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Because the day is a whirlwind of events, it is nice to have something to look back on that really captures the special moments.

When the planning is all over and that special day arrives, things are going to move fast - so fast that all some people remember of their wedding day is one dizzying blur of excitement. But it's pretty tough to catch all the action with still photography. What can? The answer is videotape.

Why Videotape?

Why are so many wedding couples hiring videographers? Reason number one for the popularity of wedding videotaping is simple: couples love their wedding videotapes and their words of praise are spreading. The second reason is closely associated with the first: professionals are readily available to satisfy the demand for this service. And once hired, they are satisfying their customers with excellent results.

Hobbyist vs Professional

Of course, not all couples hire professionals. A friend or family member may volunteer his services. But consider first; What would happen if the friend or family member is sick or unable to attend? What if they forget to bring their camcorder? Will they be able to enjoy the day as a guest or will they feel pressured to produce a videotape that will be cherished for years to come? And more importantly, is there an appreciable quality difference between the hobby videotaper and professional videographer, other than the price? Be assured there is.


Those who have seen many home videos know that videotaping is a skill, one that requires practice. Weddings are specific events that present unique problems to the videotaper. The professional has experience with lighting, camera location, and timing. The professional's experience is beneficial, because it is safe to say you get what you pay for. Combine the professional's expertise with his superior equipment, and the difference between a hobbyist and a pro is even more apparent.


Consider first the price of video gear. Few hobbyists can afford the professional's quality equipment, let alone the multiple batteries needed when taping for extended periods of time. A dead battery halfway through the ceremony does not leave an amateur many options. And even if the battery holds up, what if the hobbyist's single camera malfunctions?

The professional does have options. Often he will use more than one camera to record the event, assuring a variety of angles and perspectives. The professional may also use separate microphones placed in strategic locations to better record the music, readings and vows, rather than the single built-in microphone most home recorders have. Multi-camera viewpoints and great sound quality are sure ways to distinguish a pro's work from an amateur's.

Another sure way is the picture quality. The professional equipment many pros use produces a higher quality tape than most home recorders. But perhaps the most important difference between a professional and novice is found after the taping is done. With the rank amateur, what he saw is what you get. The tape goes straight from the recorder to the player with no editing. Not so with many professional jobs. According to one area videographer, 10-15 hours is the average time spent editing a typical wedding tape.

An artistic videotape produced with today's sophisticated audience in mind becomes a cherished keepsake of the wedding day. It contains no dead spots or tedious, long segments as found in many home videos. Instead, the best of the day's memorable events are arranged in an interesting and creative fashion, tailored to keep the viewer's attention. For instance, long half-hour segments of the same activity, like dancing, can be broken up, rearranged, and mixed with an assorted variety of other segments, like interviews, toasting, etc., making the final tape an entertaining and professional production.

An extra camera feature offered by some pros is digital effects. Slick TV shows are filled with these high-tech manipulations of the visual image. Today's viewers are used to seeing the results of digital effects: screen images shrink and expand, one image appears inside another, a boxed image flips and twirls around and multi-images fill the screen. While select professionals commonly use digital effects in their productions, hobbyists only dream about them.

The tape produced through professional editing is commonly just less than two hours long, about the length of a feature film - just perfect to fit the contemporary American's attention span, and without having to use the fast-forward button even once!


And how much does a professional cost? That depends on the services purchased. Services and prices vary greatly from pro to pro, so shopping around (being sure to compare services as well as prices) is a must.

What might the typical package include? The procession, ceremony and receiving lines are standard fare. Some tapes include the guests arriving-for when do the bride and groom ever see their guests at the ceremony?

Reception taping can begin with the newlyweds' arrival. Dancing, toasting, cutting the cake, tossing the garter and bouquet can all be included in packages or ordered a la carte. Reception guests know that the best action often occurs near the end of the night after the newlyweds have departed. Packages can stipulate that the videographer remain to the celebration's end to record all memorable events.

Other features can make tapes even more special. Interviews with parents ("When did you first meet your child's fiance?"), members of the bridal party ("What kind of activities did you and the groom take part in in high school?") and guests ("How long have you known the bride?") will be cherished. Shots of the bride and groom's baby pictures, high school graduation pictures, etc., can serve as introductions to the ceremony. The videographer might also provide a television at the reception for viewing of the ceremony tape. It is never too early to reminisce, and the guests appreciate the entertainment.

