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Advice for Couples

How to Choose a Videographer: Advice from a Toronto Wedding Photographer

As a Toronto wedding photographer, I have the luxury of working in a city that has a near infinite amount of wedding vendors to network with as well as work with on a wedding day.  One of the most frequently asked questions I get from my clients is how to choose a videographer.  My clients know that I’ve worked with dozens upon dozens of different companies all of whom have different styles and approaches to the day and I’m always flattered when my clients ask me for advice about choosing other vendors because it means they trust me and truly value my opinion.  I’ve decided to turn to my blog to help spread the advice I’ve given my clients in hopes that this can help all brides and grooms choose the best videographer for their needs.

Ignore the 10% budget rule

In traditional wedding budget breakdown, photography and videography are lumped into the same category and you’re told to spend 10% on the combined services.  This was all well and good when these guidelines were written 30+ years ago but technology has changed, the services both photographers and videographers offer has changed and the pricepoint associated with these services has changed.  Not sure what I’m saying?  Let’s do the math:  According to WeddingBells, the average Canadian wedding in 2013 cost about $24,000 (excluding the cost of the ring).  Ten-percent of this amount is $2,400.  That can be a perfectly adequate amount for photography or videography but not for both.  The idea that you should spend 10% of your budget on the total cost of photography & videography is unrealistic if you’re expecting professional, reliable and high quality product.

Choose a Photographer & Videographer who have Similar styles

This one’s easy to figure out; look at the photographers portfolio (particularly their blog posts).  Do you see the same shots repeated time and time again?  Do you see a lot of “posed” images or a lot of candid images?  Posed images can indicate that the photographer is very structured and classic in their approach to the day.  If you see a lot of candid images or images that tell a story, you’ll know that the photography is of storytelling or photojournalistic nature with a relaxed, non-directing approach and every wedding they shoot will be different.  Now, do the same for the videographer you’re looking for.  Take a look at their videos; do you see the same scenes repeated over and over again?  If so, this means that the videographer will typically do through a list of standard “poses” which means they will be giving you lots of direction on the wedding day.  If your photographer takes a non-directing approach but your videographer relies heavily on directing and poses (or vice versa) the two may not be compatible in terms of being able to produce the product you’re expecting out of your wedding day.

Do NOT Feel Obligated to Choose an “All-in-One” Company

Company’s that offer both photo and video often market themselves on the premise that “our pros will work very well together” but truth be told, any professional vendor should be able to work well with any other professional vendor; regardless of whether or not they are from the same company.

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Discuss Potential ‘Paparazzi’ Promptly

Nothing can frustrate the couple (as well as the family) on a wedding day like having a giant crowd of paparazzi surrounding the happy couple.  The couple gets frustrated because they have a half-dozen cameras in their faces and the family is frustrated because the professionals are basically blocking the view from everyone else.  If you’re choosing to have both a photographer and a videographer, I would highly recommend finding strong professionals who are totally capable of working solo or in smaller numbers.

Let’s expand on that for a moment.  I’ve shot with some videographers who operate solo and that’s awesome.  I’ve shot with some videographers who have 2 or 3 shooters (3 for a more ‘cinematic’ look) and I’ve also shot with some videographers that have 2 or 3 shooters plus assistants.  While it’s perfectly reasonable for large locations – like churches or reception halls – to benefit from having multiple videographers (as their craft and needs differs from that of photographers), smaller locations such as getting ready locations may be totally overtaken by ‘paparazzi’ if filled with too many shooters and assistants.

Ideally, from my perspective, getting ready and intimate family moments are covered more than adequately by 1 photographer and 1 videographer.  Any more than that and the day risks becoming more about the vendors than it does the couple.

Ask your vendors if they plan on bringing assistants or crew before signing your contract and make any requests for maximum amount of people at that point.  This will ensure you have reasonable expectations for not only the services they can provide but also for the ambiance you’ll be expecting on your wedding day.

Discuss timelines prior to signing a contract

Timelines are crucial to not only a smooth and stress-free wedding day but also a key component of getting the most out of your photography (and videography) investment.  Both a photographer and a videographer need a certain amount of time to produce product for you that is consistent with what you saw in their portfolios.  A photographer cannot always “just shoot what the videographer is doing” nor can the videographer just shoot what the photographer is doing.  That’s fine at times but not a permanent solution for the day which is why it’s crucial that you discuss timelines with each your photographer and videographer – it’s important to know how much time each will need with you in order to produce the type of product you’re expecting.  Having this conversation before you sign the contract avoids a lot of heartache in the future.

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