Sarah and Michael — Wedding Day

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I’ve been bleed­ing for a big project, some­thing to real­ly throw myself into. Luckily, wed­dings are as big as they come, and at 70.43 GB of footage tak­en, this wed­ding was the biggest by far.

It was also the first Italian wed­ding I’ve expe­ri­enced, and there was noth­ing more inter­est­ing than observ­ing the cus­toms. It’s a very phys­i­cal cul­ture, with lots of hug­ging, kiss­ing, and firm pats on shoul­ders. And some­how every­one is a nat­ur­al dancer. How did every­one know to hold hands in equal­ly sized cir­cles and start mov­ing in the same direc­tion? How did every­one know when to stop hold­ing hands and start clap­ping1? How did you every­one known to step in to touch the groom and moth­er at the same time?

This is a per­fect exam­ple of how video takes over the lim­i­ta­tions of still pho­tog­ra­phy. A lot of cama­raderie and inti­ma­cy and con­fi­dence only come out when motion is involved, because it’s all in how peo­ple move and inter­act. Trying to cap­ture a bride eat­ing cake out of her cleav­age just isn’t pos­si­ble with a sin­gle frame.

This was a very spe­cial project for me, and I put so much love into this film, from the cam­era-work to the edit­ing to the grad­ing to the music. Over three hours of footage was care­ful­ly stripped away to cre­ate this five minute sto­ry. Every moment mat­ters, every frame counts.

Sarah and Mike are so hap­py with the final prod­uct that they’ve now decid­ed to send a DVD of this video out to all the guests in lieu of thank-you cards. For a wed­ding of 450 peo­ple, this is no small con­sid­er­a­tion. When I first met them, I knew they were going to be a fan­tas­tic cou­ple to work with because they were super nice and made me feel very com­fort­able. They also gave me full cre­ative con­trol, which is always the most impor­tant thing for me as an artist.

Production notes

I most­ly used two lens­es: the 24–70mm f/2.8 and 70–200mm f/2.8 IS mk II. I changed to a 15mm fish-eye for danc­ing at the end cause the low­er focal length pro­vides a big­ger depth of field. This was cru­cial, as I had my mono­pod propped on my waist to get shots from a high angle, and I could­n’t see the viewfind­er there so I was just hop­ing for the best. I’ve decid­ed that I can nev­er use primes cause things move way too quick­ly when it comes to video to be chang­ing lens­es all the time.

There’s some­thing very vis­cer­al and nos­tal­gic about the grain in the low-light shots that isn’t the same as grain added in post-pro­duc­tion. I’m now tempt­ed to shoot an entire wed­ding at 3200 ISO.

Everything was filmed in full man­u­al this time. In my expe­ri­ence, the con­trast of the dark suits and white dress­es real­ly throws off the auto­mat­ic cam­era set­tings. This means that on top of com­po­si­tion, focus, and move­ment, you have to wor­ry about expo­sure, but it’s bet­ter when you’re shoot­ing against con­stant­ly chang­ing back­grounds and envi­ron­ments cause the cam­era won’t sud­den­ly make things too dark or light.

My invest­ment in the Glidetrack has already paid for itself. Side-pans make great tran­si­tion shots. Sure, you could try to fake side-pan­ning in post-pro­duc­tion, but the edges of fore­ground objects have cer­tain angles and tex­tures and bokeh that gives each shot a unique look.

  1. It remind­ed me of this time I saw an opera in Budapest. When the cur­tain came down and the audi­ence start­ed applaud­ing, every­one even­tu­al­ly clapped in uni­son and did­n’t speed up. North Americans all clap in an amor­phous din, but over in Hungary it’s like they were all clap­ping to the tim­ing of a con­duc­tor. []


  1. I watched this on my tee­ny phone screen and it was still amaz­ing; fun­ny; gor­geous; touch­ing; beau­ti­ful­ly timed.
    I wish I’d known you when I mar­ried!

