Insights Into Upping Your Game As a Wedding Cinematographer

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Vitaliy Lyubezhanin of  Aperina Studios and Alessandro Bordoni of Bordoni Films are two excellent storytellers, cinematographers, and businessmen who are, quite frankly, killing it in the wedding film game. We asked them both for their best advice spanning several different aspects of the business, and here’s what they had to say.

White doves, true love, and picturesque scenes straight out of a painting: it seems fair to say that weddings are nothing if not aesthetically pleasing. And yet, perfectly capturing a couple’s magical day, weaving that footage into an emotional narrative, and driving a successful business with those films proves to be a challenging task, even for seasoned veterans of the industry. The wedding film has undergone a massive evolution over the past couple decades. VHS tapes carrying tacky, archival records of a ceremony and a reception have given way to beautifully cinematic pieces of art that tell the whole story of a bride and groom’s love, complete with music, thoughtful shot composition, and the occasional drone footage. Gone too are the weekend warriors wielding a high-end camcorder and making a few extra bucks on the side from their “Frank the Wedding Guy” alter-ego. Today’s successful wedding cinematographer is an exceptionally savvy marketer on top of being skilled with a camera and editing software.

Pay attention to what really matters

We wanted to start Vitaliy and Alessandro off with a nice, easy question, so we only asked them about the number one, biggest, most crucial thing that up-and-coming wedding cinematographers might be overlooking. Their responses were different, but what they had in common was that neither had anything to do with expensive cameras or a technical analysis of shot composition.

“Spending time on storytelling,” said Alessandro. “Almost everybody is able to create beautiful footage today, but only a few pay attention to the video’s narrative.” He then added, “Listening before taking any action on the footage is mandatory. Only after listening to the client’s needs and expectations am I comfortable and aware of how I should approach my editing session to create something unique and customized”. Vitaliy’s emphasis was on networking: “I run into many videographers that are in it for the money. Putting money aside and simply focusing on quality and on the client will actually help you grow in all aspects of the wedding cinematography business”.

Let the wedding’s emotionality speak

You might be tempted to focus on the most visual aspects of a wedding – flowers, backdrops, and the like – but the strongest emotional moments are going to come from the people, even beyond the bride and groom.

Vitaliy’s strategy for enforcing a film’s raw emotion came down to one word: “Speeches. Speeches and any talking (like the vows, officiant etc.) that happens throughout the wedding day help drive the story like crazy. Without this story aspect, films would feel dry and would simply be ‘highlight reels’”.

It’s also critical to hone in on the unique emotional fingerprint of a given wedding. Alessandro constantly asks himself some key questions, “‘Is there a strong theme?’ Not just, ‘is there a theme?’ but, ‘Is there a strong one with good audio?’ It could be a speech, toast, vow, letter, interview, or live song’,” adding, “A strong theme will allow each scene to constantly remind you and your audience why you’re watching”.

Sound design was also a point being stressed in this regard. While good visuals are a prerequisite, sound can often have the biggest impact on what we feel and how immersed we are. “How silly does a movie look without any of the ambiance, sound effects, and impacts?,” asks Alessandro.

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Stay dynamic in your marketing efforts

Once you’ve made sure that your clients are over the moon with how their memories to last a lifetime have turned out, it’s time to turn the focus on making sure more couples will hire you to do the same for them. As with any industry in 2019, engaging in effective marketing means staying on the cutting edge. “Over the course of the last 15 years, we saw YellowPages, websites, Facebook, and now Instagram,” says Vitaliy,  “I would say pick a few marketing areas that work for you (don’t pick yellow pages, please) and nurture [them]. If you choose Instagram, actually be present. If you choose YouTube, actually post films. But don’t forget your website. Your website is your home”.

Once again, making sure the right people are in your circle is a big factor. Per Alessandro, “Network with the right people and create brand awareness around you. Working with better clients and vendors helped me tremendously in taking my work to the next level”. He also mentions TikTok as a great platform at the moment – further testament to the fact that your best marketing prospects need to remain as current and fresh as the date on the calendar.

Choose a soundtrack that would make ‘The Notebook’ Jealous

“Good music is more important in a wedding film than the visuals themselves,” according to Alessandro – a pretty incredible statement coming from someone whose work revolves so heavily around those visuals. Vitaliy admits, “I’ve actually ruined wedding films by using the wrong music”. When it comes to movies, be it a romance, a comedy, even an action flick, music dictates what we feel about the story we’re watching. Your wedding films are no different, and it’s just as important to make sure you use the right music as it is to understand the pivotal role it’s there to play.

“I never start a film with a song in mind,” Vitaliy says, “I will always analyze the wedding first. The big picture. Was it an emotional wedding? Was it a more fun wedding? … Once I have the content, I will start finding the music that fits the story that I’ve started placing on the timeline”.

It sounds daunting at first, having to be so discerning when matching music to your video. But, fortunately, there’s no shortage of different genres and styles for whatever the moment calls for. “It could be soft music, it could be triumphant music, it could be any sort of music”, Allesandro says, “Music really sells the emotion, swells inside of you and gives you goosebumps. A visual can be really cool but if the music doesn’t fit, it’s not really going to work”.

Make the bride and groom cry

No, don’t yell at them or anything; this is just a slightly exaggerated way of saying that, above all, any wedding film is at its very best when it means the world to the two people starring in it. The visuals and narrative play a big role here but, again, it’s the music that can really seal the deal – just think about how iconic the song a couple chooses for their first dance is.

On making the perfect selection, Vitaliy said, “Keep in mind that this song will be with them for the rest of their lives; it’s very important to pick the perfect song. The perfect song will help add emotion to the emotional sections, help add smiles to the fun sections and even get the bride and groom to cry (that’s if you’ve succeeded)”.

As far as specific advice on how to get the right read on your couple to make that choice, Alessandro recounts some of his methods: “Choosing the perfect music for my films is the first thing I do the day after the wedding, when all the memories and vibes are still fresh. I pay attention to which Spotify playlist they’re listening to while getting ready, to what genres and beats make them dance and what moves their hearts on their special day. I listen”.

The perfect music for your wedding video

What all of these great insights (huge thanks to Alessandro and Vitaliy) really boil down to is this philosophy: a filmmaker couldn’t ask for a better subject matter to work with than the peak expression of true love, so make the most out of it, tell a story, and drive home those emotions. As for the all-important search for music that can fit any wedding film and help ensure it’s box-of-tissues or ear-to-ear-grin approved, you’d be hard-pressed to find a solution that’s more comprehensive, more affordable, and more convenient than Jambox.

A royalty-free subscription model means never having to worry about overpaying for a song or being caught up with royalties down the line, while a massive library of tracks from some of the best artists and composers in the business means the exact sound you’re looking for will always be right there waiting for you.

Check out our perfectly curated, wedding video-ready playlist on Jambox, and see how we can help turn “I do.” into “I do really want to hire this incredible wedding photographer with awesome music”.

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