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.

How Videographers and Photographers can work together to make your Wedding perfect


We’re sitting together enjoying our coffees, having a chat and getting to know each other a bit better. You’ve told me all about your journey – how you met,  where you went for your first date, how you got engaged – and we’ve discussed your wedding day at length. Then, finally, the big question comes: how do you work with the photographer?

wedding videographer and photographer

It seems that EVERY couple is worried that their photographer and videographer will get in each other’s way or clash on the day somehow. And you know what, you’re right to be, because this is a real possibility. Maybe we shoot very differently. Maybe we both want to be in the same spot (or worse, maybe we want to be in different spots so that we’re both in each other’s shot). But honestly, this is something that’s so easily avoided that it rarely happens. So let’s put those concerns to rest and talk about how videographers and photographers can work together to make your wedding day perfect.

Communication

This is absolutely crucial. A wedding day consists of one event after another, all of which need capturing by both of us. Whether it’s the walk down the aisle, your confetti moment, or your first dance, every single moment has potential for the photographer and I to be on different wavelengths and impede each other’s work. This is why it’s so important for us to communicate as much as possible. 

wedding videographer and photographer

As an example, whilst everyone’s getting ready in the morning, I’ll usually find a quiet moment to ask photographers what their plan is for the ceremony – where they’re going to be, whether they’ll be moving around, etc. – and I’ll also let them know where my cameras will be. This means we can figure out if there are going to be any issues or clashes, and have plenty of time to come up with a compromise if there is. Either way, there’s usually plenty of room to move and shoot around each other during your ceremony, so there’s rarely a problem.

Another example is your confetti moment; if you’re planning to walk through a corridor of people throwing confetti over you, is the photographer going to walk backwards in front of you? Or will they stand stationary at the end of the corridor and shoot from there? We can’t both do different things or we’ll be in each other’s shots, so we need to discuss this and figure out a common plan so we’re both ready to capture that moment when grandma throws confetti in your eye. 

wedding videographer and photographer

Awareness

The next most important thing I’ve found that helps videographers and photographers work well together is awareness. The photographers I’ve found easiest to work with are those that have been aware of where I am, where I’m pointing my camera, and what lens I’m using, so they know what field of view my camera is seeing. This is a quality that’s really hard to measure, so I have no idea if I’m any good at this. All I can tell you is that I try my best to keep an eye out for where the photographer is throughout the day, and I’ll duck, dive and commando-roll to avoid getting in the way of their shot. This is a two-way street, of course, and there’s nothing worse than a video of the back of your photographer’s head instead of your first kiss (although it’s not the end of the world – this is why we have backups), but I’ve generally found that consideration and respect is often reciprocated. Either way, if one of use does end up inadvertently in the way, all it takes is a tap on the shoulder or a swift kick in the shin to let us know!

Appreciation

Photography and videography are worlds apart – they are completely different disciplines. But an  appreciation and respectfor the other really helps us jam well together. I’m fortunate enough that I get to work with some amazing photographers, and I’m genuinely in awe of their work. Before every wedding, I’ll always check out the photographer’s website and their instagram so that I can see their style. That way, I have a better idea of what they’re trying to capture and I actually want to see the end result. So when we take you out for your couple shoot, I’m not only wanting to get my shots, but I’m actually invested in the photographer’s shots too – I want to see what they do with this beautiful golden light, or I want to see the shot they got of your dad’s tears as you came down the aisle.

wedding videographer and photographer

I’ll usually tell them this too; before a wedding, I’ll always get in touch with a photographer just to introduce myself (so that we’re not complete strangers on the day) and comment on an aspect of their work that caught my eye. That usually leads to a conversation where we’re both openly appreciating each other’s work and signalling a certain level of respect as a starting point before we’ve even arrived at your wedding.

At the end of the day, the photographer and videographer are both there to capture your day in the best way possible. We’re on the same team, so it makes sense for us to do everything in our power to make each other’s job as easy as possible so that you end up with the best possible mementos from your wedding day.

How to choose the perfect Wedding Ceremony time


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One of the most important aspects of planning a wedding is figuring out your timeline, and it can be pretty daunting. When should everything happen? How are you supposed to know the best time to have your ceremony? You haven’t done this before! Sure, you’ve been to a few weddings, but you were too busy drinking Prosecco and getting boomerangs to take note of their schedule.

Well don’t worry, because in this article I’m going to look at all the factors to consider when it comes to choosing the perfect wedding ceremony time…

should you have an unplugged ceremony

Time of Year

The time of year you’re getting married is crucial because it will affect how many daylight hours there are. Something people don’t often consider is how much light there will there be both during and after their ceremony.

If you’re getting married in the Summer, sunset might not be until 9pm or even later, meaning there’s plenty of daylight all day long for your ceremony and everything that follows.


