Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Coronavirus & Weddings

The effects of the coronavirus on weddings, as with almost all other industries, has been pretty much catastrophic, I'm sure you'll agree.

From 23rd March onwards large gatherings of people have been banned and weddings have been postponed to future dates. This must be very stressful and in some cases expensive and frustrating for brides, grooms, their families and their wedding suppliers, causing a knock-on effect all down the line from venues to caterers to florists. The whole wedding industry has been rocked from March to - who knows when?

Small outdoor ceremonies might be the way forward this summer.

To be honest I had no weddings booked between February and July this year anyway, so I've been lucky, but not everyone has been so fortunate.

According to Metro.co.uk, in Northern Ireland measures seem to be relaxing slightly with weddings being permitted where one partner is terminally ill. Also in NI, outdoor weddings of no more than ten people may be allowed from 10th June. Inspired by this the UK government is looking into the possibility of allowing small weddings to take place from the end of this month. As long, presumably, as there is no second wave.

So what does this mean? Several of my clients who booked me to film their big day this year have asked if I'm available in 2021 and 2022, and happily, I've been able to accommodate their rescheduling with a minimum (actually zero) of fuss and/or expense. I can only imagine how agonising something like this can be and am very happy to help where possible.

However, if you're really keen to have a 2020 wedding later in the year it may be necessary to look at small, outdoor ceremonies. How would that work? One solution might be to have two events : the legal/spiritual one with just your closest family and friends in a garden this year (with live video links?), followed by a larger friend and family reception with speeches, dancing etc next year or beyond.

My wife and I got married in Japan in 2008. Our son was already on the way, so we had to kind of speed things up a bit because it's not so easy to register children born out of wedlock in Japan yet, and there are still stigma involved compared to the UK and other western countries. My father and sisters could attend in person, but unfortunately my mother had a bad back and couldn't fly over from Scotland, so I attempted to live-stream the ceremony using my laptop and Skype over a wireless internet connection. 

Good idea? No. 

Just watch out for hay fever!

On paper this might sound like a plan, but unfortunately, as old Murphy was fond of saying, "What can go wrong will go wrong," and in this case did. Tip #7: Never try to film your own wedding.

The internet connection was intermittent at best on the lead up to the ceremony. We did see each other on the screen for a brief while, but then the inevitable happened. Mum had her hopes up and all her friends with her in the middle of the night, only to have them dashed when the connection crashed almost immediately, and I wasn't able to tinker with it because - ahem - I was otherwise engaged. I couldn't really stop the priest and say, "Sorry, just a sec. Mum! Can you hear me now? How about now? Damn, where can I plug this in? Do we have an ethernet here in this lovely rooftop venue? Oh dear, my wife-to-be's water just broke. Let's get on, shall we?"

Joking aside, nowadays live-streaming has become much more achievable and commonplace. Just don't do it yourself. Please. Ask your videographer. What would it take? A strong dependable ethernet connection, an encoder, and a youtube or Vimeo channel would probably do it. It might cost a little extra to get it done properly, but with all the uncertainty in the world today - technical gremlins notwithstanding - it must be well worth it.

Anyway, our wedding went without further mishap (apart from a few tears on my mum's side) and happily our son was born a couple of months later. Then we set up a reception back in Scotland for all our UK friends which you can see a video of here.

Our family wedding reception in 2010

We were able to enjoy seeing all our family and friends at this second gathering without the stress of the ceremony, had a few speeches, and made some nice memories. It was actually pretty great and I'd recommend it.

Anyway, whatever happens, I hope your wedding takes place with a minimum of fuss and that you can enjoy it as the wonderful, love-filled, friend and family involved, food and drink laden, humorous speech entailed day and night it should be - whether spent over one day or two :)

If you'd like to enquire about our availability to film your wedding please email Chris at info@whiteorchidweddingfilms.co.uk or call/text 0789  9718 775.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Enterkine House Hotel - 5 Stars

On Saturday 30th November 2019 I had the pleasure of filming a wedding at Enterkine House Hotel in South Ayrshire (B742, Annbank, Ayr KA6 5AL). 

Enterkine previously from the air. The front entrance has been removed to make way for the new oak framed glass barn which was completed in October 2019 and stretches out to the left.

