Unplugged Ceremony

This is a pretty hot topic, why is an unplugged ceremony important, and how should you approach this?

I'll come out and admit, I have had several shots of the bride coming down the aisle ruined...and there isn't a thing I can do about it.  Even with two cameras up front, that shot sometimes is still missed and its a high value shot. 

When the bride is coming down the aisle everyone seems to jump in the middle of the aisle with their phones and cameras when this happens I've now missed a high value shot.  What a lot of people don't realize is every time "the wedding videographer" has to hit record we must move our tripods, re focus, re expose and adjust F-stop...which can take about 10-20 seconds once we do all of that the bride shot is missed.  Thanks aunt Kathy for giving the bride a busted wedding video.

Unplugged Ceremony - two ways to achieve this.  Unplugged means - cut the nonsense and stop getting in paid vendors way.  keep your phones off and enjoy the time spent.  

Brides can either have a sign up saying keep phones off, or have the officiant before the wedding ceremony tell the guests this.  I can't even count how many times I've missed this shot.  Now, this even happens during the reception.  I miss cake shots ALL THE TIME, during the first dance a lot of family will circle the couple and take facebook live videos, or pictures with their phones...which ruin the light, ruin the moment and that valuable content is lost.

We update new phones about every year or every other year, how many times do you really back up all your photos, or print them out from your phone?  ZERO.  Unplug your wedding so your photographer and videographer can really deliver that grade A product which you fell in love with, an unplugged ceremony will always let this happen!


Let's talk about how important a DJ is.

When brides ask me about a DJ I always tell them this should be one of your top priorities.  There are several reasons a great DJ is a must.

First of all about 40% of your entire day will revolve around a DJ.  Too many times they hire a dj based on price because they have told me, "well they just play music and we don't want to spend a lot of money on that." (I get that, but brides need to realize the roles DJs play at weddings).

I think I've dealt with every bad situation reception time and luckily I can work around these things as they happen...because they happen often.  Imagine your timeline isn't followed correctly and now key moments are gone forever.  A wedding toast is set to happen at 7pm, well your Dj has told the maid of honor to just go ahead and start speaking so he can get the party started early.  While your photographer and videographer are eating in the back, or setting up lights to set the mood or working with a room coordinator to find a dimmer switch...now your toast begin...all that content is gone. (why we are eating in the back a mile away will be another topic in the future).

Imagine during your first dance, the DJ decides to get on the dance floor with their Iphone and do a facebook live video, all of your pictures and video will showcase this, or how about green and red lasers during a first dance - every bride looks flawless with green dots all over their face.  My favorite is when a DJ will tell us how to take a photo or video because they've been doing this since the 80s and have the experience.  It can be a disaster. a mood killer and severe annoyance.

What brides need to realize is specifically for video audio is #1 thing that we need.  So please make sure when you decide booking a DJ they have current gear.  I had filmed a wedding recently with beautiful soft light around the maid of honor and best man, and when we were about to start the DJ had a wired cord - so all that effort was a waste, now photo's and video show the father of the bride speaking behind a DJ booth, on top of that I didn't have an output for any sound and the father of the bride decided to take his lapel mic off his collar because he didn't care to have it on video (yikes).  All that content is gone forever.  So to any bride that reads this, please invest money in a great DJ.  While you may think It's too much money to spend for someone who plays music, a great DJ will provide your photographer and videographer great content by letting us all know when things are happening, if something is happening that's a surprise etc. To all the great DJs out there, thank you for always going above and beyond to make sure all vendors can get those masterpieces.

Should I get a wedding highlight, or a wedding film?

When brides first reach out to a lot of video companies they need to understand the differences between these two options.  If you're a bride and you're looking for a tampa bay wedding videographer, OR a wedding videographer elsewhere, let me save you the time and headache and cover these two products for you.  So... you can make the right choice as what's best for YOU.

Highlights - will vary from company to company, but typically around 5-7 minutes.  Now if your wedding is very traditional and more low key this is the best option for you.  Let me explain.  Even if videographers film all day sometimes when we get back to edit we have very little material to work with.  A highlight will need minimal content.

