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


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Old November 12th, 2006, 08:38 AM   #1
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Being "unobtrusive"

I found in my last three events that my clients gave subtle indication they wanted me to be more involved in their wedding day shoot. For example, telling them where to stand and what to do, stroking their egos, etc. That kind of thing. Like the photographer who spends considerably more time with them prior to the wedding day. I get the feeling they think I'm avoiding or ignoring them when I stand back and let the events naturally play out as they would.

So now I make it a point to intuit how involved a client would like me to be, because I don't believe "unobtusiveness" is always a value. It seems like a lot of wedding videographers list it as such, when to the bride you just seem like a dark, shadowy figure who never speaks.

I'm wondering if it's a female thing. I think woman naturally expect other women to talk a lot, and the client gets thrown off when you don't. The problem with chatting, is that it makes for more editing. So if I never say anything, it's better for post-production.
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Old November 12th, 2006, 09:10 AM   #2
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The following is a post I made a few days ago on a thread dealing with an entirely different subject, but also mentioned the idea of "obtrusiveness" in passing. I considered starting a separate thread, but thought it better to contain my thoughts within the thread as it existed. It now seems apprropriate to present the same material here.

[The "unobtrusive" idea bothers me, primarily because I have no intention of being invisible (a wall flower, if you will) at any event I work. I feel being visible is essential to the success of my business. On the other hand, the wedding I shoot is most definitely not my wedding, and I have absolutely no interest in being the focus of attention. But I do want my presense known. The issue is good judgement. One "disappears" and then "appears" when it is appropriate.

How effective I can be at performing my task as videographer is a compromise of my needs and how well those who have to interact with me understand those needs. While I have experienced few issues with church officals, I have come to regard the hotel maitre d' as the world's greatest ego maniac. In most cases the more advance "footwork" I do, the more flexibility I have when it comes time to shoot. The end result, to my client (not the priest, not the venue, not anyone else), is what I produce. And no one will, within reason, deny me the means to document the most important event in the life of two dedicated people!

Still, allowing ample time to set up equipment at the ceremony is, in my mind, the most important thing I can arrange. I need time to assess the venue and make the decisions that will not only allow for what I believe should happen, but prepare adjustments in my set-up that will quickly accomodate that which "just happened", which was in no plan. I have spent a number of years doing everyting myself. No more. Assistants are essential in event video producing. There are simply too many issues that need "on the spot" attention. I can deal with those issues, but only at the expense of concentration of what is happening in the viewfiender.

The fact is all aspects of a production need attention. That aspect which did not get attention very quckly makes itself known when it comes time to edit & produce the final project.

If, as you say, "...I have gone to the brides house beforehand I have minimal time left when I get to the church to get tripod etc set up never mind audio etc.." I feel you have not done your homework. There is no pontificating here. Try as I might, when I am in post, something always shouts at me, saying, "you overlooked this...!"

Is it obstusive or unobtrusive? Neither. It is professionally focused. You do what you need to do to get the job done, but you don't do that which conflicts your ability to get the job done.]

This I would add that I believe it essential to get a clear sense from clients on just how proactively involved you should be at their event.
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Old November 12th, 2006, 10:11 AM   #3
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Excellent points Waldemar. Sometimes you CAN'T know until the day of the event how your clients react to having a camera in their faces all day. On the initial meeting or phone call, they seem completely laid back, and seemingly receptive of a more involved approach to filming. But then the day comes, they're stressed, and they don't want to see you. Or. Sometimes it is a matter of them warming up to you. When you first meet them they seem nervous and jittery, but then on the wedding day, they're open, they're hugging you, they want your attention, and want you to speak up and let yourself be seen and heard from. It's hard to predetermine. You just have to roll with whatever conditions unfold.

