Photographers vs Videographers | Time for a Truce?

Ask SLR Lounge August 11th 2014 10:13 AM 7 Comments

A community member recently asked us the following question: “I have had some bad experiences with videographers recently. Any tips for dealing with them?” This is a hot topic and it’s worth a deeper discussion. There’s no denying that at weddings these days, there can be a rift between photographers and videographers. Among other potential points of conflict, we’re both vying for the same positions throughout the day as well as the same precious couples session time during that fleeting sunset.

As skiers are to snowboarders, as surfers are to bodyboarders, photographers are to videographers and vice versa. Our company, Lin and Jirsa, does both wedding photography and wedding videography, so I’ve developed a unique perspective on the subject.

I’m a firm believer that photographers and videographers can do more than just get along, but thrive in the same environment. From our experience, it simply takes a change in mindset, an openness to communication, and a few simple actions to establish a strong, even mutually beneficial relationship with the video team. Here are some useful tips and advice in this article to help photographers and videographer get along.

[REWIND: PHOTOGRAPHERS VS. VIDEOGRAPHERS EPIC BATTLE: FRIDAY FOTO FUNNIES]

Realize the Big Picture

The first thing to realize is that, even in extreme cases of nightmare photo/video relationships, your final product will not likely be affected drastically. Yes, you might have had your couple’s session flow interrupted or maybe you got in each other’s shots here and there. But most couples will be completely understanding in these situations. So just continue to work hard and deliver your style. What will likely affect the final product more than the actual actions of the photographer or videographer is a distracted or negative mindset that takes your focus away from your creativity, client interaction, and attention to detail. The good thing is that you have complete control over how you choose react to any situation.

Realize the Common Goal

The second consideration is the realization that both photographers and videographers have the same end goal; and that is to make the client happy. If you truly love your clients and put their needs first, as you probably should to survive in this industry, then you should realize that they want both great photography and videography. It’s in their best interest to have both and your responsibility to not get in the way of that. If you approach the day with this attitude, then the small things that might otherwise annoy or even infuriate you will be easier to accept and work around. In fact, this mindset helps if you’re ever frustrated with any wedding vendor, from coordinators to DJs.

Establish Strong Communication

Establishing good communication is key to a strong relationship throughout the day. Try your best to talk through every major scene prior to it occurring so you can plan and prepare to capture the moment. For example, on the grand entrance for the reception, many videographers choose to use a steadycam with a shorter focal length so they might choose to stay within 3-5 feet of the couple for the entire entrance. Knowing this, as the photographer you have a few options: 1) you can also get on a 24-70mm lens and stay around the same distance as the couple, 2) you can plant your 2nd and 3rd shooters from all angles so one of you always has a clear shot, or 3) you can ask the videographer to only trail for a certain length of the entrance distance. This is just one example, but imagine a similar conversation for the ceremony, for a first look, and the couple’s session. Knowing and understanding each other’s action plans will help you avoid surprises and missed moments.

Strong communication between the photo and video teams allow both to capture essential angles of critical moments

Strong communication between the photo and video teams allow both to capture essential angles of critical moments

Give in Order to Receive

Like most relationships in this world, it’s important to make sacrifices and compromises. If you’re willing to give up a few things, you’ll likely see those actions acknowledged and even rewarded later in the day. For photographers, offering to go to “silent shutter” during key moments or turning off your flash when it’s not necessary pays dividends when the videographers take notice. They might then be less likely to get frustrated when you need a bit more time to set up a more complicated shot later on in the day.

Photographers: In poignant moments (with sufficient light), consider turning off the flash to help the videographers get clean clips

Photographers: In poignant moments (with sufficient light), consider turning off the flash to help the videographers get clean clips

On the other end, a videographer, for example, might offer to move the center aisle camera during the ceremony for a brief moment so that the photographer can get a clean wide shot of the scene. It’s these small acts of sincerity and consideration that help everyone stay happy.

Videographers: The photo team will express their gratitude if you're willing to move your center aisle camera for a brief moment to capture this type of image

Videographers: The photo team will express their gratitude if you’re willing to move your center aisle camera for a brief moment to capture this type of image

Never Tell Them What to Do or Criticize

An obvious universal truth is that people don’t like being told what to do or criticized. This is especially true for artists like photographers and videographers. Yet for some reason or another, be it pride or just a simple lack of respect, videographers and photographers sometimes forget to approach their communication with tact and and sensitivity.

I’ve heard photographers and videographers say things like “don’t go behind the couple” or “get out of my shot” or ask questions like “do you really need to flash right now?” Instead, the tone could easy be different and more effective. Something like “My angle captures everything directly behind the couple. Can we stay clear of that area during the speeches?” or “Can I grab a few minutes of footage without flash?” There are definitely ways to get what you want without flexing your muscle and bringing up negative feelings.

Realize That We’re in Changing Times

We’re in the age of same-day edits and amazing cinematic productions with full rigs, drones, and other high-skill, high-cost elements of video production. If you’ve been in the wedding photography business for a while (or even if you’ve only been in for a few years, but are used to low budget, photo-only weddings), you might be used to running the show. You might be used to controlling the timeline, taking all the time you need to set up and execute your shots, and having any angle or any position of your choosing.

