What I’ve learned from Filming Weddings

Filming a wedding isn’t just picking up a camera and pressing record. There is an art behind it that most people fail to understand. When I am hired as the photographer usually the person doing the filming is someone’s relative.  When it comes to those special moments they can be found hanging out with friends having a good time while the camera is somewhere on the table. You get what you pay for. Free is free but a wedding should be captured be professionals. Photographers and Filmers. We have invested greatly in our craft as artist.

The past few years I’ve filmed over ten weddings. Not one of them was the same. Each wedding has its challenges; lighting, venue, stress levels, camera malfunctions, weather. I learn something new each time, and usually add an item on my gear list.

I’ve probably learned the most while second shooting for a friend in the OC.

First, have the right gear – 2 16gb memory cards, two batteries with chargers, mono-pod or steady rig, a clean lens, mic/audio recorder. Ice packs if shooting outside in the heat. An LED light for evening shooting with your camera. You can also rent lens if you have an HD SLR.

Communicate with your other filmers what the purpose of their camera is. (Close up & details, wide shooter, bride or groom, location for speeches, location for ceremony, ceremony audio.)

Find the perfect spot to film the ceremony and stay put. Record all the way through. Move quickly to the next spot of the ceremony, such as the unity candles.

Every wedding is different, figure out the personality of the bride and shoot that style. (Fun, exciting, moody, deep, friendly, social,..)

Everyone will be stress, with so many details it will be hard to film, “moments.” A photographer only needs 3 seconds to capture what looks like the best moment of the couple’s life, but a filmer- we need more. Its okay to make up “fake moments”. Sometimes I’ll whisper to the bride’s mom, “can you go give your daughter some advice before she walks down the aisle.” For a brief period of time, the bride and her mom forget about the cameras and have a real moment no photographer can capture but only a filmer. 20 years later when the bride watches the video, she will finally understand her mother’s advice.

Most people get nervese around a camera, most people act different in front of a camera, those are the shots you won’t use in the editing room, you will use the shot of the groom and his groom’s men laughing.

Be the director that is invisible. Let no one see you seeing them and if they do see you pretend that you don’t see them, even though you are pointing a camera straight at them. Keep on filming. They will return to their conversation, laugh – there is your shot. Now you can go.

Pretend you are filming something else, but really filming what the wedding party is doing. Keep your camera rolling when everyone thinks no one is watching.

Be at eye level with who you are filming. (I’m short.)

Don’t adjust your aperture setting while filming, shutter speed if anything. Its okay to film in program mode. But when you are being artsy and have time, go on manuel. Limit the use of high ISO.

Have your mic on at all times.

You want to capture emotions, anything else is boring.

Make peace with the wedding photographer. Introduce yourself and say hello. You can steal all their set up shots during the wedding pictures. If they aren’t giving you anything interesting, speak up and direct the couple to do something.

Don’t depend on the photographer for giving you great lighting. Usually they have a flash. For sunsets our cameras will make anything in front of the sun silhouette or blow out the background, film it artistically. After the photographer is done with that set up, adjust your couple to get the shot you want with light that works best for your camera.

Shoot quality not quantity.

Keep your shots steady, wait to stop recording three seconds after the moment is captured.

Know your key moments – first kiss, cutting of the cake, speeches, first dance, etc. If these things don’t happen its okay but it never hurts to suggest to the groom, “ask her to dance.”

Above all else, film the wedding like it was your own. Full of significance and beauty.

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