In life and Special Event Videography, size does matter and is pretty much an indication of how prepared, professional and popular you are. Turning up for a shoot with a camera the size of a sandwich and a spare tape in your back pocket does not inspire confidence and will cause most people to frown at you during close-ups.
As a Videographer you are not just providing people an end product you are selling your professionalism and as such you need to let them see equipment they don’t have and would not know how to use. You want an air of hushed awe to fall as you whip out your kit. This is also true for videography.
When you purchase your basic kit, try to combine equipment that will be flexible enough for all your videoing situations. For starters, you need a good camera. If guests in the wedding party have a better camera than you, go home. Odds are that they know it and will tell your client. Leave quickly and quietly.
Your camera needs to be of a professional standard. The make and model are a personal choice and I suggest you thoroughly research your options before committing what can be a large sum of money. Online forums and specialty websites will provide you all the information you need. Go for production quality and remember you get what you pay for. Out of your entire kit, this should be your biggest investment in a single piece of equipment.
You need a good external microphone. A lot of internal microphones will pick up noises relating to the operation of the camera itself. You don’t want an audible cue on film every time you zoom or pan. Also wear head phones, you need to be able to hear what it is you are recording. A lot of ambient noises that are not readily apparent to you, are indiscriminately recorded by your camera. Beware of motor vehicles, machinery, low flying aircraft, mumbling to yourself and whistling through your nose.
A reliable and easy to erect tripod is a must. A fluid head tripod is a preferred option and will allow you to set up steady even shots. They cost more than their standard counterparts but they will give your shots a more professional edge. Plus if you have chicken arms and limited upper body strength a tripod will allow you to continue shooting while you work the blood back to your fingers.
Spare, spare, spare! Spare batteries, spare tapes, spare globes, pack a second set of everything, including underpants because if you run out of something there will be repercussions. Have triple the amount of the consumables you think you will need. Remember you will shoot five times the amount of footage that you will actually use in your end product.
A hard case on wheels is also suggested. I prefer the Pelican brand which allows for customized foam interiors, thereby securing all your precious equipment during transport or hurling into the rear of your vehicle during an unscheduled exit. The cases come with a lifetime guaranteed for every type of abuse except shark bite, bear bite and toddlers.
Additional but also imperative accessories include white balance cards, clapperboards and a trusty pen to write on all your tapes. As a personal observation I also suggest dressing for the occasion, let the guests know who you are and that you are a professional. Show your business logo, in a tasteful way and exude an air of authority. You don’t want to hear wedding guests say ‘The scruffy guy with the tiny toy camera in the Pink Floyd t-shirt?… I think that’s Ethel’s eldest boy, he’s special….’