So how much material will you need to make a great film?  

In order for a great film, here are some things that can be done. Brides and Grooms that write each other letters beforehand, exchanging gifts, first looks, personal vows, wedding toasts during the reception.  All of those will add a lot of value and personalize your wedding.   you can get by with just having a maid of honor or best man give a speech during the reception.  I have personally created wedding films from a very traditional small basic ceremony.  Films can vary in length, but typically 8+ minutes on up.

Talk to your wedding videographer and let them know the type of ceremony, how many guests are coming,  The more our brides can feed us, the longer and better the product will be.  You can't have a BBQ with 30 family members and only serve 10 hamburgers... In order to make a beautiful film videographers need a lot of content, if you know there isn't a lot of content to be filmed, you're an ideal bride for a wedding highlight!

Keep them questions coming, I've got a ton more to answer next week!


How far out should we book our wedding videographer?

This is a great question that I received about an hour ago from a subscriber.  Jessica in St Pete asked the following:

Hey there!  I am newly engaged and I have been browsing different videographers for my wedding.  There are a lot of different styles, options and reviews on everyone.  How soon do videographers typically book?  

I'll answer this directly, and I'll share the post with you!

Basically there are two types of brides.  

Bride 1.  Understands the value of a great wedding video, she shops around reads reviews and pays attention the details, artistic vision, sound and if a strangers video can deliver certain emotions.  These types of brides can book anywhere from a year or two years out.  If a bride really values videography high then they are usually the first ones to book.

Bride 2.  Decides she wants a wedding video last minute when there is just enough room in the budget, these brides typically have higher priorities (which is totally OK as everyone will value the wedding day and vendors differently).  If a bride writes and says something like "we really didn't want a video and we have a few hundred dollars left over, what can you do for us?" I know this isn't my ideal bride and will send her off to someone else... it's all about finding the right fit.

You will want to book your wedding videographer asap.  A lot of times brides will "ghost" vendors searching for an unheard of deal, meanwhile bride 1 will reach out, meet and sign a contract...leaving the original ghosted bride upset that someone took her date.  So... booking depends on every bride, if you're just looking for the best prices you can hold out as long as you want because someone out there will take bottom dollar, if you are wanting peace of mind on your wedding day then I suggest you narrow the field down as quickly as possible because some weeks we can be talking to 5-10 brides - and some of those just vanish, only to write back a month later looking to sign.  Sorry :)  We are a first come, first serve basis.

I hope I was able to answer that for you!!

Everything about bride prep

Content...Content and more Content.  (I am aware some of you will probably take offense to this, that's okay...but you need to understand why these moments are sooooo important for photographers and videographers). 

A big part of wedding videography is having enough content.  Imagine having a BBQ party with 20 guests, and only having enough food for 5 people.  You will most likely have a lot of upset people because...what was the point of coming over?  Right?  What so many brides and other vendors don't realize is the amount of content your videographer needs.  Anywhere from 20-30% of your highlight or wedding film will come from the hair, makeup and dress.  So...why in the world is it always a problem for videographers to get great content?  To be honest, it's a messy situation and brides/some makeup artist need to be educated.  Sit back, relax and lets cover this topic.  At the end of the day, we want our brides to A. Look their best and B. Have enough content for a world class product.

1. A lot of times makeup artist will set the room up for whatever is easiest, typically in a dark corner, bad light or a bathroom...this is a big no.  Why?  It's all about the light - now I get it...makeup artist have never been told this...so this isn't a shot at them...So much material happens during this time...so videographers need the bride to be in beautiful light - if your hotel or church doesn't have that natural light, we can still light the set to provide the same color temp as the sun.

