With clients willing to pay as much as $5,000 for the best wedding videos, no wonder cinematographers fresh out of film school are flocking towards the lucrative industry of video production services.
However, you don't need to pay thousands of dollars to a film school to get started on wedding video production. There's a thing called the Internet (and this blog!) to get videography tips on how to shoot the sweetest wedding videos for your clients.
What's the Rate of Pay for Wedding Videography
According to Indeed , a wedding videographer on average can make as much as $87,000 per year. It's not too shabby, considering an established professional gets to choose his or her working hours and rates. Hence, an established wedding videographer can easily top $87,000 per year.
Typcially, the cost of a videographer for a wedding can vary. Here's an example of wedding videography rates:
- Basic Packages - Include a musical highlight video can cost between $400-900
- Enhanced Covereage - Includes the highlight video and coverage of the reception, and this can cost between $900-1,200.
- Cinematic wedding video - Includes everything in the enhanced package, as well as a scripted wedding movie (hence "cinematic"). This can range between $2,200-3,200.
- Luxury Package - Includes everything above as well as a documentary or behind-the-scenes coverage of the pre-hearsal, the ceremony and the reception. This can go upwards of $5,000.
There are some videographers who only do the luxury package, and they have a whole video production team to help with the wedding videography.
Imagine doing a few wedding gigs a month, and using the big money to fund your indie filmmaking passion. This is exaclty what we do at 2Bridges . We use wedding videography gigs to fund our passion, indie projects.
Hence, wedding videography is a great side income for any professional cinematographer.
I'm Convinced! How do I Start a Wedding Film Company?!
Becoming a wedding videographer is no simple task.
If you’re in a small town in the Midwest, it’s easy to get started as you won’t have as much competition. However, if you’re a wedding cinematographer in NYC, like us, then you’d better have the right film equipment to compete.
Create a portfolio of wedding video samples filled with only the sweetest, cinematic videos. Understand your local market and competition. Find you niche - whether it's vintage wedding videos, montage music videos or artistic wedding films. Stand out from your competition.
It’s tough. It’s brutal. But with the right film tools, anyone can make it as a wedding videographer.
A unique wedding video is the best gift a newly married couple can ever get. The perfect wedding video, after all, is not just about capturing the precious moments. It is about freezing, for eternity, a beautiful fleeting moment in all its glory, and to deliver an enchanting, emotional film that is more a piece of art in itself than just a mere wedding video.
A cinematic wedding video is thus the order of the day and if you are a wedding videography professional, this is an art that you must most definitely master.
Wedding Videography Checklist
Creating a wedding video takes time and lots of planning. Videographers must work within budget constraints while also producing the best video possible – not always an easy mix! The first step to wedding video success is to speak with those who are in charge of a wedding. Often, this not only includes the engaged couple, but also parents, wedding coordinators, and friends.
Ultimately, the goal of a wedding video is to capture the theme of the wedding from the perspective of an artist. Prior to the big day, take the time to visit the venue, understand how wedding day events will unfold, and figure out what equipment you will need.
One Camera or Two?
Attempting to shoot a wedding with one camera is tough. A single camera might not provide all of the angles and shots that you will need to capture. Within any given area on the day of a wedding, a number of things are happening. Your job is to record all of these things, all at once. Thus, most wedding videographers arrive at a wedding venue with more than one camera in tow.
The Best Cameras for Wedding Videography
The most important thing to consider when shooting only the sweetest wedding videos is the right gear, and of course, only the best cameras should be used. Gone are the days when wedding videographers would roam the venue with bulky camcorders and lights while the dangling wires from their equipment would turn the wedding location into a makeshift studio.
For a full tutorial on which cameras to use, we suggest checking out Part 6 of our Filmmaking Series, where we cover the best DSLR cameras for your films.
Apart from, rather hilariously, making unwary guests trip over the wire bundles, the tools, and elaborate setups also served the basic purpose of recording the event in a bare-bones manner. Even after all this hard work, the result wouldn’t quite match up with the cinematic shots you see on the cinema screen, leaving much to be desired.
Enter modern day cameras such as the Sony FS7, the A7Sii or the 5D Mark III and the wedding videography scenario has been changed forever, for the better. Shooting a cinematic wedding video is now easier than ever, thanks to these marvels of engineering and image processing that make the task so much easier.
