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


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Old July 26th, 2016, 09:07 AM   #1
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A Wedding or a Funfair?

Time for a bit of a rant!

I have been filming and photographing weddings in the UK for over 30 years and it pays the bills, but have begun to see a change in the whole ethos of weddings over the last few years.

When I started filming weddings, almost all were in churches, with a very small minority in registry offices. Most church weddings were followed by a reception in a hall, or hotel with a lot of the decoration and preparation carried out by family members, with registry office weddings tending to be more often than not for those wishing to spend less on their wedding, with frequently the reception in a pub or local village hall.

Since wedding licenses were made available to venues, the trend has been away from church weddings, but more interestingly all receptions are starting to look the same. A typical reception now seems to be an off the peg event more akin to a fun fair than a family celebration.

The day starts off with the bride and her bridesmaids all wearing identical matching off the shelf/internet PJs/dressing gowns/T shirts, followed by the application of caked on theatrical style makeup that makes them all look like store manikins or geisha girls, that is on top of their already applied spray tans. They no longer look anything like their real selves with a make up artistes interpretation of what they should look like.

At the reception, all seating for guests has an off the shelf wrap around sash and bow for each chair, with, jam jars of flowers on the tables and a bewildering array of pseudo vintage tat spread around the room. This can include old brown suitcases, vintage cameras and tripods, oil lamps, floral plates and cups, wooden apple boxes, wooden ladders with flowers on, cart wheels, bits of sacking, pieces of old wood and anything that could have come from old farm chuck outs. Even the speeches are usually just an adapted speech from the Internet, punctuated with tortuous self conscious repeating of the same old jokes also from wedding websites. Don't get me started on wedding food, does any venue know how to do anything other than some form of chicken?

The idea of celebrating a couple getting married and meeting up with family and friends to celebrate the event, seems to have changed into a need to entertain people with more and more sideshows. Photo booths, video message booths, silly glasses/hats/blow up guitars, even exaggerated pictures of mouths, mustaches and faces printed on card and mounted on sticks to hold up infront of your face. Worst of all are the Chinese mass produced weddingy messages on imitation antique boards or card saying things like 'Love is forever', or 'Welcome to the most wonderful day of our lives' and of course any combination of made up emotive or schmaltzy messages. Then there are thumb print pads for hanging your print on a thumb print tree, the same with message tags, messages on writable urns etc.etc.etc. What about the cutout Mr & Mrs letters, or giant illuminated Mr & Mrs signs. Of course performers include Portrait sketchers, charicaturists, harpists, magicians, plus all the ones I have forgotten. At a recent wedding, even the church ceremony started as a bit of a farce, with the Bride and her Father entering to a singer doing a karaoke version of the Guns and Roses hit 'Sweet Child Of Mine', with the Father wearing a 'Slash' style top hat and a giant placard on his back with an arrow pointing to his daughter and the words 'Sweet Child of Mine' in big black letters!

Now I might be old and also a bit old fashioned and a grumpy old sod, but I find myself wearying of just about every wedding turning into an identical side show to most of the others. On the bright side though I had a lovely wedding last week in a more traditional style with people just chilling out and enjoying talking to the couple and spending time with friends and family they hadn't seen for a while.

I still love filming, photographing and editing them, but the wedding day itself has become so predictable and repetitive to the point of tedium.

Roger
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Old July 26th, 2016, 09:55 AM   #2
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

When it gets to the stage you need to take a load of Valium before you go, then it will be time to hang up your cameras!:-)

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Old July 26th, 2016, 10:41 AM   #3
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

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When it gets to the stage you need to take a load of Valium before you go, then it will be time to hang up your cameras!:-)

Dave
LOL

Perhaps I should just increase my prices to help cushion the pain, after all if they can afford to hire in all that tat, they can probably afford to pay me more to record it :-)

Roger
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Old July 26th, 2016, 11:54 AM   #4
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

Trends come and go. However I'm more on the side of making it fun, hence I'm a part of the funfair tradition, with Marryoke, Guest Messages, Video Booth and same day edits on a TV screen I setup. I love humour more than the trite romantic stuff, which can come across as mushy, cheesy or false. In fact I like it when the couple avoid the tedium of formal photos, which I have had a few this year, including last Saturdays.

