I have been shooting weddings for over a decade now and in that time many things have changed.
Wedding videography styles have come and gone (anyone remember Marryoke?) and the technology used to shoot wedding films has developed greatly.
Gone are the days when I shot with a large shoulder-mounted video camera onto digital tape. It’s now super discreet, small form factor equipment that is less intrusive than equipment used by most wedding photographers.
I can recall back in the early stages of the Aaron Rose Wedding Films story, how I used to shoot to a shot list (so all my films were the same) and drag around a huge broadcast tripod with me all day long. Talk about uninspiring working conditions. But back then this was the norm, and wedding videos shot this way were at the time ‘the cutting edge’ of wedding videography.
Initially, I shot solo with one video camera and the large and heavy broadcast tripod I mentioned earlier. I shot everything from on the tripod and often interrupted the action to ask the subject to repeat a move or act out a motion. This was the standard way to shoot weddings back then. No one had heard of a discreet, unobtrusive wedding videographer at this point in time.
As time moved on I was the first in my local area to introduce a second camera, then a third. I soon found myself shooting with three cameras and three massive tripods, as a solo shooter this was very hard work. So I enlisted some help. The team grew larger and our capacity to carry more increased, so I added more equipment to the kit inventory; a Steadicam, a camera jib, a tripod dolly, broadcast size camera slider, mains powered halogen lights, mic stand …. the list goes on and on. The kit took longer and longer to set up, and we battled with equipment failures on many occasions due to the complexity of the equipment. It was not just the equipment that was causing us problems, our bodies began to suffer from the physical effort of lugging all this equipment around, with bad backs abound for us all. The results we got using the directed shooting approach, multi-person crew and extensive kit list were good for the time. However, the amount of energy both physical and mental required, week in week out, took its toll on us all. Something had to change! I needed a different way of shooting weddings.
The first ‘Aha’ moment that occurred to me, was on a wedding shoot, where I was working as part of a four-man crew. This crew had been assembled by a colleague of mine in order to shoot a high-end wedding in London. We rolled up to this very ‘well to do’ wedding venue, mob-handed, all dressed in matching blacks and with enough kit to sink a battleship. It took us three trips to the car to bring all the equipment into the venue, urghgh. The lead videographers style leaned heavily on directing the day, and on many occasion he interrupted the flow of events to have them redone in a manner to his liking. Needless to say, our coverage of the event was far from discreet or low key.
As I was not the lead shooter on this particular day, it gave me the opportunity to stand back from the action and take a real look at the set up we had brought to bear on this wedding. It was way over the top! I walked away from that wedding vowing never to impose that experience on a wedding ever again. On my return home I set gears in motion to reduce my kit inventory and my equipment size. I sold all the equipment and started again.
I began a process of reinventing myself. I was looking for a new direction, a new start. I wanted to find a wedding film style that was unobtrusive throughout the day. A style that could be executed with minimal equipment and crew. So I found some like-minded colleagues who had began the journey to a more discreet approach to shooting weddings. They gave me the inspiration and support to follow my heart and go with a super stripped-down approach.
Starting afresh, my mission was to source small and lightweight equipment. This equipment also needed to fit with my new direction as a discreet wedding film-maker. Overtime with careful choices and many hours spent refining and reducing the kit, I now take very little to a wedding. Just enough to cover most eventualities, whilst staying super discreet and mobile. So I am back to mostly shooting alone, as I did at the start of my wedding videography career, but this time in a creative documentary style with no direction from me. Letting the scenes unfold without intruding or interfering with the flow of events.
I love the freedom this approach brings. I also love the results I get from this approach. Staying discreet and super low key over the wedding day, allows me to be a ‘fly on the wall’ during the most intimate of moments, capturing the real emotions of the day as they unfold. I have expanded this approach into a working method and produced a wedding videographers manifesto statement as a guideline to my working practices. I adhere to this mission statement in order to produce natural and emotional wedding films.
I now find myself loving what I do. I am proud to call myself a discreet documentary wedding videographer.
I capture perfect moments, honestly.