Have you ever been asked to video a celebration event eg a wedding? If yes, this’ll bring back (bad) memories. If no, treat it as a warning.

About 15 years ago in Sydney I had a good mate. Let’s call him Pete.

Pete was a videographer, and a good one. He had been through the old school of radio, TV, live broadcasting and so on and then started his own business. Pete even had a sales office in a flash 5 star in Rose Bay.

He specialised in weddings; not your Gazza marries Shazza at the local registry type union, followed by a bit of a knees up at the local Bollo you understand, but top shelf Sydney society weddings.

 “Mr and Mrs Hyphen-Hyphen announce the wedding of their daughter, Arrabella to Halvorsen, only son of Mr and Mrs George Cholmondeley-Featherstonehaugh. The ceremony will be at that posh church on the hill in Manly with the reception somewhere equally as posh. If you want to know where they are honeymooning, you can’t afford it.”

You get the idea.

As such, Pete could charge a premium for his services, and deservedly so. He WAS good at his craft, and word spread amongst the elite, and he was never short of work.

As a break, Pete was often on the ski fields, also taking celebrity videos, and life was good.

Then suddenly, it all started to unravel. Faster and faster it happened until suddenly, there was no more ritzy office, bookings started to dry up, invites to Thredbo were non-existent. Within a year at most, it had all vanished.

So, what happened? Had Pete’s work gone bad? Had he besmirched his name somehow? Delivered an inferior product and news among the glitterati travelled fast alerting the rest?

No, Nothing so simple.

What happened was the advent of the inexpensive, easy to use camcorder, followed by the smartphone.


Let’s flash forward to today though, and the REAL reason for this piece.

You are either one of the few pros left in the biz, a person who works part time in video, an enthusiastic amateur or finally, one with the gear, trying to make sense of it all. The first two groups here will be all too familiar with this scenario by the way, and I suspect are already nodding their heads sagely.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s call you Gavin.

Someone in the family, or the friend of a friend, is getting married / having a 21st / a christening / engagement party / some sort of celebration with lots of people and big party. The organiser wants a permanent record of the event.

Gavin has a camera and all the gear”, someone pipes up. “I am sure he’ll love to help out in return for a feed and some drinks. After all, how hard can it be?

Ignore for now the fact that the monetary investment in “all the gear” and the time invested in learning it, has just been conveniently dismissed, there is also the fact of the sheer ignorance of just how much works goes into creating, editing and producing a finished product takes.

If you have never submitted yourself to the agony, frustration and yes – sheer hatred – of being in this boat, let me educate you as to the things that can and will happen. And this is by NO means an exhaustive list. I am sure my peers will chip in with theirs.

But first, let’s explore what happens when the first part of the equation is removed – you shooting the event.

Instead, someone – who usually knows you well – will approach with a bunch of SD cards or tapes (or both) and explain that this footage was shot at a recent celebration of something or another, and they just KNOW you’d love to assemble it all into a finished product. And they CAN pay! A whip around nailed $200 …

Rule Number 1. NEVER acquiesce to such a deal. Repeat, NEVER.

I have in the past – once – and ended up with a mish mash of different formats, nothing colour balanced, everything mostly out of focus or blurred with camera shake, framed incorrectly, and has used every known setting in the camera to get “special effects”. My favourite was shot totally in sepia.

There is nothing you can do that will satisfy the “client” in this regard, so best to bail early.

Now back to the other option. You are shooting, editing and producing the final product.

Because you are doing a “favour”, you are, like it or not, at the whim of everyone who thinks they can play “director”.

These will range from the priest / reverend / pastor, to the bride’s mother – especially the bride’s mother – the bride, the best man (trying to impress one or more bridesmaids) and anyone on the dance floor.

The only one on YOUR side is the bride’s father as he usually doesn’t want to be there either. He is just seeing $ notes being ripped up. Thankfully, (so far) you are not among them.

When it comes to editing and production, stand by for a barrage of requests for such things as “can you use that technique where everything is in black and white except the red roses – you know like in the movie”, to “there is not enough of the bride’s mother” (usually a 3rd party request but originating from the bride’s mother).

You’ll be asked to play God with the weather, the light, the sound, what the band played and when, errors in the speeches, remove ALL references to drunken and lecherous Uncle Bill and generally, create an occasion akin to Charlie marrying Di, but only using one camera and bugger all, if any, budget.

Let me give you a tip. It’s impossible. So, don’t even try. Because no matter how hard you try, how much effort you put into it, how long it takes and no matter your level of expertise and video wizardry, you’ll always get the one response on the final viewing.

“It’s not quite what I expected”.

So, save your sanity. Don’t even start.

Learn to say NO. And mean it and stick to it.





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