2.  Fake makeup is a mess why?  because it's fake.  Some makeup artists don't realize video needs movement...so here is the scenario..."I don't want to move my brush belt and gun because I typically will just fake the makeup"  - now fake makeup takes 3 minutes to film.  I can get maybe 1 nice (boring) shot with movement (if they even touch the bride faces). Sometimes its a brush next to their cheek and they can't touch the face because the makeup is already on and I've lost all my makeup content (so why am I even here). is what videographers think.  In order for great content for your wedding video we need to set the bride in the best light.  Fake Makeup is always wrong...and too many times makeup artist will actually throw a fit because we don't want our video or photos of the bride sitting on the toilet. (it happens way too often)

3. Time is valuable - Every single time I find that beautiful light and the makeup artist is setup in the bathroom or has the bride in the middle of a cluttered mess, I always request a move and then I am told..."that makeup spot wont work for me because I have to move my brush belt and gun." (like its an hour process to move this)....then what happens?  We do the fake makeup and right away I hear, "oh my god this light is amazing!" Now we have wasted an hour because the original spot was terrible, while the  new spot is amazing...and now we can't touch the brides face because the makeup is on...(video needs actual movement, not just a brush next to her cheek).  this is always wrong and just a waste...No matter what, the bride needs to be in great light.  repeat this.  No matter what the brides need to be in great light.

4.  How many times will mom come to the bride, hug her, tell her shes beautiful and cry?  Once those moments happen the wedding pictures, and wedding video will not include that moment?  Why?? because we can't use bad light, cluttered rooms and a bride in the center for 7 girls.  So what's the solution?

Listening to your wedding videographer and photographer.  Time and content are precious on the wedding day, and all too often we are limited to bad setups.  Here are two photo's from a recent wedding... I requested the bride to be moved and of course it seemed like such a pain.  I've even had weddings featured and the owner was upset because the makeup artist was so against us moving her, and the makeup company looked bad with a bride getting ready in a hotel bahtroom....it's like we can't win.

 Typical bride prep = bad setups - wasted content - waste of time - bad light - no room etc.

Typical bride prep = bad setups - wasted content - waste of time - bad light - no room etc.

 my ideal spot = I can get about 15 different looks + no clutter, bride in great light, no distractions.  Imagine mom coming over and telling the bride how her little girl grew up and became so beautiful and both of them are hugging and crying...yet most of the time we can't film it because of the above photo.

my ideal spot = I can get about 15 different looks + no clutter, bride in great light, no distractions.  Imagine mom coming over and telling the bride how her little girl grew up and became so beautiful and both of them are hugging and crying...yet most of the time we can't film it because of the above photo.

Maybe I care too much, I'm just personally over this issue and someone really needs to voice concerns.  We are there for the content, and I feel too many artists out there don't understand and find us that care "rude" when we ask the bride to be moved.  For those of you that always setup for great light, you save our product, and those of you who have argued before...hopefully you understand why some of us care.  The difference is night and day.  Great photos and videos will make your company look better and on top of that the bride will love her product she receives from us.

Your Ceremony

I have a lot of other questions that I get asked pretty regularly, but on the way home tonight I wanted to write this up right away to save our brides headaches on lost content, busted photo's and films that are just plain boring.  What I want my brides to take away from this is that your ceremony will also make or break what you receive from us.  I love beached themed weddings, outside protestant type weddings Indian weddings or a simple asian tea ceremony.  Todays wedding was a catholic wedding, this may rub some of you the wrong way (and that's okay) but brides need to really know the truth about holding their wedding at these beautiful churches with a lot of history.

1.  Rules - Most of us are bothered about rules, some are bizarre, some are silly and some just don't make any sense.  There are only about 5 shots that we need to really give you "the feels" and usually at catholic weddings we are very limited, or we can't get them.

2. No flash - this will kill your photographer, now most can adapt with fast lenses and some technical terms like ISO and shutter...but keep in mind sometimes it's not possible with the amount of light during there ceremony spots.  Do you want to risk a very grainy nasty photo?  Do you wan't your video to be ultra dark (oh look how beautiful my dress was, oh look at my fiance crying as I came down the aisle).  These are very real problems we face...I get it, this was your church growing up, mom and dad got married here...but please don't have the expectation of a Pinterest board and have high hopes this is what you'll be receiving.  These churches make it very difficult, and sometimes we can't win.

