Becoming a wedding videographer

Becoming a wedding videographer

I have some loose change advise for anyone who might be thinking of becoming a wedding videographer. Pursuing a career in wedding videography requires most of us to run our own business so beyond being filmmakers we must manage marketing, finances, staying on top of fast changing technology.

I’ve been a wedding videographer based in Edinburgh for several years and know myself the competition is tough. I’ve worked with many award winning filmmakers who have struggled to adjust to wedding shooting for a number of reasons – the relentless pace and not shooting for the edit. Being a self-shooter and editor is crucial to the sucess of a wedding videographer, and they are connected, as you get better at one, so the other improves.

So here’s some other advise for videography start-ups:

Starting out as a videographer

Becoming a wedding videographer can be an attractive prospect for many filmmakers keen to demonstrate their creative eye and storytelling prowess. It certainly is the case in Britain that we are producing far too many very general film graduates without the right specialisms for industry jobs. The result is a generation of people with degrees in photography, film and television finding work in low-paid service areas.

One lure of the wedding industry is the stability; a film project booked months in advance is a stark contrast to the often last minute and erratic work of the freelance filmmaker/camera operator or editor. It might make more sense to be an employed videographer, learning and creating than stacking shelves and only talking about the films you aspire to make. It’s also a lifestyle choice. I enjoy being my own boss and the flexibility that offers but in turn that means working all the time and accepting all the failures with the successes.

The tools of a videographer

The craft of wedding videography has developed fast since the introduction of lower cost cameras and I’ve seen a dramatic change in shooting style to reflect the new formats and technology. It’s always about telling the story, however as cameras have become lights its meant being able to move the camera in more interesting ways, which can only help make for stronger wedding videos. Technological changes have been defining the limits of the wedding video since its commercial beginnings in the 1970s. The latest progression from mini DV, to HDV, Full HD cameras and most recently DSLR cameras has seen the level of creativity and the quality of the wedding film benefiting from a great leap forward.

Innovative wedding videographers could be said to moving from the fringes of filmmaking – where videographer was once a dirty word – to a stable area of the creative industries where filmmakers can actually practice their craft. Major shifts in technology has perked the interest of many young filmmakers. Certainly I myself would have been less interested a number of years ago, but the reduced weight of cameras and lights coupled with improved image quality has meant a crew of two can use multiple cameras, steadicams, sliders and even jibs to tell stories in a more interesting ways.

My TOP 5 Must-Have tools of a videographer

1. Monopod with feet
2. Radio Mic
3. Canon 5D mk3
4. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens with IS
5. Zoom H6 recorder

The Commitment – videography as a career

I have the experience of running a previous production company, so was not so intimidated by the business and financial side as much as I may otherwise have been. However, for those less experienced with that aspect of running a wedding service business there are a number of organisations out there that can assist with helping you start up such as business gateway.

It should be noted what a large and long term commitment it is, requiring financial resources for investment in equipment and advertising, and committing yourself for years in advance. This is not a business for a short stop-gap. In spite of the hard work and commitment many filmmakers continue with wedding videos for the huge emotional pay-off. Every filmmaker I know wants to make films significant to someone – if not everyone. With a wedding video there is a built-in audience who will (you would hope) truly cherish the film as an important piece of history. For the wedding filmmaker there is the challenge of turning an event film into an experience. To film an event takes experience, but filming a weddings routinely and keeping things fresh takes passion.

My TOP 5 Good Practice Tips For A Videographer

1. Invest in hard drives – and back up everything. If you can’t afford the hard drive space, don’t shoot.

2. Never assume one wedding will be like the next – ask all the questions you can.

3. Pay your other camera operator a proper rate – you never know when you might be working for them.

4. Really think at every shot ‘will this make the final cut – should I spend my time shooting something else’. Time is the ultimate asset on the weeding day, you can’t afford to waste it.

5. Learn from every wedding – and take the lessons with you to the next one.

Steps to becoming a wedding videographer

Today the low light capabilities of the DSLR camera and the flexibility of using multiple cameras that no longer cost the earth – even if the lenses sometime can – has made the industry far more interesting. Starting up you’ll obviously need enough technical know-how to do a good job. Many people I know started out by doing the first one for free. A safer bet which gives you the flexibility to make mistakes and improve. It might be worth doing this before you spend a penny – get the kit, pull in favours, research wedding films and plan your own approach – then do it. Perhaps you’ll discover it’s not for you…

Once you’ve decided this is for you you’ll need to begin investing in your branding (even if it’s just yourself), your camera and sound equipment and advertising. Personally I took out a £4,000 loan to get started but through the course of my first year I spent over £15,000 on cameras, lenses, advertising at trade shows and in magazines, paying a further camera operator (a fair wage – they have to eat too). Considering your branding and packages is crucial – the competition out there is stiff. What make you stand apart as a wedding videographer? All of this takes time, I shot my first wedding in October and I didn’t have a paid wedding until March. So be patient – keep at it, but weddings generate weddings so it can be a slow start.

Staying ahead of the videography competition

So once you’ve done half dozen or so, the next question inevitable comes ‘what do I invest in next?’. To buy ahead of your competition means taking the risks and we’ve all had that moment where we own a betamax and everyone else owns a VCR, we are gifted a sega saturn and everyone’s playing playstation, or buying a Canon 5D MK2 just when they become redundant. Speak with your peers and share information!!! If it helped our ancestors survive the last ice age, it can surely save you a few quid, dollars or yen. I speak with people online regularly about their experiences with camera accessories and they help generally help me make better informed decisions. I know filmmakers that spend all their money on kit – you have to honestly weigh up the benefits against the cost. I also speak with other videographers – again forging allies who you can trust and these reciprocal relationship will generate future work and help the development of your new business.

So you have a bit of my experience, but the acid test is doing it for yourself and seeing what works for you. Make mistakes – learn from them – and move on. If you have something to add please do leave a comment, start a discussion or contact us directly. Good luck!

Butterfly Wedding Films – Scotland’s premier wedding videography service crafting supreme quality HD wedding video packages to suit all budgets. Our award winning filmmakers, your unique story.

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