before?" "No." "Ok, nevermind." type of event. Its funny, there's probably more challenges to outdoor & beach weddings, or wedding days where it rains.
I actually would have loved to shoot such an event, unless they had some demands on what I should wear, I only was a bit shocked that he didn't even bother to discuss this any further. I have shot quite a lot of different kind of wedding traditions where every couple took the time to walk me through the ceremony parts so I knew what to expect. Belgium has a very large Orthodox Jewish community located in Antwerp with about 20000 people so lot's of potential wedding clients over there :) but they are also known for being a very closed society. I was referred by a known Antwerp photog who shoots a lot of Jewish weddings, he also was surprised I was rejected based on experience.
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Old December 7th, 2014, 04:14 PM   #10
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

Did the shoot yesterday. Couple of notes (partly so I can refresh my own memory by rereading this thread in future):

-- Signing of ketubbah took place before ceremony (as Don Bloom predicted... though the groom actually thought otherwise!). But also took place well before bedekin, which was different.

-- Horas -- madness. Cramped room. Couldn't get height to see the dancing. But so much happening everywhere, you don't know where to point the camera. Girls forming an archway on one side that bride is running through, groom getting tossed up in the air on the other side, etc.

-- Chuppah was madness. Smallest one I've seen, about the width of two people. Perhaps should have attached a GoPro, but didn't (felt like it would be obvious; also would have peered straight down bride's top).

Couple had their backs to audience the entire time, so centre aisle camera got nothing, except when she walked around him seven times. Blocked from two sides by parents. Blocked from rear by three rabbis. Not helped by bridesmaids/groomsmen flanking the chuppah. By the way, is it just me, or do Jewish weddings tend to have large bridal parties? I think there were about 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen in this one, though only 150 guests overall.

Monopod definitely more useful than tripod. Was trying to raise it high up to try to peer over shoulders and at least get faces, but was shooting with an FS700, which has the LCD screen on top, so couldn't see crap! The fact that it was a contrasty outdoor wedding didn't help LCD visibility either, and made exposure/focus a nightmare.

Note to self: this is an issue that maybe could be discussed with the bride in advance. Do the parents need to be standing under the chuppah, or could they step backwards a metre or two, or could you get a larger chuppah?
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Old December 7th, 2014, 10:59 PM   #11
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Re: What to watch out for at Jewish weddings

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Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
this is an issue that maybe could be discussed with the bride in advance. Do the parents need to be standing under the chuppah, or could they step backwards a metre or two, or could you get a larger chuppah?
The chuppah itself and those that gather under/near it is always going to be a challenge as far as how it may obstruct the view for video/photo. But it never hurts to ask if there could be a slight modification for you. And do it via email, so you have proof you inquired about it. Then if everything's cramped and blocked, you at least gave them fair warning.

As for the Hora, I love it. It's the best part of the reception. Everything afterward is kind of boring. Heck, I'm not Jewish, but I'd like to have one if I ever get married. = P You've now experienced one and you'll have that insight for the next time in regards to how to shoot it. Usually the couple are kept together, so that should be your focus.
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