3. You must stay in the back at all times, You are not allowed to be up front ever, you must be on the corner at all time....this is brutal.  Now the person telling us this is usually extremely rude, they make very snarky comments.  We have a very limited time to get details before the guest arrive, they will talk our heads off, demand we take a tour of the church...and believe it or not they will leave all of the lights off (even during the parents walking down the aisle).  I'll be 100% honest, catholic weddings are rough on videographers and photographers, as soon as we walk in we are scolded and immediately put down (a total morale killer) and the last thing you want is your photographers to be upset...told to stay in the back and no flash - we are all there to deliver a beautiful keepsake - so brides please be aware!

4. Sound - Now everyone knows (or will learn now) that sound is #1 your videographer needs.  Guess what :) 75% of priests will decline a small lapel - they will decline you hooking up to their sound board - they will sometimes even take your audio recorder off the podium...I've had priests debate me about the groom not wearing a microphone because it takes away from the moment?  Why would you hire a videographer if you can't even hear what's going on?  Another big thing is some priest will tell me they've been officiating weddings for 40+ years and never have worn a microphone from a videographer in their life...total shocker, do some people just hire companies just because they have some award next to their name?  If your priest doesn't wear a mic because, "I talk loud enough" your wedding ceremony is ruined.  Imagine recording a song off your car radio with your iphone - you'll have something but lets be honest that iPhone recording sounds nothing like a CD...right?  I just don't get it.

5. Lastly... a lot of "these" churches will tell us we must stay behind the farthest guest...so if your high school friend sits a mile away then so do your vendors.

key shots that are in jeopardy - bride walking down aisle, grooms reaction, vows, ring exchange and anything the priest might speak about... so when you're planning your wedding think about the rules and what the outcome may end up if you book in these types of environments...last but not least my all time favorite moment during a catholic wedding in Cincinnati.

I had a ceremony stopped because I was up front on the opposite side of the photographer - we had the exact same camera, the exact same lens... yet "videographer" is almost a bad word in the wedding industry.  "We need to take a pause during this moment because we have a videographer that can't follow directions" I just laughed it off - I had 3 cameras in the balcony, total overkill...but "rules are rules" After that happened I went and sat in my car the remainder of the time....since I had 3 camera's basically filming the same thing.  If you wan't a certain look or feel your wedding vendors can only do so much.  I could speak years on this topic, I know this was a bit winded...but from a passionate person who wants to only give you the best, keep the above in mind.  

Tons and tons of more content coming your way soon. 

What are things I need to look for when booking a wedding videographer?

I woke up today with 3 emails, all 3 emails I had weddings on which is bitter sweet.  However, all 3 of them asked me for referrals and what they needed to look for.  So I thought this would be a great question to answer and give some feedback for when this happens again to me, and to others.  So here we go!  This is the top 5 things you need to look for when choosing your videographer, obviously some people will charge $300 to $10,000 dollars per wedding, so the budget will play a pretty big role in this.

1.  How is your potential videographers sound?  Are you able to hear dads toasts talking about his daughter being the apple of his eye, and she has a new man in her life?  Or the maid of honor crying saying the bride has been with her through the bad times and the good times?  Or how about when grandpa decides to speak and praise his grand daughter on everything shes accomplished in life, and of course the playful best man roasting the groom on how he was "smitten" when the couple first met.  Sound is going to play a HUGE role in wedding videos.  This is the number 1 thing that we need.  Now I get it, sometimes our sound will take a hit, an officiant will refuse to wear a microphone, a DJ will say no to plugging into his soundboard, a groom may talk too low, there could be a crazy windstorm happening during vows...etc, but there's always ways to fix this if you decided to go the extra step.....

2.  How is your videographers lighting setup?  Can they match the tempo of your wedding?  I get asked a lot about my lighting, and some brides don't want any lighting at all (these are not my types of brides, and that's okay, I can refer them to others who are more that style). Lighting is crucial to every aspect of the wedding day, where she puts on her make (say no to poorly lit bathrooms, brides will look orange and kind of green, plus their eyes won't do any justice). Can they work well in natural light, can they make the first dance have that "notebook romantic feeling" Bad light will simply ruin a wedding film, I see so many wedding videos where everything was 10/10 but the lighting just wasn't there...dull flat images with no emotion...make sure you ask them about proper lighting setups, imagine your photographer not using a flash, or off camera flash. 