    • I’m always wor­ried about peo­ple view­ing these videos on a phone cause they’re not meant to be seen that way; there are some details lost at small res­o­lu­tions, and the music needs to be heard on a decent set of speak­ers. I’m sure musi­cians have the same wor­ries though, cause not every­one has expen­sive stu­dio qual­i­ty speak­ers.

  2. I was going to ask how you did the side pan­ning shots. Then you men­tioned buy­ing the glide rails.

    Nice one, I am begin­ning to see your videos in league with the pros.

    • I for­got how much those shots stand out (prob­a­bly because I’ve been star­ing at my footage for too long) until peo­ple start­ed ask­ing me about them. Although when I look at oth­er peo­ple’s work with Glidetracks, I always think “Wow, that looks like an expen­sive pro­duc­tion”.

  3. Having attend­ed this wed­ding I am so HAPPY with this video. (And YAY I’m appar­ent­ly get­ting one now!) You real­ly cap­tured it. The emo­tion and atmos­phere you have here reflects what it was actu­al­ly like and isn’t a prod­uct of music and edit­ing cre­ative­ly. SO AWESOME.

    • Interesting, I’ve nev­er con­sid­ered how edit­ing would play a part in a wed­ding video. I’ve always been more of a sto­ry­teller, so I try not to rely on “cre­ative” edit­ing.

  4. Your video and pho­tog­ra­phy just get bet­ter and bet­ter. I’ve fol­lowed your blog for a while now and I must say your artis­tic eyes is just great. The col­or tones add to the inti­ma­cy of the images you cap­ture. Great work on the video and music. I’ve seen some wed­ding videos that are just so stuffy and imper­son­al where­as yours gives an air of famil­iar­i­ty and a true under­stand­ing of how for­mal and fun a wed­ding day tru­ly is.

    Just mag­nif­i­cent work!

    • Thanks! I’ve also seen a lot of wed­dings videos that are posed and set up. I think that’s why they tend to be imper­son­al, not to men­tion very unnat­ur­al-look­ing. That’s why I pre­fer to do can­did shoot­ing; all the emo­tions come out by them­selves when the cam­era­man isn’t telling some­one what to do and how to look.

  5. So when do you quit your day job? Your wed­ding films are so evoca­tive, such a beau­ti­ful sto­ry­book of the wed­ding, that I always feel like I was there when I watch them. That is a nice cov­er of The Knife too.

    • I’d love to do this full-time some day…but my day job is too great to give up right now!

  6. Love it love it love it!! I stopped breath­ing when you side-panned across the audi­ence — the effect was so cool. Really great invest­ment, I thought it added so much.

    • Thanks! It’s hard to put a quan­ti­ta­tive price on cer­tain pieces of equip­ment because noth­ing is a “neces­si­ty”. But when you get cer­tain results and you think “I would have glad­ly paid this much to achieve them”, then you know it’s worth it.

  7. beau­ti­ful!!! weren´t there, don´t know any­one of the wed­ding though I get the feel­ing I know them a bit :) very very nice. and: I real­ly like the very nat­ur­al feel­ing you get though at the same time you know that every pic­ture is at the right place — and that´s hand­i­craft and tech­ni­cal knowhow. fan­tas­tic! by the way: who is the song&singer?

    • The song is Heartbeats by Jose González…choosing the music was prob­a­bly the eas­i­est part of mak­ing this video. It went so well with every­thing that I knew I had to use it.

      • Wasn’t that one of the songs that was in a playlist last year? I loved the video, i real­ly hope that you keep it up. The video shows frag­ments of their rela­tion­ship that could­n’t be cap­tured by any oth­er per­son. You did a won­der­ful job.

      • Nope, this one was­n’t on any of our playlists, I first heard this song about a year ago when a friend put a mix­tape end­ed up in my mail­box as I was going through some hard times.

  8. I’m late on com­ment­ing. Jeff, man, this is awe­some.

    • Sounds like you have some amaz­ing friends. ( From a strangers per­spec­tive )

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