In a three part guide to starting out in wedding videography, Marc Peters takes you through what you can expect. In this first part Marc looks at your motivation for becoming a wedding videographer and a brief look at the equipment you'll need. The second part will look at the wedding day filming itself with tips for making the day run smoothly, and the third looking at presenting a professional product and ways to promote your business.
So you're a wannabe wedding videographer? The first question you should ask before you set out on your new adventure is "why wedding videography?". And this time be honest. Wedding videography is a demanding and competitive industry. You'll be sacrificing your weekends, investing significant sums of money and setting yourself up for quite possibly one of the most stressful jobs you've had. So what's your motivation for filming weddings? If you're thinking it's an easy way of earn a few quid from your family camcorder, think again. If your friends and family rave at your editing skills, you're heading in the right direction. But to really succeed in the world of videography takes far more than just a skill for video editing. As the videographer, you're expected to capture and present precious memories of the most important day in a couple's lives and those that get it right justifiably command significant fees. Wedding filming is a career not a hobby for the creme de la creme of wedding videographers.
Before you spend a penny
You've got a camcorder, so you're all set to film your first wedding, right? Not quite. Before we take a look at the equipment you'll need (and perhaps those you won't from the start!), it's worth doing a bit of research on your potential competition. Your initial research will be done on the internet where you'll find more wedding videographers than you'd ever be able to visit within just a few pages of Search Engine Results. You'll find the sponsored ads (those down the right hand side of Google for example) full of cheap prices and badly designed pages, but you'll get a feel for competition in your area. Most of these pages have video samples of their work and hopefully you'll think you can do better. In fact you'll need to be a hell of a lot better to beat the competition as so many wedding videography jobs come from word of mouth; to beat a personal recommendation, you'll need to wow your potential clients. And most of the top wedding videographers don't need to advertise...
Don't be tempted to act as a potential client and request DVD samples, as you'll just be found out and embarrassed. This isn't a fantastic way of endearing yourself to someone that could potentially pass work your way - those with years of experience are able to turn clients away. Pick up the phone and explain you're interested in starting out in wedding videography. Ask if you could see samples of their work and most will oblige. The added advantage of this 'honest' method is building an invaluable network of contacts which could help in your hour of need. The final stage of your internet search should be spent on the wedding videography section of DVinfo.net - http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/forumdisplay.php?f=72
. Here you'll find ample samples of both beginner and experienced wedding videographers. Read as much as you can bear before asking a question! And always remember that this is a valuable networking resource...
If you're inspired by the greatness of the likes of Glen Elliott or feel you can improve upon the seemingly 1,000s of wedding videographers at the 'lower' end, it's time to move to the next step.
Walk before you run
You're still a few steps away from investing in equipment; why spend all that money if you find you hate the job itself? You wouldn't by a house without seeing the thing, so why spend on equipment that will simply be sold after a few nightmare weddings? The easiest way to get your feet wet is filming a wedding of a friend or family. My advice would be to avoid this route for your first experience as it won't be a true reflection of how a real job would unfold; you'll know the happy couple or at least a few of the guests, meaning you'll be so much more relaxed than you would at a 'real' client. And you'll find it much easier to get the shots you want, the position you need and reactions you expect as you'll know many of the guests personally and almost predict what will happen. You'll need to learn how to achieve all of that with limited knowledge of anyone at the wedding.
You will of course be using the limited equipment you have, so your first caveat to any potential guinea pig is that they understand you're doing this as a mutual favour. Better still, why not use the contacts you've gained to ask if you can help at a wedding or two? Chances are you may even be paid to run around holding equipment and it will give you an invaluable insight into wedding videography.
Once you're finally happy that wedding videography's for you, it's finally time to draw up that shopping list. To start you'll need to get by with the basics but even they don't come cheap. So what should be at the top of your wedding videographer list? Remember I'm assuming you're aiming far above the £300-£500 wedding videographer, and you'll therefore need the equipment to match.
Firstly there's the must have video camera. Ideally you'll need at least two cameras at a wedding and you'll want to purchase a set of identical cameras. Note that there's little point in buying one expense and one low end camera as the footage from the two cameras simply won't match. And obviously choosing which cameras to buy is a whole article in itself, but you're looking at spending anywhere between £3k to £9k on a pair of decent wedding videographer cameras. I will however suggest you research thoroughly and make sure you buy equipment that will last 4-5 years. As such, I would point you in the direction of HDV and more specifically a pair of
To achieve stable shots you'll also need tripods for these cameras, and unfortunately you're again looking at a fairly expensive outlay (which can be rather annoying when an unfriendly member of church staff informs you that you can't use your tripod). Your tripods will however far outlast your electrical equipment and their real cost is actually quite low. I would suggest you take a look at the Manfrotto range of tripods - http://www.manfrotto.com
- choosing those which are recommended for your camera.
External and wireless microphones are the third must have at any wedding 'shoot' to provide at least a minimum standard of service. A wireless lavier tie clip mic such as the sennheiser GL2 pack will be a god send when you're forced to stand at the very back of the church whilst the bride and groom make their vows. Simply clip the mic to a lectern or the flowers (or if you're lucky the groom himself) and you'll pick up everything in crystal clear clarity. It's worth noting that these type of mics are typically mono, and you therefore need to ensure this fills both channels in your editing software (you may also need screenalyser to grab the extra sound channels from your camcorder.
That just about covers the basics and you'll pick up more equipment such as the now ubiquitous crane, glidecam, lights and various other gadgets such as a FireStore. You can find an extensive list of specialist video editing retailers at http://www.videoforums.co.uk/ratings/showcat.php?cat=1
. But it's not just about the equipment on the day, it's also about an extra set of hands to help lug all the gear around and operate the second camera. Sure, you can get away with doing it yourself, but you''ll work yourself into an early grave. You'll also need a dedicated high spec video editing PC to edit that glorious HDV footage...
In our second guide to the eventful world of wedding videography we look at what you can expect from the day itself...