Your "focus of attention" comment really struck me. I'm a naturally noticable individual. I tend to be a little out there. Sometimes I feel I must overcompensate on the 'unobtrusive' thing, to make sure the focus is totally on my clients. I think I'm getting a little better knowing where that line is. But my preference is to be unobtrusive, because the more I talk, the more others will try to engage in conversation while I'm filming. My gigantic pair of headphones usually stops folks cold. Still, I don't want to shut the B&G out.
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Old November 12th, 2006, 09:51 PM   #4
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" [The "unobtrusive" idea bothers me, primarily because I have no intention of being invisible (a wall flower, if you will) at any event I work. I feel being visible is essential to the success of my business. On the other hand, the wedding I shoot is most definitely not my wedding, and I have absolutely no interest in being the focus of attention. But I do want my presense known. The issue is good judgement. One "disappears" and then "appears" when it is appropriate. "

Gold... no seriously... These are fundamental elemetns of what we do, how we market our services and what we offer within a final product.
These fine words pretty much explain it all...
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Old November 12th, 2006, 09:56 PM   #5
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"This I would add that I believe it essential to get a clear sense from clients on just how proactively involved you should be at their event."

taking this jsut one step further.. many MANY a time, have I had preliminary meetins with clients who are yet to determine the events for their day.
Its usually at this time where i sit with them (usually for a couple of hours) and work out a WHOLE plan for their day. THis helps me, as tehn i know that there wont be any mistakes or issues, but then, i dont get paid for my time. In the end however, this timesaving invovlement in their day prior to it, ensure that my postproduction time is at its bare minimum as i have ample time to do what I need to do, as i usualy integrate MY requirements in THEIR daily plan..
Its workds FLAWLESSLY (so far) and in all cases, the clients are usually grateful that someone who knows what to expect ahs taken "charge" and sorted out their schedules for them.
My wife keeps telling me to be a coordinator LOL but in all seriousness, being proaactive on any job is essential for business success on all levels.
One cannot take circumstancial or situational elements for granted and one should never EVER assume.. Take steps and u WILL succeed on the day..

trust me..
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Old November 13th, 2006, 08:56 AM   #6
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I really can't see how you can be totially "unobtrusive" and still get all the shots and closeups that make a video work.

In most wedding I have been in, it's almost imposible to get a clear shot (with no one in the way) from across the room - now if there is a balcony where you can stand and shoot over everyone, that's great - but in my limited experence, most places that I have shot in don't have accessable balconys.

So in place of being unobtrusive, I try to get the best angles and shots I can get - many times that includes me walking around on the dance floor or being in the middle of it on occasion. If I can make a better video being seen than not seen - well I am going to go for the shot and be seen. Of cource, balconys allow me usially to do both (get the shot and still be relitivly hidden!).

Typically, I am always in view of the guests - and usially try to at least chat with them durring the downtime in a wedding (dinner, some "general dances", etc.)

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Old November 13th, 2006, 02:47 PM   #7
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Involved dancing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan DesRoches
Typically, I am always in view of the guests - and usially try to at least chat with them durring the downtime in a wedding (dinner, some "general dances", etc.) Roach
I almost always am involved for the dancing portion of the wedding. The photographer is long gone but I'm still here shooing that extra 1hr of footage that makes for lots of laughs when the couple view their footage. Once I had a bride say that a relative bought the video just because of a specific sneak peak scene (an attractive looking young guy doing some nice bump / grind). So it never hurts to include good dancing footage.

The dancing footage also is just plain fun to film. Getting the low angle shots, etc.

jason
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Old November 19th, 2006, 08:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michelle Lewis
Excellent points Waldemar. Sometimes you CAN'T know until the day of the event how your clients react to having a camera in their faces all day. On the initial meeting or phone call, they seem completely laid back, and seemingly receptive of a more involved approach to filming. But then the day comes, they're stressed, and they don't want to see you. Or. Sometimes it is a matter of them warming up to you. When you first meet them they seem nervous and jittery, but then on the wedding day, they're open, they're hugging you, they want your attention, and want you to speak up and let yourself be seen and heard from. It's hard to predetermine. You just have to roll with whatever conditions unfold.
.
It has been a while since I have visited this thread. I thank you, Michelle, for your recognition that my comments struck a chord of recognition.

You touched upon a scenario I have come to identify as very important. If people know in advance of what to expect, stress dissipates rapidly.

Upon initial meeting clients are indeed very laid back. That is because the sudden awareness of "this event is really going to happen" that invades the individual psyche is beyond comprehension for most people. If your clients were seasoned performers, like actors, dancers, musicians, or athletes, they would not only be keenly aware of what happens to the mind and body before the moment, but would instinctively know how to process the sudden influx of emotion and direct it in a useful way. This is not the case most of the time.

