Jordan Donovan owns Current Media Productions, a Bellingham company whose services include videos for weddings and other personal and community events.
Question: How far in advance should a couple start planning videography for their wedding?
Answer: Unfortunately it seems many couples book their photographer first and their videographer last ... if they still have room in the budget. I recommend that people book their videographer around the same time they book their photographer. Both services can be considered virtually the same category, which is archiving their special day in viewable media.
Booking both at the same time allows you to check your media needs off of your list. As videography becomes equally valued as photography for weddings, we will soon see videographers and filmmakers booking early and filling up their schedules for those prime summer weekends.
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Q: What should a couple consider when choosing a videographer?
A: Experience, equipment, crew and price. Ask your videographer if they have any wedding samples you can view to see what their portfolio looks like. Have they filmed many weddings, or will yours be one of their first? This will also help you negotiate price.
What kind of equipment will they be using, and how many cameras and staff will they plan to use to cover your wedding? A wedding cannot be properly filmed with a single camera and individual. The video company you hire should be shooting with at least two cameras (I recommend three) and at least two shooters. The crew should have adequate audio equipment to mic up the officiant and groom. The crew also should have audio gear to interview guests for well wishes, proper lighting, and ancillary equipment, such as a slider or dolly, a small crane, and possibly a drone for aerial shots of the wedding location.
The video team should maintain a low profile as much as possible, so you want to avoid a crew too large for your wedding. If you’re hosting a few hundred guests, a crew of four is no big deal. But if your wedding is smaller, you want your crew to blend in and only have two or three in their staff.
And, of course, there’s price. Many companies offer multiple packages offering different levels of service at various price scales. Find a videographer who fits your budget.
Q: How should a couple decide whether to hire a professional videographer versus a friend or family member with a video camera?
A: These days, cameras are getting cheaper, better, faster and easier to use, and video editing software is becoming more accessible and user-friendly. If you have a friend (or two) with good cameras and editing knowledge who are willing to shoot your wedding, and you want them to, then by all means do it.
The questions you’ll want to ask yourself are: Do I want a professional video production? If yes, can my friends deliver the high quality I desire?
But keep in mind that if your friends or family members are shooting your wedding, they are either working or they are enjoying the wedding — it’s tough to do both. Is the person a really close friend, or a friend of a friend? Will they still be able to enjoy your special day? If they do a good job, then probably not. Or if they participate in the festivities, then your wedding video will suffer.
Q: How can, or should, a videographer and photographer work side-by-side at a wedding?
A: When I arrive at a wedding one of the first things I do is find the photographer and introduce myself. I let them know that I’m the videographer and tell them that if I’m ever in the way of them getting the photo they need, to let me know. It is crucial for the photographer and videographer to work together closely, considerately and professionally.
When I’m shooting a wedding, my cameras are always rolling. People will move in and out of my shot, including the photographer, and that is expected. But in the edit room I will cut out superfluous shots and content. ... That can be more difficult for the photographer. I do my best to stay out of the photographer’s shots.
Establishing a respectful working relationship early in the day with the photographer has always helped us both throughout the wedding. I’ve often had the photographer or his or her assistant come get me to make sure I’m not missing a moment.
Q: What kind of footage do videographers usually shoot for a wedding?
A: All of it! When my team covers a wedding we collect as much raw footage as we can, so we have more than enough in the edit room. When we arrive we get establishing shots of the venue. I send one shooter each to the groom and bride prep rooms to get shots of them getting ready. We cover guests arriving. We get drone aerials of the grounds. We cover the ceremony with at least three cameras. After that it’s a bit of a free roam to shoot everything happening at the reception.
We put a small light on a camera and approach guests with a microphone for happy wishes for the bride and groom. Dinner, dancing, cake cutting, you name it, we’re shooting it. And in the end we try to get departure footage of the newlyweds leaving the reception (if they do so).
I filmed a wedding a couple years ago at Semiahmoo Resort and as we were packing up, the town of White Rock, B.C., began a fireworks display across the bay. I’m not sure what the fireworks were for, but I grabbed a camera and propped it up on a fence log and shot the whole sequence. We ended the wedding edit with that and found out later that that night the newlyweds were watching the same fireworks from their hotel suite.
Q: What are some of unique requests you have received for video coverage of a wedding?
A: Most weddings follow a standard template: Getting ready, ceremony, and reception with food, drink and dancing. The most unique wedding I shot was on the waters of Bellingham Bay off the Chuckanuts. The groom and his groomsmen were on one yacht getting ready and the bride and the bridal party on another. The ceremony began as the bride’s boat tied up to the groom’s boat and they were married on the back deck of the groom’s boat.
I placed my assistant shooter on the bride’s vessel and I stuck with the groom. The challenge was not being able to communicate with the second half of my team as we were preparing for the ceremony, but I had the third camera and audio gear, and time to place and prepare the equipment. It all came together perfectly when the bride’s boat pulled up.
Q: Describe a favorite wedding video moment.
A: Shortly after the same-sex marriage legislation passed in Washington I had the honor of shooting a wedding for a couple who had been partners for more than half of their lives. The moment they were legally married in front of their friends and family brought me much joy. As I work I maintain a professional, often disconnected, persona from what’s happening around me, but at that moment I took my hands off my camera and cheered and clapped for the newlyweds along with everyone else. That was great!
Q: Did you have video shot at your wedding?
A: No, but I wish I had. You know how a professional chef never wants to cook when he or she gets home? I think that’s how I approached videography for our wedding. It was early in my career and I thought, “This is what I do for a living, I don’t want to think about this in my personal life.” We had a photographer only. We had a fantastic wedding with many friends and family on a hot August day.
The next day we boarded a plane to Mexico and I remember thinking, “Wow, the day really did pass by fast, I hope our photographer got some good pics.” Then I thought, “I wish I had video.” To this day I still regret that choice. The still photos turned out great, but we missed all the interaction. The voices of people present and the music that played, the kids running around playing with the games we had out, the dancing ... our photos just didn’t cover the whole day adequately.