The tip of the week is provided by John Mireles who is an amazing photographer. I was prompted to post this after hearing a photographer talk smack about a really great videographer. I have personally worked with a bunch of great videographers, and I feel uncomfortable with the attitude that some photographers have about being more important than the videographer. Can’t we all just get along? It will make both of our jobs much easier and a whole lot more fun for everyone involved. Let’s face it, the end goal for both of us is to give our clients a great product. Let’s move our egos aside and do just that by working together! Oh and in case you are wondering? My all time favorite videographer in Utah is Nathan Pickett Films. He rocks…his work rocks…and he doesn’t think he is cooler than me! Cheers!-Andrea
Avoiding Videographer Hassles-John Mireles
Is there a photographer out there who hasn’t had a problem with a videographer running amok at a wedding? Any photographer who’s been in this business for more than a day no doubt has a horror story or two about a video crew getting in every shot or overpowering the romantic reception lighting with a WWII searchlight.
Not only can the video crew ruin a great shot, it’s stressful dealing with uncooperative or even hostile vendors while you’re trying to do your job and enjoy yourself. I’ve actually had videographers physically threaten me on two separate occasions. (Yikes!) Not fun!
Unfortunately, dealing with videographers is not getting any easier. As more videographers give up their old video cams and adopt the DSLR as their shooting platform, the style and way they’re working is changed. Increasingly, videographers are acting as cinematographers seeking to create a stylized movie rather than act as more passive observers as they did in the past.
The downside for photographers is that, more than ever, videographers seek to get in close – which means in your frame – for the shot to take advantage of their new capabilities. Although that shallow depth of field looks great, it also means that more shots will be out of focus so now the videographer needs a second shooter with a wider lens to make sure nothing is missed. So now you not only have more people around, they’re getting in closer too – which means more shots ruined. Sound familiar?
All is not lost however. There’s a lot you can do to make sure that things go right. Here are my suggestions for a wedding day devoid of vendor fisticuffs.
So as You Sow…
If you act thoughtlessly and inconsiderately towards the video crew, you’re going to get the same treatment in return. Be considerate to the needs of the people working alongside you. Be aware of the placement of the video crew so that you don’t needlessly block their shots. Know that the video crew needs continuous and unobstructed views of the vows, readings, and toasts. Be especially aware of your positioning during these key moments.
Never once have I heard a photographer begin their videographer rant with “I was a complete inconsiderate jerk” yet I’ll bet there are plenty of knucklehead photographer horror stories making the rounds among videographers. The more aware you are of how your actions impact those around you, the better relationships you’ll have with everyone you’re working with.
The Best Defense if a Good Offense
The best way to deal with a problem is to make sure it never has the opportunity to occur. Instead of just leaving it to the client to hire some nightmare video company, make it a point to recommend a company that you like and work well with. Clients generally hire a photographer long before they hire a videographer so use that to your advantage.
Before recommending a videography company, take a look at their finished work to see if it meets your standards. Then promote that company exclusively to all of your clients. You’ll find that when you are the referral for the job, the videographer is going to take very good care of you and make sure to not step on your toes.
One word of advice, be sure to pick a videographer with competitive rates. Any money that a client spends on the videographer is money that may not get spent on photography. Sure, you may want to refer the super-high-end guy, but that stack of money to book him is a stack that may get taken away from your album upgrade or parent albums.
Set the Ground Rules
You’ll notice that a common theme with much of my advice is to avoid problems before they occur. In that vein, bring up the potential for “challenges” with the bride and groom before the wedding. Discuss with the client the potential issues that may occur and how it can affect not only the photos you’ll deliver, but can negatively affect their experience on the wedding day.
I explain how videographers are becoming ever more intrusive, that there is the potential for shots to be ruined and it’s frustrating to have to compete for the best angle. The main thing I like to ask is, “What is more important to you? The video or the photography?” If it’s the photography, then I ask if I have permission to act as air traffic control on the wedding day.
