“I bring my own lights to wedding receptions because I like to light the couple when they’re dancing. DJ lights tend to be strobes with crazy colors, so I usually ask the DJ to let me use my lights for a little bit,” says Printz.
For a more mobile option, you can bring an LED panel that attaches to your camera, or light modifiers that don’t emit their own light but simply manipulate and redirect existing light. “If it’s your first time, don’t worry about lights right now,” advises Printz. “Just try to shoot as much natural light as possible.”
Audio recorders and microphones
“It could be the most beautiful wedding video you’ve ever seen. But if the wedding vows audio sounds horrible because I didn’t record it correctly, it really takes you out right away,” says Printz. “Audio is just as important as the visual component.”
Bring a recorder and a lavalier microphone to attach to the groom’s lapel if you’ll be capturing audio of the day. Bridal dresses should stay mic-free, since the mic doesn’t blend in as well. You can also bring a shotgun mic that attaches to your camera’s hot shoe for recording other audio.
Extra storage and power
Weddings are long days, and you’ll likely go through multiple batteries and memory cards. Avoid every videographer’s worst nightmare by packing plenty of extra batteries, chargers, and memory cards, so you never miss a shot.
When you arrive at the venue, find a room or corner to set up your base camp and plug in your chargers. You can return to your base throughout the day to change out gear or batteries, or back up files on to go. Some like to shoot with dual memory cards in case one fails mid-shoot.
Things to consider as you film.
Embrace the unexpected.
Your shot list forms the backbone of the narrative, but it’s the small, in-between moments that will make the video reflect the truth of the day. The best moments aren’t always the biggest moments. Look for unstaged interactions that illuminate the couple’s personality or that contribute to the tone and atmosphere of the day.
“The more you shoot weddings, the more you realize that you never know what’s going to happen, and you just need to roll with it,” says Printz.
Film lots of details too; from the wedding dress and the tux to the flowers, cake, rings, and table settings, opportunities abound. “I try to overshoot details, because you never know if the couple is going to ask if I got a shot of that one thing,” says Printz. “And I don’t want to say no. I’d rather just have a shot of it.”
Shoot for contrast and depth.
“If you cut from a wide shot to another wide shot, you’re going to get bored really quickly. You need visual contrast,” says Flom. “Shoot a wide shot, then get a good medium shot, then go in and get a good tight shot. If you have those three angles for each moment of the day, you can tell a really good story.”
Always be on the lookout for ways you can add layers and visual intrigue to your shot.
“Look at a Hollywood full-length film and there’s a lot of depth. There’s depth in lighting, in contrast, and there’s physical depth,” explains Flom. “If you’re shooting a makeup shot, move the bride next to the window. Step two, let’s turn off the lights. Step three, figure out a way to create some depth. Maybe you’ve got a beautiful white curtain — slide a bit of that in front of your lens. Now your shot has a unique, dreamy feel to it. When you create depth and stack up objects, you get a much more compelling image.”