Let’s face it, we cannot do ocular inspections every time we are scheduled to shoot weddings in completely unfamiliar venues. So how do professional videographers cope? It’s simple--in our heads, we have a checklist of questions we ask ourselves upon arrival at the ceremony venue. Answering these questions and taking mental notes of possible solutions go a long way in greatly improving the films that we shoot.
Are the church's facade and grounds suitable for a post-nup shoot? Are there any unexplored nooks with great light or backgrounds that aren’t busy? Where can I shoot the couple after their wedding? Yes, pro videographers think about post-nuptial shoots. And they think about it even before the wedding starts.
What is the main light source? Is it streaming sunlight from the big windows? Or is the interior lighting more prominent? Adjust your exposures accordingly.
How long are the church aisles? Which lens is the most appropriate for the main camera? The length of the aisle may also determine the number of shots your creative shooter may do. Does the creative shooter have time to do 2-3 creative shots while the bride is taking her time to walk the long aisle? Or does he need to rush in front right away to get shots of the “receiving” because of the short aisle?
Where will the couple sit? Which camera position is best to capture their emotion? Will they sit facing the altar like in Catholic weddings? Or will they face the guests like in some Christian or civil weddings? You have to know the answer beforehand so that you can prepare the camera positions accordingly.
Where are the electrical outlets located? Is it enough to simultaneously charge 4-6 batteries with room for the SDE editor’s laptop? This can also be the spot where the whole team can consolidate all pieces of equipment. (Quick tip: an extension cord is not only an editor’s best friend, it’s also the lifeblood of the team. If you can invest in a high-amperage capacity unit with surge protection and individual switches, even better.)
Which loudspeakers are working? Some speakers are old and not functional. Once you’re sure your audio recorder is pointed to the right one and your levels are correct, do test recordings with monitoring earphones. Make sure to play it back first after a test record.
High angle shots presents a unique view to your audience. Is there a place where I can shoot from a high place? A choir loft perhaps? Do we have access to that place? Some churches ask for access fees.
#8 Off limits
Where are the areas that are off limits to videographers? You don't want to be the cause of the minister’s ire in the middle of the ceremony. They want to preserve solemnity vs. we want to get great shots. Their cause trumps ours.
Do we set all the camera’s white balance to tungsten? Shade? Or kelvin? Auto white balance may also be an option. This is not about how cool or hot the venue is.
To easily remember the guidelines, we can summarize it to “PLACE (the) SHOT”
Print this list and place it in your camera bag. Every time you arrive at an unfamiliar wedding venue, ask yourself the following questions. We guarantee, your wedding films will be much better.
If you think this is helpful, imagine what you can learn in a full 4-day course.
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