Whenever possible, I try to work in tandem with the photographer. When he or she stops to change film or get a new battery or a different camera, I step in and stage a few poses myself so the bride and groom are never left waiting for something to happen. Many photographers have thanked me for stepping in and giving them extra time as they deal with a problem camera, for example. During these moments, I like to shoot a close-up of the groom's left hand (showing his wedding ring) on the back of the bride's dress. I like to pose their hands (showing their rings) resting on the bridal bouquet as the camera moves over the flowers. I like to pan up the bride's dress revealing the couple in a kiss.
I mainly shoot the action going on around the photo session when it's held in a church. I like to get the parents, grandparents, and others sitting in the pews. A close-up of the parents holding hands, preferably showing their wedding rings. The flower girls spinning, and ring bearers showing the ring pillow.
I also frame the flower basket handle with the family in the foreground. Shoot through the bride's veil as the groom is getting photographed with the bridesmaids. Shoot from the balcony and get a large sweeping view of the church. Get footage on the altar behind the bridal party showing their perspective. Look to see if the groomsmen have on interesting socks or if the bridesmaids have cute shoes. Shoot the viewfinder of a guest's camera as he or she is taking a picture. Get a reveal shot of the couple using the bridesmaid bouquet. To mix it up, I take dutch angles and use my fisheye lens.
If you haven't done so yet, now is a good time to get some sound bites from key people as they are waiting around. You can insert these audio clips as voice-overs during various parts of the production. For example, you can ask the bride's father how he felt walking his daughter down the aisle and then drop the audio into the processional footage. You can ask the bride's father to describe his new son-in-law (I have yet to hear any negative comments). You can ask the bride's mother how she felt seeing her daughter in her dress for the first time. You can ask the groom's parents how they felt seeing their son dressed up in his tuxedo. You can ask the bridal party to give some words of advice to the couple. You can ask young children to answer the question, "What is a wedding?" Kids will usually provide funny answers. Or ask the grandparents, "What is the secret to a long marriage?"
Shooting outdoors lends itself to creativity by allowing you to use nature as a prop. You can shoot through trees and flowers. You can get some great shots through water fountains by slowing the shutter speed. My husband, who is my second shooter, will get footage of me videotaping the couple (I want to subtly remind people that the couple hired two videographers). I also pose the couple to kiss under the bride's veil as I do an "around the world" shot. Take advantage of whatever your area has to offer—a stunning city skyline, mountains, the beach, etc.
If the groom has reflective sunglasses, get video of his face with the bride in his sunglasses (or bring your own sunglasses as a prop). One time I was shooting a photo session on a golf course that had a lake surrounded by pine trees. I created a mask in postproduction and dropped the footage into the lake.
One time, a groom had a vintage green pickup truck that was the backdrop for bridal party photos. As part of their video, I posed the bride and groom so their reflection was in the hubcap. The photographer appreciated that I pointed this out to him.
I want my footage to be different from what the photographer produces, so if he or she shoots formals in color in the church, I will make my footage black and white. If we shoot outdoors, I will add the letterbox effect in post and adjust the contrast/brightness in spots. The important thing to remember is that you are not there to duplicate the poses of the photographer, but rather to capture the essence of the photo session.
I also include footage of the photographer working. Many photographers appreciate having this footage to show their clients, put on their websites, or show on their own video iPods. Be sure to watermark any footage you give to a wedding professional so their clients know who videotaped it. In fact, you could even strike a deal with the photographer to take an updated photo of you in exchange for this footage. Every wedding professional needs a professional headshot. Recently, by networking, I was able to get a new headshot to replace my old photo, which was taken by a friend. And the first thing I updated was the shot used in my column!
Kris Malandruccolo, recipient of a 2005 MarCom Creative award and 2006 Communicator award for The Reel Deal, is an award-winning videographer. Kris is the only videographer to earn the title of Master Wedding Vendor through the Association of Bridal Consultants. Kris is President Emeritus of the Illinois Videographers Association in Chicago. She is chairperson of the WEVA Public Relations Committee and serves on the WEVA Special Awards Committee.