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5 Ways Wedding Photographers and Filmmakers Can Work Well Together

Ego checks go both ways.

Every photographer has a story about videographers with multiple tripods, camping out in the aisles taking all the best angles, let alone getting too close to the couples. Likewise, every videographer has a story about a flash-happy, rapid-fire shutter photographer. But are tripods, flashes and cameras really the problem?

Since most of us serve the wedding industry, it’s no mystery that over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Statistically, the most common reason listed for divorce is communication breakdowns! As professionals, we can make our lives much easier, and make our clients happier by not going down that same path. Let’s put our egos aside, and learn to simply respect the other artists we work with on wedding days. We are in fact, kind of “married” to each other on a wedding day, as photographers and videographers are stuck with each other that day whether we like it or not. So let’s make it pleasant! (Unlike this parody video)

Known by my peers as one of the top 25 videography studios in the industry, as well as a speaker and business coach for videographers, I surveyed over 3000 videographers on the subject of being “team” players with photographers. I was also able to survey over 300 photographers whom I have worked with personally. On BOTH sides of the aisle, 35% of professionals said that the biggest conflict on a wedding day was “no effort to communicate or coordinate on the day of the event.” That’s a huge hindrance. Communication breakdowns prevent you from enjoying the shoot, but they also prevent you from provide an amazing product to your clients.

I’d like to offer photographers and videographers five tips to save yourselves headaches on a wedding day. They all start with COMMUNICATION!

1. Lose the “top dog” attitude.

It’s a fact that the majority of brides book a photographer first. The bride’s chosen photographer does a lot of directing or coordinating on the wedding day. But that doesn’t mean video is less important. The bride booked a videographer too after all. Losing a “top dog” attitude helps a photographer realize that a videographer has a job to do to; record a LIVE event continuously. On the flip side, videographers need to lose the attitude that they are the most important vendor at the event, simply because the bride actually chose to have a videographer at her wedding. Nobody is the MOST important vendor. Checking our egos diffuses a lot of competitive situations and actually allows you to serve your clients and have more fun. The bride has assembled her all-star team. When everyone makes the event a team effort, everyone wins!

2. Being friendly is contagious.

It’s hard to be rude to someone that is being nice to you. You’d have to try really hard. So, during the next wedding you shoot, make it a point to value and respect the other artist’s job. The first step is being cordial and welcoming. Positive attitudes go a long way to inspire creativity on a wedding day. Inversely, being rude just because you have been burned in the past only inhibits your creative process. The only actions you can control are you own, but being friendly on a wedding day – even if others aren’t –  allows you to influence others, for the sake of the bride and her family.

3. Be proactive.

Planning goes a long way. For both filmmakers and photographers, putting aside a “my way or the highway” attitude actually makes the wedding day smoother, and you may learn something! All it takes is seeking out the other artist and asking them what their plans are for the ceremony.

  • Where will you be standing?
  • Where is your second shooter going to be when the bride walks down the aisle?
  • What’s your style of shooting the first dance?
  • How close do you usually get?
  • Do you use any off-camera lights?

Asking these questions in an open-ended way encourages friendly discussion, and prompts the other party to think about the other person’s needs as well. Both photographers and filmmakers are there to create the best possible product for their clients. The alternative to not planning ahead? Being frustrated when you see the videographer (or photographer)  in your shot when you could have had a game plan to avoid it.

4. Serve.

Whether you are a photographer or filmmaker, none of us shoot weddings because we like standing on our feet for 9-12 hours! And we all know wedding days are hectic for everyone. But next time you see a light stand that the photographer needs packed or carried, help them. Next time you see that the videographer is just as sweaty and thirsty as you, get them a bottle of water from the bar too. Serving each other not only lowers everyone’s guard, but it makes the day go by smoother and faster, which helps everyone get the images and video they need.

5. Be aware.

Planning is great. But walk the walk too. As visual artists, all of us should have a “third eye” and see things others overlook. Apply that to working with other vendors. Videographers, be aware that bringing 5 tripods to a wedding and camping out behind the altar is not something the photographer can simply “photoshop” out. The same principle holds true for photographers. Camping out at the front of the aisle to get the perfect ring exchange shot, or circling around the couple during the entire first dance creates a tense situation. Not only is the video – or photo – of the client’s first dance ruined, but the bride and groom get to know the back of your head in their video or photo. Be aware of your surroundings. That includes watching out for others who have an important job to do.

Here at Life Stage Films, we always make it a point to touch base with photographers and call before the wedding if we aren’t familiar with them. We love working with others. It’s inspiring! The world can be a better place, and it starts with “us” on a wedding day.

Hopefully these tips help you enjoy working with and learn from other visual artists on a wedding day. If nothing else, these tips will keep you out of jail for attempted murder 🙂

About Matt Davis
Matt has been described as the “Head Coach of Wedding Videography,” and was named one of the “Top 25” event filmmakers in the world by “EventDV Magazine.”

He provides one-on-one business coaching as well as group coaching webinars. A featured speaker at video associations around the country, as well as Australia’s premier video conference in 2011 and IN[FOCUS] 2010, 2011, 2012, Matt is also an evangelist and consultant for ShootQ, offering his workflows and systems on the “marketplace.” He is based in Wilmington, N.C with his wife Melissa, and two little girls Penelope and Adeline.

The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!
The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!