There was a time when videography was limited to trained professionals with the most advanced equipment. But with the introduction of the internet and smartphones, creating videos has become accessible for nearly anyone—even if you have little to no experience. If you’re interested in video production for beginners, we’ll show you where to start. Below, you’ll find a complete guide to videography for beginners, including types of videography, essential equipment, and beginner videography how-tos. So read on—your future in videography awaits!
Creating a polished, professional-looking video doesn’t have to mean spending on expensive videography equipment and filmmaking workshops. You can become a good videographer just by paying attention to a few key details that may not be obvious at first and practising your craft. These video filming basics will prove to be very useful, whether you’re shooting a more high-end production or simply creating a vlog that your viewers will love watching.
What Do Videographers Do?
Videographers plan, shoot, and edit the footage to create high-quality videos of all kinds. Some videographers act as a jack of all trades, individually handling every aspect of video production. Others may lead a small crew of assistants who help with lighting, sound recording, and other important video elements. If you’re starting to explore beginner videography, you’ll likely want to learn about every element, so you can create videos on your own until you can expand your production capabilities.
Things to Consider
Remember that each ceremony is unique, every ballroom and reception hall is different, no two events unfold in quite the same way and, above all, every wedding party—from groomsmen to flower girl to the father of the bride—will bring their personalities, special needs, and last-minute requests. The first bit of advice for all prospective wedding videographers is a quote from human performance expert and author Denis Waitley: “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised!”
Traditionally, the family of the bride has paid for photography and videography. In recent years, some of the “who pays for what” has changed, but whoever is footing the bill will be your client. Keep in mind that they will set the guidelines for what is expected of you, what you will cover, and what will be included in your final product. If a wedding planner is involved, it is likely you will have more than one boss. You may come to the table with a package or, perhaps, several to choose from, but be open and flexible to the needs of the family. They might request airport arrival video of international guests or underwater coverage of a scuba wedding ceremony. Saying yes to an unusual request might land you the job and secure the shoot of a lifetime.
Of course, most typical weddings will have fixed parameters around time, events, equipment, and personnel. Will you be covering the rehearsal dinner? Do they want a video of the bride and groom in their respective dressing rooms, readying themselves for the big day? Will they want you to stay for the complete reception or do they only need coverage of the ceremony, the cutting of the cake, and the first dance? The length of the day and the location of each event are important factors to consider as you create your equipment checklist and assemble your crew. If you are working within a limited budget, this will dictate some of your choices. Be very clear with your client about what you will capture and how much you will be paid to do it properly. After all details and contingencies have been discussed, an agreement signed by both parties becomes the foundation from which to formulate your plan.
It is possible to shoot a wedding by yourself, but a capable assistant can make all the difference. He or she can handle a second camera when needed, keep batteries charged and ready, oversee recording media, and be available to deal with any unforeseen tasks. There will also be location changes, strikes, and setups to deal with. A larger crew and a third or even fourth camera might be required. Having someone to upload and back up captured video is an important consideration. They might also be tasked with logging the clips as they save them. Retaining a responsible and well-trained crew allows you to concentrate on being a videographer. And knowing you have all the critical shots covered from at least one other angle will keep you calm and focused.
How to Shoot Great Wedding Videos
The Couple’s Expectations and Promises
It’s not possible to capture every minute of the wedding, and this is one thing your clients or the couple need to know. Don’t explode their expectations by promising to cover everything but rather let them understand the important parts that you will be covering. These include the preparation, the ceremony and the reception. Most wedding videos usually last between 45 minutes to about three hours, and this is not adequate to cover every second of the event.
Decide on Your Equipment and Style
Essential equipment for a wedding shoot includes a camera, tripod, headphones, batteries, videotape microphone and probably different kinds of lenses. You also need other nonessential but highly recommended items such as on-camera lights, half-bowl tripod and a wireless microphone. You may be tempted to carry the whole lighting kit, but this is not recommended since you need to be light and very mobile during the video shoot. Besides, using the available light will be less invasive and give natural results as compared to incorporating professional video lighting.
The tripods and monopods are a must-have as they will come in handy and help in stabilization to avoid shaky shots. They will also be useful in holding the cameras in the right posture if the ceremony goes for long, and your hands become tired. Equally important are the various kinds of lenses you will use. Decide on the suitable lenses with the appropriate focal lengths and apertures. These should be dictated by the style you will adopt for the shooting.
Getting the Right Shots
Once you have your equipment ready and you have settled on the preferred shooting style, it’s time to get the cameras rolling! As the videographer, you should not get to the venue with the wedding parties at the same time. You need to arrive early and consult with the wedding planner or the officiating clergy over the wedding program.
The essence of this is to let you know where both the bride and the groom will enter the venue, the various sitting arrangements and if there are any special activities out of the normal planned during the day. With this information, you will decide on the best places to have the cameras stationed, and you will also know where you should be and at what time to get the best shots. As a tip, always have the wedding program with you.
During the Ceremony
Before the ceremony begins, you need to have your camera trained at the entry which will be used by the bride and the groom. Ideally, you need to set up somewhere behind the altar so that you get excellent and direct shots of the parties as they walk in. Before the parties make their entry, be sure to take some close up shots of the decorations, the flowers and part of the audience.
While the parties make their entry, shoot them while they are walking down the aisle. Do not follow each individual with the camera unless they are doing something unique worth capturing alone. Otherwise, be in a fixed place and take medium shots while allowing each one walk in and out of your focal point.
On capturing the bride’s entrance, you should have the cameral already focused at her entrance. As she walks down the aisle, take medium shots of her. Once she gets to the altar and exchange pleasantries with the groom then walks towards the officiating clergy, change your position to either left or right of the alter. This is where you will get the best shots of the bride and the groom, especially when they will be exchanging the vows.
