Do I need a wedding videographer?

Many of my photography clients ask me about whether I know a good wedding videographer for their wedding, to complement their photographer.

One of the most difficult aspects of capturing truly professional grade video is getting good audio (not just individual voices but also ambient or background atmospheric noise). It is often one of the hardest and most technically fraught aspects of the whole process. Most wedding videographers seem to solve this problem by layering stock music over the most important moments in your wedding.

The truth is, it would take a monumental effort (and cost) and a whole team of sound assistants (and much disruption to the wedding) to actually record all audio reliably and professionally throughout the day. It would require all of the wedding party to be wired up with multiple small microphones. This would of course, also invade everyones privacy and ruin the natural flow of the wedding day. And, you would have to remember to switch off the microphones when you visit the bathroom, and then turn them back on again... not really practical...

It would also elevate the post production costs to astronomical levels, because all of this audio needs to be synced and levelled and processed if you are doing things properly.

Even 4K video is shot at about only about 12 megapixels per frame. Most wedding photographers are shooting single frames at at least 30 megapixels, with sharper images and more detail.

Sure, videographers can use shotgun or boom microphones to pick up audio and general ambience, but they can’t completely dominate the wedding just to get perfect sound.

The other problem that often arises is the competition and conflict between a wedding photographer and videographer, normally because they haven't communicated well before the event, or they have ignored their prior arrangements in the heat of the moment.

I was down at RiverLife at Kangaroo Point on the Brisbane waterfront yesterday (August 2018) meeting a photography client for a site visit. I came across a beautiful wedding on the banks of the Brisbane river, and as a wedding photographer I was very interested to see that this couple had hired both a photographer and videographer.

Everything seemed to be going just fine, until it got nearer to the end of the ceremony and a few moments away from the first kiss, when I couldn't believe what I was seeing...

The videographer was setup with a longer lens in the middle of the aisle (he is the shorter man in the photo). The photographer on the right despite also having a zoom lens decided he needed to get closer to the action at this stage, and simply walked right in front of the videographer at the worst possible time!

This was despite the fact there were plenty of angles from the sides that would have been perfectly adequate for the first kiss. The videographer, faced with missing the first kiss then had to hastily move his tripod and camera about five metres down the aisle in front of the photographer.

The photographer, probably sensing that he had pissed off the videographer then retreated back to the same position of the videographer. So now they both had less than ideal positions (not straight on to the couple) and any audio being captured by the videographer would be peppered with the clack of the camera shutter!

Wedding Videographer and Photographer Jostling for Position

Wedding Videographer and Photographer Jostling for Position

This was an unfortunate situation, and no doubt the videographer had words after the ceremony (thankfully he didn't start a confrontation during the ceremony!)

The other consideration with professional wedding videography is the sheer cost involved. Good video equipment is more expensive than the equivalent photographic equipment, is heavier and therefore harder to setup and stabilise, and the post production editing can take longer than photography.

This is changing thought, and with devices like the DJI Osmo Pocket camera being released in December 2018, there are certainly viable smaller options (especially for outdoor weddings with abundant natural light).

For these reasons, wedding video is often more expensive than standard wedding photography.

Personally, I can't get excited about wedding video that is simply backed with stock music so you can't hear the audio or atmosphere from the actual scene. If you can find a videographer who specialises in documentary style coverage with real audio, this would certainly be my preference.

The great thing about wedding photography is that it captures an exact moment. If you don't like any of these moments, you can simply remove these photos from your gallery. The same cannot be said for video, so if you use a documentary style videographer you do have to take the good with the bad in terms of expressions and reactions of guests.

This is also why most wedding videos are heavily edited, only showing you the happy, positive and uplifting moments. I completely understand that, but I also think it takes out some of the authenticity.

My personal preference for wedding video would be simple video taken on a Sony Handicam or small digital video camera, with adequate audio that captures what really happened (documentary style). It would not be all about creating a fantasy or adding special effects, it would simply record what happened and be supplementary to the photography.

So do you need a wedding videographer at your wedding? It really comes down to your priorities, personal preferences and budget, please just make sure if you do hire a videographer that they talk with your photographer and plan where each person will be during critical moments!

I have shot about five weddings as a videographer over the years. I shot them all documentary style with true and actual audio, did not edit the videos at all, and simply provided all the raw footage to my friends. They have told me years later that they absolutely love the videos, and while the audio was not perfect at all, they got enormous (and timeless) value from such an authentic production.

Chris Jack