Large sensors for Shallow Depth of Field
The first thing you need to check out when choosing the right camera for a wedding videography job is its sensor size. This is the single most important component in the entire chain. The larger the camera sensors, the better your chances of getting that cinematic look in your wedding video!
Let us take the Sony PXW-FS7 for instance.
A legendary masterpiece really. A super 35 mm camera that captures stunning footage, which reduces all other image-capturing devices to dust. The biggest advantage of using the FS7 is its versatility. It can be optimized and tailored to suit your specific needs- the lenses, the mount, the codecs you use for recording- everything could be modified in accordance with the project at hand.
All this while it seamlessly delivers the best wedding videos in crystal-clear Ultra High Definition- 4K! What more can one ask for!
The huge sensor lends the camera its characteristic shallow depth of field that is so essential a component in achieving that coveted dreamy cinematic look which enthralls and delights.
Welcome to the world of the cinematic wedding video.
Small Form-Factor can make a BIG difference!
Let's take a look at Sony A7S ii.
Thanks to a full-frame sensor, the interchangeable lens camera combines an extraordinary performance with a small form factor. While the former ensures it achieves a very shallow depth of field, the latter makes it even more ideal as a shooting device for wedding videography.
One of the greatest assets of a wedding videographer is a camera that can almost blend into the surroundings so it captures all beautiful moments without being a distraction. The small form factor makes it ideal for capturing candid footage of the bride and groom, the relatives and guests in an inconspicuous manner so all action on screen is as natural, real and fluid as possible.
That, indeed, is the real power of cameras such as the Sony A7S. A feature that makes them ideal for shooting a wedding video!
Choose cameras with a superior low-light performance
Weddings aren’t the best of the events when it comes to accommodating the vital needs and requirements of a videographer. You can’t place lights wherever you want or choose to shoot from that stage from where, you think, the subjects look their best. Most of the times, it is not all really in your hands.
This limit in choices affects lighting decisions the most. Consequently, you need to contend with the prevailing low light shooting conditions that are, most often, not the best to expose your subjects. A master low-light performer camera comes to your rescue and believe me, can be one of your most valuable assets when shooting a wedding video.
Cameras such as the Sony FS7 and the Sony A7S or even the 5D Mark III are optimized for shooting in low light. Even at high ISOs, these cameras perform incredibly well, delivering nice, soft cinematic footage that has as low noise as you can possibly achieve with modern electronics. All thanks, again, to their huge imaging sensors that capture low light so well! Great performers indeed for wedding videography!
Another great camera that we'll be purchasing soon is the Sony 6500. It doesn't have the low light capabilities of the Sony A7S, but it has better stabilization. Finally, the Black Magic Camera is also a great low cost alternative for anyone looking to start out.
Whatever option you go for, the best part about getting a good camera is you can use it for your film projects. Shooting wedding films does help pay the ridiculously high NYC rent, but our true passion is filmmaking.
For more information on DSLR cameras, check out our full review of the top DSLR cameras for filming. Or check out our reviews on specific cameras:
Using Only the best lenses
When you’re packing your equipment, preparing for a wedding videography shoot ahead, remember to choose your lenses wisely, for this one single decision can make a big difference between your wedding video looking cinematic vs. mediocre. Remember: glass matters!
A lens that has the smallest minimum aperture is ideal for shooting weddings. First, it would deliver superior low-light performance, and secondly, ensure that you get an extremely shallow depth of field when the aperture is near-closed, so you succeed in getting a very cinematic wedding video that is guaranteed to delight viewers.
Lenses can get expensive, and it's not enough to rely soley on a 50mm. In fact, you'll likely need to rent more lenses if you are going to do multi-camera setups. At a minimum, you'll likely need a 24mm, a 50mm and an 85mm.
Finally, if you're budget allows it, then strongly consider getting the CANON 24-70mm ZOOM LENS. It has great versatility and perfect for run-and-gun shooting. You can stick a 50mm on a second camera in the corner and just use this bad boy as you work the crowd and get close up shots of the action.
If you are going to purchase, we recommend going with ROKINON LENSES.
Nikon or Zeiss would be a more well-known brand, but if you're starting out, the Rokinons work real well. In fact, we've seen these lenses as go-to lenses for some DPs at some low-budget indie films.
