Working With Photographers as a Wedding Filmmaker

In today's video, I share my approach to working with photographers at weddings, and give some tips on how you can work together as a team to make sure everyone comes away from the day happy...especially the bride and groom.

A lot of photographers get apprehensive as soon as they see videographers step on the scene, and rightfully so. Most of the photographers I talk to have had bad experiences with wedding filmmakers in the past, and God knows I’ve had a few bad experiences with a few photographers, too.

So today, we’re going to talk about what you can do as a wedding filmmaker to ensure the best outcome for everyone, especially the bride and groom.

Say Hello

When we have a couple interested in working with us, one of the first things we have them do is to fill out our online questionnaire. In it they give us details like their names, addresses, email addresses, venue name and location, etc. etc.

And one of the most important pieces of information we ask for is the photographer’s name and website address. Usually, a week or so before the wedding date, if we haven’t been in contact already, we’ll shoot an email over and introduce ourselves, say hello, and other general niceties like we look forward to working with you.

So, the day of the wedding rolls around, and if we arrive and the photographer’s already there, usually I wait for a break in the action if they’re shooting something, and introduce myself and the rest of the team. 

And from then on, it’s really just about being self-aware and communicating. If you’re cool with them, 99% they’re going to be cool with you. It’s not a competition, and at the end of the day, you’re both trying to walk away with the best shots possible.

If you need to step in for a close-up, a simple gesture like making eye contact or a head nod with the photographer is sometimes enough to make sure they got what they needed before you walk in. And, chances are, if you’re communicating with them, they’re going to reciprocate and make sure that you have what you need before they cross the frame or move in closer.

And discussing your plan of attack for things like the processional, the vows, the kiss, the grand entrance, the toasts, the first dance - if you’re going to be using a gimbal and orbiting the couple for three minutes straight, might make it a little difficult for the photographer, so, try to come to some compromise there - the cake cutting, the garter, the bouquet, etc. etc. Discussing your approach to all of these eventsand being on the same page is definitely something you’ll want to do to ensure that nobody’s in anybody else’s way.

Now of course, there are going to be those photographers who simply don’t understand wedding filmmaking and have probably been shooting weddings for 20 years or 30 years or more and are used to doing things a certain way, and in those situations you might have to repeat yourself if you feel like you’re not working together or being overlooked. And that’s going to happen. I definitely have some horror stories, but I won’t get into that now.

But for the most part, most photographers, especially the younger ones, are very cool and very aware of what we do, and are definitely willing to be accommodating, as long as we’re cool to them in return.

Usually, by the time dinner rolls around, we’re best friends. We’re cracking jokes, we’re trading war stories, we’re getting along great. 

Feed Off of Each Other’s Creativity

Another advantage to having a good working relationship with the photographer is that you can feed off of each other’s creativity. If you’ve done a lot of weddings, sometimes it can be challenging to push yourself creatively to find something new to shoot, or to do something you’ve never done before. Some of the best shots that I’ve got have been ideas or poses that the photographer had, and we built on them. And I’m sure there are some excellentphotographs out there of couples that we shot that were in a pose or a set-up that I had them in for video. So working as a unit and building off of each other’s ideas can really help you get out of your own head if you’re stuck creatively, and could possibly help out the photographer with an idea for a pose or a shot that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. 

Being Nice is Good For Business

And remember, photographers can be a really good source of referrals. We’ve flown all over the country for certain weddings all because a photographer who we like working with gave our name to the bride and groom, so developing those relationships can definitely be beneficial!