Why I’ve started shooting handheld more


Traditionally, there’s one easy way to tell the difference between a photographer and a videographer: photographers are usually handheld, while videographers will often have their cameras on monopods or tripods. However, over the past 12 months, I’ve been ditching the legs and copying the photographer approach. Here’s why….

Freedom & flexibility

The biggest reason is honestly that it just makes my life easier. Previously, I’ve mostly shot on a monopod (a single leg). With a monopod, changing the height of the camera means having to ‘undo’ the leg to lower/raise it. When I’m shooting handheld, all I have to do is raise/lower my arms to move the camera – it’s that simple. This means I can act more quickly and capture spontaneous moments with ease. In addition, I can squeeze the camera into tighter spaces that aren’t possible when using a monopod so that you end up with more creative angles and shots.

discrete wedding videographer

Discrete Wedding Videographer

A big part of the way I shoot is being discrete and lurking in the shadows (kind of like Batman, but without the utility belt). I like to capture natural moments that only unfold when people are oblivious to the camera. It’s much easier for me to be a discrete wedding videographer if I’m just a body holding a camera – much less so if there’s a monopod attached to my camera. So while the monopod does still come in very handy to help stabilise my footage, anything I can do to make myself less conspicuous is a bonus!

Photo by the very talented Matthew Scott

Immersive

Now, I know what you’re thinking: aren’t monopods and tripods for stability? Isn’t your footage really shaky without it? The answer to this question is yes and no…

discrete wedding videographer
Photo by the wonderful Liam Gillan

Yes, the footage is sometimes shakier than it would have been using a monopod, but recent technological advances mean that the cameras I use have image stabilisation inside (I won’t bore you with the specifics, but it’s pretty cool, and it really takes the edge off the shakiness). What we’re left with is a very natural looking camera movement that’s actually really fashionable in the film industry these days. Just take a look at films like A Star is Born, or shows like Chernobyl and This is Us, where handheld shots are the norm.

So why are these huge studios using handheld shots when they have the time and the space to be using tripods all the time? The answer is that handheld camera movements make for a really immersive experience – they make you feel like you’re there with the characters on-screen. Given that my aim is to allow you to relive your wedding day, it only seems fitting that I do everything possible to make your film as immersive as possible for you!

I personally also feel like shooting handheld can help to emphasise emotion. During the couple shoot, for example, using the camera handheld really allows me to capture as much of your natural emotion as possible. Take the film above, for example, where Fenella and Henry are laughing and joking with each other. I wouldn’t have been able to communicate that if I was adjusting a monopod, because they would have felt my presence more. With a monopod, both the moment itself and the recording of it would have felt very rigid.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shooting handheld all day long; monopods and tripods will always have their place in filmmaking for me. But that being said, the added benefits of being able to shoot handheld for some of the day means that my life is easier, and your wedding film is even better.