by Renee Sutton
Dearly beloved, in the years following film school, you’ll likely pick up a side hustle or two. Taking on work as a wedding videographer is often viewed as a sweet summer gig, with the potential to make a good living at someone else’s party.
On the other hand, the idea of working for bridezilla every weekend all summer long could deter some film school grads from marrying into this type of work.
Photographer and videographer Maik Hassel (of Nirvana Photography Studios) has been shooting weddings and creating tailored experiences for twenty years.
His passion is evident as he speaks about his career. “It’s really satisfying to build that relationship, to work with somebody and actually build something that is really special to them,” he says.
WEEKEND WARRIORS VS. TAILORED EXPERIENCES
There are two types of wedding videographers: weekend warriors and tailored experiences.
These two types of wedding videographers are very different, and so are their clients. Hassel describes a weekend warrior as someone who probably has another job and does weddings on the side, whereas a wedding videographer who crafts a tailored experience is someone running wedding videography as a business.
According to Hassel, a successful business will spend 20% of their time shooting and 80% running the business. Running a business includes marketing yourself, getting clientele and building relationships.
7 TIPS FOR WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHY
Regardless of which path you choose, there are certain practices any wedding videographer worth their salt needs to follow.
1. Set expectations with your client
One of the toughest things for a new wedding videographer to learn is how to set expectations with clients.
You and your clients MUST have the same understanding of what the end product will be. Your client may have seen a video from a friend’s wedding and assume your product will be the same. Sit down with your client and talk about what you are capable of (in terms of gear restrictions, skill levels, number of camera operators etc.).
Recent film graduates may struggle with clients if they do not set expectations right away, and then deliver to the standards that they set. An inexperienced shooter runs the risk of missing an important moment. As Hassel says, “You can’t say ‘cut, take two.’” Wedding videography often involves running between a bright, outdoor area and a dark, indoor area and you need a certain level of experience to be able to handle it. “There’s definitely a danger of not meeting your client’s expectations.”
2. Choose the right gear and know your gear well.
Having the right gear will make or break your wedding video.
Always have a tri-pod for stability in your shots. Make sure your camera is appropriate for low light situations, especially during indoor parts of the ceremony. Knowing your camera setting inside and out will help when running from bright outdoors to dark indoor areas, and allow you to solve problems quicker if something goes wrong.
3. Be light, compact, and fast.
There are no second takes on the wedding day and you need to be able to anticipate and follow actions as it unfolds. Ideally, you’ll hardly be noticed at the wedding as you swiftly move around to capturing moments.
It’ll likely be a long day on your feet so pack light and avoid bulky gear.
4. Make sure you cover the ‘must have’ shots from the day.
There are some moments people expect to have in their wedding videos, so it’s important to cover these as your base for the video.
Your client may have specific moments they would like to have captured, but some classic examples are the bride getting ready before the ceremony, the bride walking down the aisle, the first dance, etc.
Make yourself a list of moments to anticipate and capture, but don’t make the list so extensive that you’re more focused on the list than the shoot.
5. Audio, audio, audio.
Sound is always overlooked when planning video shoots, but it is one of the most important parts of your final video.
Your audio set up will depend on your situation, but you can have an in/on-camera mic for ambient sound and then a lavaliere or zoom recorder that you can drop into the pocket of the groom during the ceremony.
Putting a mic on a wedding dress can be a nightmare, so only mic the groom for the couple’s vows and have the levels set so it can pick up both voices.
6. Communicate with your clients about the wedding day.
Make sure you know exactly what the plan for the day is and where all the activities will be taking places.
You’re going to have to be one step ahead of everyone, and to do so effectively you need to know what is happening next and where.
7. Shoot a lot of B-roll, but with intention.
The only thing worse than scrolling through endless files of b-roll, is not having enough footage.
As you capture your ‘must have’ moments through out the day, keep your eyes out for beautiful shots of people or close-ups. Shoot plenty of b-roll, more than you think you need, but also keep your shots intentional and don’t shoot unless it’s worthy of your final video.
SHOULD YOU SAY “I DO”?
Only if you A) enjoy shooting weddings or B) are fine with suffering for the paycheque.
Okay, maybe the answer is too obvious. But nothing rings truer, especially to Hassel.
As someone aiming to provide a very personal experience, Hassel’s contact with his clients begins nearly a year before the wedding. He produces a documentary style video of the actual wedding day, but what sets his services apart (the “tailored experience”) is the production of a second video featuring the couple—how they met and about their lives together. Hassel says it takes time and effort to deliver this type of video but these are the kinds of clients and friendships he prefers to build.
Hassel emphasises that weddings are a personal business. “If the only reason that you want to shoot weddings is to make money, you’re very likely going to be disappointed.”
Weekend warrior or career wedding videographer or neither—whichever you ultimately choose, wedding videography is a great way for a film school grad to flex their skills, practice problem solving on the fly, and make good money to boot. And don’t worry, you don’t have to marry the job without dating it first.
Looking for more filmmaking tips? Check out our other articles:
After Film School: A Guide to Employment in the Film Industry
Starting Your Own Film Production Company
Crowdfunding Tips for Independent Filmmakers
Renee is a Vancouver-based freelance videographer and editor. Since graduating from InFocus Film School, Renee spends most of her time editing video projects and creating social content for online platforms, but she also enjoys creating environmentally-aware short documentaries and travel videos. You can find her on her website or on Instagram (@planet_renee).