For more detailed info in choosing a lens for your wedding camera, check out our series on camera lenses:
Remember also to pack in some telephoto and super-telephoto lenses for they not only allow you to silently record a distant ceremony amidst the crazy crowd that won’t let you in but also, once again, impart your footage a very low depth of field on account of their large focal lengths. Another factor you can take in your stride as you strive to achieve a cinematic look.
Lighting your shoots for a cinematic wedding video
Another aspect of wedding videography that you can use in your favor on occasions is the lighting. In the event that you are able to control and manipulate the lighting, maybe for indoor ceremonies, do take full advantage of the situation!
Assemble a small lighting kit that can meet a variety of operational conditions. The first option is to get a camera hot-shoe mounted light itself, usually a LED panel that provides sufficient light to cover the scene. This is usually ideal when you’re shooting outdoors where you need just a key light source to add in a light flood.
Alternatively, a more elaborate lighting kit such as the Smith-Victor Two light umbrella kit, the Qualite Focusing Flood or even the uLite kit can be used when filming interviews. The lights equipped with barn doors enable selective lighting that can help you in creating the desired effect.
The use of reflectors and bouncers cannot be overemphasized in wedding videography for they soften the source light, illuminating your bride and groom with only the softest of the light that beautifully models facial features and costumes, making them ideal for weddings!
Stabilization systems for wedding videography
Motion- the element that lends its name to the term ‘Motion-Picture’. And truly, one of the most important, yet often neglected aspects of filmmaking. The way you move your camera around in the frame as you undertake wedding videography is a major thing to consider if you aim to obtain cinematic wedding video.
A nice, compact and sturdy handheld stabilizer can help you with a fluid, organic movement as you make your way, continuously recording, through the crowd. An incredible way to highlight the vibrancy of the event in the best possible manner!
When it comes to stabilization systems, a variety of options are available in the market amongst which are the Steadicams, Glide cams, etc. Then, there’s always the good old tripod that can be a valuable accessory to get nice, stable cinematic shots. A monopod too can serve the purpose really well, with the added advantage that it takes much lesser space, making it ideal for congested environments such as those in weddings.
Another useful tool that really helps in getting cinematic wedding video is a slider, which functions in the manner of a dolly, giving you beautiful motion-laden shots that inspire awe.
That Sounds Cinematic!
Those are the words you’ll be delighted to hear from fellow videographers and most importantly, your client. A great soundtrack can lend a very cinematic feel to the wedding video, making it stand apart from all others. Consider using external audio recorders to get great audio when you shoot. The crispness and modality of a 24-bit, 48 kHz recording is hard to beat!
There are numerous great external audio recorders by Tascam, Zoom as well as by Roland and Sony. Great microphones are at the other end of the spectrum. Consider using a wireless lavalier mic that inconspicuously records nice sound.
You could also opt-in for a shotgun on-camera microphone that gives nice, crisp sound from the direction it is pointed to, cutting out useless noise and chaos so common in weddings.
Another unavoidable tool is a good pair of headphones that preferably have inbuilt noise cancellation. Studio-quality headphones are a great way to monitor incoming sound as it is being recorded, so you get an idea how your final mix will sound like.
Weddings are one of those events where you must expect the unexpected. Anything can happen anytime, and you must be well prepared, at all times, without exception. This truly makes them one of the most difficult run and gun style variants amongst the different genres.
Since everything happens lighting fast and there usually can be no retakes or repeats, having a multi-camera setup in your wedding videography regime guarantees a secure coverage of all important ceremonies and events. An annoying neighbor just got in the way during a shot? No problem. Switch to the view of camera 2 and you’re done!
Using a multi-camera setup also ensures you get the same crucial event covered from multiple angles, giving you greater freedom later during the editing stage. A basic three-camera setup can suffice for many different classes of events. However, complex spaces may involve using as many as 8-9 different cameras!
The best way to have a multi-camera placement that operates successfully is to scout the location beforehand. This way, you will have an idea of the venue and can plan camera placements accordingly.
Use Aerial & Wide-Angle Shots
A drastic change in perspective is offered when you shoot an event from up in the sky. A drone can provide a fresh vantage point that views the wedding venue from a bird’s eye point of view. A refreshing change indeed from usual ground level shots.
