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

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Old May 29th, 2007, 03:36 PM   #1
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Opinions on what you would do.

Ok guys and gals, here's the story.

Shot an event last Sat. During the reception the cake cut and champagne toast go on. We were 2 cams and 2 operators shooting all events, one of about 4 feet from the couple and the other about 6 ft. away.

The groom is uncorking the champagne bottle (he was not intoxicated at all). Not abig deal, we've shot a lot of these events in the past with no problems. The groom out of nowhere decides to shake the bottle(heavily).....just before opening the bottle. "We" had no warning of this as it happened very fast. The bottle exlodes ofcourse with champagne soaking the cameras. As all of this happened, we both made an effort to turn away and protect the cams, but like I said...it happened very fast.

Cleaned both cams right away.....one cam was having moisture errors and I was concerned of the camera being damaged and possibly neeing service.

So, my question is, "how would you handle this situation" after the fact (2 days later)....and how would you feel about this happening to you?

At no point did anyone say, "get back" or anything like it. I don't think the groom would have done this if not prompted by the MC but I would think common sense would say..."hey, there are 2 cameras right in front of me.....perhaps these guiys should get bhack or the like"

Would love to hear your comments.

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Old May 29th, 2007, 03:56 PM   #2
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Learn from your mistakes. These things happen at weddings, and they expect YOU to know it. To even bring it up to them shows a lack of professionalism on your part. If you do have damage to your gear, your insurance may come in handy.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 04:05 PM   #3
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Just curious how you got both cams in the line of fire... this is sort of a "normal" thing with champagne, but you don't point it at anything - like a loaded gun...

Unless you have some sort of liability clause in your contract for damage/loss to gear while on the shoot (I think I'd put one in if it were an "extreme" wedding, but otherwise seems odd), I think it's your responsibility, or if your gear is insured - this was an accident...

One more memo to self - stay out of the way of champagne...

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Old May 29th, 2007, 04:12 PM   #4
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Wow, that's harsh.

I wrote a provision for such a situation into my contract after a DJ friend told me about something that happened to him. I forget what it says, but it frees me from liabilty if I cannot produce their video due to something that happened at their wedding. In a backyard wedding he had his equipment set up when a sprinkler came on and hosed EVERYTHING. He was not only out the gear, but had to rent gear for a wedding the next day.

An insurance company is the best route, but I haven't found a good one yet. I think a lot of us don't see it as worth the hastle, though we know we SHOULD do it.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 04:20 PM   #5
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I'm sorry, but that was just stupid on the grooms' part. If it were me, I'd feel terrible and offer to cover repairs. That he did not is, of course, unfortunate.

If you were some other contractor -- let's say a carpenter hired to do some remodeling and the owner of the house damaged or destroyed, say, an expensive miter saw doing something similarly stupid -- it would seem only reasonable that repairs/replacement of that gear be included in the final bill. Legalities aside, it's just the right thing to do.

Of course, caught up in the magic of the moment the groom may not even realize what he did. Perhaps if you -- tactfully -- let him know that his antics cost you $XX in repairs, he might offer to do the right thing.

If nothing else, I think this falls under the Doesn't Hurt To Ask Department.
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Old May 30th, 2007, 06:39 PM   #6
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This sounds like one of those very grey area situations. I believe I would present this situation to an attorney to see if there is a litigation opportunity (not with intention of using it, but more to really know whaere I stand).

One would think business insurance should cover this kind of thing but, as I said, this situation appears very grey and insurance companies like to wiggle out of any obligation.

Ultimately, I would try to:
1: get insurance coverage.
2: approach B&G for assistance in covering repairs.
3: Use litigation as last resort.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 01:31 PM   #7
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I did a wedding a while back with a bottle on every table (20-30 tables). Many guests, probably feeling the effects of the cocktail hour, started to pop the corks while aiming across the room. Corks and bubbly went every where, while I covered my gear. Some of the younger crowd actually took aim at their 'friends'.

In my mind, its a wedding, things happen, and we are the pros. We are supposed to be ready to deal with changing situations are issues better than anyone else. While it sucks that your camera took a hit, unless the groom did it on purpose, I wouldn't do anything. Accidents happen - I surely dont think the groom would want to stop the filming of the wedding in anyway.

Hopefully, he would simply step up to the plate and offer willingly to fix the situation. Otherwise, I think its the cost of doing business.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 02:56 PM   #8
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I disagree with anyone saying that his "lack of preparation" was unprofessional and that he was totally responsible and that this is the "cost of doing business". Totally disagree.

Our job is to cover the events that are happening, and you can't always be prepared for people doing unexpected things; that is the nature of "unexpected" things. I believe some responsibility still lies with the groom in this case.

I would probably approach the couple and explain the situation; that you never would have expected him to spray the champagne since you had 2 camras right there, that you know he didn't mean to damage the cameras, that you kept rolling until the last second because you didn't want to miss anything important, and that you would like to come to a compromise on repair of the cameras. I think the couple should cover half of the repairs in this case (minimum).