On the other hand, if you’re getting married in the Winter, sunset could be as early as 4pm. This means that you have much fewer hours of light. As such, it’s probably a good idea to get married earlier in the day to ensure that: (1) there’s enough light during the ceremony to ensure your photographer and videographer can get nice shots of you with natural light, and (20) there’s enough light after the ceremony for your family photos and couple shoot. If the weather on the day is a particularly dull one, you may lose the light at around 3pm, and so a ceremony at some point between 12pm and 1pm might not be a bad idea! 

What's the perfect wedding ceremony time

Location

Another important factor you may want to consider is the location of your ceremony.

If you’re getting married outdoors (especially abroad), you might want to avoid the hottest time of the day for your ceremony. The last thing you want is your guests being slowly picked off one-by-one from heat exhaustion while you’re saying your vows. Therefore, a ceremony some time after 4pm might be best. However, remember to keep an eye on that sunset time and ensure you leave an hour or so for photos after the ceremony before you lose the light (maybe even two hours, as the light is often best between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours before the sun sets).

what's the best time for your wedding ceremony

If you’re ceremony is indoors, then you’ll probably want to ensure your wedding happens at the height of the sun so that you can make the most of the natural light streaming through the windows. Therefore, 1pm-3pm is ideal!

Pacing

On an average wedding day, you’re going to have many different components: getting ready, the ceremony, the drinks reception, family photos, couple shoot, dinner, speeches, and dancing. Therefore, when figuring out your timeline, it’s a good idea to think about where everything else will lie too, so that you can pace your timeline appropriately.

when is the perfect wedding ceremony time

The later your ceremony is, the more rushed things will be. For example, a 4pm ceremony would mean a very leisurely getting ready, followed by a hectic 3-5 hour window of ceremony, drinks reception, family photos, couple shoot, dinner, and speeches before your DJ/band starts.

On the other hand, if your ceremony is too early, you risk having your guests waiting around for hours in-between ‘events’. I’ve been to weddings with early ceremonies and then a huge gap before the meal, resulting in hungry guests hovering around the kitchen doors, like vultures, waiting for canapés.

What time should I have my ceremony

So what exactly is the best time?

From my perspective as a videographer, a ceremony starting between 1pm-2pm is the ideal time, as it means the least amount of rushing (and therefore adequate time to make sure I’m prepared and have all my gear set up for each event throughout the day). There’s plenty of time in the morning for you and your groomsmen/bridesmaids to get ready, and for your guests to travel down and arrive in time. Additionally, there’s plenty of remaining daylight for photos and your couple shoot (regardless of the time of year), and plenty of time for the rest of your scheduled events, without guests having to wait around for hours.

Here’s an example timeline:

  • 13:30 – Ceremony 
  • 14:00 – Drinks reception (during which family photos and couple shoot will happen)
  • 16:00 – Called in for Wedding Breakfast
  • 16:30 – Wedding Breakfast served
  • 18:30 – Speeches
  • 19:30 – Cake cutting & First Dance

Of course, it’s ultimately your day, so only you should decide what works best for you. But hopefully you’ve found something in this article helpful with planning your wedding and choosing your perfect wedding ceremony time.

5 ways to help your Wedding Videographer


This is a blog-post from us, the videographers of the industry, to you, the soon-to-be brides and grooms. I know you’re busy planning your big day right now, and the last thing you want to do is read yet another list (I’m sure you’re making enough of your own as it is). But honestly, what’s the point in all that planning and all that money if your wedding film doesn’t have any speeches because your videographer missed them? What’s the point in writing those custom vows if your faces aren’t visible in the ceremony? So please, take note of our advice, and give your videographer the best chance possible of making your Wedding Film amazing!

1) Tell us EVERYTHING

We’ve all heard the old adage: fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Well, I cannot stress this enough: a prepared videographer is a good videographer. There is nothing worse, from a videographer’s point of view, than somebody deciding to deliver an impromptu speech at a wedding – chances are, if we didn’t know about it, we didn’t put a microphone on them so they’re going to sound really bad in your film. Likewise, don’t surprise your partner with a gift or an ensemble of stormtroopers without letting us know beforehand so that we can capture their reaction for you! The more we know, the better prepared we can be, and the better your film will be. The best rule to follow is: if in doubt, tell the videographer!

