Wedding Blog - Keep Going

Johnny and Melissa booked us for their wedding just after we started our business in 2017, when we were still located in upstate New York. In February, 2018 we moved up to Maine with the excitement of knowing we would return to the Finger Lakes to film. Their wedding took place on stunning Keuka Lake (the one that’s shaped like a wishbone). Returning to New York put into perspective how much has happened in the past year; we got married, bought a house, and filmed so many beautiful weddings.

About 10 minutes before disaster.

About 10 minutes before disaster.

We arrived at the lakeside cottage where the bridal party was getting ready and immediately got to work. Melissa and her bridesmaids were listening to music, sharing stories and enjoying the company of Melissa's family, including her two adorable nieces. We chatted with photographers Ty & Kate from Lovewell Weddings, laying out our game plan for the day ahead and, of course, comparing cameras. At the last wedding we filmed in New York, we were using older Canon cameras; despite their high quality, they weren’t great at capturing darker rooms and required a lot of finangling to switch from standard capture to slow motion. This time we were shooting with our Sony a7sii cameras and Sigma Art lenses. This was our third wedding using them and they were a complete game changer. Low-light settings are no longer a problem for us and the switch between slow motion and standard capture is as easy as the click of a button.

We prepared for FOB’s (Father of the Bride’s) first look and worked with Ty and Kate to set the stage on the dock overlooking the lake. Abigail had just finished pickup shots inside and I was very excited to share our plan for the first look...too excited as it turns out. I lost track of my footing and as I gestured around I tripped. I tripped hard. As someone who has worked in the industry for many years, my immediate concern was for the camera and not myself--especially since it was new. Like a receiver catching a low-thrown touchdown pass, I tucked the camera into my chest as I fell. Unlike a pro-athlete, however, I didn’t look very cool doing it. I managed to protect the camera but my pants suffered the consequences and ripped across my knee cap. I was a bit scraped up, nothing too bad, but the important thing was that the camera wasn't hurt. Mission accomplished. Touchdown scored.

A wedding day waits for no one so I cleaned up and went back out to film, waving off the very considerate concern of Melissa and her family. They mentioned how surprised they were that I managed to protect the camera. Maybe I did look kind of cool after all.

But probably not.

We captured the first look, a touching moment between Melissa and her father, picked up the last of our shots at the cottage, and then confronted my now-naked knee. The tear in my pants was glaring and the last thing I wanted was to draw attention to myself throughout the wedding; we pride ourselves on blending in and this tear was a neon sign reading "VIDEOGRAPHER WITH RIPPED PANTS HERE! PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED!"

Ty and Kate saved the day with a sewing kit. They always have one on hand after experiencing a similar emergency--lesson learned. I was anxious when we parked at the winery. Abigail took my hand and told me, "I'll cover the guys, you focus on fixing those pants. You got this." Whether or not she believed I could actually sew my own pants, I’ll never know. Abigail set out to film pickup shots of Johnny and the groomsmen and I made my way to a nearby picnic table to repair my lacerated pants.

 
IMG_3316.jpeg

I looked at the tear and back at the sewing kit. Then back at the tear. Then again at the sewing kit. I had tried sewing once or twice before in my life with little to no success, but there was no time, no back-up pants, and no nearby stores. But high-pressure situations are where I thrive. A few YouTube tutorials and threading the needle (several times) later I managed to sew the tear back together. It wasn't pretty, but it was holding together and my knee had regained its decency. Seriously, though, threading the needle is the hardest part.

To decompress and focus I took to the skies, flying my drone around the winery and swooping in for a shot of Johnny and the groomsmen. I brought the drone back down and finished our setup for the ceremony with a few minutes to spare. Johnny and Melissa's good friend officiated the ceremony and talked about the challenges that the couple would face in the future. I looked over at Kate who was readying an awesome shot, I looked at Ty, at Abigail, and then Johnny and Melissa. It was all a potent reminder of why I love this job, the couples we film, and the professionals with whom we work. There's a shared understanding that it's going to be challenging at times, but you have to remember two things: keep going and keep learning.

5 Things I’ve Learned About Shooting Weddings

As a married couple, it’s been so fun for me and Collin to shoot the three weddings we’ve been fortunate enough to work on! They’ve all been so unique from one another and so special in unexpected ways. While I’m no expert after only three weddings, I’ve certainly learned a lot in a short amount of time and usually on-the-job. Here are my top five lessons learned.

1. Brides are not monsters.

As a past bride, I was careful to avoid being a “bridezilla.” And even though three brides does not a large sample size make, I’ve found that brides are the least likely to cause a scene on their wedding day. In fact, they glow with a peaceful joy I strived for on my own wedding day. Seriously, how do they do that? I attribute their calm to their support system: from planners to parents to bridesmaids, everyone is there to pitch in and the bride knows that.

vlcsnap-2017-09-14-17h07m24s402.png

There must be a serenity in knowing that the day is (mostly) out of the bride’s hands. Knowing that, Collin and I try to get as much information about the day ahead of time and any information on the day from someone other than the bride. Which brings me to my next point:

2. Communication is a necessity

Weddings have so many moving parts. It’s a production with a ton of collaborators all making it look the way it should. So as much information as we get ahead of time, nothing can truly prepare us for what the wedding day will bring. That’s why it’s crucial to ask questions. If we’re not sure, one of us asks someone (again, not the bride or groom if it can be helped). Who’s giving a toast and when? Ask a wedding party member. Is there a sound system we can plug into? Ask the band or DJ. Where can we set up our equipment? Ask the venue manager. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to introduce myself or interrupt someone who’s already doing something, but without communicating what we need, we wouldn’t be able to make the best wedding video for our clients.

