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This is the first wedding I've ever shot, and one that I committed to just a few months after getting my Canon 5d mk2. So it was a steep learning curve.
Weddings have got to be up there in the shooting difficulty stakes. They are full of 'moments', most of which you only get one chance to capture. The 'once in a lifetime' nature of a wedding ratchets up the pressure on you to get as much as possible, and be in as many places as possible - all at the same time.
That said, I think the end result, whilst rough around the edges, actually captures quite well the essence of the wedding and the bride and groom. Erin and Gus are good friends, and their down to earth personalities and easy going nature would have been out of place in a slick production. Their lives are characterised by the people they love, and whom love them back.
For those thinking of undertaking a similar challenge, I thought I would make a few notes here on what I learned from the experience. Hope you get something out of it.
1. You need two people and two cameras to shoot a wedding. I did it with one and played a few editing tricks to make it look like different angles of the same moment - but I was only halfway successful. A wedding has many sides; the groom, the bride, the family, the friends - all of which need to be captured, and often all at once.
2. Stock up on batteries and memory cards. I had two batteries and kept swapping them in and out during the night. It was very stressful, as often I was using a half charged battery just because each takes about 2 hours to fully charge. In addition, I had about 12GB worth of memory which I used up 3 times over by taking my laptop with me and doing bulk transfers over USB. This transferring process takes a long time, and while you're doing it, no one is capturing the wedding.
3. Make sure the groom or organiser records both the speeches and the wedding vows through a microphone. This kind of audio becomes crucial when you are trying to edit the videos and tell a story. My groom forgot to do both - and I didn't own a mic for the mk2 - hence the result is more of a montage than a story.
4. Take two main lenses, one for low light (lower the better - I used 85mm 1.8) and one for wide angle shots during the day. I found the 85 mm portrait lens to be really good at capturing facial expressions etc from a suitable distance (ie you don't need to be in people's faces), but slightly restrictive when trying to fit in the whole wedding party.
5. Don't increase the ISO above 1600. It looks ok on the view finder, but when you get it home you'll notice the background grain in dark shots.
6. Have a designated driver so you don't have to worry about finding a parking spot whilst the wedding party makes their stunning entrance.
7. Take longer shots than you need. I did a lot of 5 second shots that turned out to have tiny wobbles or imperfections at the beginning or end as I adjusted the camera. Because I'd only shot 5 seconds, I didn't have the option of just taking the last 5 seconds of the shot and cutting out the beginning/end wobbles.
8. People make weddings. Don't be afraid to take a lot of footage of random people/faces in the crowd. Once you come to editing everything together, it's more interesting to see people enjoying themselves than a montage of flowers. You'll also have a better chance of satisfying the bride and groom that as many of the family as possible made the final cut.
9. Talk to the bride and groom before the wedding about what you want to shoot and where you'll need to be at different times. I didn't really get involved until a day or two before the day, so I wasn't really "integrated" into the day's schedule. A wedding is all about keeping to schedule, so if you're not built into it early, expect to always be catching up. If you talk early to the bride and groom you have the chance to storyboard out some basic shots and do things like book a place in the limo, know where the wedding photos are taking place...
10. Most wedding waltzes feel the same because people tend to choose the same songs. Don't be afraid to choose music that isn't the bride and groom's choice for the video. What music you choose to put over your vision is going to have a big effect on the way you edit. When you first get the footage back, make basic edits so that you can get a feel for what type of wedding video you want to make and the good shots you have, then choose the music and tweak from there on.
11. Take footage of wedding suits, dresses, corsages, any symbols of the ceremony about to take place. Weddings are as much about anticipation than ceremony, and hence the getting ready part of a wedding is actually very interesting and will help you to build out a story later on.
Phhewww. Hopefully that helps a few of you. Let me know what you think.
To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra
Scenic World by Beirut
Just a Boy by Angus & Julia Stone