Aspiring filmmaker? You might be wondering why I'd film weddings. Honestly, if you're serious about getting into the media industry as a camera operator or editor, I personally believe that weddings are a prime first step. Wedding videos may have been taboo years ago, but I don't know why. If you're making your products good, there's no reason to be ashamed of it. Especially if you can make a living off of it. Here are some of the things I've learned about myself, and my cinematography over the years.
1. It forces you to think like a business
You are your business and your products (wedding videos) are a real thing people buy, you're not just some YouTuber doing it for likes/subscribers/comments.
This is the real deal.
You're promoting your products, replying to inquiring clients, having one-on-one (or one-on-two) meetings with the newly-engaged and all the while, you're servicing the heck out of them to exceed their expectations and outdo your competitors. This is exactly how you'd want to market yourself in any other context, whether that's in other fields of media, or literally any other professional field. Being able to transform your visual mind into an entrepreneurial vision can only better yourself as an artist. Let me guess how you started getting more into filmmaking: "It was always a hobby for me. I saw an awesome [insert video/movie/advertisement] and I wanted to make stuff like that. Just like [insert idol filmmaker's name]." And you can...but you must keep your business hat on. Do you think Scorsese/Coppola /Tarantino/Abrams got big by doing it strictly for themselves, watching their videos in their basement, and losing all their money in the process? Sell yourself and your products first. then watch your customer base shift into hiring you for your artistic value.
2. It forces you to understand equipment.
Every video you create, every piece of content you release, every published post you put out on social media; it relies on your understanding of your tools. These tools are the ones you need to create the best product you can. Your cameras, microphones, editing software, marketing content, and website builders all matter. But it's not all in the gear; you need to know how to use them, and well. If you're sitting around wishing you could produce something that you've seen on another profile, go learn the how to best use the equiptment you have and understand it's limits. If you're finding that your videos are boring, explore your equipment deeper. If you are finding your editing techniques are cheesy, again...you have to focus on your tools.
Honestly, this is the best time in history for anyone to learn anything, so go out and be the life long student you should be. The world wide interwebs is a click away, and your available learning resources are your best resources. You can learn everything so easily, and for as little as $0. YouTube, Lynda, CreativeLive, Google are great places to start. The resources are all there, and it's how I started. Simply put: if you don't create well, your business won't do well. You won't do well.
3. Refine and enjoy your freedom of style.
That's the kicker. I think this is the biggest difference between wedding cinematography and any other form of profitable video creation (e.g – music videos, advertisements). There's such a huge range of accepted wedding video styles. Not that there aren't various styles of music videos/short films/advertisements – because these are definitely clients that will have more planned content laid out for you. I believe your chances of making some money, all while sharing your creative vision, are better within the wedding industry. Mostly because there isn't a "standard" quality or type of video people are used to; unlike commercial ads or MTV music videos. People aren't used to seeing high budget wedding videos – which means you can start out as low budget as you need (experimenting with equipment, honing your skill) but still create a film that specific couples are willing to pay for. [Let's not forget that this is indeed a business, and cashflow should always be in the back of your mind]. Because there isn't a requirement for style or quality, you can sway your videos in whichever way you'd like. There are so many shooting and editing techniques out there, you can pick and choose which one best suits you.
So produce the style you want to be producing. Start using the equipment you want to be using. And use the wedding industry as your filmmaking classroom to better yourself. As a person, as a business, and as a potential leader for your goals in this filmmaking thing of ours. Working weddings has allowed me to create and share the deep and emotional stories that I admired out of my favourite cinematographers, and it's also helped me write my own story too as a successful business in a niche that I'm passionate about.
Featured image via Aaron Daniel Films.