Wedding videography is kinda hard
Since I do both wedding videography and photography, I feel like I have a good insight into the complexity of both roles, and I tell you honestly, doing good videography is much harder than doing good photography, and doing good photography isn’t easy!
Modern cameras are so good for photography that unless you totally screw up the settings you can generally get a good picture as long as the actual picture you take doesn’t suck in the first place. I’ve taken underexposed images and just brightened them til they look absolutely fine. But you can’t do that with video. You need the exposure right on, the white balance just right (white balance controls if things look good even in places with yellow lighting. It’s why everyone looks yellow at night in your cellphone pictures), the right shutter speed, and things focused well, which can be a challenge, especially in the darkness of a dance floor or a sparkler exit.
The Sound and the Fury
Add to that, sound! You want your vows that you’ve spoken on your beautiful mountaintop ceremony to be recorded, don’t you? Despite the roaring wind and the spatters of rain that you’re hoping won’t become a deluge, you’d like your beloved’s voice to be bright and clear, don’t you?
A good wedding videographer will have redundant sound. They’ll mic the groom, they’ll mic the officiant, some will even mic the bride. I’ve done that! It’s so stealthy you can’t even see it. But I digress.
It’s not easy to get good audio at a wedding. They are loud, they are chaotic, and DJ systems range from awesome to oh-my-god bad, so we videographers can’t just tap into what they have going on and feel assured of silky smooth recorded audio. No, we always have to have a second good source of audio. Three’s even better.
So what makes a good wedding videographer? It’s probably more complicated than what makes a good wedding photographer because more goes into it. It’s not just static images, but video with sound and motion.
What kind of video would you like?
Do you want a highlight video of what went on during the day, set to music with no ambient audio, kinda like a music video of your day? Or do you want to have audio of the first look, the vows, the speeches, the little moments interspersed throughout the day? Do you want it to feel like you are in a movie starring you, or is a documentary type highlight video better suited to your tastes?
Do you like a lot of motion, or more static shots? Do you want a voiceover of the vows while the highlights go by, or do you prefer it without that? These are all personal taste questions but there are specific things to look for in a videographer, and in looking at the videos you can glean a lot of these points as you watch, but knowing what you want will inform what you should look at in a videographer.
If the sounds of the day are important, listen to the audio captured during the ceremony and speeches. Does it sound good? Kinda suckish? If it’s important to you, ask your videographer about their setup. If they speak about their audio in a dull and listless way, your dreams of good audio throughout the day may well be dashed. Run away at that point!
Lighting is a good thing
Another thing to look at is video quality. Any decent camera will get things looking good outside during the day, but when the lights go down, does the video still look good, or is it muddy and ugly? Some videographers provide their own lighting for speeches and dances. Some do not. Personally, my approach varies according to the lighting at the venue and what the couple prefers but generally, good lighting, like with photography, makes a big difference.
When things go wrong
What also makes a big difference is equipment. Videographers just starting out may well not have the money to shell out thousands for the best gear, gear that makes getting footage on a dark dance floor easy instead of a blurry, grainy mess, or that sparkler exit well lit and in focus instead of something you never see since the videographer’s equipment failed them and they chose not to include it. Generally, if your videographer is cheap, you’ll see why.
Speaking of equipment, make sure your videographer has backup equipment. It only takes one jostle to send their equipment to the ground, or one bad SD card to fail and take your wedding with it (My cameras have dual SD cards, so even if one fails, the other still records). When photographing weddings, I’ve seen videographers come with only one camera, and it freaked me out. So many things can go wrong, and you need to know they are prepared if things go south.
I’m obviously biased, but having a good wedding video is about as important as having good photographs. The photos show the highlights, but video shows the in-between scenes that make up the day, the little moments, the sound of laughter, the fleeting emotions too fast for a photograph to capture, the sights and sounds of those you love on this one irreplaceable day. Photographs capture the beats of the day, but video...video captures the melody.