As wedding videographers, we constantly have to get better at working with photographers, because so often:
Developing good relationships with photographers is one of the best things you can do to propel your business forward.
But if you don't know how to work with photographers, it can be a nightmare.
I want you to put yourself in the photographer's shoes for a second.
For us, as wedding videographers, every wedding we shoot has a photographer present.
I think I've only shot one wedding in my entire career where there hasn't been a photographer there!
Photographers, however, rarely work with videographers.
Most photographers I talk to tell me: “Last year I shot 25 weddings and only worked with 2 filmmakers. They were in all my shots and really made my life difficult."
You need to realize that most photographers have had very bad experiences with videographers, so when you come into the wedding day, don't be shocked if they're a little standoffish.
That is going to be normal because they hardly ever work with filmmakers. Breathe and ask yourself:
"How would I like to be treated if I had the perception of videographers that most photographers have?"
This will make the whole day go a lot smoother.
Next, you're going to want to establish trust. This is huge.
Engage with them on Instagram
Right before the wedding day, find the photographer on Instagram. Make sure to follow their account, and make sure to leave a couple of thoughtful comments on some of their most recent posts.
Make the comments genuine and specific:
Next send a message that says:
30 days before the wedding, send the couple a questionnaire. In that questionnaire, ask the bride for the photographer’s phone number.
By sending that text before the wedding:
When the photographer first walks into the room, stop what you're doing, put your camera down, and introduce yourself.
You don't have to copy that phrasing exactly, but the heart of it is: we're here to work together, not separately.
At the end of the day, both of your bosses are the couple, and you want to make sure that the couple gets amazing photos and also an amazing film.
In the end, establishing trust is huge. It has really changed the game for me.
Communication is key in any good relationship.
Especially with a wedding photographer–wedding filmmaker relationship.
Remember, photographers have no idea:
Imagine starting a brand new job and you're asked to deliver perfect results with a team you have never worked with.
That is what a wedding day is. It's a massive day that has thousands of dollars wrapped up in it, and literally all your fellow employees are people you've never worked with before.
That's why it's so important to communicate.
Before the day starts, walk up to the photographer and share who you are and how you shoot and operate.
Usually the photographer will respond with how they work, and at this point you two can start collaborating on how to best work together to get what you both need.
The ceremony is one of the parts of the day that creates the most friction between photographers and videographers.
How can we avoid this?
This usually results in mayhem.
Especially if the photographer’s style is 100% different than yours.
This results in you not being able to shoot when they are shooting.
When you do take over, and it should only be for one or two minutes, don't completely take over to where the photographer is overwhelmed and doesn't feel like they can get the shots they want.
As you put this into practice, you'll find that the photographer will start asking you if you need anything before you move to the next location.
That's really where you want to be, and communication is the path to get there!
Now, I've had this happen a couple times in my career, and it's hard. I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. It is difficult, but it's only happened a handful of times. Most of the time, this is not going to be your experience.
There are some photographers who really just have a bad stigma about video, and they're not willing to work with you at all.
First, don't change any of the steps:
For most of the day, just let them do their thing. Try not to step on their toes, and just be as accommodating as possible. It's not worth the fight that would happen by trying to get all up in their grill.
It's gonna make the couple feel awkward, and you really don't want to go there.
Usually, by treating them with respect, they will open up a bit and let you get what you need.
However, if they still won't budge, use the take it to the boss method.
If they say yes, the photographer is not gonna say anything, because the photographer is not your boss—the couple is. And if the couple wants to do something, the photographer has to be okay with it.
That's how to respectfully bypass a jerk photographer and still get what you need when a photographer is really just not working with you.
It's really sad when that happens because it's a disservice to the couple, and it just makes for really awkward vibes.
However, when it happens, do not match their mean attitude.
Say, "Okay, this is happening. And I'm going to work around it." If the couple asks you why you didn't get a certain shot, say:
“Hey, you know, I really tried to do that, but the photographer was making it hard for me to get certain shots."
There's only so much you can do. Don't beat yourself up. It's okay if you don't get all the shots you want from every wedding you shoot.
I think a lot of videographers are scared of photographers because they hear a lot of horror stories and vice versa.
We need to start thinking about photographers as our friends and as collaborators we can work with in the future.
After the wedding, if you really liked working with a photographer:
Really maintain that relationship, because it's probably going to be one of the best relationships you have in the industry. Don't just go in and go out of weddings. Follow up with these people, and they can become some of your biggest advocates in the future.
When you learn to work together with photographers in the ways I outlined, your weddings are going to be infinitely better. Who knows, you might even befriend a photographer at a wedding who then becomes your business partner down the road, which is exactly what happened to me.
I met a photographer at one of my first weddings. We hit it off, and he now works on our team! He's our creative director, and he is incredible!
Photographers are an amazing, amazing resource. And they're incredible at what they do. At your next wedding, remember: "Photographers are your friends, not your adversaries."
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