Today's topic is something you will encounter at every single wedding that you shoot. And that is, of course, a photographer. Or in most cases, two photographers.
Now, a lot of photographers get apprehensive as soon as they see videographers step on the scene, and rightfully so. Most of the photographers I talk to have had bad experiences with wedding filmmakers in the past, and God knows I’ve had a few bad experiences with a few photographers, too.
So today, we’re going to talk about what you can do as a wedding filmmaker to ensure the best outcome for everyone, especially the bride and groom.
When we have a couple interested in working with us, one of the first things we have them do is to fill out our online questionnaire. In it they give us details like their names, addresses, email addresses, venue name and location, etc.
But one of the most important pieces of information we ask for is the photographer’s name and website address. Usually, a week or so before the wedding date, if we haven’t been in contact already, we’ll shoot an email over to the photographer and introduce ourselves, say hello, and let them know that we look forward to working with them. This sets the stage for a day of collaboration and gets us off on the right foot.
Feed Off of Each Other’s Creativity
So, the day of the wedding rolls around, and if we arrive and the photographer’s already there, usually I wait for a break in the action if they’re shooting something, and introduce myself and the rest of the team.
And from then on, it’s really just about being self-aware and communicating. If you’re cool with them, 99% they’re going to be cool with you. It’s not a competition, and at the end of the day, you’re both trying to walk away with the best shots possible.
If you need to step in for a close-up, a simple gesture like making eye contact or a head nod with the photographer is sometimes enough to make sure they got what they needed before you walk in. And, chances are, if you’re communicating with them, they’re going to reciprocate and make sure that you have what you need before they cross the frame or move in closer.
Of course, discussing your plan of attack for things like the processional, the vows, the kiss, the grand entrance, the toasts, the first dance (by the way, if you’re going to be using a gimbal and orbiting the couple for three minutes straight, that might make it a little difficult for the photographer, so, try to come to some compromises), the cake cutting, the garter, the bouquet, etc. Discussing your approach to all of these events and being on the same page is definitely something you’ll want to do to ensure that nobody’s in anybody else’s way.
Now of course, there are going to be those photographers who simply don’t understand wedding filmmaking and have probably been shooting weddings for 20 years or 30 years or more and are used to doing things a certain way, and in those situations you might have to repeat yourself if you feel like you’re not working together or being overlooked. And that’s going to happen. I definitely have some horror stories, but we won’t get into that now.
The good news is, by and large, most photographers, especially the younger ones, are very cool and very aware of what we do, and are definitely willing to be accommodating, as long as we’re cool to them in return.
Usually, by the time dinner rolls around, we've made friends. We’re cracking jokes, we’re trading war stories; we’re generally getting along great.
Another advantage to having a good working relationship with the photographer is that you can feed off of each other’s creativity. If you’ve done a lot of weddings, then you know that sometimes it can be challenging to push yourself creatively to find something new to shoot, or to do something you’ve never done before. Some of my best shots have been ideas or poses that the photographer had, and we built on them. And I’m sure there are some excellent photographs out there of couples that we shot that were in a pose or a set-up that I had them in for video. So working as a unit and building off of each other’s ideas can really help you get out of your own head if you’re stuck creatively, and could possibly help out the photographer with an idea for a pose or a shot that they wouldn’t have otherwise had.
And remember, photographers can be a really good source of referrals. We’ve flown all over the country for certain weddings all because a photographer who we like working with gave our name to the bride and groom, so developing those relationships can definitely be beneficial.
So, in conclusion, the moral of the story is, just be cool. Communicate, be self-aware, be on the same page with one another, and things will work out just fine. As always, if you guys have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below! And let me know, what's your approach to collaborating with photographers on the wedding day?