The Value of Wedding Cinematography

A Personal Look

I’ve recently grown to appreciate the value of wedding cinematography more than I ever have in the past. Don’t get me wrong; as a wedding cinematographer, I’ve always believed in its value. But after having my own wedding filmed, that belief has been strongly reinforced, and there’s one simple reason why: wedding cinematography has been the most powerful medium through which I have been able to fully experience and relive the most meaningful moments of my wedding day.

Let’s break that down.

Fully Experience

By “fully experience,” I’m referring to the fact that wedding cinematography helped me experience parts of the day that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. For example, can the bride really see a close up of the groom’s face the moment she starts walking down the aisle? Can either of you see your parents’ reactions to the two of you exchanging vows? What did your first kiss look like? Did you get a front and center view of your bridal party entering the reception? Were you on the dance floor when your brother ripped his pants for the second time? Were you able to see everyone else’s reactions to your brother ripping his pants for the second time? (Yes, my brother did rip his pants twice on my wedding day. Look for it in the upcoming Short Film!)

Vs. Photography

Now, you might be thinking, “A photographer could capture all of these moments as well.” And that’s true…but I think the key word there is “moments.” I want to be careful about what I say here because I also really value photography and photographers, and I don’t want to increase any sense of competition between us. At the same time, though, this is precisely where I think wedding cinematography has a trump card on photography, because cinematography doesn’t just capture moments, it captures entire interactions, sequences, and events. And not only does it capture them in a visual format, but it also connects them with the audio of the situation.

Let’s relook at those same moments in light of the unique qualities cinematography has when compared to photography. Can the bride really see the groom’s chin quivering as she enters the sanctuary? Can either of you see your parents batting back tears as they watch you exchange your vows? How did the groom move in towards his bride to kiss her? Did you have a front and center view to watch the dances and hear the cheering for your bridal party as they entered the reception? Could you see the change of your brother’s expression as he realized he had ripped his pants for the second time?

Vs. Videography

Another thought you might have is, “That’s all great, but a traditional videographer could do all that for a much cheaper price!” And again, that’s partially true, and I do believe there is value in traditional videography. However, there are also very big differences that are important enough to bring up. At the risk of being simplistic, I’ll describe it like this: a videographer is trying to create a documentation of your wedding day, and thereby approaches it primarily as an event. A cinematographer is trying to create a film of your day, and thereby approaches it as a story.

This might seem like a small difference, but it dramatically impacts the way you as a couple relate to your videographer/cinematographer as well as the final product you’ll receive.

For example, would a traditional videographer have a questionnaire for you to discuss so he can get to know more about you and your relationship, and therefore make better decisions about what kind of lighting, lenses, camera movements, angles and soundtrack will best represent your relationship and personalities? Will the final product be something that you’d want to watch over and over, rather than now and again on your anniversary?

Let’s reexamine those same interactions again in light of the unique qualities a cinematographer has when compared to a videographer.

Can the bride really see the groom’s chin quivering in sharp focus with beautiful bokeh in the background as she enters the sanctuary? Can either of you see your parents batting back tears while you hear the emotion in the soundtrack build? How did the groom move in towards his bride to kiss her while the camera slowly and smoothly slid from right to left, appropriately adding grandness and nostalgia to the moment? Did you have a front and center view to watch the dances and hear the cheering for your bridal party as they entered the reception, strategically placed in the edit to build excitement? Could you see the change of your brother’s expression as he realized he had ripped his pants for the second time, adding a dash of comedy and personality to the final film?

Reliving

These moments I’ve described were initially all concerning things I wouldn’t experience otherwise. However, a cinematographer uses this same approach for everything on your wedding day, meaning the final film will also powerfully retell the things that you did experience, and help you relive them in a cinematic, engaging way.

One Powerful Medium

Wedding cinematography lets you relive your wedding not just as isolated moments or a mere documentation of your event, but as a compelling narrative. It develops characters and personalities and can capture entire events and interactions. It brings together stunning visuals and meaningful audio to weave together an emotionally powerful representation of your wedding day that you’ll want to watch over and over again.

If you’re interesting in inquiring about a date or further discussing the value of wedding cinematography, please send me a message, and I’d be happy to talk.

For another cinematographer’s discussion of the differences between videography and cinematography, click here.

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