Our Creative Process, Shooting Style & What COVID19 Postponements Mean for 2021
Updated: Sep 9
I've been asked, what does Big Day's company consist of? Do you have employees? How many of there are you? Do you do the editing?
I've been wanting to address this for a while! We truly are a boutique company. These films come from one single vision and direction which follows a very personal memoir of a couples wedding day. Around the website when I refer to a "we", and I'm really just referring to myself and my 2nd Shooter. There are no other editors, and I primarily shoot with one main 2nd Shooter. For a long time I felt that I needed to portray that Big Day was really this big company (while aspiring to that) - but once I realized that the bigger wedding film companies don't necessarily produce great work - I pivoted from that. In the end, a film can really suffer from having "too many cooks in the kitchen" as there is usually no unified vision, quality standard, or accountability for the work one performs.
2021's Wedding Bonanza
In thinking of next year's weddings, I've started to curate a very shortlist of associate teams, who specialize specifically in wedding filmmaking. They'll fill in when we're double booked on a date.
With the company's uptick in bookings as of the past year and a half and with COVID19s impact, or shall I say, tidal wave of 2020 postponements barreling into next year, 2021 is booking fast. Basically, we're looking at two seasons packed into one season next year.
For the double booked dates, I'm hiring nothing less than the most seasoned wedding filmmakers I know who are clear on our shooting style, and who I've worked with in the past. With that said, a lot of Big Day's dreamy, cinematic style is crafted in post-production! This is where pacing, story-telling, and the juxtaposition of climactic moments with music are brought together.
Big Day's Cinematography Style, Color Pallets, and "Looks"
I'm always looking to evolve Big Day's cinematography. When shooting, my first question is, where is the sun? I love shooting into the sunlight to create a milky golden scene, with ambient dust particles floating around if possible. I favor warm tones as well.
Sometimes I'll use a can of "atmosphere aerosol" which is like a fog machine in a spray can! I used it for this engagement shoot. I'll definitely be using it more in the future. See the mist?
We also use light diffusion filters on our lenses that make a person's skin appear smoother, as well as soften harsh shadows on the face or scene. Notice here, how the highlights have a glow to them.
Other times if I can plan it right, I love to use colored smoke bombs! This clip is from my favorite moment in their film.
As a wedding vendor, it's so important to make sure our brides are comfortable and stress free on the wedding day, especially in front of the camera. It's also important that they truly understand that a woman is never more beautiful than on the day of her wedding! It's a natural fact! I want my brides to own that feeling, because the camera loves it.
I spend extra time in color grading during post-production to get great looking skin tones and find the most flattering clips.
Drones are always a good idea.
A wide expansive shot of a beautiful landscape helps to establish the geography of a location. We know where the wedding was, but do we REALLY know where the wedding was? Establishing shots just don't get bigger than this. I like to find a good time in the morning of a wedding day to fly over the ceremony area, the surrounding landscape, and if we can get a superhero shot of the couple on a cliff, then it's all the more epic.
Palos Verdes has one of the most impressive coastlines in Southern California.
Mirko & Leslie got married here.
You can't go wrong with Joshua Tree. Aerial shots there are a must.
There's a built-in ceremony area down there between the rocks. This is where Gabrielle & Harry got married. See it down there?
The Couples Session
The couples session is also sometimes called "Romantics" by photographers and videographers alike. Typically, the photographer and videographer will scout the area for beautiful landscape scenes or areas around the grounds of the venue for a couples session. For the photographer, it's a portrait session. For the video side, the idea is to capture the couple simply being together and enjoying their special day. The scenes convey their true love and give meaning to how important this day truly is. It definitely isn't about acting, and more about being.
I'm looking for the "teenagers in love" moments - the best friends who have their secret language. Conversations shared by gazing eyes. And the buzzing excitement of having just gotten married. The only thing I try to ask for is to "Only do what feels natural." I try not to do too much planning here, and let the present moment be the scene.
Sometimes my 2nd shooter and I will hang back and grab the candid, cute moments that happen naturally, outside of the couples session. And those moments are aplenty - after all, it's their wedding day!
No idea what these two could have been giggling about out on the dance floor.
Every Couple Has a Story
Above all - I love crafting stories of romance through the language of visual art. Often times, I'll ask couples questions leading up the wedding day about how they met, what the proposal was like, and when they first realized they were falling in love. These elements help me to understand their backstory and ultimately, what their wedding day really, truly means to them. Many times it's a union that's come after many years of dedication and perseverance. I had a couple that had a two year romance on Instagram before finally meeting. Another lived on opposite sides of the world, and still managed to keep up a relationship. One couple broke up in their late teens and promised that they'd reconnect in 10 years time to give it another try. After having no contact at all during those 10 years, they actually followed through! And then there are the high school sweethearts, which I just find so adorable. I've heard the most amazing stories, and I try to convey some of that story in their films if I'm able.
But Every Couple is Different
I do feel that dialogue helps to drive a story and that it can be delivered in so many ways. From toasts by the family, to exchanged love letters read aloud, to using the audio from their vows or something profound that the a parent may have said in a speech.
But some couples prefer not to give too much away about themselves and want the focus to be on the gathering of their family or just a simple documenting of the day. And that's okay too. Others don't like the idea of too much voiceover or dialogue. I actually love it when they let me know these things because it challenges me to create a video without the elements I normally lean on to make what I consider to be an engaging piece.
And on a Personal Note
I'm still learning every day about being a filmmaker. COVID has definitely carved out a lot of free time for me as weddings aren't being held much these days. Instead, I keep my tools sharpened, by listening to wedding filmmaker interviews and talks by the best in the industry and watching videos about camera gear and new shooting techniques to try out. I even try to delve into the very difficult-to-grasp science of how mirrorless camera sensors function, and codecs and bitrates and things. Lighting tutorials, sound design tutorials, you name it. I'm obsessed. And there's always more to learn.
Ultimately what drives me is making cool stuff. I found wedding videography and realized I can make cool stuff that people deeply appreciate. So it's gratifying. :-)