I’ve been filming weddings alongside wedding photographers for 4 years now. Every single wedding I’ve filmed, I’ve been asked by guests to take their picture while filming. Understandable. We dress like photographers. Our cameras look exactly the same. Here’s the big secret that no one wants to talk about…we’re completely different. Asking me to take a picture during a wedding is still funny to me and my crew. We giggle and snicker that people can’t tell the difference like a bunch of nerdy kids with jailbroken iPhones. In fact, your iPhone would probably do a better job taking the drunk group selfie as I don’t have a flash attached to my camera. Please don’t ask me why I don’t have a flash hooked up for filming, I can’t afford to laugh that loud during someone’s wedding.
It gets worse. I’ve noticed in the past 2 years that quite a few wedding photographers are starting to offer video services as part of their photography package. WARNING: IT’S A SCAM!!!!! These groups are just out to make a quick buck (or couple thousand…) They regularly offer the packages acting as if the work is done internally and with their oversight. It’s not. They hire independent filmmakers like myself or my team to work the wedding. They become a speed bump to communication and what’s worse is they expect to be compensated for overpromising services to the bride without understanding the technical details.
Real Life Nightmare
The worst case scenario happened to me this past summer. A bride hired a husband and wife photography team out of Philadelphia for her wedding. They touted wedding films as a service that they offered without having a single video professional on staff.
When I was approached about taking on the job, I was very clear with the photographer that there was absolutely no way to promise a full ceremony as a solo shooter. I also explained that it was important to spend time in the morning with both the groomsmen and the bridesmaids to be able to tell the whole story. The photographer, acting like a video professional, proceeded to promise the ceremony in it’s entirety along with a 3-5 minute highlight film and a 10-15 minute recap without understanding the technical details or number of shooters it would require. On the day of the wedding I was appalled to see the photographer show up with a 3 person crew while leaving me in the dust as a solo shooter. His attitude was condescending, as if I was simply his pawn, and his expectations were unrealistic if not fanatic. I did my best to run multiple cameras along with direct audio feeds. I ran my ass off through downtown Philadelphia, dragging 3x as much equipment as the photographer with no help. We finished our night arguing with each other in the middle of the dance floor.
In the end, the bride was ecstatic with my work. She posted the video almost immediately after receiving it and got rave reviews from her friends and family. 6 months later, my worst nightmare was brought to life. I got an email from the Photographer complaining that the bride was in tears over my awful footage and lack of a full ceremony. That was the last straw. I immediately found the bride’s information online and contacted her with my condolences and offered any help that I could provide. We opened up our first direct line of communication and the web of lies that her photographer fed her started to unravel. The photographer charged the bride more than 3x the amount they paid me to do all of the filming and editing. She paid nearly $4000. I got paid a mere $1000. The photographer promised her footage that I specifically said would not be included. The photographer made $3000 to my $1000 for doing less than nothing. My client was now in tears. She finally realized that she had been ripped off.
Moral of the Story
Dear Wedding Photographers,
Stop trying to be something you’re not. Stop telling clients that you make films. Stop promising services you don’t fully understand. Stop upcharging our services for a quick buck. Stop putting brides in tears. We don’t want your job, stop trying to steal ours.
Dear Brides and Grooms,
It’s not your fault. You’ve been tricked and lied to. Instead of asking photographers to be filmmakers, ask them for referrals. They work alongside us all the time, and they know who does good work and who doesn’t. Be sure to get at least 2 companies that they have worked with to be sure they aren’t scoring kickbacks as motivation for referrals. Don’t try to hire your event planner to be your florist, your officiant to be your DJ, or your photographer to be a filmmaker.