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


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Old November 28th, 2005, 09:32 AM   #1
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How do you keep people out of shots?

So,

I am basically done editing my first wedding and hope to get it to the customer this coming weekend. Overall, I am very happy with the way things came out, although there were a few "minor" issues that I really had to work on to cover up. . . .

One of the main issues that I had were with people (guests/photographer) getting into my shot to take photos, or just out of ignorance (that there was a camera there that can't see through people!). One time - the father of the groom got in my shot (it was the Bride/Father dance) and when I asked him nicely to please move, he started to dance and make faces into the camera! Not quite sure what he was thinking (though at that time, he did have a few too many wines in him!) - luckly - my other camera got a wide shot of the dance floor to cover that part - but the father of the groom did ruin a good closeup I had.

So - how do you deal with this issue? Luckily - I did have two cameras rolling that saved me in a lot of situations, but there were a lot of great shots that were ruined by someone getting in the way to get a photo.

Do you make an announcement at the wedding before it starts? Or do you just deal with it and try to work around it?

Just looking for ideas to improve my game. . . .

Ryan
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Old November 28th, 2005, 09:49 AM   #2
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Quote:
Do you make an announcement at the wedding before it starts? Or do you just deal with it and try to work around it?
I'm strictly an amatuer but I can say that I seldom interact with the guests. The day of the rehearsal I make it a point to get on a first name basis with the bride's mother since she is "really" the person in charge.

If I need any kind of crowd control I ask her to do it.
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Old November 28th, 2005, 10:35 AM   #3
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I certainly don't make an announcement. I'm there to document the day and 99% of people are aware that the camera is going and stay out of the way for the most part. However, having said that during some ceremonies people will jump into the aisle to get a picture-nothing you can do about it. If you have a 2nd or 3rd camera rolling maybe pull footage from that to cover OR just leave it. The B&G will know what happened. During the reception especially for things like the cake cutting when guests crowd around to get a picture the photog or I usually just say something like "hey folks, let us get ours first then you can have at it". We do it with a smile on our face and most people are usually pretty decent about it. As for 1st dances, other than the B&G and the photog and myself generally anyone else thats out there is on the edge of the floor so its not really an issue-during open dancing however thats a whole different story and frankly I really don't worry about it. Again, I'm there to tell the story of the day not produce a Hollywood movie, so if people get in front of me, I move. I'm not afraid to get onto the dance floor. I may not interact a lot with the guests but the whole bridal party including the families know who I am and what I'm there to do so I get a fair amount of cooperation. They know because I tell them. I make sure I have a "contact" person, be it MOB, maid of honor, best man or wedding coordinator so if there is a problem I have one person to go to to try to solve it.
Again, I'm there to tell the story of the B&Gs day and hopefully I have enough footage to cut around the idiots that feel they need to be in every shot while making stupid faces to the camera.
Don
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Old November 28th, 2005, 11:06 AM   #4
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At the reception I use a 3-step-ladder. I like this technique so much I am going to buy three more 3-step-ladders to place under my tripod legs. I wouldn't use this set-up for weddings but I would use it for dances and awards.
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Old November 28th, 2005, 12:10 PM   #5
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"One of the main issues that I had were with people (guests/photographer) getting into my shot to take photos, or just out of ignorance (that there was a camera there that can't see through people!). One time - the father of the groom got in my shot (it was the Bride/Father dance) and when I asked him nicely to please move, he started to dance and make faces into the camera! Not quite sure what he was thinking (though at that time, he did have a few too many wines in him!) - luckly - my other camera got a wide shot of the dance floor to cover that part - but the father of the groom did ruin a good closeup I had."

Welcome to camera op hell. I have yet to understand the mentality of some people, as they plainly stare at the camera as they walk into the frame. While I can't give you any definitive answer, I could share some thought I had on a solution.

My first idea was a mean Rottweiler chained to the tripod. I came up with this idea on the first and last wedding I did, when a 4 y/o boy walks up to my then week old XL1s, grabbed the tripod, and started shaking the crap out of it! Man I wanted to punt him over the fence! The downside I thought, was when the dog runs off with a small child in it's jaws... with the camera dragging behind it. So the dog needs to be well trained.

My second idea was barbed wire. Too many obvious drawbacks, and hard to move.

