Joshua Bane
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First Look Advice for Wedding Photographers and Videographers

A first look is one of the best moments of a wedding day and definitely an important part to have captured with photos and video. Personally, I am a fan of first looks because of all the benefits of having one. If you would like to read those, please see this blog post here.

A first look is one of the most romantic and intimate moments during the wedding day. It’s one of the few moments the couple has to themselves. A first look needs to be handled with care and respect. My advice for couples is to let this moment be between the yourselves and not have an audience. Let family and friends watch the video and look at the photos from the first look. One of the ways I like to manage a first look is to allow the couple to have a few minutes to themselves once the first look is over. This could literally be the only few minutes to themselves on their own wedding day.

Photographers and videographers, let’s get on the same page and communicate. We both want to get the raw emotions and capture amazing footage.

Communicate:

  • Placement of the groom

  • What direction the groom is to turn

  • Is the bride walking all the way up to the groom?

  • Is the bride stopping a few steps back?

  • What angles are the pros needing to be at to not be in each other’s shots.

  • Is audio being recorded.

Dare I say the video is more important than the photos during a first look? Let me explain. I mic up the groom during a first look to be able to capture clean audio of the conversation and sounds from the couple. The audio from the first look is crucial for the video. Some of the best video clips from a wedding has been from first looks.

What ruins audio from a first look:

  • The photographer talking during the first look.

  • The photographer giving orders to the couple during the first look.

  • The photographer jumping right to the portraits as soon as the couple let’s each other go.

  • The photographer’s camera’s shutter clicks going off way too much or too close to the couple.

Let’s break this down a little more and give an idea that could help both the photographer and videographer get what they need without ruining each other’s shots or the couple’s moment.

Typically, what I have seen is the groom is staged in a certain spot, the bride approaches the groom, taps his shoulder, and he turns around to see his bride for the first time during the wedding. Both pros like to get some shots of the couple before the first look carries on. Get those, then get out of the way. Let the first look happen naturally and get those raw moments. This is THEIR moment.

The first look needs to be treated with the same reverence as we would during the ceremony. We are not talking at all during the ceremony or using any tactics that would interrupt the service.

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On the video side, during the editing of a video, there have been times where I could not clean up or cut out the photographer’s voice out of the video. It’s heartbreaking to me because I want to create a video for the couple so they can relive those precious moments, but then there’s a voice telling them what to do or camera clicks that are way too loud. Again, please don’t talk during a first look. As far as camera clicks, perhaps using a long lens (70-200mm) would help. You can be at a distance and still get your shots.

Communication is key.

Us pros can talk to our couples and each other about the plan of action for a first look. Here’s my recommended plan of action.

  • Set expectations with where everyone will be placed (pros and the couple).

  • There will be a few shots taken before approaching the groom and the should tap.

  • Once the bride approaches the groom, the pros will not interrupt the moment.

  • The couple let’s the pros know when they are ready to move on to the next thing.

  • Once the first look is done the pros can then pose the couple for any shots that are needed.

  • Pros, when we see the couple is ready to move on, look at each other, and communicate that our shots are done.

The last bullet point is just as an important as not making noise during the first look. There have been times where I needed to fade out the audio from the groom’s mic and someone blurted something out without hesitation. It forced me to make a hard cut rather than a natural fade out.

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Long story short, we all value the first look and want the best results as possible. It takes the pros and couple working together to make a great in-the-moment experience along with content that will be enjoyable for years down the line.

My heart behind this post is to be helpful and educational for photographers and videographers. Photographers, I hope this helps you understand much of the elements that go into a successful recording of a first look on video. Videographers, I hope this helps you communicate with photographers and your couples.

Back to my comment about the video being more important than the photos. Each are just as important, however the methods of capture I believe the video is more delicate than photo. Make sense?

Did I mention that my business covers both photography and videography? I promise I won’t interfere with myself ;-)

Bonus point: These ideas can be applied with other elements like a letter reading.