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Filming a Wedding Without a Second Shooter

One question I receive from many couples is, "How do you film weddings without a second videographer?" The answer to WHY I film weddings solo is pretty simple. It allows me to keep my prices lower without the expense of a second shooter and it gives me full control over my wedding films. The answer to HOW I am able to film weddings solo requires a bit more explanation which I've outlined in the following...

1. ORGANIZATION. One of the essential keys to a successful shoot of any event, especially weddings, is to be incredibly organized. Much goes into preparing for the day of the shoot that insures it will proceed flawlessly. Knowing the timeline and the layout of the venue and having my equiptment in pristine working condition prior to the first shot is critical.

2. COMMUNICATION. There are four groups of people that are extremely important to get to know on the wedding day. While I meet many vendors throughout the day, getting to know the following key people can make the difference between perfectly capturing a moment or missing a shot.

  • The Wedding Party Upon arrival, I make it a point to introduce myself to the bridesmaids and groomsmen as well as the immediate family. I will always let all parties know at the beginning of the day that they can just ignore me. If I only say two sentences all day, you can bet they will be, "Just pretend I am not here" and "The photographer(s) will be directing you throughout the day and I'll just be a fly on the wall." I'm not a big fan of obtrusive or scripted wedding films. My goal is to observe and capture the organically beautiful moments throughout the day without giving any direction. I want the viewer to feel like they are part of the wedding day.

  • The DJ is most often my lifeline to perfectly-captured, crystal clear audio. As soon as the DJ or A/V technician arrives to set up for the wedding, I introduce myself and POLITELY ask for an audio line to record the ceremony, introductions and speeches during the reception. As soon as it is convenient for the DJ, we test the audio levels. At that time I also work out the logistics of transfering sound equipment from ceremony to the reception when needed. Doing so will ensure quality voice recordings and a professional wedding film.

  • Wedding Planner a.k.a The Ultimate Multi-Tasker. Keeping a close working relationship with the wedding planner helps me to stay on top of the days timeline and any last minute changes that may arise.

  • Photographer(s) a.k.a The Maestros. It is crucially important to work symbiotically with the photographer(s) throughout the wedding day. As soon as I introduce myself as the sole videographer, I can see instant relief on their faces. For them, it means one less person to get in their shots and as a result, less stress for all. Once I explain that I won't be doing any directing, our working relationship turns into a thriving partnership. I make sure to verbalize where I'll be shooting from during the ceremony and speeches so we're all on the same page.

3. BE AMBIDEXTROUS AND KNOW THE FLIGHTPLAN. As a solo shooter, I am skilled at working with two cameras simultaneously in order to successfully capture all the moments throughout the day. Knowing how to approach shots and where to set up stationary cameras is crucial while filming a wedding solo. There are two times in particular where a predetermined flight plan is crucial in creating the perfect wedding film.

  • Capturing the Ceremony During the ceremony, I strategically place one camera on a tripod at the end of the aisle just past the last seated guest. The tripod is positioned at its tallest point where the camera sits at 6 1/2 feet above the ground and stays centered on the couple starting just after the bride walks down the aisle and is pulled away just after the kiss. I operate the second camera on a small stabilizer at the front corners of the ceremony in order to capture guest expressions and other details, all while remaining unobtrusive and staying clear of the center aisle.

  • Capturing the Speeches During the speeches I use two cameras positioned on tripods to ensure I am able to capture not only the person speaking but the reactions of the guests, the bride and the groom.

4. EXPERIENCE. Having filmed over 60 weddings as a solo videographer, I've had the opportunity to sharpen my skills and figure out what works and what doesn't. With all that said, I think the best way to show how I am able to film solo is by watching any one of my feature films and see for yourself.

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