3. Do their video's speak to you?  Do their videos give you "the feels" Is there a real guideline to what you're watching?  A lot of videographers will just use the trendy pop song of the summer and set random clips to music (not my preference) so if you're a bride who wants dad pouring his heart over the microphone to you, set to taylor swift shake it off...I'm probably not the right fit :) 

4. I get asked a lot of I have a drone, yes I do...I actually have 2 because let's face it...there is a lovely palm tree just waiting for me to crash into it lol.  You don't need fancy toys to make a compelling wedding film and the stock of Kleenex to shoot up.  If you have great tripods, sound and the eye for unique "sexy shots" you're way ahead of the game.  I see a lot of new companies where 50% of their highlights are just drone, I see people speaking but I just hear music with lyrics under the video - what is the groom saying holding his letter during vows?  The night they first kissed, the night he said I love you, the day at college he knew she was the one, the first time he embarrassed himself? Bottom line, just because someone has a drone, doesn't mean they are "the best"  I'll be the first to admit I don't have the latest cameras or gear by any means, but I know how to use them and I know how to build light into the wedding and my composition and tripods are great.

5. Make sure they are the right fit.  What I mean by this - I may have brides write me and say I love your work, and your style...how much do you charge for a 30 minute ceremony only.  I just cant book this wedding - this just isn't my style.  If you like someones work take the time to watch a few different things they offer, do they film just a basic wide shot ceremony?  If they do, are there several to watch?  I've had brides ask me to film just the ceremony only, and then they want a short film - this just isn't possible...so make sure they are the right fit for you!

If you want some more insight and tips subscribe to the newsletter below, I have a lot of questions I could answer - at the end of the day I think we all want what's best of our brides, even if we know we aren't the right fit.  I always refer couples to those who I think would do a better job for specific clients.

I hope everyone took a little away from this :)

What's all these different videography styles?

Wedding Videography vs Wedding Cinematography. 

I get this question a lot, brides will ask I want a wedding videographer, but why do some of themselves as wedding cinematographer?  What is the difference?  What is the pricing structure of a videographer or a cinematographer?  What's going on here?  There is a lot to take in, I'll save you some time and answer a few of these questions, I am sure you have a lot of Gilmore Girls to get caught up on...so let's dive in.

Wedding videography can be broken down into two styles.  Documentary wedding videos and cinematic wedding videos.  Ill address both in depth.

Documentary is  geared towards brides who want a more laid back "fly on the wall approach"  This is typically a team between 2-5 people...so keep this in mind.  You'll have a videographer with the bride another with the groom, most likely a floater, an assistant and someone running sound. Typically, documentary style is very unobtrusive, they try their best to blend in, they don't really say much or have much input on the wedding day.  They are simply there just to film everything from start to finish.  The finished product varies from company to company, usually documentary edits are at least 2 hours.  This edited from start to finish.  There isn't much editing involved, just cleaned up and pieced together start to finish. A lot of brides will hire documentary style videographers because they are getting a lot more material; however, a lot of material isn't always the best.  If you're looking at photographers are you wanting a yearbook of images?  Or a well crafted album with every photo is a work of art?  There's pros and cons to both styles.  

Cinematic weddings are usually 1-3 videographers or cinematographers.  The primary goal for a cinematic wedding video is the entire day condensed into a short form story format.  Content is king for those shooting more cinematic.  These types of videographers have some control on the day, the timeline and the setups.  If you're not looking great in flattering light they typically will speak up and request a move.  Think about your favorite Hollywood actress, when shes on camera shes in beautiful light, her makeup is on point and all eyes are on her.  Some brides crave this style, others just want the videographer to simply blend in.  A cinematic video is set to a few pieces of music and your vows, letters, first looks, officiant and wedding toasts are sprinkled around in a story format.  What brides don't understand is while the cinematic videographer can have 8-12 hours of material they can only get about 10-15 minutes of actual usable stuff.  The editing process is much more in depth, color grading, composition manipulation and audio enhancing since films are fueled by sound and light.

