Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I want to get a wedding photographer's perspective on videography. It seems like there can exist a natural tension between the two, as they are both under pressure from the bride to shoot the same once-in-a-lifetime experience and the presence of another person vying for the same camera angles can complicate matters. Specifically, how do you as a wedding photographer interact with and share the same space with a videographer?

Also, what advice do you have for photographers and videographers to make the best of working together and maybe even cooperating to helping each other out?

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I've reworded your title a bit to hopefully draw in more folks to the heart of the question. While the answers will obviously be subjective, I think the issue is one worth exploring. –  ahockley Mar 22 '11 at 1:28
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I've converted this to community wiki, as while there is probably some good advice to be had on the subject, it is unlikely that any particular answer will be "the correct one". –  jrista Mar 22 '11 at 3:13
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Each time you walk past the videographer, mumble quietly about how glad you are that your post-processing will be really quick compared to his/hers. –  ahockley Mar 22 '11 at 4:23

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I work as a professional photographer AND as a professional videographer. I have worked with other photographers and other videographers on a shoot. There is more than enough space at a wedding for everyone to get the good angles if you have a shooting plan and discuss it before the event. Decide who will be where at which moment and stick to the plan.

What photographers don't get is that for video you need to maintain good framing and smooth movements the whole time you are recording. It is therefore much more difficult to move around. When I shoot photography it is the simplest thing in the world to move and shoot. I can crouch under the video camera or shoot around it without having to worry about my movement affecting the shot. We can EASILY stand next to each other in the aisle to get the ring shots etc.

ultimately, the client doesn't care about the technical difficulties. She has hired 2 people to do a job for her. No vendor is more important than another. We are all equally responsible for providing the best possible product to the person that hired us. This means you need to have the inter-personal skills to negotiate the shooting plan so EVERYBODY wins and the client gets what they paid for. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar... and do you really think a bride is going to enjoy working with a pompous ass who thinks he is running the show? Do you think the bridesmaids will hire that guy for their wedding? Do you think the other vendors will recommend them to future clients?

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@other Sean: Do you always plan your shots in that much detail before hand, or only when coordinating with another shooter? –  Sean Mar 22 '11 at 12:37
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+1 for such a reasonable, client-focused response. Co-operation is always the best policy, especially on a wedding day. –  Mark Whitaker Aug 28 '11 at 21:47
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+1 If you're both professionals (in every sense of the word), working together shouldn't be a problem at all. –  Nick Bedford Aug 28 '11 at 23:07

I fully understand that my method probably is less 'working together' than you might be interested in, and this may not be exactly what you're looking for as an answer, but as a working wedding photographer, my take on wedding videography (the blunt version) can be boiled down to: "stay out of my shots, don't get in my way, and photography always takes precedence over video, so if we're both wanting to be in the same spot to get a shot, I always win."

Mostly I enforce this view and this precedence by calling these things out in my contract, and it is a big chunk of the 'frank discussion' that I have with the bridal couple before paperwork gets signed (other items in my 'frank discussion' list include what happens if 'Uncle Bob' shows up and wants to play 'amateur professional' photographer, what happens if they're planning an outdoor wedding with no backup location for rain, etc.) If the bride doesn't have the same priorities for photography over videography it is a sign to me that I probably shouldn't be working with that couple, and since we've talked about it up-front we don't move forward in signing a contract. I have only had to walk away from one contract over the years due to not seeing eye-to-eye on photography vs. videography, but- both for me and for them- I'm glad that I did... We clearly weren't a good fit for one another!

If the bride has hired a videographer I don't go out of my way to 'work with them' in particular (though despite how my above statements may sound, I also don't try to thwart them either!)... Since I will have previously asked the bride to discuss the 'pecking order' for the day I simply 'check in' with the videographer to make sure we've got an understanding, and then I am cordial and professional as I am to all the vendors that the bride has chosen for the day.

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While not necessarily the answer I was looking for, it is certainly an answer I was expecting. Plus, you helped to explain the rational behind the sentiment.And if you and the bride feel the same way about the issue, then as they say, "the customer is always right." –  Sean Mar 26 '11 at 5:27

I'm actually a videographer. I had both videos and photos done at my wedding over 30 years ago. We actually enjoy watching our old video rather than looking through the old photo's (as do the kids).

Anyhow, I do all my videos in 3d now and supply a 3d, blu-ray, dvd and a music video to my customers.

When I'm filming I try stay inconspicuous to both the photographer and the guests. I do need some room to get my shots and move around when I need to. After the wedding the film is every bit as important to the bride and groom as the photos are, so it's quite important for the photographer to work with me too. Usually the photographer sets up the shots (the better the photographer, the better my film turns out). For that reason I'd say photographer #1 and videographer #2.

Though I can’t see myself getting on with JLP too well. One time I did a video and the photographer had the same attitude and kept cutting into my scenes, after I made up the video the customer was so angry they didn’t pay the photographer for his photos. So no point in playing hard ball, if you’re good at what you do, then there should be no problem working together. If the photographer needs my space, just a little nod is all it takes and I can pan away to a new spot. I can’t stop my video and having a photographer walk through my frame 12 inches away from the lens is very unpleasant (especially in 3d).

We both have a job to do, how well you do it, proves your worth.

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I would tend to agree with the comments by Jay Lance Photography. As a professional wedding photographer myself, I also write it into the Terms and Conditions of my booking form that the photographer takes precedence over the videographer. I take this view because the photographer is responsible for setting up a number of shots, especially the groups shots and deserves to "get the shot" after making the effort. I once shot a wedding where there was not one, but two videographers. There were a number of very large group shots to set up which took quite a lot of time and patience. After getting everyone together and returning to my spot I would find it taken by one or other of the videographers. They also insisted on placing their massive tripods and video cameras in full view of virtually every one of the major shots (exchanging rings, cutting cake, first dance). Ducking and diving around the videographer was extremely difficult but was all I could do under the circumstances because the videographer wasn't open to reason. I missed a number of shots I would ordinarily have been able to get, although I was able to get enough images that the couple were satisfied. Since then, my Terms and Conditions have included a clause that reads: "The Photographer shall be the only authorised and official photographer for the wedding day. If a videographer has been appointed by the Clients, priority shall be granted to the Photographer’s wishes in respect to the location of photography and filming equipment, access to subjects, poses etc."

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As a professional videographer I see no reason both vendors can't get what they desire. Just a little courtesy and working together can make the event a huge success. I think both vendors need to realize neither take precedence, the client does. I understand there are shots both need, but as long as you're not working with a newbie there's no reason this can't be accomplished. Instead of making it a big deal on a bride's wedding day, politely let each other know if you're in one another's shot. Respect for each other and mostly for the client go a long way.

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