 

3. Prepare, prepare, prepare

This may seem obvious, but it seems worth noting on this list since it’s of such importance. As I said before, there’s a lot going on during the course of a wedding day. Our wedding questionnaire sheet along with an initial meeting is crucial to our prep process. It lets us know what’s happening where and who’s who, but more importantly it allows us to get to know the bride and groom as a couple. I didn’t have this meeting before my first shoot and it made for an uncomfortable introduction to the bride, a very nice woman who wasn’t expecting my early arrival and didn’t recognize me. Not an ideal situation.

The other important prep is gear prep! Collin is our gear guru and without his meticulous lists and packing set-ups, we would arrive to gigs with who-knows-what! Everything is packed and accounted for the night before we leave for the wedding. Additionally, gear that’s left behind can’t always be recovered, so reviewing an inventory list is important before leaving a wedding shoot. If we’re over-prepared, we know we’ll be okay.

IMG_1321 2.JPG

 

4. Enthusiasm goes a long way

It’s a fun day! Treat it like a fun day! Be excited for the bride, groom, friends, and family. While it’s a job for us, it’s a really special day for the couple. Being too serious or intense may get the job done, but it may also bring the mood down. Plus, shots of fun, relaxed moments really stand out in a wedding video. We like to stay professional (you won’t see us toasting with champagne or breaking it down on the dance floor) while also keeping up a positive energy with everyone. Everyone is there to have a great time and I love being a part of that.

 

5. Food is IMPORTANT

At our last wedding, we forgot to bring food. Of course we were put in the catering numbers for dinner that evening, but that left us from breakfast until dinner on empty stomachs, all while running around a large venue area from wedding party suites to ceremony spot to reception area. It wasn’t even that I was necessarily hungry (I was too busy to be hungry!), but that I was getting low on fuel and starting to sputter like an old car. That evening, I wolfed down pizza with speed that would impress a competitive eater—and then had to film the dancing feeling overstuffed. We will definitely be adding protein bars to our list of gear for our next shoot.

I am SO excited to keep filming weddings. It really is an amazing opportunity to be a part of someone’s wedding. I love the fact that we provide such a beautiful heirloom to couples that will help them remember the details of their wedding for years to come.

Warming Up, Ready to Grow

Three weeks ago was the debut of Spring in Central New York and my fiancé Abigail and I decided to celebrate with a trip to Ithaca. We love going to Ithaca—not least because one of our best friends (and Trail Marker logo designer) Ellie lives there.

After meeting up with Ellie, our first venture was the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. A chilly wind, winter’s last gasps, blew through the streets with the sun shining across clear skies. We walked along Cascadilla Creek towards the market and passed through the Ithaca Permaculture Park. Excited to see a successful permaculture endeavor, I explained that my friend Pete Cramer had started a similar project and that I would be filming their event the following day.

We arrived at the market pavilion and experienced a rush of sensations. There were smells of the Thai, Vietnamese and other food vendors wafted through the open wooden architecture; mouth-watering mounds of fresh bread, vegetables, and meats; the echoing sounds of a guitar being played in the distance. I love the energy at a farmer’s market—there’s a real sense of pride in the hard working vendors. It’s satisfying to buy the product right from the person who labored to create it.

We stopped by a mushroom vendor to get oyster mushrooms, then a farmer’s vegetable stand to get rainbow Swiss chard, and finally we snagged a loaf of rosemary sourdough and made our way to the meats. Abigail and I surveyed the menu, thought of how to best craft our dinner that night with what we already bought, and decided on pork chops.

The meat vendor gave us his proud yet modest pitch and told us what set his pigs apart.  His pigs roam freely and forage in the woods around his property so that they are less stressed and in turn keep their bodies from being tense and too sinewy. The cinematic images of steadicam shots following the pigs through the forest played in my head and was brought back to the present when he asked where we were from. When I responded that we were from Auburn, he said he had a good friend there, Peter Cramer. I shared with him my plans to film Pete and the Auburn Permaculture Park and as he wrapped up the pork chops and we finished the transaction. I handed him my business card and told him I’d love to swing by to film his farm sometime if he was interested. A particularly strong, icy gust of wind blew through the pavilion and we said farewell to Michael and to the pavilion.

Later that day, we hiked Robert Treman State Park and it gave me the opportunity to reflect on my progress with the business, my relationships, and life in general. I told Abigail and Ellie about the Japanese idea of “Shinrin-yoku” or “forest bathing” where you essentially recharge by being amongst the trees. The incredible energy at the market, where so many people had worked with their hands in the dirt, spoke volumes of the benefits of intimacy with nature.

The next day was warm and beautiful, with temperatures reaching up to 75 for the first time in a while. On my drive out to the Auburn Permaculture Park I saw families pushing strollers, men and women exercising, and even a man flying a drone in his front yard—the energy from the change in weather was palpable. When I arrived to the park I saw dozens of volunteers with rakes, hoes, pitchforks, and shovels. Everyone was working to make this park a reality.

I started to film and felt everyone’s positive energy. I could feel the sense of pride and hope for the park. As the day waned and the work was finished for the day I stayed behind to interview Pete and tell him about my adventures in Ithaca.

He was thrilled that I met Michael and he proceeded to share his own passion for permaculture as he diligently inspected the trees. He “oo’d” and “ahh’d” at many of the promising plants and was energized by the promise of the summer ahead.

I looked at many of the plants, carefully manicured and supported, ready for growth, and I thought of my new business. The success and passion I observed at the farmer’s market, in Michael’s description of his farm, in Pete surveying the park, was inspiring. Empowered by the optimism and wisdom of the weekend, I realized that my business can and will be successful—all I need is a diligent eye, the right structure, and the perseverance to make it grow.

-Collin

See our promotional video featuring the park and find out more!