When shooting a cinematic wedding video is your ultimate goal, you also need to consider using wide-angle lenses for some filler shots. These provide a beautifully deep canvas with an incredible sense of the place. A nice, cinematic way to showcase, for example, the whole venue in a single sweeping shot that takes the viewer’s breath away.
Filters are your Friends
There’s a reason filters exist. And no, the onset of advanced post-production software does not make them obsolete. A graduated neutral density filter can save your day when it comes to covering a sunny wedding venue where the harsh sun won’t simply go off your sight.
Polarizing filters can result in beautiful, pure colors and skin textures. Not to mention the way they render blue skies! Nothing can make skies appear more cinematic and awe-inspiring. Make sure you carry the most common filters with you at all times. You never know when you might need them!
Get great Cut-aways!
Simply put, cut-away shots take the viewer to another locality in the space where something interesting is occurring. A cut-away shot of a beautiful flower swaying in the breeze as guests raise a toast to the bride and groom may go a long way in making your wedding video look truly unconventional and cinematic.
Always be on the lookout for interesting occurrences, unusual expressions and lighter candid moments that you could film and later use anywhere as light fillers.
Shoot Beautiful Bokeh
As important as the in-focus areas are in a video, so are the out of focus areas. Yes, you should never make the mistake of ignoring them! Bokeh that looks beautiful says a ton about the beauty of your wedding video.
A telephoto lens combined with a small minimum aperture can provide you beautiful bokeh that looks awe-inspiring. This way, you can easily make hanging lights and candles in the background into blurry, soft patterns that enrich the image. An easy way to make your wedding videography look great using only your existing equipment!
Use the right profile!
Cameras allow you, the wedding videographer, to shoot in a variety of profiles: S-Log, Flat, V-Log, CineEI, Neutral, Standard, Cinestyle, etc. This function in the camera often tends to be ignored, but, as it turns out, is one of the most important factors that contributes to making a great cinematic wedding video!
Make sure you have your profile set to S-Log, flat or a similar style such as Cinestyle (by Technicolor) depending on your specific camera make. These profiles lend you quite a lot of freedom later during color grading stage of your post production, at which time, your colorist will magically transform your wedding video’s color to the shades rivaling Hollywood blockbusters! This only works, though, when you shoot your wedding video in the right profile, so watch out!
The curves for these picture profiles and their LUTs (Look Up Tables) are specifically engineered to give you an epic dynamic range so you get as many stops of light as possible in a limited bandwidth. Talk about modern electronics!
Consider a camera rental service to save money
We understand that not everyone can purchase a Sony A7Sii or an FS7. However, you can still get your hands on great film equipment to shoot the best wedding videos. Consider a wedding video camera rental from these places:
These are the local camera rental companies in New York. If you're not in New York, look for a local provider who can rent you a video camera. Using a video camera rental is a great way to save money when you're starting out as a wedding video company.
Planning for the Wedding - How to Shoot only the Best Videos
Shooting a wedding video comes down to two things: timing and planning. Planning is so important that it cannot be stressed enough. Everything about a wedding should be planned from the engagement party to the actual event.
Your job, as a wedding videographer, is to capture everything while also blending into the background. While not an easy job, it’s one that can be mastered with practice. Begin by attending the rehearsal dinner.
Rehearsal Dinner: Your Practice Run
Most couples plan a rehearsal dinner prior to the big event. During the rehearsal, everyone who is involved in the wedding party will go through the important wedding day motions. This includes meeting at the venue, walking down the aisle, and working out any kinks.
For a videographer, the rehearsal dinner is the ultimate chance to scope out the venue, see how the wedding day will go, and make necessary adjustments. You may, or may not, be paid to attend a rehearsal dinner. If the bride and groom do not want to pay you for your time, you may want to attend this event anyway (or, simply roll it into a wedding day package).
No Rehearsal Dinner: Now What?
If a rehearsal dinner has not been planned, visit the venue in advance anyway. You won’t be able to view the wedding party, ceremony, or meet any important people, but you will have a chance to view the venue, adjust lighting, and understand how things will go. If the wedding will be held in a religious building, take a few moments to meet with a priest or other official.