The key is that I want the clients to be aware of the potential issues and have them on my side if/when they do arise. Usually, the photography is far more important to the client, (a fact that is reflected in their budget,) so they don’t want the video guy screwing up my work. If I have the client on my side, I can then be more authoritative in my directions to the videographer.
Get on the Same Page
All too often the photographer and videographer will warily eye each other at the wedding without ever getting to know each other. Big mistake! Instead, I suggest that before the two teams start shooting on the wedding day, you make it a point to introduce yourself and make a plan for the day. Opening up communication and establishing rapport makes it much easier for you to avoid and correct problems.
In this little introductory meeting, I like to ask questions about how the video team operates. What lights they use. Where they are going to set up during the ceremony. If there are specific shots they want. How they handle prep and formals etc. I ask if there’s anything they need from me. Again, the idea is to get the communication going and eliminate surprises.
I like to keep the meeting light and friendly. I don’t proclaim myself to be the boss-man, but I do make it be known that I won’t tolerate being stepped on or over. There’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence; I try to keep it on the side of the latter so as to not make enemies.
One Person Rule
Everybody wants to be in with the bride when she’s getting ready and other special moments. No surprise there. But when you have the photographer and her assistant plus a videographer and his assistants, you end up with a frustrating cluster mess and everyone in each other’s shots. Plus, it kills the moment.
To deal with this, I’ve adopted the “one-person per team” rule, which means that only one photographer and one videographer are allowed in the room while the bride is getting ready. I recommend getting the bride’s okay on this when you talk to her in advance and then getting everyone’s buy-in during the pre-shoot meeting with the videographer.
If the video team has a problem with this, you can say that you’ve discussed this with the bride and groom so any change has to be agreed to by them.
Work as a Team
Instead of trying to fight each other, think of how you can work together to get better results for the both of you. During the first dance, I’ll sometimes offer to have my assistant hold the video light for the videographer so that we both can use it off-axis.
I used to get frustrated when a videographer would try to step in and shoot formals. Now, I welcome it. I let the videographer know that they’re welcome to shoot formals at any point. I use that as an excuse to second shoot and get angles that I might not ordinarily. It’s a welcome break when someone else is doing the directing and it allows me to think of new and different ideas for my shots.
Once you start working collaboratively, the mood changes, everyone has a better time and the end product is better too.
The bride and groom are seconds from cutting the cake and you’re all set. There’s beautiful rim lighting coming from above and gentle ambient lighting bouncing in from the sides. It’s a gorgeous moment until… the video guy turns on his monster video light and blasts the scene with more light than a nuclear explosion.
Sometimes there’s no substitute for being prepared. Have a secondary setting on your camera set for automatic mode so that you can quickly switch to it. Have another camera with a flash so you can overpower whatever the video guy throws at you.
Better yet, ask beforehand how the video guy intends to cover the a given event so you’re not surprised at the last second. Remember, the difference between the newbie and the experienced photographer is that the latter is always thinking two steps ahead and not just reacting at the last second.
If All Else Fails
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you’ve still got the videographer in everyone’s face or setting up in the middle of the aisle during the ceremony. What most photographers do is ignore it, bitch about it afterward then ask what they can write into their contract to prevent it from happening again. I’m sorry but that’s the wrong approach.
The solution is to firmly but nicely, let the videographer know that he’s blocking your shot and getting in your way. If you’ve got buy-in from the bride, you know that your work is more important the video so you can more confidently direct the videographer. (On the other hand, if the video is more important, then it’s you that needs to work around the videographer. At least you know where you stand.)
If the video guy is creeping into every shot, photograph him. I realize that the tendency is to crop him out – and you should for some of the shots, but also keep him in since he’s part of the day. If nothing else, you can use these images as part of a friendly notice you send to your clients about the hazards of obnoxious videographers along with a list of who not to hire. This photographic evidence serves as all the more reason for the client to hire your recommended videographer.
The key to all of this is to think ahead and plan to avoid the potential for problems long before the videographer steps in front of you as the bride is walking down the aisle.