What have you seasoned event videographers done in instances where you have an old-school Nazi priest who, for whatever reason, will allow the photographer to wander around the church during the ceremony, but demands that the videographer remain in one designated place and locked off on a tripod? Do you just disregard his request and go where you want, or do you explain to the bride and groom that the priest restricted your movement during the ceremony and the shots of the bride coming down the aisle and shots of the vows were only visible from the emergency wide-shot camera set up in the balcony?
I take offense at your characterization of the priest for a start, is what I think, Aaron. And I recommend you compose your messages with a little more circumspection.
To your question; the wedding is not about Aaron Cadieux and his needs or feelings. You are a guest in the church and allowed to record by permission of the Priest, Minister, Rabbi, Imam, head druid, what-have-you. Wedding videographers are not rock stars and neither deserve or get special treatment at the house of worship. His house: his rules, and if you can't work with that, then you have to tell the couple what you CAN do for them, and offer them either a refund or something else.
What the stills guy does or doesn't do is not your problem. He's also wrong to be too obnoxious in his coverage, but you can take some comfort knowing he probably won't be allowed back a second time, because this is a business based on referrals, and he's likely to get blacklisted at that church. Still photogs may get more leeway in some cases because they have a longer history of being used in churches than videographers, or they often have a special insider relationship at a certain church, and they can shoot their one frame or two and get out. If they know their stuff, they also shoot without strobes during a mass. My old parish pastor was a shutterbug himself, and he arranged to build hidden camera lens ports into the sanctuary of our church during construction, so stills shooters and video could get great shots without ever being seen by the congregation. We even gelled the lights for tungsten!
I have several times in my wedding video career had to act as diplomat and apologist for my brethren cameramen who went to a church before me and copped an "auteur attitude" or otherwise disrupted the service with their gear and their manner. Several churches stopped allowing anything but a long shot from the organ loft at the back of the church because of goofballs in black t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers, who wanted to (and I've personally seen all of this) roll a tripod on a dolly, with lights, and a cable puller, along the front of the aisles and around the couple during a Catholic Wedding Mass. They made me ashamed of by own business that day. Wedding or funeral, Catholic ceremonies are first and foremost a mass prayer to God, secondly about the sacraments, and not about the entertainment wants and needs of the happy couple or the bereaved. You don't usually get to pick your own pop music score for a Catholic wedding, for example; this is not what our church services are about. You save that stuff for the wakes and receptions outside of the church proper.
When I do a wedding (been a while now), whatever the church or temple, I make it a point to attend the rehearsal, with the camera and tripod, not to tape anything, but to scout for the best location, to show what I am going to look like *in* that location and then to POLITELY ask the priest or minister or rabbi what his "house rules" are; if my preferred spot is alright or not, where I can go and cannot go, what I can and cannot do. I show that I am respectful of the faith traditions of his house of worship, and in return I usually get a free hand, which I never abuse. In this way, there are no surprises on the actual wedding day, no drama, and no wondering if I have the right angle for my shots to get the vows and etc. done.
Sorry to have to come down so hard on you, young man, but you not only touched a nerve with the offensive way you worded your question, you essentially rubbed out a cigarette in the wound. One guy with bad work habits or attitude makes life much harder for the rest of us who come after him.
It is not about you. Get over it and work around it.
Next time, spare me the religious lecture, your holier-than-thou attitude, and your preconceived notions about how I conduct my business. I love how you capitalized the word "politely" in you post, as if to imply that I marched into the church screaming, swearing and wearing an "I love Satan" t-shirt. Had I been talking about videotaping sporting events and said "Nazi athletic directors", I doubt you would have reacted the same way. Perhaps I should have picked a different term other than "Nazi". But even if I had said "self-important priests", or "jerk priests", I'm sure that you still would have felt the need to launch into an online Catechism class. I was raised Catholic, so don't lecture me on the workings of that organization, or any religious organization for that matter. When you get right down to it, my post had absolutely NOTHING to do with religion. I was simply looking for advice when it comes to dealing with a headstrong event-venue over-seer. And FYI, not all priests are Catholic. You just assumed I was talking about a Catholic priest. And yes, he is a Catholic priest, but you should be careful not to make assumptions in your Cow forum responses. And don't tell me I was making an assumption about the priest, because, unlike you, I actually me him in person. Your response makes it sound like I named the priest and his parish specifically, or that I named the couple that I was shooting the wedding for. The guy is a priest, so I called him a priest. If the guy were a garbage man, I would have called him a garbage man. Just because someone is a priest, it doesn't exclude him or her from criticism. If you don't like what I had to say in my post, then don't respond to it. Anyone who reads a post on Creative Cow could find something to be offended about. If I had said, "Final Cut Pro sucks", it could have very easily been a Mac user launching into me of "offending" them. I tell it like it is, Mark, and if you have a problem with that, I don't really know what to tell you.