Blend In: Kind Of
When the wedding day arrives, your job will be to capture every moment. Here’s the catch: you must capture every moment while also taking every precaution not to get in the way. Some wedding guests will love to be filmed. Other wedding guests may find the constant camera annoying. Pay attention to these cues, and don’t overstep your boundaries.
During the ceremony, you may have to get close shots of the bride and groom. This might require stepping onto the stage or platform where the vows will take place. Make sure to gain the couple’s approval before taking this step.
Be Detail Oriented
So many things can happen during a wedding ceremony. Make sure that you (and your team) are on the lookout for any small details. Capture flower girls, unexpected guests, and people’s faces. If someone in the audience is doing something silly, make sure that this act is on tape. With the right amount of planning, shooting any wedding can become second nature
Editing a Wedding Video
Editing a video is a delicate matter. On the one hand, it’s important to make a video look as good as possible. On the other hand, you don’t want to edit out anything that may be important to the newly wedded couple. In addition to careful editing, it’s also important not to go overboard.
Some wedding videos are edited so heavily that they look like very bad montages. Avoid adding too much color, too many captions, or music that doesn’t fit the style of the wedding. As with any other part of the wedding, editing begins with your first bride and groom consultation.
Personally, we use Adobe Premiere Pro. But there are several programs to help you edit from Final Cut Pro to Sony Vegas. Here's a good tutorial on how to edit in Adobe Premiere:
Respect the Style
Some couples want vintage wedding videos, or films with a special wedding video song in mind. Other couples are seeking for traditional wedding videography that can be shown for decades. From the onset, the couple you are working with will let you know what their personal style is. As a professional wedding film company, it is important to respect this style during the editing process.
Far too often, videographers take editing into their own hands, and this can end badly. Keep a couple’s personal and wedding style in mind at all times while editing. This is the best way to gain praise, payment, and a possible referral.
In-Camera versus Post Production
Post production editing is always a better option than in-camera editing. If you don’t have an editing studio, try to find one that you can use or rent. In-camera editing is not as smooth and polished as post production editing, and the difference will always show.
What to Cut
Cutting footage from a wedding is the hardest part of editing a wedding video. Since you are not close to the people who will be attending a wedding, it’s hard to know who to cut out and who to leave in a video. Instead of trying to guess what to cut, ask the bride and groom.
The bride and groom will let you know right away which scenes are important. No matter how boring you think a speech is or how dull the ceremony was, your job is to make the bride and groom happy. When it comes down to what to cut, respect the input of the bride and groom.
What to Deliver as a Final Product
It depends on what wedding videography package the client selected. If the client requested the full coverage and the highlight video, then you will likely need to put the videos in a DVD and send it off to the client.
For clients who opt for the basic wedding package, putting a video online with a password will be fine. The ones we use at 2Bridges are the following:
Obviously, password protect the video if you're going to put it up online. Another alternative solution is to find a cloud solution to upload your video. This might cost extra but it's actually worth it. When you have other videography jobs (wedding or corporate), you might need to share files with your customers. It's handy to have a trusty cloud service to share sensitive videos and documents.
Summary of Wedding Videography Tips
Great looking cinematic wedding videos begin inside the camera. Once the footage is shot, little can be done in post to enrich it and every correction step taken later only adds to the cost. The best way to shoot the best wedding videos is to get everything right at the time of the shoot itself.
The first thing that helps you in this quest is a great camera that comes equipped with a large sensor, preferably either Super 35 mm or Full-frame in size. The shallow depth of field that comes, quite as a natural characteristic with these cameras, contributes significantly to the shot aesthetics.
Another aspect to consider before choosing the ideal camera is its low-light performance and form-factor. Then again, the choice of lenses is crucial when filming a wedding video. The quality of movements you use in your wedding video can make or break them. A wedding video that sounds great will also enhance the production value.
Use a professional external audio recorder bundled with lav or shotgun mics to get nice, crisp audio. Headphones and filters too are important tools to have in your wedding videography kit.
While you may use these wedding videography tips to shoot the sweetest wedding videos, remember that becoming a wedding videographer comes down to YOU. The best way to learn wedding videography and how to videotape a wedding is through experience and persistence.
These tips are worthless if you don't practice. So go out there, shoot the most cinematic, artistic wedding videos and become the best wedding videographer in your area. Perhaps, we'll even see you in NYC!