So for brides questioning what kind of video you want, do you want a longer version from start to finish? With a basic clean up of editng?  Or a shorter more engaging polished film?

Videographers document from start to finish, and cinematographers make your weddings have more of a movie feel.

I'll try to answer questions more often.  Thanks for stopping by!



Answering a few questions regarding light.

Scroll down for timeline planning.

I get asked ALL THE TIME about lighting setups, and I love it!  When people ask questions it means they are willing to learn, grow and have a wealth of knowledge.  Just about every wedding some sort of off camera lights are always used.  Whether its for photography or videography.  Lighting will literally make or break a shot.  I've been doing this long enough and when I first started out I was simply clueless; luckily, I decided to read and watch others and now I'm ready to share some knowledge for those interested. 

Here's the easiest way I can break this down.  This is for videographers, even though our camera bodies are the same our functions are a bit different. 

Here's the scenario.  Beach weddings. You love the rich toned backgrounds where you can see the water, the sky and the sand; however, your camera just shows an all white background and a well lit couple.  You think to yourself, I'll just crank my shutter up to 4000, now everything just near pitch black.  Most likely your ocean is beautiful and you can see a perfect sun and blue skies yet the couples are shadows (yikes) I run into this time to time.  So the question I get is... How do I incorporate the backgrounds to show my luxury location and my beautiful bride?  Answer.  You must use off camera lights.  Before you even begin shooting use your camera settings to establish whatever you want your backgrounds to look like.  Keep in mind, the closer the light to your source the brighter the subjects will be.  So lets expose our backgrounds, bring in our couples and simply add light to them.  Now don't panic!  If you have your shutter at 4000 and you have them lit and they are still too dark there's a few options you can do.  You can boost your camera's ISO (stay native of course). You can just boost them up in the post processing side of things.  You can add the light source a bit closer to them.  

Whichever method you chose, I can promise you the overall product will have that luxury feel.  I see way too many photo's in this tropical locations and 90% of the value is just erased.  Why?  Too many people don't understand light and everything is all white behind the couples.  Why would a bride choose a beach spot for her engagement or her wedding?  What value do these locations have to her, or the groom?  Was there a certain spot they used to hang around when they dated?  Did they have a little bench, or a swing they would talk on when they dated?  Build part of the story in your products.  If your style is all white backgrounds, then just ignore this, I personally think each location that you choose have some value to them.  You rarely see a masterpiece that isn't properly exposed.  This same technique applies to the entire day, bridal party preperations, up until the sparkler exit.

1. Know your camera settings. 2. Expose your backgrounds 3. Add some light. 4. Find your style 5. Make a masterpiece.... I'll tackle more questions down the road.  


First Looks

I think it's a good time to talk about first looks.  A lot of my couples ask, what are the benefits of having them and what are the drawbacks...so I'll touch up a bit on this subject.  

First of all, there are no drawbacks.  First looks are nothing but benefits across the board.  In my opinion from a vendor stand point, the bubble of time that is opened up from a first look will ensure a better timeline and way more photo's and video will be taken, it's guaranteed.  

Now we don't have to worry about hiding the bride, or hiding the dress - all of these things will cause delay from the get go.  If your groom is on site while you're getting ready, now we are limited to dress creativity.  If you want to have a fun photo of your girls in robes outside, now you can't...unless someone goes and tells the groom to go hide.  

The emotion that happens from a first look is way more beneficial than him seeing you down the aisle.  With a first look its a good 3-5 minutes of just you two.  I've seen grooms breakdown so hard (and they still breakdown hard when you're coming down the aisle).  First looks provide beautiful words spoken that we can now capture and true emotion.  I always push first looks, I've yet to meet a bride who regretted doing one...as I said before it will give us so much time and so many more things to work with when it comes to creating your film or your albums.