But these days, it’s important to realize that there are two directors on the set, both with equally demanding needs. Regardless of who’s getting paid more or which services the couples values more, they expect certain results from both. As a result for both photo and video, it’s important now more than ever to be able to execute and deliver in less time than you may have been used to.

Videographer's costs, prices, and expectations are at an all time high

Videographer’s costs, prices, and expectations are at an all time high

Photographers, check the Videographer’s Crops

This practice will both benefit photographers and garner much appreciation from the video team. Simply ask, “Can I check your crops so that I’m not in your shot?” Understanding video’s crops helps you realize which positions are in frame. As a result, you’re able to minimize your time in those positions. There will inevitably still be times when you have no choice but to be in frame for moments at a time, but you really want to avoid ruining an entire angle for key moments.

Get Your Shots

This might seem contradictory to what has been said so far, but it’s also important to take your time to deliver what the clients expect from YOU. So, if you don’t quite have your shot yet, let the other team know that you need more time. If the photo or video team keeps interrupting you, let them kindly know that you need more time to get your shot. In the end, you still need to deliver what your clients expect from you. If you’ve practiced some of the other tips in this article, then the other team (either photo or video) should have no problem giving you some leeway.

Conclusion

As a photographer with Lin and Jirsa who has been in wedding photography for about 8 years, I’ve had my share of good and bad experiences with videographers. On the positive end of the spectrum, I’ve become good friends with a couple of studios and the synergies are great. We share lighting setups, we take turns getting our shots, and we generally have a great time working together at weddings. On the opposite end of the spectrum, things have gotten testy and unpleasant. The interesting things is that some negative relationships have turned into positive ones over the years; and when working with those teams these days we look back on the unpleasant moments together and laugh. “Hey remember that first wedding we did with each other when we wanted to smack each other with our tripods?” This particular relationship being referenced was completely turned around when I started doing some of the things mentioned in this article. We would love to hear your thoughts below. Do you have any other tips for getting along with each other? Do you agree with what has been said?

Special thanks to Zeke for helping me proof and modify this article.

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Christopher

About

Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography, I’m based in Southern California but you can find me travelling the world. Click here to connect on Google +

7 Comments

  1. Herm Tjioe

    It may seem obvious, but these helpful tips do have a profound impact to the relationship on the floor and beyond that day. I can really understand each other’s frustrations. I bend over backward to accommodate the photogs, and often it is reciprocated back to me. As for the guests that decide to suddenly pop up and block . . . .

  2. Joseph Anthony

    Great article Chris. Several of these tips can be applied to our relationship with every vendor at a wedding.

  3. Ray Roman

    Professionals don’t need a truce. Amateurs are usually the ones that don’t realize the benefits of working together as a team. The photo the author posted of video gear is a little one sided and misleading in my opinion (you will rarely see a crane being used by a videographer and full Steadicam rigs are not really common anymore…as much smaller stabilizers are available). If you’re going to post a picture like that, you should also post a picture of photographer assistants that stand in the way with a flash on a stick, large reflectors, giant soft boxes and strobes. Most of these tools can be used in a way and at a time where they’re not a big distraction. I’ve worked with some of the worst and some of the best (or so-called best) photographers in the world and have never had a problem with the true professionals. There will always be the people with giant egos or the ones that lack confidence in their skills and feel the need to be overly aggressive on their shoots with complete disregard for anyone else trying to document the same special moments.

    • Christopher

      Hi Ray: Thank you for your thoughts. I’m just posting my opinions based on my experience. Just this year (half way through the season), I’ve already seen 3 full rigs (out of about 30-40 weddings I shoot each year). I’ve seen the full steadicam vest about 5 times (yes, 3 times were from the same studio). I didn’t post the picture to claim that they are huge distractions. If you go back and read the points made in association with the image you’re referencing, you’ll see that they are talking about the expectations of high production value and the need to accommodate more than one director on set. I made no reference in those objects getting in the way. Please let me know if there are ways that I can make that more clear.

  4. Rafael Steffen

    Making it clear that the goal is to please the client, is an easy way to make videographers much pleasing.

  5. ZANA DOO

    When we offer Photography and video performance, we note that the goal between photography and video is different, especially the management of the time.
    For the video, we need sequences, sequence are taking between 15s and 1min sometime more.
    During this, the camera record the space, the action,…
    for the cameran, the vibration, the “parasite mouvement” is his nightmare , by consequently, his view will have to be extremely stable. Each plan take many minute of preparation. during this time, the action continue …. we cannot lose any moment. That’s why, we install a or many camera, to anticipate each movement of camera, and to be sure to catch the weeding.
    for example: when the bride say “yes” to her groom, it take 3s; if with you camera you are not ready before (no movement 30s before), you risk to lose this very important moment.

    For the photography we need to catch moment with an extremely short time (1/8000s , ..1/40s) The photographer take his photo and move (to change his view of the situation) it could take 20s.
    for the same example: during this 3s, the photographe should have 10, 20 photos.

    there is an other difference of this two performances, the sound. The video needs sounds, neither the photography. This element need for the cameraman, an huge concentration (quiet mouvement, no comment behind the camera ;o) ) For the protographer, if the sound is poor, if there are a lot of noise… it doesn’t matter.

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