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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.