For the record, I’ve done my fair share of weddings in churches of all religious denominations. And in my experience, Catholic priests are the most uptight when it comes to where a videographer can and cannot be.
As for your advice about how to deal with a situation like the one I described, it is truly appreciated.
When I was faced with shooting constraints in such a church, I was able to negotiate planting a second unmanned camera, very small, in a place by the piano near the altar that had a great angle on the area where the vows were to be. My main camera was stuck in the choir loft, but I was able to edit in the vows from the much closer shot. It was only possible because the camera was unmanned and basically "disappeared" when I planted it. You get to figure these things out at the rehearsal. I never charged to attend the rehearsal, unless somebody wanted me to actually record. I did it to find and avoid problems, so I could give my client the best product with the least disruption.
The rest of your comments, I put down to your youth. I was regretful upon re-reading many things I wrote when I was young. You just have this knack, Aaron.
The day isn't about the priest, rabbi, or head jetti. It's about the couple. If a priest, or anyone else, tells me where I cannot be, I ignore him/her and shoot on. There's no room for a reshoot. I will get my shot and no priest will tell me otherwise. It's not his house, after all.
Mark, you hit the nail on the head with your response. Reading the comments from these other guys makes me glad I gave up weddings for documentary and other work. Like you, I recognized the role of the clergy person of whatever denomination as the manager of the house and the person who set the house rules. I always sought them out, introduced myself and made friends with them, and almost never had a problem. Also like you I used to go to the rehearsal to familiarize myself with the layout and get better aquainted with clergy and participants. They all appreciated it. It's called professionalism.
The negative comments about the still photographer took me back to went I first got into this business and still photographers were resentful of videographers, seeing us as competitors. I overcame that in every instance by introducing myself immediately to the photographer, bandleader, dj, party planner, matre'd and whoever else worked the event. In this way I helped to create an atmosphere of teamwork so that we all worked together for the benefit of our mutual customers, the bridal couple and their guests. With this attitude, the photographer and I became instant colleagues who took the trouble to cue each other about shots, and the bandleader/dj assisted as well. Again, it's called professionalism, an attitude that says I will do my job to the best of my ability wjile respecting and valueing the role of the other professionals who are sharing the same workspace.
The guys with the tough, bad-ass, self-important, screw you I'll do as I please attitudes are will unfortunately always be among us and good professionals like you will always have to undo the damage they do to our profession.
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Thanks Joel. Shooters have an ethos, and the news shooter's ethos is a bit different from that of the event shooter's ethos. By that I mean the aggressive kind of "nothing stops me from getting what I came for, and blank everyone else's concerns" attitude is something that is more a part of a TV news shooter's way of working, and often has to be.
But that attitude does not fly for event videographers. Not the ones that want a career, anyhow. The situation is different, the context of the work is different. If you don't adjust your head to account for that, you will soon run out of churches in town where you are welcome, and they have every right to black-list you. The most common way I got gigs was by referrals, from happy customers, but also from priests and ministers and wedding planners. I never ever had to advertise, and I had work almost any weekend I wanted it, for that reason. That would not be the case if I made a jerk of myself during the ceremonies.
The overly-aggressive shooter is doing what he does, justifying in his own mind that it is in the best interest of the folks paying for him. He doesn't stop to think that after he collects his check and leaves, that couple keeps coming back to that church every week and has to deal with the congregation that was insulted or offended by his actions. He's moved on to "be the seagull" somewhere else.
You know what a seagull does, right? He flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps all over everything, and leaves.