Here are some of the shots you should never miss during the actual ceremony-:
- Bride’s entry as she walks down the aisle
- The groom when he first lays his eyes on the bride
- The vows
- The Kiss
- The newlyweds as they walk back after exchanging the vows.
The reception is usually a bit casual with a lot of funny things worth capturing. It is recommended that you get to know the reception venue beforehand and decide on the best places for you to set up your equipment. Be sure to capture all the highlights such as the couple’s entry into the venue, the cutting of the cake, the toast, first dance and also the bouquet toss. Don’t forget to take some close shots of the venue, the registration book, the cake before they cut it, the table settings, the invitations and any other thing which might look conspicuous and worth capturing.
It is also recommended that you don’t give much attention to people eating or messing up with food. It would be embarrassing for such people to see themselves once the video is out, and your conduct and professionalism may be doubted.
Follow the Photographer
Finally, it would be a good idea to follow the photographer. During the ceremony and the reception, the photographer will make certain posed photos, and this would be a good chance for you to take a candid video of the party as well as the newlyweds. Again, you can take advantage of the photographers and take a few seconds poses after they take their shots.
Tips for Shooting Awesome Wedding Video
Communicate with the couple, venue, and vendors.
Well before the wedding date, you should have a sit-down meeting with the engaged couple. Get to know what they are looking for in their video. Do they want to make sure you capture certain moments? Will there be any surprises or choreographed dances you need to know about? Will the bride be wearing her Great-Great Grandmother’s earrings? Being ready to capture these moments will truly make your work stand out.
Reach out to the ceremony and reception venues and find out if they have any rules or regulations. Many churches won’t allow videographers in certain areas, so it’s important to note if you will need to bring a zoom lens. Some large reception venues require proof of insurance before they let you shoot on the premises. It’s your responsibility to have everything in order before showing up.
Talk to some of the vendors, mainly the ones you will work with on the wedding day. Knowing vendors in the industry is your gateway to success. Their recommendations can help you land future weddings. First, get to know the Wedding Coordinator. Ask for a copy of the schedule and contacts for the other vendors. Then you can ask the DJ about their setup. Will they let you plug into their soundboard to get backup audio? Will they bring a high-end light kit for the reception? See if the photographer is willing to collaborate with you. Can you shoot side by side and rotate for closeups? Getting acquainted with everyone will help the shoot move along much smoother.
Stay fast while carrying as little gear as possible.
The morning of a wedding is a fairly typical operation. The groom and his groomsmen hang out, the bride and bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done. After that, you will be running around until the wedding is over. So it’s best to set the heavy bag in the corner and take it easy on your shoulders and back. Only carry what you need.
Having every lens option at once is no use to you. A camera and two lenses are perfect for running around. Be sure to have extra batteries and formatted memory cards ready to go. Nothing is worse than having to tell the couple to hold off on tossing the bouquet because your batteries died. I’ve seen it happen. Don’t be that person. If necessary, find an outlet and have a charging station for any batteries you have already used.
Audio is crucial, have backups ready.
There are no re-“I Dos” at weddings. If you don’t capture things as they happen, then you didn’t do your job. It’s best to have multiple audio sources recording. Does your camera capture quality sound? If not, have external recorders ready to go. Try to avoid putting the mic on a bride, instead go for a lavalier microphone on the officiant or groom.
If the DJ is running sound, you may be able to plug into their soundboard. That’s why it is beneficial to have talked to the DJ beforehand. Keep in mind every DJ is different, so it’s no guarantee that you will get quality sound. That’s why you should only rely on them for backup audio.
Always capture the traditional wedding shots.
You may feel the need to experiment on the wedding day, but be sure always to get the typical wedding shots too. Experimenting is a great way to help you find your style, but don’t forget that couples want to see their vows, first dance, and cake cutting. Make sure you have the important things covered before you get all those cool transition shots.
This wedding photography checklist from Shutterfly will help remind you of the essentials.
Keep the camera stable.
Stabilization is necessary. Going handheld is not going to cut it. Whether you use a tripod, monopod, glide cam, slider, or a shoulder rig, be sure that you can quickly switch between your support gear. By putting the same quick release plate on all of your gear, you can easily switch on the go.
Tripods are great during the ceremony, but can easily get in the way elsewhere. When you’re in a tiny hotel room with the entire bridal party, family members, hairstylists and makeup artists, you won’t have much space to work. Being able to switch to a monopod or glidecam quickly will keep you shooting.
Be sure to capture enough B-roll.
B-roll will be your best friend and worst enemy when editing. Not having enough will make your job much harder. It’s easy to remember to shoot exteriors of the venue, but don’t forget that there are people coming to these venues. When the bride and groom watch their wedding video, they will want to see their friends and family in attendance.
Have an extra camera capture parts of the crowd during the ceremony. This footage will always come in handy to hide any rough edits. It’s also great to cut to the crowd if the photographer walks into your shot of the couple at the altar.
Check out our post on The Pros of Having a Videographer at your Wedding
Prepare for low light situations.
Evening receptions can be a nightmare for wedding filmmakers. Indoor or outdoor, it will probably be dark. After dinner is served, venues dim the lights so the party can begin. Hopefully, you and the DJ also talked about his light setup, but you will still need your lights to help you get certain shots.
If your camera doesn’t handle low light well, keep in mind that guests don’t want to be blinded by video lights all night. When you use lights, be sure to use them sparingly. Don’t kill the mood by leaving them on during the entire reception.
Ultimately, you need to remember that this is the most important day in the couple’s life. Respect and professionalism must go hand in hand. Strive at all times and dedicate your thoughts, efforts and energies in getting the best shots. You will have a wedding video that the couple will love and you will always be proud of your work and contribution to the success of the big day.