Mainstream wedding videography has come a long way from its humble origins of the 1970s and 80s. The equipment, the planning, the filming techniques, and the editing have all changed drastically as technology has allowed us to capture more moments in higher definition. With this evolution has also come the emergence of the wedding videographer. No longer seen as a wedding photographer’s optional extra (or trusty sidekick), the modern wedding videographer employs state-of-the-art equipment to capture real moments as they happen, presenting them in beautiful motion pictures that couples can cherish forever. But a quality wedding videographer is more than just their equipment. In this article, we’ll cover the key things to look for in choosing the right wedding videographer for you.
The earliest versions of commercially available camcorders were analog and recorded onto tape or reel with a short recording length and an even shorter shelf life. This meant that the ability to capture meaningful moments whilst accommodating for light, angle, and mood that could later be edited into a story was virtually non-existent. Yes, the brevity of time to film and the impromptu filming approach of friends or family members would result in capturing truly special moments, but these were more often than not “happy accidents”.
As we moved from analog to digital and the rise of mobile phones with HD cameras, everyone became a photographer and videographer. Yes, the footage was of much better quality but that lack of narrative and the intrusive nature of phones constantly on record meant that you could end up with hours of footage with no narrative or editorial control. Whilst mobile phone cameras have remained, couples have largely moved towards asking their guests to put down their phones for the afternoon and give space to their chosen photographer and wedding videographer to do the capturing.
By and large, the advantage of hiring a wedding videographer is that you stand a better chance of getting a better-quality document of the day. The risk becomes one of opportunity and approach; opportunity in the sense that your chosen videographer only has one chance at capturing all your special moments; and approach in the sense that their take on narrative storytelling needs to align with yours. The wedded couple-to-be will be putting significant trust into the wedding videographer they chose, so how can you be sure you make the right choice?
1. First impressions count
There are many things you should never buy sight unseen; wedding videography is one of them. Any videographer worth their salt will want to meet with you and get to know you. They should be genuinely interested in your story, asking lots of questions about you and what has brought you to this moment. They should also want to know what kind of storytellers you both are and the kind of film you’d love to have made. They should be able to tell you about themselves and the skills they have to make your perfect wedding film a reality. They should also be upfront about their costs and what they offer.
Qualities to look for – communication, collaboration, calmness, and ease (how comfortable do they make you feel)
2. Experience counts
The great thing about deciding on a wedding videographer is that you’ll definitely be able to review their previous work. The more high-quality documents they have delivered to happy and satisfied couples the more confident you can be that their quality is consistent (meaning you are more likely to get what you pay for). Having said that, newcomers to the art may bring the hunger and dedication that some long-stayers in the game may not have as much of. The risk is that you will be a learning experience for them. The price may be cheaper but the quality of the final product will be harder to predict.
Things to ask for – absolutely ask for previous trailers/films they have completed. Do you like the way they tell stories through film? Does it align with what you have in mind (see more about this below)? Also, make sure to ask for references…. and ask them about their experience.
3. Do they know your venue?
Prior knowledge of the venue you’ll be having your wedding/reception is definitely an advantage in delivering a high-quality wedding film. Building/property layout, lighting, vantage points, views, local knowledge….the list goes on. The more familiar a venue and its surroundings are to a wedding videographer, the less likely they are to run into unforeseen problems, and, the more suggestions they can provide you in adding elements that will make your wedding film stand out. Having said this, an experienced wedding videographer will be able to glean all the venue information they need from a reconnaissance/intelligence-gathering trip.
Things to ask – are they familiar with your chosen venue. If so, what does their experience tell them and what suggestions can they make? If not, how will they get up to speed on the challenges and opportunities your chosen venue presents?
4. Alignment of approach
This one requires a little forethought from you both before you approach wedding videographers. In essence, what kind of story do you want your wedding film to tell? Are you looking for more of a straightforward film that chronologically documents the day? Do you want your feature to have more of a home video feel or do you want it to be more cinematic? If you’re leaning towards cinematic videography, what would your feature place more emphasis on? Once you have thought about these things (and more to the point agreed on them), clearly put forward your thoughts to the videographer you are speaking with. How does your vision for your wedding video fit with your wedding videographer or cinematographer?
Advice – Don’t skip this step! Not thinking about this and picking blindly is the best way to ensure you end up with a horror film! Horror films are great, but real-life wedding horror films would make for a terrible sub-genre (unless they are made by Guillermo Del Toro)
5. What’s included in their packages?
Knowing what you can expect service-wise and price-wise goes a long way in determining the right wedding videographer for you. What equipment will they use? What length of film will you receive? What quality audio can they guarantee? How long will editing take? In what format will you receive your final product? How much time will you spend together planning? What kind of production do they run (will it be a single-person effort, a multi-member team effort or something in-between)? The kind of wedding you are planning, your chosen venue, and the type of film you are after will go some way in determining whether you need the bells and whistles package or the more economical package.
Advice – The golden rule of “you get what you pay for” applies as much to wedding videographers as it does to most other things. If you are serious about filming your wedding professionally then you should budget for it appropriately. If you are looking for cinematic wedding videography on the cheap, you’re better off saving that money and splurging on a movie night watching When Harry Met Sally….at least you’ll avoid the disappointment of having paid for a romantic movie you don’t like.
Wedding films have come a long way over the past 40 years. The quality of technology, professionalism, and narrative approach has resulted in a new take on filmmaking; one that retains the qualities of dedication, planning, effort, tech and editing that more traditional filmmaking demands. For these reasons, wedding videography is neither a sale item nor a feature to be done on the cheap. So, if you are looking for a quality wedding film videographer who will take the time to get to know what you want, and deliver what you have in mind, click here. Doing so is the best assurance that you’ll end up with a classic wedding film; your film of a lifetime.