• Simon King

My thoughts on providing photo and video together as a solo shooter.

I kicked of 2022 with a combined photo and video package at the lovely Logie Country House - a tough challenge as a solo shooter, but read on to hear how I found the day:

I began my 2022 wedding season very early into the year, on Sunday 2nd January for Angie and Mike's superb day. Interestingly, I was initially hired only for video, but when Angie came back to say she'd prefer to go for my top package and go without a photographer for the day, I said I would be happy to throw in some images from the day free of charge. This gave me a great opportunity to see if it would be feasible to provide both photo and video at the same time, and just how challenging it would be, with the idea being creating a package option for future enquiries to cover both, if I felt it was doable as a solo shooter. As I was on my own, I knew I wouldn't be able to do everything, but put a lot of planning in place to help manage the key moments of the day as best as I could.

To summarise my kit, I typically use 5 cameras on a wedding day for video: 3 that stay on tripods for the ceremony, 1 attached to my hip for handheld clips and 1 on my gimbal for walking/smooth moving shots. Lenses can vary depending on space and how the photographer likes to work, but typically I'll have either a 24mm or 35mm on my gimbal camera, and a 50mm or 85mm on my handheld camera.

Upon arrival, around 9am, the morning sun at this time of year made Logie look absolutely stunning! I had my timeline put together, and it started in typical fashion for if I was doing video only - get my drone shots while everything was quiet, and then haul what kit I could in and get that set up for the ceremony. For the photography side, I had decided I would use my hip camera as my main camera for photos, and kept my Samyang 45mm f1.8 lens on this camera for the majority of the day. This was kept strapped round my neck for most of the day and meant I could always manage to capture some photos here and there whenever needed. The versatility of the 45mm meant I could get a lot of moments without having to worry about switching lenses etc. As I hadn't been officially paid for photography, I decided I would be quite happy to crop in post if I really needed to, and knew that once the ceremony was going, I would have time to switch lens if I wanted to.

After getting some shots of the ceremony set up, and putting my tripods in place, it was off to see the bridal party and get what I needed there.

Things were quite hectic! Lots of people involved and plenty of running around, with Covid still being quite rife, there was also a bit of panic with people on the phone calling off, and others struggling to arrange transport due to these call offs. I got what I could and was quite content overall. I find prep quite challenging if there's a lot going on, as for video, if I'm needing a 5-10 second clip of something, but there's a lot of running around, very often a shadow can ruin a shot, or someone turns away etc. The one shot I wish I had more time to get here was a shot of the dress - with a bit more time or a second shooter covering groom prep, I think I could have chosen a much better spot, but it is what it is.

Groom prep was next, and this was polar opposite! Just the groom Mike and his son Sam, with a whole host of rooms to choose from for detail shots and prep shots of them. I was much happier with some of the shots I got here.

As the ceremony was drawing nearer, this brought with it my first proper challenge of doing both photo and video at the same time - Angie's first look with her Dad once dressed. For this, I mounted my hip camera (for photos) onto the side arm attachment I have on my DJI Ronin S gimbal. The side arm attachments help me get smoother pans etc, but they also conveniently have a hot shoe attachment at the end, which allowed me to put a quick release plate on that I could mount my camera onto to get some photos while filming her Dad enter. Obviously trying to frame two cameras at once is not easy, but I prioritised the video and used my right hand to adjust the photo camera's angle to capture Dad coming in. Sony's real time tracking came in really handy here - as soon as I locked on to Dad coming in, I didn't have to worry about focus for the photos. Again, with more time or a second shooter, I could have had the room looking a bit tidier for this shot. The same technique was used for capturing Angie being walked down the aisle, with my gimbal camera filming, and the mounted camera on the side arm being used for photos. This certainly made things do-able for both, but also meant I couldn't quickly switch to capture Mike's reaction without ruining my video shot, and then also risking having to capture focus again on two cameras when turning back to get the rest of the walk down the aisle.