A Wedding is suppose to be a happy, fun day celebrating the couple and their personalities. Yet too often it seems its dominated by the tedious overlong Ceremony at a church, followed by endless photos that Guests hate, followed by Speeches that those speaking fret over and which the Guests tolerate before the party finally begins in the evening and everyone relaxes and has fun. And the couple paid a fortune for this day. It feels like formality for the sake of tradition rather than because people enjoy it. So when the couple try to inject some fun into their day, I am all for it. I find more pleasure filming humour and fun than endless talks and photos. I find the Weddings where the guest just stand around talking to each other to be frankly boring and not very interesting video.

I admit the endless meals of chicken, veg and potato gets tedious, especially when I'm being fed this also week in, week out. Alas with so many people having different views on what makes great food, couples play it safe and pick something generic and bland that won't offend. However I've done enough barbecue Weddings this year to balance this out.

Plus the boring hotels seem to be less in favour at the moment so I've done quite a few marquees, barns and outdoor Ceremonies. Two in woodlands, which admittedly a bit of a trek, made it refreshingly different to some tight room in a hotel. I like the rustic Weddings myself as I'm more a rural person that urban person.

All the tat, like finger printing on trees, magicians, harpists, message tags just gives me something to film. Perhaps Roger you've just too many Weddings. Was it really so much less tedious and repetitive in the past.

Last edited by Steve Burkett; July 26th, 2016 at 12:51 PM.
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Old July 26th, 2016, 02:35 PM   #5
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

You have is spot on Roger, 25 this year with many to go and the same old s.....te... Nothing different same crap different day.
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Old July 26th, 2016, 04:04 PM   #6
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

I think it was less tedious in the past, Bride's preps were private, so filming and photos started about an hour before the ceremony to capture guests arriving, then a comparatively short photo groups session at the church then back to the reception. The meal was usually fairly soon after arrival, then following speeches and cake cutting, the couple left for their honeymoon in their car which had been 'decorated' with tied on tin cans, and lipstick scribbled good luck messages.

Now everything from the start of hair and makeup to drunken dancing and fireworks 14 hours later are expected to be captured. I'm all for filling the day with fun, but I hate the fact that usually, wedding fun today has nothing personal about it. It just seems to be pre-packaged Chinese tat that has become obligatory and identical at so many weddings and I just can't get interested in it after the 8th identical wedding in two weeks.The day just drags on for ever with people either bored or feeling compelled to play the games in the hope of relieving the boredom. Every so often though I film a wedding where the families have put in real effort to do something personal, different and fun. It's a bit like the difference between a cheap holiday camp and a planned adventure holiday. Perhaps I am covering the wrong end of the market!!

Roger
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Old July 27th, 2016, 02:35 AM   #7
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

Hey Roger

As one of the 25+ generation I have found much the same as you and only the ceremony nowdays seems to have any semblance of order ...the receptions here too have turned into drunken eating sessions and brides too are going all out with funny booths (we now have one sadly) and magicians (what?) oyster shuckers, cartoon artists and the one we did a few months back even brought in pinball machines, air hockey and a basket ball machine too. Yep it's getting way too much for me too!!

We are doing quite a lot of live streaming now and I have offered it for bridal ceremonies with good results! I love the concept too ..Shoot the ceremony live and our CDN also makes me an online MP4 that's available to the bride immediately ...it's a weird feeling though ..you set up, shoot the ceremony, pack up your gear and you are done!! No editing night after night and no post work at all!! From an costing point of view it's highly viable ...you make a big profit and you get to bed at a reasonable hour too!!
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Old July 27th, 2016, 02:59 AM   #8
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

The biggest change I have seen the past 10 year is the addition of these photo- and videobooth's and the fact everyone now expect the photog to stay until after the first dance while 10 years ago they only stayed until the reception. But other then that, we still have the same acts and powerpoint presentations in the venue, not much has changed.

One thing that seems to be quite different from the experiences I read here is the quality and variety of the food, Belgians are known to like to eat, and eat well. The weddings I end up the food is always of a high standard, something you would expect from getting at a fancy restaurant. The higher end venues serve oysters and other stuff a normal human being normally never eats and the food often looks like something you see served in one of Gordon Ramsays restaurants. Also often they have real orange juice, not that cheap stuff you buy in your local foodstore but juice that tastes like it has been freshly pressed. I even have some venues where they offer me a "a la carte" meal.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 05:05 AM   #9
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

The biggest problem is the venues, they do not want change! They prefer everything to go their way, not the bride and grooms way or the photogs or videogs way. During the B&G meet with the venue they are even forcing the B&G to have their speeches first before food, nightmare for us!!, however the past three weddings in two weeks speeches have been first before food causing us, the photog and everyone else to rush and then quality fails everything. All to please the venue?
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Old July 27th, 2016, 05:08 AM   #10
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

Photography has been the biggest change for me. In the old days you did the prep, ceremony and formal groups followed by the brides personal shoot and then you sneaked into the reception (before the guests) and did a mock cake cutting and that was the end of your job. Home in plenty of time for dinner!!