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 12.04.30.png

In addition, make sure you keep us informed throughout the day. I know quite often videographers are almost invisible – you don’t notice us capturing those intimate moments, and that’s the way it should be! But please don’t forget about us. When you’re going to cut your cake, just give us a heads up so that we can get cameras set up. It’s likely we’ll want to have more than one camera rolling for these important moments, so that we can cut between different angles in your film, so tell the DJ to wait for our nod before cuing your Ed-Sheeran-first-dance-medley. Additionally, if you’re going off with the photographer for some shots, it would be great to let us know, too. Sometimes the photographer forgets because they’re so focussed on getting some beautiful photos of you, which is absolutely fine by us. But chances are, you’ll want some beautiful shots in your film too, so just give us a heads up. Maybe the photographer wants 15 minutes alone with you – that’s cool! All we ask is that we get some time alone with you, too.

wedding videographer

2) Get ready by a window

Whether you’re a bride or a groom, getting ready by a window is crucial. I’m sure your photographer will agree that this just gives us so much more to work with in terms of light. Artificial light is really yellow and makes the colour of your skin and EVERYTHING ELSE look weird and unappealing. Natural light, on the other hand, is both flattering and true to real-life colours.

If you’re having a make-up artist, chances are they’ll sit you by a window (after all, it makes sense for them to have loads of light too in order to work their magic). But if they don’t, maybe try and suggest moving. Some make-up artists will bring their own lights, and will prefer to work in front of them than in front of a window, and that’s okay! Any worthwhile wedding videographer will be able to work in artificially lit conditions – all we’re talking about here is how to foster the ideal conditions for the most best Wedding Film your videographer can produce.

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 16.36.44This is an example of artificial lights in the ceiling. There were no windows here, so the MUA (Lucy Hart) used this ceiling light instead. The result is that the top of the face is much more well-lit than the bottom, and the light is very harsh.

Men are much easier to film getting ready than women, simply because it doesn’t take as long for you to get ready, and there are only really a few shots we want to get. For example, a shot of you (or your father/best man) doing up your tie is always great, as is a shot of you putting on cufflinks and throwing on your jacket. These can be relatively mundane shots in a dimly lit hotel room. But stand by a window, and we can position you such that there are all kinds of interesting shadows occurring, and it’ll just make the shot much more interesting and appealing. Plus, it means we can get some awesome silhouette shots, too!

wedding videographerHere we had some really nice window-lighting for the groom’s getting ready shots.

3) Turn to face each other in the aisle

During your ceremony, the officiant will, at some point, ask you to turn and face each other. This is usually for the vows and the ring exchange. Please please PLEASE turn fully. A lot of videographers like to get a shot down the aisle (it’s a really beautiful shot because of the symmetry and because it captures both your faces at the same time). But if you don’t turn to face each other all the way, you’ll end up being kind of diagonal, and we’ll get more of the back of your head than your faces and miss the part where you start blubbering into your own veil/pocket square. So turn to face each other head-on, so that your officiant is on one side, and your guests on the other, gaze into each other’s eyes and let us capture the magic!

wedding videographerA great example of a couple turning to face each other completely

4) Have an unplugged ceremony

Bear in mind: just because you and I are doing everything right, that doesn’t mean your guests won’t get in the way still.

Whether it’s Uncle Trevor and his new Nikon, or Stacy the Serial Insta-Storyer, there will always be somebody watching your ceremony through a screen. And while that’s a shame for you because you invited them there to be present in the moment and enjoy your day, it’s an even bigger shame for us, the videographers, who have to try to shoot around the DSLRs and the iPhones leaning into the aisle. It’s for that reason that we always recommend an ‘unplugged’ ceremony. In essence, this is a ceremony where you ban people from taking photos or videos. I’ve been to quite a few unplugged ceremonies, and the effect is fascinating: people actually sit and watch your ceremony with their own eyes! And I can get a clean shot of your ring exchange without having to have a word with Uncle Trevor – win-win!

unplugged ceremony

5) Don’t try and hold back your emotions

Speaking of blubbering, please don’t try to hold back your emotions. This one applies to men more than women; because of the whole ‘man up’ thing, we’ve found that men are generally reluctant to let their emotions show. When they see their significant other gliding down the aisle, radiating beauty, a lot of men do want to cry, but only a courageous few let that happen. The rest of you try to bottle it up, which results in some of the strangest faces you will ever pull (which isn’t ideal on what is potentially the only day you’ll ever have a professional camera pointing at your face). So don’t bottle it up… let it all out and cry like there’s nobody watching – it will make your Wedding Film ten times better. Plus, it’s a fact that the sight of a man crying is more likely to set somebody else off than the sight of a woman crying; so chances are that, once you start, someone else in that room will join in before long (and, if they’re anything like me, it may well be your videographer).

groom crying wedding videographer

So there you have it – 5 ways you can help your Wedding Videographer to make your film the best that it can be. Again, these aren’t essential, and they won’t ruin your film if you neglect to follow them, but they will help to foster the ideal conditions for your videographer to work their magic and make you a fantastic Wedding Film that you’ll be proud to show family and friends for the rest of your lives.