Quote: The day isn't about the priest, rabbi, or head jetti. It's about the couple. If a priest, or anyone else, tells me where I cannot be, I ignore him/her and shoot on. There's no room for a reshoot. I will get my shot and no priest will tell me otherwise. It's not his house, after all. end quote
Wrong, wrong, oh, SO wrong, and very unprofessional. It's guys with that attitude that make the business tough for the rest of us. I'd be amazed that you ever got to work the same venue twice, like that. I'd also smile to see you be escorted out by the ushers in mid-service after jumping up into the sanctuary area of the altar to get that special cut-away shot.
It's not his house, it's HIS house... get the distinction?
Bottom Line: try to produce work that meets your customer's expectations and their social context.
The couple will usually guide you in who to coordinate your shoot location with, usually the priest or other religius leader. Remember that this is someone with whom the couple have been establishing a relationship of trust and communication. If you want someone to discuss with the priest the factors that would lead to the best video or photo, let the couple. They have that relationship and are ostensibly buying both products (I mean no offense to any religous component of the ceremony): 1: your video or photos 2: the use of the Church and the services of the religious leader.
If you run up against a priest etc. that doesn't take into account the request of their congregant and "client," then chances are you would probably butt heads anyways. In that case, remember that it is about your client and you don't want to burn any bridges for them or yourself. Weddings usually have enough prima donas without the videographer or photog being one.
Do your best to communicate with all involved, introduce yourself to others working the event as others have mentioned and you will find in many cases that you all have the same goal: to create a memorable, flawless event.
Leaving religion out of the equation (which is where it belongs), I think that many power-hungry event-venue over-seers automatically assume that a videographer outside of the "designated zone" will be a distraction, when in reality, the videographer is not a distraction. Usually, I have a locked-off wide shot in the balcony (if one is available), and my main camera's tripod set up as to get the bride's face during the vows. For the procession, I usually go handheld in a discreet location where I can get clean shots of the wedding party entering the church. As soon as the procession is over, I scurry over to where my main camera's tripod is set up. From that point on, I do not move. In the particular instance referred to in my original post, I was not allowed to go handheld with my main camera to get an effective shot of the bridal procession coming down the aisle. This, in my opinion, was a classic example of an event-venue over-seer being unreasonable. After all, during the procession, the guests are looking down the aisle for the approaching bride, not turned around looking for the position of the videographer.
Has your technique of disregarding the "rules" of a power-hungry event-venue over-seer caused any real problems for you? Have you been "banned" at any venues? Your method takes guts, and I commend you on it. After all, the purpose of my original post was to see how other professionals handle power-hungry event-venue over-seers.
Leaving out the religious bs, it's just like any other venue with someone else's rules you have to follow. Talk to the person in charge that makes the rules of the building, try to negotiate with them and make them understand why you need more flexibility. If they don't want to hear it, you simply tell the couple that you have to follow the rules that the person in charge puts forth. If they don't like it, they can make the decision to change venues. Don't just bust in and do your own thing because regardless of what kind of building it is (church, hall, somebody's house) you have to follow their rules and respect their wishes if you want yourself and the wedding videography business in general to be taken seriously.
When I got married, I made sure to choose a venue that would not impose restrictions upon photography and videography coverage. That's on the couple, not you. You can tell them what's up, but if they don't budge and those in charge don't budge...you just make the best of it.
I know it makes me sound like a harda$$ but I'll be Mr. Niceguy only very briefly. I believe I don't need to seek out the priest or anyone else to be friendly and professional. Everyone there has a job to do. Mine is to capture video. I won't bend to a priest telling me I need to be in a corner on a tripod. I don't care if I piss him off if I roam. I don't jump over aisles or get in anyone's way. I'm not at all obnoxious about it. But like I said, I'm going to get my shot because that's why I was hired. I couldn't care less what anyone else there thinks. The day is not about them, only the couple, friends, and the family. The priest is last on my list of people I need to pacify. If I miss a shot, I don't want the couple to use the excuse that I missed it because I couldn't move around. After all is said and done, the priest will forget about me and the couple will have the disc they wanted. If, in fact, the priest does have bad memories of me, who cares? Get over it.
You're a wedding videographer, not a war correspondent. Lighten up, Francis.
I find it's best not to ask and apologize later. Sometimes I have the same issues, but if they specifically tell me not to roam, I try to comply with maybe some movement to adjust for the priest or pastor's movement that may be blocking the shot.
