Why Did I Choose To Be A Wedding Videographer? How Did I Get Started?
The first and straight forward reason that I choose to be a wedding videographer is because I love it. In spring of 2018 I had graduated from film school and almost immediately was contacted by a family friend in real estate who needed a videographer for his growing company. And although the start of my professional career started with Real estate it is hard to say whether real estate or weddings came first. Though technically my career started almost 5 years ago now (at the time I am writing this in May 2023) with real estate and that is what helped jump start and push me into starting my business, I filmed my first wedding in June 0f 2017.
June 2017 me had just finished junior year of college and was more focused on my senior year and what projects I might work on to finish out my college career. I had no idea what I wanted to do going forward other than try and make a go of it in movies, and at the time a film studio was supposed to be built not too far away so my mind was also on that. However in all honesty when looking back at that time in my life I don't quite remember in detail what my plans and goals were and was likely just a 21 year old kid enjoying my time in college working on short film sets, having a job in the equipment cage at school as a manager and camera trainer, and sometimes working videography jobs with friends who had been hired on different projects outside of school. My mind wasn't quite focused in on the next step yet.
Me in my film school days. Way bigger cameras than what I use now!
My aunt got married on June 22, 2017 and as I was in film school and she didn't have it in the budget to hire out a videographer asked if I would do it for her. I of course accepted and did it as a wedding gift to my aunt. I remember the only camera I had at the time was my trusty Canon t6i which could only film in HD quality, a Sony camcorder that my grandma bought in 2013 and the third camera I used was actually my aunts Olympus camera. There was a lot of cool things that came from that wedding. For starters I had never seen a wedding film before hand. I had no idea how wedding films were made. I just took the knowledge that I was receiving in my education and went with it. Second off, the layout of my ceremony setup today is vastly the same as it was that day back in 2017 though with better higher quality tools at my disposal and better workflow. While I enjoyed making my aunt's wedding film, I quite honestly thought that it was the start and end to my wedding film career. I completed the film, handed it over, my aunt loved it and that was that. An interest hadn't really blossomed yet. I went back to school in the fall and had moved on.
Fast forward to winter/spring of 2019. This is when my wedding portion of my career really starts. I was doing well with my real estate agent. We were making all kinds of videos, not just listing videos of homes. In fact for the first 6-7 months I didn't film a single home but instead was filming videos for his youtube and social media marketing. About July or August of 2018 I had stumbled across Parker Walbeck's YouTube channel in search for help in making real estate videos and more types of business videos. I instantly fell for how well he taught. Not to mention the entertainment value in his tutorials. I have a love for BTS (Behind The Scenes). In fact that is part of what made me want to be in movies as a kid was watching BTS of my favorite films. And by the winter of 2019 I had fully invested into following him on Youtube, social media and later his online course. Some of his YouTube videos included BTS of weddings he had worked on. In fact a couple of them stood out to me because they were at the Salt Lake Temple in Utah and being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints myself I became even more interested in what Parker had to share. I watched his free Youtube videos daily, over and over again. I found myself smiling at wedding films he was producing. I was smiling and enjoying someone else's wedding film whom I had never met before. I soon was watching and thinking "I could do that" and "Ooh what if he had done this shot here?" and "I think this shot might be cool if I did it this way". I was very quickly imagining myself shooting weddings and all the shots and stories I could tell. This has become a life lesson for me: if you can picture yourself doing something productive with your life and it brings you immense happiness just fantasizing about the job you could be doing, pursue it. At least give it a chance. And that is exactly what I did.
I had invested in Parker's course in February or March of 2019 and in it he has Wedding Video Pro. My interest into wedding films really starts in May of 2019 and it was then that I started doing a deep dive into that portion of the course. I watched Parker and Jake Weisler explain their experiences, how they got into wedding filmmaking, how they recommended I do the same, gear, technique and so on and so on! I quickly started reaching out to wedding photographers who might let me shadow them and use the footage I captured to make a wedding film and build my portfolio up. In exchange their couple would get a free wedding film. It was surprising to me how many people turned this down or just flat out ignored me. Though now I can understand the hesitation behind it, at the time I was so excited to get started that I couldn't understand why others weren't excited to have a rookie join them. However I got my chance with my friend Drew and his friends who at the time had a focus on wedding films and by the beginning of June I went on two shoots with them as a third shooter. Working for free and letting them use my drone in exchange for using any footage that I captured for my portfolio. They then hired me on a couple more shoots throughout June and July of 2019 as a second shooter. I really am deeply appreciative to Drew, Benjamin and Adam for helping me get my start. I was able to learn so much about the wedding day from a less stressful role because of the work they gave me.
Screenshots from my first wedding films I shot solo.
I also had a second big break when a photographer agreed to let me come with her on a bridal session. I really lucked out. It is crazy how small the world can be sometimes and yet you may never know someone right next door. Joyanna Samsel and I belong to the same church, the same Stake (kind of like a school district a Stake is boundary of members who live in a certain area and attend the same church but either at different church building sites or different meeting times) and had never met before. She had been one of the photographers I had reached out to on Facebook asking if I could shadow one of her shoots and make a video for her couple. She had replied encouragingly and had had a couple whose dad was originally going to film their bridal session and dress reveal before he was unexpectedly called away. It was fate. I had the best experience being able to be the head video shooter, learning from Joyanna on how to work with photographers and her tips and tricks to the industry. Ryan and Elise's wedding film remain one of my favorites to this day.
Summer of 2019 was a blast for me and my business. I got to work with friends, meet new people, take on my first full wedding solo when I filmed a friend from high school's wedding film. And though I had only started pursuing weddings in May I had my first two paid Lead shooter weddings by August and had made a professional relationship with a wedding planner by September.
2020 wedding at Mt. Princeton Resort. The Photographer and I had fun taking each others photos on a break during the sunset
So while I answered the question of how I became a wedding videographer, I still feel it necessary to better explain why I am a wedding videographer. Earlier in this blog I explained how when watching Parker's films I was filled with happiness, passion and excitement as I could see myself doing the same thing. Well sometimes fantasies aren't always as great as in real life and sometimes they are better. I not only loved doing the things I imagined as I watched Parker. It became more when I was able to do my own and build relationships with different couples. I have been able to meet so many wonderful Brides and Grooms and experience so many different cultures and traditions. I have been able to capture one of the most important days of people's lives, document it and tell their stories. It's exciting to be apart of someones life and excitement even if just for a day. I think that speaks to the true human condition. That we can feel happiness and excitement for others, even strangers in their moments of happiness and excitement, that we want to be apart of it and help lift those around us up even in something as simple as a wedding film. And while the wedding day is super fun and exciting, my favorite part of my job is when I can follow my couples on instagram and see how their life is growing. I have sat on the side watching how two newly weds went from being excited and in love and young to buying their first house together, starting new careers, going on new adventures and starting families. To me that is the most important part. The wedding is exciting and great, but the life built after the wedding day is even greater!