For the ceremony, I switched lens over to the Sony 85mm f1.8 for the photography camera, and also picked up my gimbal camera to give me some shots on the 35mm f1.8 as well - I typically don't video much on the gimbal camera once the ceremony is going, so this camera was effectively free. This came in handy as I ended up using this for the first kiss - I felt the 85mm was a bit too tight for my liking. For them walking back down the aisle at the end, it was the same story as Angie coming in, with a camera mounted onto the side arm of my gimbal attachment.

Next up were the group shots, and these were actually pretty straight forward. I got my photos, then asked everyone to keep looking towards where I had taken the photo from, to allow me to get my typically slightly off-centre parallax shot I typically get for the video side. It might have felt a bit awkward for all but it gave us a few laughs along the way! Time was pressing on by the end of the group shots and Angie and Mike wanted to spend some time with guests, so we didn't go for a couple shoot like I typically would have, but that allowed me to ensure I'd be set up for the speeches and could take some test shots for lighting etc in good time.

For this wedding, the cake cut was happening before the speeches, and the speeches were going to be after the main course (never ideal for me as I don't like setting up while people are still eating, but you don't want to leave it too late to set up in fear of missing something!). For the entry, I used the gimbal to video them coming in, but for the photos I had a Good V1 on top of my camera, and the weight/balance on the side arm would have made things far too challenging so I used the gimbal single handed and photographed Angie and Mike handheld with my other hand. I also switched to a 24mm for the photos as I felt things would potentially be a lot more cramped coming in - I was happy I made this choice!

For the speeches, I ended up just doing video as a guest who was also a photographer had taken their camera along and was firing off shots. I think if I had been paid for photography this would have been an issue and I would have said something to him, but given I was doing the photos for free, I didn't want to put a negative on anything so let him fire away and I just focussed on the video side of things. It would definitely have been easy enough to do both though as similar to the ceremony, once the speeches had started, you only really need to monitor rather than actually film - just remembering to re-frame and re-focus whenever a new speech starts!!

I was made aware that there was going to be some secret singing waiters but I knew this would last 15-20 minutes, and holding a fairly sizeable rig for that long is not easy! So for this part of the day, I didn't attempt any photos and just concentrated on the video side. This is a part where I think it would be close to essential to have a second shooter in order to do a good job on both photo and video. Here is their performance in full:

Lastly, we had the first dance! For this, I used a hip camera for the photos, and my gimbal camera for my main video angle - so the same set up as I had for them entering at the reception. A slight difference with the flash though, as I decided to go for two off-camera flashes instead of an on camera V1. I find off camera flash to be more consistent, as I can bounce them off the same place at all times. I'm also not a fan of the look of direct flash from an on camera flash, so if I'm ever using an on camera flash, I would typically be bouncing it off something - but for the first dance, it wouldn't have been easy to adjust an on camera flash if required, so I felt the off camera was the best option here.

After the first dance, it was then a case of just getting some dancing shots (both video and photo) but nothing here is essential so I just went until I was happy with what I got. I also had a guest video diary to film for this wedding which is always fun!

Overall, I would say providing photo and video as a solo shooter is definitely possible - but in future, I will definitely be hiring a second photographer to allow full coverage to be gained. I managed to put together a gallery of over 600 images, but there were sections that were lacking from what I would typically get if I was only doing photography. A second shooter would allow:

- full coverage of groom prep, and allow me to get better coverage from bridal prep.
- better/fuller coverage of detail shots from the ceremony and reception set ups.
- candids of guests, something I really didn't have much time for on my own doing both.
- at the times when I was using the gimbal and a photo camera at the same time, having a second shooter to focus on the photo side at these points would allow me to focus on the video solely, while the second shooter could switch between two cameras to get a couple of different options of these sections (perhaps a wide and a tight shot).
- would simply help alleviate stress levels. Weddings are challenging enough doing one discipline, but to do both on your own is placing a lot on your plate. If a mistake is made due to this stress, how costly could this be for that section of the day? Is it worth the risk, or would it be better hiring a safety net of a second shooter? I think the latter!

For further clarification on my stance, for the current bookings I have that cover both photo and video, I have/will be hiring a second shooter for all of these. Finally, here is the highlights video I managed to put together from this wedding, with two of the best speeches I've heard from groom Mike and his son and best man Sam. Just imagine I'd missed that audio through trying to do too much on my own!!

0 views0 comments