Wedding Video - Amateur or Professional?
So I normally tend to work on shorts and features in the narrative space. However, I've been asked at multiple times to shoot people's weddings. I however, am not equipped to shoot weddings. I own some Blackmagic Cinema Cameras, all cinema lenses and have 1 DSLR. I normally use the DJI Ronin for narrative stuff, so you can see I'm not well equipped for shooting weddings. In any case, my style is quite unique and people that watch my videos seems to be split. The usual answer is either, they like it but very nontraditional, or they love it. I don't go for the traditional shots of the bride and groom getting dressed and I don't like to pose the groom/bride. The way I shoot is to capture the more subtle moments without being in there face or making the camera known to many.
All this to say is that I met with a photographer friend of mine who wanted to help propel me in the wedding biz as a sideline. However he said after looking at the footage that he said in industry standards, it is amateur. I can safely say that my work is most definitely different and some may not appeal to it, however saying it is amateurish I believe is a whole different ball game.
I was wondering if you would be kind enough to let me know some of your thoughts on this and let me know if you think it's amateurish and if so, what about it gives the impression of amateur. I've asked others to show it to strangers so that I may get a proper response and showed it to public folk, not to professionals and they said it looks professional - different, but certainly not amateur.
I appreciate all your feedback.
P.S. I know there are few issues with some of the footage as I was slightly limited. But in the end, the Bride and Groom for all the weddings loved the footage and can't stop watching them. Here is the latest below.
I liked most of your reception coverage. It felt very organic and conveyed a bit of character personality.
The wedding, not as much, mostly due to your choices in color grading and exposure.
Specifically, way too muted and muddy for my taste, on a day that should feel bright, cheerful and colorful. Colors and midrange were muted enough to feel funereal. Too many lake scenes were harshly backlit without identifying detail in the people. Don't be afraid to blow out and over-expose the extraneous detail, if it preserves the key images. Some unmotivated Dutch tilts didn't add anything. Vignette was overdone. Overall, I didn't see enough of the bride and groom to get a sense of their personalities.
Great Feedback Mark. Much appreciated. That's the feedback I was looking for.
One question to you though would be, does the video convey an amateurish project or does it seem professional?
Weird way to fish for complements:-)
If the client liked it and you got paid, I guess that makes you "professional". Is it aesthetically exceptional? I would have to say that I think it needs work to please me personally, but these things are highly subjective. I think you maybe forced yourself into a corner, creatively, with your music choice. And the lack of nat sound throughout bothers me. Particularly the vows. I'd like to see a version that was color graded in a more "upbeat" way; it might change my opinions.
Part of this is surely generational. I'm an old fart and I have a more "classic" and "documentarian"aesthetic when it comes to weddings. So I'm more sensitive to a sense of "story", an arc to the events, not just setting a mood. But if this met your client's expectations, that's the final arbiter.
You must, however, be careful in assuming that everyone that hires you will want what one client found acceptable and as-expected; this may not fit every future case. My sense of the market may be out of date, but my bet is, more of the people that actually *pay* for the videos (the Mom of the Bride, typically) align more with my aesthetic than yours. Most moms want to hear and see the vows very clearly, for example. The solemn processions in and out are important to them. The actual music is important. A lot of detail on the couple, on the dress, and on their changing facial expressions over the course of the event would be important things to these people. Many candid shots ranging from decoration details to audience members and the venue are expected. They expect more realism and less abstract symbolism. I used to find the way to get everyone happy was to provide more documentary-like coverage and then add a separate version afterwards that was shorter and all-montage.
I understand your point Mark.
I personally know that most of the videos out there are some what traditional and the standard for composure and story telling seems to be the same across the board. Personally, that's not my cup of tea. If someone were to ask me if I can shoot that for them, I would probably decline because it's too predictable and in my view, is too fake. Posed positions etc seem less organic and don't show the true characters of whomever I am shooting hence why I shoot the way I do.
Technically, I certainly realize that the venue was very challenging due to the low light. The Blackmagic certainly helped a lot with the multitude of dynamic range and fast lenses however it is not an ideal setup. There are many things I would do to help correct this as you mentioned above with some of the tips you provided.
Back to my initial question, the feedback I've been getting from regular folk (non-professionals) has been 50/50. Half love the footage and find it to capture the realism of the event without any staging. It captures all the best and subtle moments that might forget or not even say in a day. This type of video also offers the ability to the groom and bride to show their friends without having them fall asleep or get bored of the lengthy video.
On the other hand, I have the other 50% that say the video is nice and well shot however they prefer the more traditional elements such as the pre-wedding prep, vocalized vowels etc... But by any means, they admit that it does not look amateur in any way.
It;s one thing if my shot composure, angles and more need work. My angles are different and more of a voyeuristic where I tend to stay in the shadows and capture unscripted moments throughout the night. I'm just at a crossroad as I don't know what gives off the impression of amateur if it's the technique or style I convey, or if its the technical aspects.
(Traditional coverage) ..."it's too predictable and in my view, is too fake."
Now that makes me laugh. I have never seen or shot two weddings that went exactly the same, EVER. Something always goes wrong, or at least, not according to plan (Unity candle lighting, goofs in the vows, run-away ring bearers and flower girls, for example) and part of the charm and interest and what makes it memorable to is see what actually happens.
You didn't shoot a wedding: you shot a *teaser* of a wedding, montage'd into reception footage. Wedding as background for a commercial. It gives me a vague sense an event occurred, but doesn't involve me deeply in the story or the people it happened to. And the overall mood communicated by the music, color grading, shot choice - it all makes me feel just a little bit like maybe I'm someone that was not invited to be with these people, on purpose, or that the POV is from a person who doesn't approve of the wedding, or is indiferent.