The only slight downside is it's a bit tricky to find in the middle of the wonderful Ayrshire countryside. I basically drove down the A71 all the way past Darvel (where a friend of mine and I took part in a bike race 30 or so years ago as kids) and turned off at Galston where I had to stop and ask for directions as my Google Maps print-out wasn't quite detailed enough. Then it was just a 'wee hurl' down the A719 to Fail, a left down the B730 to Tarbolton, after which take a right onto the B744 then a sharp left back towards Stair before Annbank and you'll see the sign for the drive. So be sure to give your guests plenty of directions.

Including a map in your invitations might be helpful

The long single-track drive up to the house is lovely and when you come to a fork you can either take the right up to the house itself or take the left for the car park, from which it's a short walk up a winding path to the venue.

The New Entrance

Until now they'd used their marquee for weddings (in which I may have filmed before) but now they have opened up their brand new wedding space attached onto their main building. With large windows offering a panoramic view onto the rolling hills and valleys as a backdrop to your wedding and the gentle light streaming in reflecting off all the new glass and oak, everything you need for a great day and night is all self-contained. 

The original Marquee - still in use?

The main hall is split into three spaces : the ceremony was held in the central area, the speeches and wedding breakfast were all at the far end, and the bar and plenty of space for mingling and more tables were at the near side closer to the house proper. The benefits of this are that there is no rushed turnaround or rolling tables, red carpets etc out the way when you and your guests are enjoying the wedding afterglow. When I arrived everything was all set up and ready to go. The new flower-filled foyer also provides additional mingling space.

The New Oak Framed Glass Barn

There are even many little places for a videographer or photographer to sit down, plug in and begin importing footage, which is always good, and even though I was just the humble videographer I was offered several canapés. (Major brownie points for that.) The staff are all friendly, enthusiastic and helpful, and the food in the restaurant in the main building is delicious as well. (I had the scampi and sticky toffee pudding, followed by a cafe latte to wash it down. Very nice.) 

Congratulations again to Gillian & Quentin who invited me down to Enterkine to film their big day

In short, one of the better and more friendly and helpful wedding venues I've been to. Much recommended! I love driving into Burns country to film weddings and hope to continue to do so for many years ahead.

To visit Enterkine House Hotel's website, click here.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Tip #6 : The First Dance

The First Dance is another main part of your wedding day, so it's worth putting a bit of thought (and practice?) into it to make it all it can be.

All First Dances are special and should be treasured, but out of the hundred or more weddings I've filmed over the years some stick in the memory more than others, and those are usually the ones which have been choreographed and performed in natural summer light.

Not everyone can get married in the summer, but those who do can really enjoy the benefits of all that natural light which will make your photos and videos really come to life.

But anyone can put in a bit of practice :)

The First Dance of Melissa & Anthony,  Dunglass Estate, 8th August 2018

Above is a great example of a really nice First Dance. The summer wedding of Melissa & Anthony at Dunglass Estate, Scotland on 8/8/18, held in a marquee at a fantastic venue, with a friend - Leanne Adams - singing the song to a backing track. Have a look and see what you think :) Leanne, Melissa and Anthony all did a fantastic job, and not only that, they faced me (the videographer) during the best bits!

Now I don't know anything about dancing (I'm a rubbish dancer) but I'm pretty sure you can find a teacher online who might be able to give you a few lessons to charge up your normal First Dance into a really memorable one.

If you're having a wedding during the winter months or in a darker venue, how about this idea? Get the DJ or singer to ask all your friends and family to switch on the lights on their phones and wave them to the music while you dance, as if it's a concert. This will form an amazing video backdrop and probably look great in the photos as well.

One last idea. Got a band to play for the night, but they're only going to play a CD for your first dance? At least ask them to mime to the CD - it'll make your video much much better, I promise!

But remember: don't worry about everyone else, don't stress at the bridal party members who missed their cue to come on. This is your one and only First Dance with the one you love, so above all, enjoy it :)

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Contact us via email at whiteorchidweddingfilms@gmail.com

Monday, 17 December 2018

Tip #5 - Videographers vs Photographers

While there are some overlaps, I've come to the opinion that videography and photography are completely different forms of media.

Although in both a camera is used, light is important, and the optimum angle is desired by both parties, they are two completely different animals. In one, an instant is captured forever, and everything depends on that one moment. All the efforts of the photographer are focussed (pun not intended) on that 500th of a second or however long the shutter is open. Photos can be quite breathtaking and I have great admiration for photographers who are able to attain perfection in this regard. In the other, sound and movement come in to play, sequential editing decisions are important, music can be added, speech recorded. You can hang wedding photos on a wall or place them on the sideboard, whereas a wedding film is put away and taken out to be enjoyed for years to come. 

