Wedding photographers, are you looking to branch out to include video in your wedding package options? We ask Lelanie du Preez from Ambient Films how it’s done.

Putting yourself out there, aka: marketing.

Facebook is a powerful tool for video marketing. I’ve also managed to connect with great photographers that has made all the difference as they are a great source of referrals. This has had a major impact on the bookings I get.

Working alongside photographers…

Working alongside photographers is inevitable. Early on the wedding day, I’ll establish whether our styles complement one another and if they do, I’ll work in the background, getting close-ups when the photographer’s changing lenses. If I see that it is getting too crowded or that we might be stressed for time, I’ll ask for about 5 minutes before or after the photo shoot to capture my style-specific shots.

Wedding videos dos and dont’s

Have backups

My biggest DO is to have backups – audio backup feeds and backup angles! Photographers might think that you’re nuts for setting up three or even four angles in the ceremony, but they’re a lifesaver when things don’t go according to plan! Also, talk to the photographer and have it be a team effort on the day.

Don’t complain

The biggest don’t is to do your complaining behind a closed door. Don’t let your stress come out in front of your clients. When things don’t go according to plan and you don’t get the shot that you wanted it’s important not to lose control in front of your clients as it will stress them out too.

Using the right gear

There’s a big difference between my gear list for ceremonies and speeches, and the prep and creative shoots. I’ll always have my Sony a7s ii with a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens with me, and give my second shooter a Sony a7r ii with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. These cameras are amazing because they enable me to pitch up in the bride’s room with literally just a camera around my shoulder. They both have in-body Image Stabilisation (IBIS) that enable me to shoot handheld and without additional support gear in the prep or creative couple shoot. People often mistake us for photographers, because we don’t have any sliders or tripods. In the ceremony, it’s a different ball game: I use three cameras, two tripods and a monopod. The sound is, of course, one of the biggest things to consider, so I use two lavalier mics (one on the groom and another on the officiant) and I also plug into the desk for a backup feed. In the reception, I also use an LED light.

Do you use drones for aerial videos?

I believe that using drones for fresh perspectives can really add to your video. You want people to wonder how you got a certain shot, rather than people saying “oh, they have a drone”. But, it has to be worth it since it takes time to fly and for this reason, I’ll only do it if I know that the location lends itself well to aerial photography; and in keeping with regulations, I never shoot with a drone in the city.

Scoping out the venue before the big day?

I would most likely arrive about an hour before we start shooting and take a look at the location, but photographers do usually take the reigns on location choices.

Unique wedding video requests

One bride wanted me to recreate the first bit of My Best Friend’s Wedding: It’s a dance sequence that ended up being a lot of fun to shoot, and also something I had never done before.

Editing the videos

It all comes down to the song and the feeling as I can feel what works and what doesn’t. If the couple makes personal vows, I will work the video around that. Otherwise, I will use the first kiss or the confetti shot as something to focus on.

But what really makes a difference is that I shoot with the edit in mind – I shoot sequences and transitions on the day that will string the footage into a story. I want to do something different than just cut a bunch of footage to a song. I use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit with a little bit of after effects if I have to.

Setting the mood with music

The mood of the day and the couple’s personality has the biggest influence on my song choice. The song choice can make or break a video, so I often sometimes spend up to two days looking for that perfect song. But it’s worth it, because when it works; it blows my mind.

Keeping inspired

I always try to push myself and figure out where can I improve and what I haven’t done before. I’ll walk around the room without recording anything to explore where I can move and how I can use the light to my advantage. 

I also watch a bunch of movies and series that inspire me. I’d recommend any video editor to watch Stranger Things and focus on the way in which it’s edited. It’s very humbling to see what others are doing. I also surround myself with creatives that think like I do. I have a tribe.

Any tips?

Make friends! Having people in the industry that understand you will make all the difference. The truth is that you will most likely lose some, if not all, of your friends because of your strange schedule. So, having a support system like mine who I can meet with every Wednesday morning, will save you from bailing when you’re starting to think that you can’t hack it. I have three photographer friends that have become like family; we chat, we joke, we complain, but everyone is just true to themselves. I wouldn’t be who I am without them.