I'm sure if he soaked the DJ's equipment the DJ wouldn't just write of the damages as "the cost of doing business".
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Old June 1st, 2007, 06:29 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
I'm sure if he soaked the DJ's equipment the DJ wouldn't just write of the damages as "the cost of doing business".
Maybe not but the DJ doesn't have the mobility to move that we do.

2 cams within 6 feet? Wow. Now I know why new clients bring this, "in your face" shooting style up all the time.

Obtrusiveness aside... getting that close to the talent in an audience type setting much less exploding liquor is just plain negligence IMO.

Pick up your tripods and move. That's what the zoom ring is for. And if you need to be that close to use shotguns or onboard mics to pick up dialog... get the sound wired up correctly in the first place.

Were I the groom, I'd laugh at any request to collect from me.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 08:06 AM   #10
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Being a professional isn't easy, we just have to learn from our mistakes and not let them happen again. I doubt a clause in your contract about damaging your gear would stand up in court unless the groom stole your camera or willfully damaged your equipment. In this case, I am sure it was an accident. Unfortunately, accidents happen and being a profressional requires insuring your gear. I dropped my insurance this year because I have never used it and the premiums out way the potential loss. I do however carry general liabilty insurance just not theft or accidental damage. For example, you knock over a candle at a reception or church and burn down the building. It's not worth lossing everything you own for a few hundred a year.

My 2 Cents.

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Old June 1st, 2007, 08:51 AM   #11
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I am not sure why some folks take every opportunity to Jihad their little pet peeves when someone asks an interesting question (Rick).

I would chalk this one up to a learning experience. Insurance may cover it but an extra service every now and again is not such a bad thing.

Now if the groom was hammered and swinging around the bottle and clocked your camera knocking the front half off I might bring it up.....


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Old June 1st, 2007, 10:33 AM   #12
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Speaking strictly for myself,

I can't imagine approaching the B&G for any compensation whatsoever.

This may well be the most expensive shooting lesson you'll ever learn, and tach to others at your expense. Sorry to hear about it, but it serves as a lesson for all of us.

While it may not seem fair, I agree that we, as "professionals", are responsible for our own - and our equipment's - safety, barring something completely beyond our control, like a lightning strike or a mechanical failure of some sort within the building.

Certainly we can't predict everything that might happen, but opening Champagne is always a crap shoot. (Even when going as gently and gingerly as possible, bottles have over-flowed on me), There's no way of knowing if someone else (maybe the best man) might have shaken it beforehand as a "practical joke".

My gear is my "baby". I'm very possessive - and protective - of it, and there are VERY few people I trust getting close to it. Perhaps I'm foolish, or just plain naieve, but I don't have the courage to put 6 grand of gear, (and maybe more in your case), in jeopardy, particularly in a room full of strangers, even if it means getting a lesser quality shot to protect it or me. (Even if you had been 15 feet away, your footage would still likely provide a better view of what most guests would have seen, and would have been reason to hawk more copies of the DVDs). .

On another note, having the cams so close (only 6' away) - especially both cams - does strike me as maybe a bit too close. Were the guests complaining that they couldn't see the action?

Like is said in the Mazda commercial: "...zoom, zoom..."

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.
Our actions are based on our own experience and knowledge. Thus, no one is ever totally right, nor totally wrong. We simply act from what we "know" to be true, based on that experience and knowledge. Beyond that, we pose questions to others.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 11:42 AM   #13
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I'm going to take a guess that this was one of those weddings where everyone crowds around the couple at key events... thus why the cameras were in so tight? Maybe a crane shot with a monopod or something next time? It's always tough to get a decent angle and in tight enough since no one really gives any notice to the "video guy/gal"... so I guess I see how you could end up in the line of fire.

One KEY question - was there any actual damage to the cameras beyond what a normal cleaning/checkup would take care of - if not, just write it off as "normal maintenance" and move on...

I would however have turned the cams off (electrical items and liquids don't mix well, but if you let things dry out, often times it works out - my wife laundered my cell phone once, and while it took 2-3 days, it did come back to life!) done the best "field cleanup" possible, and let them know you couldn't cover the rest of the event... due to circumstances beyond your control...

Myself, I would've pulled #3 cam out, and soldiered on and hoped none of the bubbly got to the tapes ruining them...

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Old June 1st, 2007, 12:07 PM   #14
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I was just going to make that point. Oftentimes at receptions people crowd up close to the b&g to watch the activities. If you aren't right there in the front, you don't get a shot. I don't know if that was the case, but if it was, I understand why he was so close.
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Old June 13th, 2007, 01:58 AM   #15
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If I were doing doughnuts in a parking lot, and accidentally smashed into someone else's car, I would be fully and legally responsible.
No, I was not intoxicated, nor was I doing anything necessarily wrong.
However, I was acting foolishly, and therefore must take responsibility for my actions.
To use the argument that alot of people do doughnuts in parking lots, it's common. He should have moved his car.

Any person sober, or intoxicated, Should take responsibility for his or her actions.
What difference would it make if the groom dumped champagne on the camera,
or was totally hammered and grabbed the camera and threw it on the ground.

The camera was damaged either way, by an act of stupidity.
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