My top 5 most asked questions as a wedding videographer
My reason for writing this is two-fold. First, I've heard, by numerous highly successful people, that if you get asked the same question multiple times, it's probably worth making a resource with that information at the ready. I'm hoping I can help prospective couples get their questions answered before they even ask them. Second, I'd love if any other engaged couples that are on the search for a wedding videographer could have a few good questions to think about while inquiring for their wedding. This is in no particular order and while some are more specific they are just the most common for me.
(For those who don’t know the acronym “TLDR” stands for “Too Long Didn’t Read”, which is basically the cliff notes of each answer.)
All of these answers are as of April 2019, if anything changes I will do my best to update the answers.
1. Who will actually be there filming on my wedding day?
Some people may have heard about different production companies that have associate shooters or assistants that might be the ones physically filming on the day of instead of the person whose name is on the masthead. I have nothing against that personally and I know many bigger operations where that works for them, but for me, my goal has always been that I am personally filming and editing every wedding I am a part of. Although this may limit the number of weddings I can be a part of every year, it’s what works best for me, and it makes it easy for clients to know exactly who will be filming their wedding. Also, I know many photographers love the fact that I’m a solo shooter and are delighted by the flexibility it gives them as artists to capture the day with minimal photo shopping. I find with enough pre-production, planning, and a lot of hustle I am able to capture all of the major events of the day while maintaining a minimal visual impact of the day itself. My one caveat is that I often use a secondary stationary camera during bigger ceremonies, and this is usually out of the way and hopefully hidden from the view of guests and wide shots for the photographers.
2. How do you partner with photographers to make the day go smoothly?
It seems to be a common worry to be concerned about how the photographer and videographer will get along and work together seamlessly. For me, making this a good experience for everyone involved starts way before the wedding day. I usually try to connect with a new photographer through Instagram or via Email just to get a feeling for their vibe and style and eventually discuss specifics of the day. More than anything I want them to know that it’s not like there is a photographer team and videographer team and we are somehow pitted against each other to get the best shots or coverage, but we are actually on the same team with the shared goal of making the day as fun and effortless as possible for the Bride & Groom. Even if we don’t see perfectly eye to eye stylistically or aesthetically, I try to find where our styles and artistic desires overlap and focus on those things during shooting to make sure we use the couple’s time wisely throughout the day. Another great way to defuse any competitive or detached vibes is to offer to help them in any way I can throughout the day. Growing up I always remember my Dad telling us, “Go over to your mom and ask, Is there anything I can do for you?” Now, while it might be a little silly to ask that question outright I do usually look for opportunities to serve them such as helping with a bag, or holding a bouquet so they can get a certain shot. I’m also applying this thinking to the couple and all vendors involved. I’ve noticed that just extending a small olive branch of service to another vendor can go a long way to creating a sense of team among everyone involved. At the end of many weddings, I’ve often heard one of the best compliments I could get, which is a Bride asking, “So how long have you and the photographer been shooting together?” to which I usually sheepishly respond, “Well technically, just today”.
TLDR: Establish that we are on the same team, and do my best to serve them as well as the couple throughout the day
3. What audio do you capture throughout the day and how will it be incorporated Into the film?
With the advent of shorter highlight films, and even some that don’t feature any audio from the day, people often wonder what they will actually hear in the final products. I almost always capture the entirety of the ceremony audio and toasts with a combination of lapel mics and audio recorders. If there is some particular audio byte that fits perfectly into the film or supports the story and vibe of the film I will often utilize it into the short film, but I have even had a handful of films that are purely music driven too. At the end of the day I try to not force audio from the day if it doesn’t seem to fit, and at the very least the entirety of the audio ceremony and and toast audio is usually featured in the footage edit, so you can hear all those moments in their entirety.
TLDR: Ceremony and Toasts, and even though it may or may not be used in the final film, it will most likely be incorporated into the footage edit.
4. How does the music selection process usually go about?
This may be my most asked question, so I almost have a memorized answer for it. I always say you can be as involved or uninvolved as you like. I pride myself as being very skilled at choosing the right music to accompany the film, but if a bride or groom wants to have a say I am more than happy to oblige. Although I can’t use popular music, I am always more than happy to have some songs to reference, or even some descriptive words such as moody and ethereal possibly for Big Sur elopement or bright and airy for a Napa wine country wedding. My big thing is that I receive this input before the wedding day so I can best serve the couple, keeping these notes in mind, if they do want to be involved in that process.
TLDR: It’s usually something that I consider myself quite good at, but I am happy to hear input or ideas prior to the wedding day!
5. How do you incorporate drone footage into the film?
Many people see some drone shots in my wedding films and wonder how I go about capturing them, how I decide whether or not to use the drone, and if it comes at a cost. Firstly, I see the drone as a tool just like a camera, a certain lens, or stabilizer is a tool so I don’t charge anything extra if it is used. That being said, just like not all shoots may call for a certain lens, not all shoots call for a drone. I typically only use the drone as a way to establish the environment of where the wedding or elopement is taking place and very rarely film the actual couple with a drone. So for instance, If I am driving to shoot a Big Sur wedding at 2pm, what I would most likely do is go about 30 minutes or so before my start time and capture some drone coverage in the surrounding area. I try to follow all FAA guidelines and am conscious of only flying far enough away from residential or business areas, so as you can probably guess this usually limits my drone flights to more secluded areas. Furthermore before every flight I use this No-Fly Zone Map linked here to see what areas are legal to fly in, and as you can probably see if you follow that link, that also limits where I can fly in. Overall I ask myself these three questions before deciding whether or not to use the drone for each project:
Does this project lend itself to aerial footage? If so, am I legally allowed by the FAA to safely fly in this area? And then, Is it within a reasonable distance away from any residential or business center?
If I answered Yes to all three then I will move forward with capturing aerial footage.