Photography is the traditional way weddings have been recorded for generations. Getting your photos taken has become an important part of the ritual all over the world, and many photographers are very skilful at coordinating crowds, keeping people entertained, navigating the venue, the weather, the backgrounds, different poses, the light etc.

By comparison, videography is still considered the troublesome infant at weddings. The unnecessary fifth wheel, with his or her cumbersome VHS camera* pointing invasively in peoples' faces, making them nervous and generally getting in the way up at the top of the already crowded ceremony room. After all, if you already have a photographer, why a videographer as well? Isn't it a bit overkill?

Here are some of the aspects of a wedding though that, unless you have an amazing memory, are lost forever if you only have a photographer present and no videographer:

  • Your spoken vows
  • Any readings given at the ceremony
  • Any poignant advice given by the minster, celebrant or priest
  • The father of the bride's speech
  • The groom's speech
  • The best man's speech
  • Any speeches made by the bridesmaids
  • Video messages from guests
  • Any other funny or nice things that happen out of the photographer's line of sight, or too fast for them to capture
  • Music that means a lot to you

Wouldn't you much rather have all of that in addition to the photos to remember?

There's something about video cameras that cause people to tense up, to become stiff and unnatural. Decades of watching All Right On The Night and You've Been Framed have made the general public suspicious of camera operators, convinced that we'll take clips of them making fools of themselves and share them on social media or worse - sell them to TV or post on Youtube and go viral. 
More so with microphones. Grooms often seem to think they will somehow incriminate themselves or say something embarrassing that will be held against them at some point in the future, perhaps played at a murder trial as evidence.

Photographers do not face such suspicion. They are respected professionals who must uphold the generally accepted ethics of all photographers and are trusted unconditionally with high shots down guests' dresses or saucy shots of wedding garters, while videographers are banished from the room like villains who are always a hair's breadth from cracking the already shaky videographers' code and uploading the clip to Redtube.

Please let me take this opportunity to quell peoples' fears. It would not, in any way, be in the videographer's interests to make fools of or otherwise embarrass brides or grooms, their families or guests, by sharing footage publicly without your consent. Photographers hold the copyright for their photos, but videographers in my opinion are very much held by the consent of those in the footage. It would be business suicide to break the trust of the wedding couple by doing such a thing. And for what? A few likes on Facebook? A couple of views on Youtube? We would much rather get likes and views on social media for the high quality videos we can produce. Honestly, it's a joy to shoot and edit a great highlights video and see this take off online, because it not only shows how great your wedding day was - it also shows off what we can do. And any wedding videographer worth his salt is as proud of his work as a photographer is of theirs.

That said, there are sometimes moments when things do not go according to plan. At a wedding, never having worked before and suddenly finding themselves thrust together on a very important one-off event that could make or break their business, a photographer and videographer must work together to ensure that the day runs without friction. They must be able to produce the best result possible while being civil about it, respecting each other's professionalism, integrity and end-goals.

It's generally accepted for the photographer to be in the wedding video, because as I said, they have been embedded in the wedding ritual for generations and are expected. So I have absolutely no qualms about a photographer being visible - in fact it would be strange if they weren't. On the other hand it would be very odd indeed if the opposite was true.

Imagine your Auntie Morag comes round for tea and you're flicking through the wedding album, and she stops you and says, "Ooh, that's a lovely one. It must have been very difficult to hold that pose on the pier, but the light is lovely and the venue is dramatic and you both look so happy and in love. But who's that guy in the background with the big VHS camera*, boom mic and headphonesª?"

I'm positive that in my enthusiasm in getting the best shots for my wedding clients I may have got in the way of what may have been some great photos, and I'm very sorry about thisº. However, the opposite is also true. Photographers, in their enthusiasm, have often got in the way of my shot. But it's just one of those things. Because we don't see ourselves in our own work we sometimes think we're invisible at the event. But we just apologise, try not to do it again, and strive to find the common ground, because at the end of the day, it's not about business competition - it's about your special day. One of, if not the most important of your lives.

* We don't use VHS cameras. We use High Definition and 4K cameras with a Merlin Steadicam for smooth motion shots and export to DVD, Blu Ray, HD mp4 file on USB or online streaming.

ª We don't use a boom pole and headphones. We place audio recorders at strategic locations around the room, and a lapel mic on the groom or best man for maximum quality and discretion.

º If any photographers I've worked with have any amusing photos of me in their shots, please email them to me at raptorfilmz@gmail.com

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© Chris Young 2018