Your approach is unconventional. If the couple is also unconventional and the ceremony is not traditional, you may be a good fit. But don't yell too loudly that you're fighting tropes and cliche's with your style. These events are rituals: by DEFINITION, they are structured, composed, follow a form, follow traditions. It's the entire point of HAVING the traditions... Two people have decided they want to connect to all that came before and all that is to come, to add continuity to tradition, by undergoing this ritual together, in the sight of and WITH their families and loved ones all participating.
You want to defy the form? OK, but.. Then you should have a good, explainable reason, a message we can see and understand, other than just "I don't think it's cool, the way most people see this". Wedding photography doesn't need re-invention. It needs skill in visual storytelling to bring out the key moments and communicate the emotion of those moments, without becoming part of the story.
Mark, please don't take it the wrong way and I didn't mean any disrespect in any way. In fact, I know what and how I shoot is quite unorthodox hence why I'm asking for suggestions from people that have been doing it longer then I have.
You bring up very interesting points about tradition and rituals and I certainly agree with you.
I know all weddings are not the same, but the videos follow all the same structure regardless of how similar or different the wedding may be. The story telling hasn't changed and with all the videos that I've seen from the two dozen companies I've watched, as a whole, all follow the same structure. Is that bad? Not at all. It's the wedding industry and what most of married couples ask for as you pointed out. Because it's tradition. Do I plan on making waves with my style? Probably not, the majority aren't looking for that. I am simply asking other professionals where I can improve. But if style does not speak to them, I would not label that piece of work amateur because it is undesirable. It simply is subjective.
So coming back to my original question, is it because it is non-traditional that some may see it as amateur or is there other elements at play?
ok, I hope you like constructive critisism. here's my thoughts.
1. in the beginning, the exposure was breathing, should be manual exposure.
2, colors were tinted one color like old sepia but green? a matrix wedding?
3. handheld shots were really shaky. if not using stabilized lenses, at least give it a pass through premiere's warp stabilizer or a shoulder rig or something.
4.wait, did I just see a kalidscope effect at 3:40?
5. my personal feeling is that weddings should be graded brightly, not cave dugeon exposure. that's why people go to great lengths to raise the shadows and remove noise.
6. did I just see a whip-pan at 4:05?
7. a few shots were nice but tint didn't match the rest of the footage at around 4:50.
8. at 5:05 there was a rack focus into a wall of rocks, seems unmotivated. ah, ok, I see what you tried to do there, but you forgot to rack focus out from the next cut to match the transition, and they both weren't stabilized. rack focuses won't work without it.
9. at 5:40 another completely unmatching white balance shot. again, 6:29
10. 7:39 too far away, looks like camera is remembering from a best man's perspective, not a groom's. recommend telephoto lens here.
Overall, you know how to use your camera, you just need a few nudges in the asthetic direction. Keep making them and getting critiques and you'll soon iron out the rough parts.
Hey Chris, Thank you for that and absolutely, I personally appreciate one type of criticism and it's exactly what you provided - very constructive.
So basically what I understood as a whole was mostly post work (grading). Stabilization as mentioned before for me was almost impossible as I could not see myself maneuver a Ronin with a BMCC all night without having a wireless FF..lol So I know I would have to change my rig and go for something lighter (DSLR with stabilizer).
Lots of work to be done.
BTW, you didn't dig the Kaleidoscope shot...lol?
Here is a video of my first wedding (shot alone). Many have based themselves for hiring me based on this one and the above as I am still getting requests:
I don't do very many weddings anymore, my work is mostly legal videography with a little corporate thrown in. However, when I started out, I started out like most videographers concentrating on weddings. Did some, went to workshops, had a lot of meetings and social functions with other wedding videographers and other wedding vendors. And I finally decided I needed to define the thrust of my company. It had to mesh with my personality.
So I realized I needed to decide, whether my goal was to create art, or whether I wanted to provide a service. One option appealed to me personally. Another was more client or customer focused. A lot of people try to straddle the fence. That hardly ever works.
I decided I was mostly a service provider type. And examining my strong points and weak points, my business got better by going after the boring stuff that hardly anyone watches, but is crucial to be done right. Not surprising, I worked thirty years in medical laboratories where getting the wrong answer could have severe consequences for the patient. My clients (lawyers, court reporting agencies, and video production companies need accurate, objective audio-visual recordings (documentation).
The rare weddings I do are from special requests. I concentrate on telling the story accurately. A lot of people want that. They don't want art in the video. They have the photo albums for that. They want the memories recorded.
Which will you target? People wanting to buy art? Or people wanting you to work for them preserving the memory of a very special event?
Just my two cents. Another "old guy" who pays attention to people...
Thank you for sharing your comments and thoughts. Your advice speaks the truth. I gave this a lot of thought in the past couple of weeks and with the comments others have shared in this thread, it made lots of sense. And more specifically, you nailed it.
I basically have to decide on whether I join in the fun of shooting weddings as most do and over time find creative ways to further enhance it or stick with the unorthodox style that might only appeal to 10-15% of the market. It comes down to a business decision. Which means that if I decide to venture into the realm of event videography, I will need to invest time and equipment as the film gear I already own just won't cut it or make it easy to use for a such a quick pace event format.
This is something that I will need to think about and see if it makes sense as you once had to do yourself.
I certainly appreciate your help in this matter. Thanks for sharing Roger.
I agree with the colour grading sets the mood way too dark.
Saying that for your first wedding its really good. I have filmed and edited over 100 weddings( for another wedding company).
I have just started my own site and would also love some feedback.. Cant wait to get my own jobs so i can use them as showreel.