3 reasons why you should have an Unplugged Ceremony


Are you reading this on a phone right now? I bet you are… they’re everywhere. I’ve got one. You’ve got one. Your mum’s got one (as evidenced by her comments on all of your insta posts). Don’t get me wrong, phones can be great: access to all your friends, the internet at your fingertips, and an amazing little camera in your pocket. Everybody’s a photographer these days. You can snap away and share online within seconds. But there’s one time and place where people shouldn’t be using their phones, and that’s your wedding day.
In fact, a sea of people photographing and filming you as you come down the aisle can be a real nuisance, and that’s why more and more couples today are choosing to have what’s known as an ‘unplugged ceremony’. What this means is that everyone present is asked not to use their phones, and it really really works.

Here’s three reasons why you should have an unplugged ceremony.

Should you have an unplugged ceremony

1) People are more present

You’ve been dreaming of this day for 25 years. You’ve kissed so many frogs to find this prince/princess, and after several years together, hundreds of dates and a long, drawn-out engagement, you’re ready to celebrate your relationship. It’s taken a year of late nights, stressful emails and careful compromises to get to this day, to bring all of these people together to celebrate with you. And still, Uncle Jed insists on checking his fantasy football team whilst you’re saying your vows. Who does that guy think he is?!

In all seriousness, phones are a bit of a nuisance when it comes to our attention span. Having an unplugged ceremony can help make sure that people are present in the moment, enjoying your ceremony instead of thinking about that email from work.
After all, you are buying their dinner, so 30 minutes of their attention is the least they can give you…

should you have an unplugged ceremony
An unplugged ceremony at Northbrook Park

2) Your photographer and videographer will thank you

As a wedding videographer, my job is to capture your wedding in the best way possible so that you, your friends and your family can relive it at a later date. The problem is that a lot of friends and family choose not to ‘live’ it in the first place. Instead, they choose to watch it all though a 6-inch piece of glass. How they choose to enjoy that unique and special moment is up to them, but it also impacts me and my work, and therefore impacts you too.

I once missed a couple’s two-year old daughter and flower-girl coming down the aisle because a guest was leaning out into the aisle with their video camera, blocking the angle of myself and the photographer. Luckily, that guest got the shot, as did many people recording on their phones, so the couple can still relive that moment. But it’s blurry, it’s pixelated, and (worst-of-all) it’s filmed in portrait instead of landscape. Wouldn’t you rather have professional video of these moments? Otherwise, why bother paying a videographer in the first place?

You could make the argument that guests recording on their phones provides a backup in case something goes wrong and my camera breaks or I lose the footage in some other way. But rest assured, I don’t need your guests – I’ve got it covered.

Should you have an unplugged ceremony

Even when guests aren’t getting in the way with their phone-based shenanigans, their screens are. Rows of phones*, raised like placards, really do obstruct us from doing our job. It means we may not be able to see you, and we certainly won’t be able to see them. Take a look at the example photo above – how many phones can you count? Imagine what the bride and groom are seeing; not the beaming faces and weepy eye-contact of their friends and family, dozens of shiny slabs of glass.

The worst thing is that those photos and videos will probably never see the light of day. At best, they’ll be used as ammunition for their insta story to show everybody how much fun they’re having. But you won’t be looking at them with your kids in ten years’ time… They won’t be framed on your mantelpiece. In reality, they’re destined to be deleted from that person’s phone six months down the line when they need to free up some space because they’re at somebody else’s wedding…

should you have an unplugged ceremony

3) It gives you more to look forward to

You know that experiment with the kids and the marshmallow? Basically, they were given a marshmallow, and if they could wait long enough without eating it, they could have two marshmallows instead of one. This is kind of like that.

Having an unplugged ceremony means that you’ll have more to look forward to further down the line. When you get to see your photos and your wedding film, you’re going to enjoy them so much more than you would if you’d already relived your first kiss seventeen times in the form of facebook posts, snapchats, and that random girl on the train that was watching it back on your bridesmaid’s insta story.

should you have an unplugged ceremony

Wouldn’t you rather relive your vows for the first time in high definition, filmed with a camera set-up that cost four times that of your mum’s phone, and by an experienced professional that’s edited it to music to have maximum emotional impact?

So there you have it: three reasons why you should have an unplugged ceremony. Hopefully this has helped you make a decision. Maybe you do want everyone to film the ceremony on their phones, and that’s okay too – it’s your day!
But if you do decide to ban phones, a simple sign or notice will do the trick, and if you mention it to your registrar/vicar/friend-who-got-ordained-online, they’ll usually do an announcement just before the ceremony begins to remind everybody. If you’re lucky, you might even get that really grumpy priest who’ll take the ban really seriously and insist on interrupting the ceremony to shame anybody they see breaking it – and that’s entertaining for everyone!

*Note: This also applies to iPads. Please don’t let people take photos or videos on their iPads. Please. In fact, if they’re the kind of person that uses their iPad as a camera, you probably shouldn’t invite them in the first place… (sorry, grandma).