Wedding Video Critique–or–How to Choose a Wedding Videographer

Recently a colleague at the IOV (Institute of Videographers) requested a critique of some wedding videos. My reply could be of interest to those seeking wedding videographers

I thought I’d reply privately as “constructive criticism” can sometimes draw in a gang-bang of irrelevant comments on forums.

I watched the video you linked to and then watched half of the one on the home page of your site.

It looks like you’ve done quite a few wedding videos! So don’t think you have it all wrong.

I’ve never been influenced by other wedding videos I’ve seen particularly. My background and training is in cinematography and the disciplines of good story telling along with about 6 years of video documentary work and the need there to move in and out quick while thinking on your feet.

But my approach still goes back to the basics of cinematography. “Videography” is not really different, as it’s just a different medium, but I believe it has largely been influenced by the “MTV” age and also by a plethora of would-be movie-makers who, owing to the relative low cost of video equipment and editing programs, launch themselves into the field with no schooling except what they’ve seen on MTV or YouTube, etc. Their approach, therefore, can be a jumble of “gimmicky” shots edited with no sense and covered up with pointless electronic effects offered up by their editing programs.

I wrote a couple of related articles on my blog some time ago I’d like you to read:


Camerwork, Purpose of

Anyway I have only two observations that might be helpful, beyond what you may agree with or not in the two articles I wrote inasmuch as they may also be helpful to you.

First is that I see a tendency to record on video what is normally in the purview of wedding photographers.

Wedding photographers normally do all the “conventions”–photographing details and doing all the usual posed shots of the couple and entourage, etc.  I wouldn’t mix that up with doing video of the same or similar material.

Video is not really a glorified still photograph.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that you shouldn’t shoot these various set-ups as they are happening. I shoot everything–or as much as I can. It’s more because of the documentary aspect–meaning, one shoots as much as one can during a live event just to have the material to cover the edit. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to use these things, but your purpose for using them is different than the purpose of the still photographer.

Now let’s hold that thought for a minute…

My view of the end product of a wedding video is that it should distill down the essences of the event and meld together memorable images (memories) in an artistic fashion such that anyone watching it (even just Joe Blow off the street) would enjoy and be moved by it. But more importantly, the couple and their friends will want to watch it over and over and over again and experience the emotion again and again.

How long should it be? Well, that depends on the wedding and any particular requests of the couple. But I’d say even the grandest events in all aspects can be edited down to 30 minutes, more or less.  Ironically it takes much longer to do that than to just put it all in there, but will they want to watch a 60 minute or 90 minute pure record of the event with a few cutesy shots over and over again? I doubt it. Twice maybe. Friends and family, once.

It should have emotional impact and should present what they want to see or remember, not what the cameraman thinks is cool.

Along those lines, you know that many more moments than they will ever know which are recorded on your tape, are not really what they want to see or remember.

Sometimes it’s fleeting expressions, nervous gestures, or awkward stumbles and other things–right on down to the obvious (scratching an itch or whatever).

For example, in one of the two I watched, the groom really stumbled badly on part of the vows. While they might socially laugh about that, you must know that it’s really something that makes the groom cringe and which could make the bride “wonder”.  Those kind of things, wherever possible, I would cut out.

But it goes back to creating a moving montage of wonderful and poignant memories.

Part of that is “who was there”.  So going back to shooting photographer set-ups, I tend to use them to get close shots of the people, or two-shots or three-shots where they are interacting, for the purpose of including faces in the video I may have not gotten otherwise.  And I usually do all that kind of stuff in slow motion to their chosen song.  That’s just my approach–the ceremony (or the essential parts of it) real time and most of the rest in slow motion montages interspersed with any necessary real-time footage such as speeches, or highlights from speeches.

But the reason I do it that way is to create a piece that they will want to watch over and over because it’s got so many memories compacted into a short space.

Which brings me to a second point.  I feel that your shots go by too quickly. You’re editing nicely to the tempo of the songs, but, for the most part, you don’t need to cut on every beat. What happens there is that it’s all going by too quickly in terms of those memories they’d want to savor. It’s a subtle point, but just a bit too fast to allow the various bits to be soaked in.

I personally never stage anything. I prefer to try to capture as many good candid moments as possible while being as invisible as possible. That way they’re seeing themselves as they’ve never seen themselves before. If they’ve posed something, they’re not seeing anything they don’t already know.

However, you have some beautiful shots there–walking in the woods, etc.  So your eye is good–and I’m not saying to never do that. I’m just saying, consider using that eye more to capture moments without them ever knowing they were captured–and those moments will have a lot more emotional impact for them.

Again, it’s all about presenting an emotional memory package to those who want to share or re-experience the memories.  And when you accomplish that well, it will always exceed their expectations and they will always tell you so and you will know that they really mean it. And that, I feel, is the end product one should go for.

2 responses

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    • Thanks very much. Sorry for late reply, but just found this erroneously put by WordPress into the spam folder. Let me know if there’s anything particular you’d like to know about and if I’ve got the knowledge and experience, I’ll write up a new article on it.


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