You've Booked...Now What?
So you’ve booked an incredible photographer and/or videographer, now what? With over 150 weddings under our belt and over 13 years of experience, if there is one thing that we have learned, it’s communication. You can never communicate enough. Most brides we meet communicate with their photographer, but rarely their videographer. Keep in mind, the two, regardless if they are separate companies, are a team. They are there to capture every aspect of your day. Communicating with them about events, specific times, expectations, and what they can and can’t do, is what is going to make your day successful.
You’ve hired your photographer and/or your videographer, trust them to do their job. They are the professionals – which by the way – hire a professional, but we will leave this to a whole separate blog. Don’t be overbearing. You can’t micromanage them, if they are a professional, they are just like any occupation. They are constantly doing research, networking with venues, investing in more equipment and education – they know what they are doing. However, it is not out of line to give them your expectations. Keep it simple. “I want a very elegant style” “I really like more of a candid style” “The most important pictures for us are the first look, the bride and groom portraits, and if I could get a shot with my grandmother in my dress I would be thrilled”. Our personal style as a video production house is to be there from 9am – exit. So we pretty much capture everything from the entire day – but this still doesn’t mean we are perfect. If there are specific shots you want – let us know. The only thing I would encourage against is a list of 800+ shots. That tends to get overwhelming, and honestly we are going to forget. It’s hard to focus on all events from the day and remember a list of shots. However, its very easy to remember “There are three things this bride and groom REALLY want captured” – Keep it simple.
Each wedding is unique. With this in mind, and building off the previous section of expectations, let us know your traditions. Based off culture, religion, and entertainment, we have seen a lot of different fun ideas. Let us know ahead of time so we can be prepared. Keep in mind, cameras are VERY sensitive. The slightest change in light or environment can destroy the image without proper adaptation. For instance, when we first started out over 13 years ago, we shot a wedding in Hot Springs. They wanted to have a sunset wedding outside – it was a gorgeous day – the only problem – the bride was running 4 hours BEHIND schedule. So her intimate sunset wedding at the very last minute turned into an intimate candle lit wedding in the woods. Now yes, this sounds incredible, but keep in mind, cameras are sensitive. Unless you have a camera that is around $50, 000 most cameras are not even close to what the human eye can see. So while you see a beautiful candle lit ceremony, the camera sees, darkness, with a few candle flames placed randomly throughout the scene. It takes preparation to adjust to this. Be sure to let us know. Are you in a Fraternity or Sorority? Each Fraternity or Sorority has a unique song that we have seen in the past at the reception. Is there going to be a Great Grandmother and Grandson dance? Are you flying in a professional singer to surprise the bride and groom? These are all incredible moments, but without proper preparation these are moments that could be missed.
CAN and CANT’S
As you can probably tell communication is crucial. Another part of that, what Can and Can’t we as photographers/videographers do? While we value and respect each bride and grooms religion and culture, we have found that over the years, there are certain limitations that can hinder capturing your day. As photographers and videographers, we are not unfamiliar with adapting on the fly. I think that is partly what makes a great photographer or videographer. However, it never hurts to prepare. For instance, the most well known limitation that we all experience is movement during the ceremony. Most catholic faiths have this limitation. During the ceremony there is no flash allowed, zero movement, and you can’t be any closer than the 3rd pew. While most professionals can adapt to this situation on the fly, there are others that make it – slightly more complicated. For instance, we have come across several different Methodist churches, that do not allow the photographer or videographer inside the sanctuary. This poses a big problem. We have found ourselves trying to shoot through windows, door cracks, anything possible to capture that moment. So while we will continue to respect all beliefs and understand that some instances are our of your control; the one thing as a bride and groom you can never do too much of is communicate, communicate, communicate.
This is by far the most important factor for us. Everything above, while making the day more difficult, most of the time we can adjust on the fly – AS LONG AS we have a timeline. We have found that about 90% of brides make a timeline with the photographer and then NEVER communicate with the videographer. Remember, the photographer and videographer are a team. Almost every single time a bride and groom create a timeline with the photographer and they do not include us in the conversation, we have to go back and request changes in the timeline. While we respect photographers and what they do (honestly I don’t know how they can sit there and edit over 700 photos) a photographer can pick up their gear and move to a different location in a matter of minutes. This is not the case for a videographer. Keep in mind, we are juggling, tripods, multiple cameras, audio, gimbals, drones, lenses, and much more. Picking up all that equipment and moving to another location takes time. For instance, setting up for a wedding ceremony typically takes us an hour to do. Taking down that equipment after the ceremony and setting up for the reception, typically takes us 45 minutes to do. This is why a timeline is so important. If you have the ceremony ending at 6:30pm and the Reception Entrance is at 6:40pm – there is a VERY likely chance the videographer is not going to be prepared. Leave time for breakdown, travel, and setup. Ask them “How much time do you need?” When developing the video timeline for the day, we always ask the exact same questions:
-What time is the Bride getting her hair done? Where?
-What time is the Bride getting her makeup done? Where?
-What time is the Groom getting ready? Where?
-What time is the Bride putting on the dress? Where?
-Is there a first look? When? Where?
-What time does the ceremony start?
-What time do you expect the ceremony to end?
-What time is the reception entrance?
-Will you be doing the following at the reception:
-Mother Son Dance
-Father Daughter Dance
-What time is your exit? What type? (sparklers, bubbles, fireworks, etc)
All of these questions are very specific and help create a timeline that is doable. For instance, if you are doing toasts at your reception, that now means the videographer has to connect with you DJ to insure that they can get an audio feed from them into their camera. Based off of what exit you are doing, different equipment or lighting may be involved. If the bride and groom are getting ready at separate locations, we now need to allow for travel time. Also – please, please, please, do not have the groom and the bride getting ready at the exact same time. Remember we as professionals are still human, and while most of us work in a team of 2 or even 3, typically the lead videographer or photographer want to be there to capture the major moments.
So if you’ve made it all the way to this point, I hope that you have taken away the fact that communication is the single most important thing for the photographer or videographer for your day. You can never do too much of it, especially the week of your big day. I try to remain in contact daily when it’s the week of. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to make suggestions, don’t be afraid to communicate.