Then, refining the first idea, try using a snake instead of the dog. A rattle snake would even offer an audible warning to these nimrods, who feel more important than your paying client. Two drawbacks... between the screams and the rattler getting picked up by the mic, the snake keeps slipping the coller...

Hope this has helped :)
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Old November 28th, 2005, 11:00 PM   #6
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I don't know if you guys are serious about stepladders and such, but there are much better solutions to most of these problems. First, there shouldn't be much of an opportunity for people to get in the way. The only people that can get in the way of my shot of the ceremony are the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Nobody else is close enough to get in the shot. If someone steps out into the aisle to get a shot, they have to shoot around ME. If a tall groomsman gets in the way of the bride, I shoot an OTS (over the shoulder) with the lens almost touching his shoulder. He is just standing there bored and won't mind the company! :)

There is about a ten-foot psychological radius of "personal space" that allows you to shoot fairly close to the couple without bothering people. If I'm afraid that I may be blocking someone important's view, (like the parents) I crouch down and operate from down low. The monopod keeps the camera at shoulder height, but my okole(ass) is no longer in someone's face.

At the reception, I am mostly mobile so people can't get in my way for long. If someone is blocking the shot of the bride on the dance floor, I go high-angle with my monopod. I would never put a tripod on temporary elevations like step-stools. Get a tall tripod. I have one that is 7' tall.

If you haven't worked with the photographer before, talk to them and explain where you plan to shoot. I start out on the altar and switch to the aisle just before the ring exchange. The reason for this is that the couple usually faces forward until the ring exchange and from the altar I get their parents in the background. Anticipating the ring exchange is absolutely critical if you ever do a single-camera shoot. Tell your plan to the photographer and they will shoot around you. Just explain that you won't move much, but when you do it is critical. During the ring exchange and the walk down the aisle, I am shoulder-to-shoulder with the photographer.
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Old November 29th, 2005, 08:42 AM   #7
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I really like the rattlesnake and big dog ideas. . . .

Af for moving closer to the subject - while I always try to do this (zoom with feet), at this particular wedding - there was no way (or room) for me to move that close to the Bride and Groom (it was at a old hotel - the bride and groom got married infront of the fireplace (basically right on top of it), and the chairs were up really close. If I did manage to get in there - I would be basically in the parents of the bride and grooms lap. . . . Of cource, the wedding was suppose to be outside (and in that case I would have had a great unobstructive shot of Bride and Groom) - but weather changed all that . . . (always plan for unexpected!)

I guess the advice is to just try and deal with it the best I can. One thing I did learn is to get a good communication system between myself and my other camer so we can quickly adjest shots if one of us has an obstruction. Other than that and breaking the photographer's legs - I guess I will just have to ask people nicely and do more networking with the guests before the shoot.

Thanks gang,
Ryan
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Old November 30th, 2005, 06:01 AM   #8
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steelcap shoes come in quite handy. especially for repeat offenders when u accidently kick then in the shin as u try to wrestle past them...
lol

nah... never had that issue.. i usually make a point of being one of the the "official" people... well i dont, but my gear does.. usually when they see the rigs all set up they dont get in the way... if they do, all it takes is a shuffle to the left or right and i have my shot again...
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Old November 30th, 2005, 01:32 PM   #9
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We definately do make an announcement if the couple prefers to have better photo and video while limiting their guests. Now we also do both photo and video, and people get in the way just as much for photos, and also can ruin photos easier than a video. If the couple prefers people are not in the way with digital cameras constantly flashing, we ask the DJ or MC to make an announcement that the couple does not want any cameras going during the important parts. This is a very serious problem when you have the ceremony and reception in the same room as guests get very comfortable and don't mind moving in the middle of the ceremony. At the very least, the announcement preps the guests that there cameras are not wanted, and they usually move much quicker and easier when they do get in the way. Also doing photography lets us get away with more restircitions though.
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Old November 30th, 2005, 07:52 PM   #10
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Hmmm.... I kinda like some people in my shots. As a matter of fact, I go out of my way to get people like the photographer IN the shot during the photo shoot. Sometimes people in the shot enhances the story you are telling.

Just a thought...

Mike
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Old November 30th, 2005, 09:07 PM   #11
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Mike, I always shoot the photographer taking pictures of the wedding party. If he/she takes a group shot, I alway get them to wait for me and I get them to wave or say "aloha" to my camera. Out of respect to the photographer, I try not to completely duplicate their shots, but the photographer taking pictures is a wedding event in itself.
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