We still only do video until the end of the first dance and often leave long before the photog. It's not uncommon now for the photog to stay right until the couple leave at midnight even doing shots of them in the limo before it drives away!! If we do photo we never go past the first dance..it makes it just too long a day!

If you think about it prices probably haven't gone up that much to make it worth while for a videographer to work for 12 hours and then spend another 30 hours editing and making media. I wonder if people bother to see how much their effective hourly rate ACTUALLY is if they take everything in account including meeting to sign up the bride. travelling, the actually wedding day and then the post production ...You might be shocked how little you are getting per hour!! In the early 90's when VHS was the rage, I used to use full size cassettes, pre film the intro titles, shoot the wedding and handover the tape to the couple when I left ... much easier to cost out and you actually make more money too per hour!!
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Old July 27th, 2016, 08:31 AM   #11
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

Things change - something we all have to accept. If you're looking at your job and thinking back to the good old days, chances are its time for you to leave and find something new. Its why I left working for a University after 13 years. It wasn't the job I had signed up for. Maybe I shall one day feel that way about Weddings, in fact I'd lay odds on it. In which case, I would have to think about making a change of career again.

So the hourly rate is pretty poor. If I was in it just for the money, I'd have stayed at the University, good money and the hours were so much better; but that's not always the point.

I've enjoyed a reasonable mix of Weddings this year; perhaps not as memorable as last years, but that set up a pretty high bar. Next year looks a lot better.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 10:41 AM   #12
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

The glory days for wedding video & photography were pre-digital when the weddings were simpler & expectations less. You could make a better living then than now as the influx of weekend warriors has flooded the market & driven down prices. This is particular the case with photography as in the days of film you needed skill & experience plus keeping the negatives gave you a potential long term revenue stream for re-prints.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 11:30 AM   #13
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

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The glory days for wedding video & photography were pre-digital when the weddings were simpler & expectations less. You could make a better living then than now as the influx of weekend warriors has flooded the market & driven down prices. This is particular the case with photography as in the days of film you needed skill & experience plus keeping the negatives gave you a potential long term revenue stream for re-prints.
If you count glory days in terms of profits and an easy day for the Videographer, then yes, those days are well and truly gone. If you count it in quality of the work and the finished videos themselves, then I say we are entering the glory days now. So many of my clients are come to me and said how the videos of today are not like the cheesy Wedding videos their parents had. Too many not for it to have some grain of truth.
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Old July 27th, 2016, 01:56 PM   #14
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

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If you count glory days in terms of profits and an easy day for the Videographer, then yes, those days are well and truly gone. If you count it in quality of the work and the finished videos themselves, then I say we are entering the glory days now. So many of my clients are come to me and said how the videos of today are not like the cheesy Wedding videos their parents had. Too many not for it to have some grain of truth.
I completely agree that the glory days from an editing point of view are now. As I said in an earlier post, I enjoy editing the video and processing the photos. Using multi cameras and sound recorders gives much more variety of shots and a slicker finished product.

It's the weddings themselves that have all become identical, where you could basically drop any family into another wedding and everything would be the same. The ceremony is almost incidental. There are certainly times when I have been editing recently when I have felt that I could keep a stock of clips of the same regularly repeated props, to save me even bothering to film them each time. Mmmm!!! perhaps a new business idea, anyone want to hire a clip pool of standard wedding shots :-)

Roger
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Old July 27th, 2016, 02:09 PM   #15
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Re: A Wedding or a Funfair?

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One thing that seems to be quite different from the experiences I read here is the quality and variety of the food, Belgians are known to like to eat, and eat well. The weddings I end up the food is always of a high standard, something you would expect from getting at a fancy restaurant. The higher end venues serve oysters and other stuff a normal human being normally never eats and the food often looks like something you see served in one of Gordon Ramsays restaurants. Also often they have real orange juice, not that cheap stuff you buy in your local foodstore but juice that tastes like it has been freshly pressed. I even have some venues where they offer me a "a la carte" meal.
Hey Noa,

My wife says it sounds idyllic, do you want a female assistant?

Roger
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