Hiring The Videographer

But before the reminiscing can begin, the videographer must be hired. Many professionals have sample tapes for viewing, and all can provide references. Shopping for the right price and services is advised, just as it is for still photographers. An easy way to locate a pro with a good reputation is to ask around. One prominent area videographer states that more than half his business comes from word of mouth, sure testament of a happy customer.

Shopping for a videographer and still photographer is similar, but the two must not be confused. Videotaping and photography are different media. Traditional wedding photography has not been replaced by videotape. You cannot play a picture album in your VCR and you cannot hang a videotape on your wall.



Experts agree that a professional photographer is a wedding must. This does not mean that relatives and friends should be discouraged from taking any photographs (some couples even give them desired photo lists and assign them "back-up" roles), but few hobby photographers can successfully satisfy the couple's photography expectations. The professional assures results and allows the friend or relative to enjoy the day's events without the responsibility of taking the all-important photos!

When Should The Photographer Be Selected?

Many area photographers encourage the bride and groom to make initial contacts as early as nine months to a year ahead of time. Popular photographers' calendars fill quickly, and an early booking allows plenty of time for consultation.

How Should The Professional Be Selected?

Couples start with friends' wedding albums, looking at the style and variety of shots taken.

Bridal Shows provide the opportunity to view the work of many photographers in one place. A variety of area photographers are also found in the Yellow Pages.. A consultation appointment then follows. At this first meeting, the photographer and couple discuss the details. The couple should tune in to whether or not they feel comfortable in the photographer's presence. Since the photographer will be an integral part of your wedding day, be sure you're comfortable with him! Does he communicate well with you? Can he clearly state what he can do for you, in a way that you understand? Be sure that the photos the photographer shows Comparing the work of possible photographers is one way to make a decision. Many you are taken by the photographer who will actually cover your wedding. This is especially important if you are working with a studio. In reviewing photos, be sure to look over the photos for an entire wedding, not just the highlights of several. Project yourself into these photos and check your approval level. Ask yourself if the photographer captured the wedding day's range of emotions.

The bride and groom must go to this meeting ready to ask important questions they've prepared ahead of time. Consider asking the photographer about these points:


Does the photographer have package prices? What does each package include (size and number of prints)? Can services be ordered a la carte? Is the album extra? Can the couple choose from a selection of albums? How much do duplicate prints cost (for relatives and attendants)? How can out-of-town folks order and pay for photos? How will their photos be delivered? Will there be meal or transportation expenses?

Contract. Once all the details have been decided on, will the services and prices be confirmed in a contract, and with whom will the couple be dealing? Or, will final price be decided after viewing and deciding on the proofs? Will the contract specify delivery times of proofs and final copies? Who will own the negatives? What is the payment schedule? Who is responsible for lost proofs? Is the photographer's attendance guaranteed? What if he doesn't make it? What happens if the date of the wedding changes or some other circumstance intervenes?

"Must" Photos

Will all desired formal and candid shots of the wedding and reception be taken? Are they guaranteed? What type of format will be used and why? Will there be any special effect shots (double exposure, special filters, fadeouts, etc.)? Will the photographer use a list of wanted photos provided by the bride and groom? (A helpful photography checklist can be found in the "Worksheet Section" of this publication.)

Bridal Portrait

Is the bridal portrait included in the package price? Will it be taken the day of the ceremony, the day of the final fitting or at a less hectic time, like a month before the wedding? Where will it be taken - at the bridal shop, the photographer's studio, the bride's home, the bride's mother's home, a special site or the church? Will full-length and head-and-shoulder shots be taken? Can a black-and-white shot be taken for newspaper announcements?


Will the formal wedding party shots be taken before or after the wedding? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each time? When will the photographer arrive? How long will he or she stay at the reception?

Wedding Site

Is the photographer familiar with the site and its policies? Is it necessary to supply the photographer with a copy of site policies and rules? Should the bride and groom arrange a pre-wedding visit to check lighting, filter and positioning requirements?

With so many questions to consider, the need for a professional, experienced photographer becomes clear. The ability to take good photos is certainly not the only point of consideration. The photographer must also be a good communicator, willing to listen to the couple's wishes and able to successfully explain his artistic style, assuring the couple that they will get what they want. And what they want, of course, are photographs to last a lifetime


After you receive your photographs you'll want to preserve these memories for generations to come. Scrapbooking has become a popular way to do just that! Specialty stores provide all the materials you need to safely and beautifully document your wedding day. These shops have an incredible array of acid free papers, pens, stickers and supplies, all of archival quality to assure your memories will last. Many scrapbook stores even provide classes and workshops to help you create an album you will love and cherish forever!




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