Having had the blessing to experience where the individual mind goes when facing a pivotal moment, I always make sure my clients have a thorough understanding of what to expect. I define where I expect to be at every key moment in the wedding celebraton. I do my best to describe how I will behave. Then I do not disappoint anyone.

Beyond the wedding couple, I stress how important it is to announce the day's celebration will be recorded on video to all wedding guests. It never ceases to amaze me how much difference I notice in behavior between those how know a video camera crew will be present versus those who do not. Those who know are much more relaxed.

There is something, I think, of "sticker shock" after a client signs a contract. Regardless of service promised, the promise made must be kept. That, more than anything else, makes tension melt away. The result is usually really good footage.
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Old November 26th, 2006, 07:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michelle Lewis
I found in my last three events that my clients gave subtle indication they wanted me to be more involved in their wedding day shoot. For example, telling them where to stand and what to do, stroking their egos, etc. ........
This is a trick situation. Working under a contractor relationship they are supposed to give you overall parameters up front than let you free to produce the result. I know that answer may be off target for the personality think going on here, but remember that in the end you suffer the consequence if the finished result doesn't measure up.

I have been faced with that, and told the client that she could tell me HOW to do the job, or WHAT SHE WANTED AS A RESULT -- but not BOTH at once.

Could you imagine one of these folks going into the kitched to direct the chef?
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Old November 26th, 2006, 10:56 PM   #10
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food is food though my friend, and if the meal is crap, .. the next day you'll still be pooing it out whether u ate kaviar and lobster, or whether it was an upsized Big Mac meal..

what we do is for life.. ive had client fork out up to 5grand for a friggin cake, but are loath to pay me 3grand for a job.. they see the cake and a physical thing.. they can see it there in front of them.. much like many other wedding services, like flowers and cars..
thing with what we do, is that the value of it doesnt trully come to the fore until they see the finished piece..
and this is the most dificult thing about waht we do.
How do we sell ourselves?

Do we claim unobtrusiveness, which seems to be the trrend these days. By being unobtrusive, like many photogrpahy jobs ive done, the videographers are LITERALLY flies on the wall with about 5% interaction... now when u consider 5% from a 12hours day, thats really not much..

Or do we then change it and call it candid? Whats candid? it is being unobtrusive? Is it setting up shots to MAKE them look real? Theres a fine art to being candid, and theres method to the madness of getting people to playact natural events. Sure tehy may feel a little strange, but does it look natural and canid? The answer to that is it depends on how u execute the move...
Candid is how i market what i do. I let them do their own thing, BUT im in control of HOW they do their thing. Is taht being obtrusive? I dont know.. ask urself.. if their putting their shoes on and i ask them to take their time...or if i ask mum and dad to come and help out the jewellry on the bride.. all the while, telling them to take their time as they do it.. chatting away, all the while, im flying around them shooting.. is that being obtrusive? Well.. she had to put her jewellry on at SOME point.. and they DO need to wear their shoes.. so why not manipulate THAT?
Works for me.. BUT, it only works for me in a sense that by the time i get this intimate with the girls, ive already been shooting them for at least an hour.. so its not like im in their face. Also, believe it or not, im very likable, and despite the professional approach ot what i do, my demeaner to THEM is one of a close buddy. For some poeple, this technique jsut wont work. Its either their look, their character or teh way they conduct themselves which may creep people out, but usualy if the grls are dressing, i ask them to let me know when their decent, and then i'll come up once their covered.
95% of the time though, they'd rather make it easier for me and have me in the same room as them as they're running around in their undies while i stand around waiting.. (no silly jokes pls.. ive heard it all.. lol) , but that in itself should give u an indication as to how important it is to make someone comfortable with YOU.

like i said, thres a fine art to being discreet, unobtrusive and candid.. all 3 can work in tendem and require ones skill and more importantly, experience, to not only know how to handle poeple, but to handle them in extreme emotional states of mind. More over, its far far FAR more important to know exactly when to step up, and when to move away.

Once uve nailed it, believe me, your work will be MUCH simpler..
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