Harry, wow, good luck. I've watched a lot of attitude guys come and go. I always play the good guy and it usually gives me flexibility the next time I come to the venue. I mean why would you start a fight with someone in charge of a venue or church? Yeah, you'll get your shot, but they eventually will ban you from the location and you'll loose money. If you don't think they will, wait until the police show up to arrest you for trespassing. Then the bride will sue you and smear your business name. You can have 100 happy customer's, but it only takes one unhappy customer to make your life miserable.
We've all had issues with over zealous coordinators, ministers, DJ's, Photographers, etc. I always ask how I can help make their day easier. Being nice actually works, try it sometime.
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I know this is an old(ish)thread, but I would like to give my 2 cents here.
Where I live, there are several hundreds of religious houses (churches, temples, etc) in a relatively small area, so this may be only be my situation. However, the leaders of these houses of worship do talk, and have formed a very intricate network.
So, Mr. Harry, how long do you think you will be in this wedding videography business? If your area is anything like mine, not only will you be blacklisted from one venue, but most likely all of them. Forever. Yes, you got your bundle of cash for one or two events, but pissing off these leaders along the way...you'll be done with weddings by force very quickly. When I was presented to the Father of one parish, he asked my name, and quickly had his assistant check that very list. I was shocked and pleased at the same time. They knew who I was, and possibly gave me more leeway on where I could shoot and where I couldn't. So the comment of, "If, in fact, the priest does have bad memories of me, who cares?" isn't very thought out...
Also, your comment, "The day is not about them, only the couple, friends, and the family." likely reveals that you haven't thought out your client's life afterward. Especially if they go to that place of worship weekly, you're nasty and unprofessional work ethic will carry on in that church, and all who attended the ceremony and the congregation will relate your rudeness and brashness onto the newly wed. Continue the story, and now when approached by those members, the newlywed couple will rightly pass on a negative report, possibly giving out your exact name. Kinda screwed, aren't you?
And to clarify. "It's not his house, after all."...in a theology perspective, the roles of ownership, responsibility and protection falls on the Pastor, Father, Rabbi, etc. On that level, yes...it is "his house". Even if you take out the "religious" parts of this ceremony/event, the priest has every legal right to call the cops and kick you out. So your underestimation of "who the boss" is, and will always be, disastrous in whatever wedding even you may be hired to do.
I would change your attitude very quickly.
Aaron - your insistence on "leaving religion out of the equation (which is where it belongs)" is a great argument to make in a bar or a political caucus.
Not quite so convincing in a church.
Next to getting fed at the party, this is the most discussed topic in the wedding video community!
I think this situation cuts across all religious lines. Even though I'm a "Member of the Tribe", if you ask me, I have personnaly had the worst problems occur with Reform Rabbis! The most extreme was a local one who did not allow photography during his ceremony, and did not allow hands on the video cam, so unattended back cam recording was the only way.
My contract says I will follow house rules, and that it is up to client to negotiate with the ceremony official regarding those rules. I also do a site check with every wedding, and that includes a meeting with the ceremony official. Most of the time, that gives me a little more leeway when the clergy realizes I respect the solemnity of the ceremony and will do all possible to be unobtrusive.
But when clergy won't budge, I warn the client, in writing.
Next, I refuse new jobs at offending venues, and make it clear why. It is unfair to take money from a client when a good result cannot be delivered.
What has that done? In the case of the offending Reform Rabbi, I refused a few jobs at his Temple and made a complaint to their governing board. For that and other big reasons, he was fired after being there for 24 years, and his replacement is much more reasonable.
Wow, people need to show some decorum around here.
Most recently I attended the rehearsal for my cousin's wedding. It was in a chapel on the grounds of the banquet facility. I took some stills during the walk-through, using the SLR viewfinder to simulate the video camera, to check the angles. I negotiated with the JP to affix a wireless mic to his robe - thus he had some buy-in.
In the actual main event, I agreed with the stills guy to stay out of his shots, and we each chose a side of the aisle for the procession. I was hand held for this, and had sticks setup in the back of the house. At a convenient point once everyone was in position, I dashed down the outside aisle and went to the tripod for the remainder. I also had a small HF200 up high on a light stand in the opposite back corner for a safety wide shot, allowing me to change position with the main cam if need be.
As others have stated, get some agreement from whomever is in charge as to where you will be and when. Make sure the back of your head does not get in the stills shooter's pictures.
And when it comes to the reception, make sure you always know where the cake is located relative to your posterior whilst moving in the opposite of forwards!