Anyone who makes wedding videos, or is involved in wedding cinematography is some form, will come into contact with a wedding photographer. If we haven’t worked at a wedding, we’ve attended weddings where a photographer is present. You can’t have a wedding without a wedding photographer these days.
With that in mind, I was approached by Andrew Hind, a noted UK wedding photographer, about writing an article on videography from a photographer’s perspective. I believe this is important, as knowing how videographers are seen by photographers is an illuminating perspective and something that can only improve our filmmaking.
Over to you, Andrew!
(All photos in this article are the work of Andrew Hind.)
Notes From a Wedding Photographer
I have to start with a slight confession. It’s nothing too major but, within the context of this site, it’s not going to be a massively popular one!
I don’t know if other wedding photographers would confess to the same thing (I somehow suspect they would), it’s not something that I’m particularly proud of and I know that it’s borne out of my own short sightedness rather than any material fact.
Well, here it is.
If I find out that I am going to be photographing a wedding where there is going to be a videographer present as well I always, purely through my own shortcomings, think to myself that it’s going to be a problem rather than an enjoyable experience.
I’m wrong to think it. I know I’m wrong and I’m never anything other than friendliness and compliance with the videographer and the couple but, my initial reaction is always that I would prefer to shoot the wedding on my own.
My actual experience of shooting weddings with a videographer (that’s my real experience rather than my stupid internal idea!) is that it goes one of three ways:
1. They are completely wonderful, we communicate brilliantly and collaborate seamlessly to provide the best overall coverage for the couple.
2. They are a pain in the butt, always in the way and the whole day feels like a competition to get the best picture, or
3.(Almost worse!) They spend the whole day apologising, saying that my position and shots are more important than their’s (not true) and promising not to interfere which I find really awkward because I simply do not believe for one minute that either of our roles is more important than the other!
Now, obviously, the first scenario is by far the best both for the videographer, photographer and ultimately the couple. But this type of collaboration and synchronicity takes planning, great communication, flexibility on the day and a great deal of experience to achieve!
So, what are the key elements that need to be in place to ensure that all runs smoothly?
This first element happens months before the wedding at the planning stage.
Once the couple have decided that they are going to have both a videographer and a photographer they need to think carefully about how they will mesh together.
It’s important that both have a similar approach to the day and this will help things run smoothy whilst shooting, but also give a coherence to the finished products.
Hopefully the professionals will be able to recommend a complimentary service through their own connections or, at the very least, the couple should discuss with each service provider the approach of both video and photography to ensure that each professional approaches the day in a similar way.
Compatibility is key!
Have a planning meeting
Hopefully the couple will have a planning meeting with both the photographer and the videographer. It could be really helpful if both could be combined together so that a combined approach can be discussed. If this isn’t possible in person a Skype conference call can be invaluable.
If a face to face meeting isn’t possible then the videographer and photographer really should, at the very least, have a phone conversation before the day so that they can discuss tactics!
It’s really not particularly satisfactory to arrive on the day and have a quick chat beforehand as it will inevitably be time pressured and awkward.
The main priority at this meeting is to get a feel for the structure of the day and avoid obvious problems and clashes.
For example, I once photographed a wedding where it hadn’t been communicated to me beforehand that there was to be a videographer as well as myself there on the day.
My first port of call was to photograph the bride’s preparations in, as it happened, a small hotel room. It turned out to be the bride, her mother and her main bridesmaid there as she wanted to keep things low key.
I was rather perturbed when I arrived to find that there weren’t just the three of them in the room and also myself but, as it turned out, a videographer as well!
It was ridiculously cramped and unmanageable! If there had been better communication beforehand one of us could have photographed the bridal prep and one the groom. In this instance the couple simply hadn’t communicated what was happening. If they had we could have created a much more effective plan!
Divide the day up and prioritise
Have a think about which parts of the day might be better suited to each type of coverage.
Who should take priority at what time?
So, for example, I always feel that the video should take precedence during the speeches – the medium is much more suited to it and I really try not to get in the way!
That’s not to say that I wouldn’t take photographs – I would just discuss with the videographer what they wanted to do and ideally where they wanted to be and work round them giving them priority.
Similarly, during the ceremony a video can capture the vows and atmosphere in a way that a stills camera just can’t do.
I, as the photographer, would obviously expect to take precedence during the bride and groom photographs, family photographs and for a good part of the time during the reception and after the ceremony. This is because I can photograph fleeting gestures and expressions in a way that video doesn’t really do.
It just has to be horses for courses!
The problems start to occur at a number of peak times when both disciplines could, theoretically, have precedence.
Let’s take as an example the bride arriving at church. This could easily be recorded by both video and stills and ideally we need to work out a way in which the coverage will complement each other. Obviously the key is pre planning and preparation and each professional discussing positioning with the other.
Clearly, it’s ridiculous for both to be trying to get close shots of the bride and her father in the car at the same time for example. A much more sensible approach would be for one to be close and one to be wide and then to possibly swap the roles around as they walk into church.
The photographer might obviously cover the bride waiting in the church doorway whilst the vidoegrapher takes position at the front to capture the bride walking up the aisle from the front.
Meanwhile, the photographer can photograph the same from the back and possibly capture the groom’s face as he turns to see his bride for the first time.
This is only a short example of a relatively short space of time during a wedding day but it demonstrates a collaborative approach that can be used time and time again to ensure the smooth running and best coverage of the day for the couple.
Communicate throughout the day
So, with some pre planning, as above, it’s possible to map out a broad strategy between the photographer and videographer to ensure a comprehensive and complimentary coverage.
Further to this, it’s vital that the two communicate throughout the day as plans and situations can change moment by moment and it’s vital that they both try to think as a pair rather than an individual.
Team working on a wedding day rather than working alone can be a great pleasure and requires thought and selflessness from both parties.
Keep chatting and always try to be aware of what the other one is doing and trying to achieve at any give moment.
Stay in Touch
I always try to keep in touch with all suppliers that I work with who I feel provide a complimentary service to my own.
I frequently get asked for recommendations for videographers and all sorts of other suppliers so it’s well worth keeping in touch.
After the wedding, it can be great fun and also extremely interesting to see each other’s work and there’s no reason why featuring each other on respective blogs and social media shouldn’t work to each other’s advantage as well.
Team working on a wedding can be very rewarding and creatively satisfying. You always need to keep the end product for the couple in mind and always need to be open to communicating, planning and working collaboratively.
If these things happen, we can create a visual record for the couple that will be more comprehensive, fully rounded and valued than we could ever make on our own and that has got to be well worth the extra effort it takes on our part to get the end result.
Andrew Hind is a documentary wedding photographer who has been photographing weddings in the Cambridge area and all over the UK since 2003. He is a keen musician, cyclist and has a great love of good beers, classic cars and of course his crazy family!