Echoes From the Backyard
Posted Oct 6, 2004

Dear DJ,
Why should I email or write to you when I can go on the Web and get an answer within an hour from any of the variety of forums available online?
Clock watcher

Dear Watcher,
True, you can probably get 100 different opinions when you post to any number of online forums. You'll even see me on two or three of the more (how shall I put this?) serious ones. But if you spend any kind of time on a forum, you know that you've got to plow through a lot of chaff to get to the wheat.

A couple other points come to mind as well: First of all, these forums are great for immediate need, but not so great where the question gets asked 100 times in a variety of ways and no one bothers to RTFM.

Next, there's something to be said for being able to roll up a copy of EventDV in your back pocket and access it anywhere without wires, computers, or electricity. Got a doctor's appointment? Take your own reading material and learn something while you sit in the waiting room for 45 minutes.

Also, do you realize how many event videographers are not on the Web? Are you kidding? I'm with you…I thought everyone was on the Web by now.

But most importantly, this column is about allowing others to take a peek inside, maybe relating to a circumstance and tucking that little tidbit of info in the back of their minds for the next time. Not to sound all PBSey and whatnot, but it really is people like you who make a difference.

Finally, in addition to airing select responses in the column, I try to respond to all inquiries that come in via email at

Dear DJ,
I'm an up-and-coming videographer. I'm kinda new to the industry but so far very successful. I've been taking your advice about selling yourself. What I would like is some tips on shooting and editing a wedding, so that in the very near future when I start shooting weddings I can give the best and most professional-quality work I can.

Dear Tech2,
Welcome to the wonderful world of Wedding Videography...

Your question is a loaded one, and there are too many answers to fit them all in the limited space here so I'm going to touch on a couple of the more esoteric. Things like composition, Dutch angles, depth of field, etc. are better suited to more hands-on learning and experience.

The wedding day is going to be fast-paced, but it will have structure. That structure may change from job to job, but it is there. Learn it and follow it. Attend the rehearsal. Familiarize yourself with the players, the schedule, and the law of the land (i.e., venue restrictions).

Immediately following the rehearsal, I like to gather the wedding party (parents included) and introduce myself. As much as I hate speaking before groups, I force myself to do this. I tell them how many people will be shooting, and encourage them to have fun and play to the camera. Next, I assure them that after editing, we'll make sure they don't look bad.

While I urge them to play to the camera the rest of the day, I explain that during the ceremony they should ignore the video camera. I also make a point to find out who is the "class clown" of the group (usually one of the groomsmen) and let him know, jokingly, that I expect some big things from him.

This is going to set the tone, get people used to the idea that there will be video cameras around during the day, and (I hope) keep them from breaking the fourth wall during the ceremony.

At the end of this little speech I pull the Maid of Honor, Best Man, and class clown aside and make sure that they understand that if they are planning any surprises (like the lost rings gag), I need to know now so we can capture them.

As for the shoot: calm yourself. Avoid caffeine. Drink water. Think about what you are seeing in the viewfinder before shooting it. Don't rush your shots. Set your shot, start rolling. Stop rolling, then move on.

Go over the shoot with your crew ahead of time. Let them know what you expect of them. Allow them to be creative as long as they get what you need. Albuquerque's Summit Productions owner Ken Ehrhart presented two workshops at WEVA (Wedding & Event Videographers Association) Expo this past August and had a "Policy and Operations Manual for Wedding Videographers" available that he has all his shooters adhere to. This is one of the most comprehensive production bibles I have ever seen. Consider getting yourself a copy and using it as a basis for creating your own. Ken can be reached at

Speaking of WEVA (, join it. There is no other trade association currently out there that offers as much for our industry as WEVA does.