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The Two 'Ographers

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If you’ve started your search of hiring a professional to create a video or “film” of your wedding day, you have probably realized that there is a lot to consider. One common point of confusion that many end up asking is, “Do I hire a cinematographer or videographer? Is there even a difference or are those two ways of saying the same thing?” 

Just because someone calls what they producea “film” or labels something “cinematic”does not mean it is.  It’s not about the type of music or the cameras used. Technically, nobody shooting with a digital camera is making actual FILMS, even Hollywood isn’t making many movies shot on film anymore!  So what is the difference and why does it matter to you?  When you strip away the differences, the core of each is a person operating a camera.  This is not a debate about cinematographers being superior to videographers or vice versa, there is a time and a place for both.  

A very well respected group of filmmakers called Stillmotion explained it best: A videographer is REACTIVE, whereas a cinematographer is PROACTIVE.  If a seasoned videographer is operating reactively, this means that they are relying on the events they are hired to capture to play out, dictating what and how they are shooting.  Again, there is nothing wrong with this approach for a multitude of different live events, like a sports game for instance. A less experienced videographer, or one shooting alone, will take the safer route and choose a very standard stabilization such as a tripod, shooting wider, less intimate shots to ensure they are not missing any action that may happen. 

A cinematographer has a more proactive approach. Some may argue that you can’t shoot a wedding as a true cinematographer, the events are just too unpredictable for planned shots and fixed lenses. This is simply untrue! Weddings are actually quite predictable, and though the sets and names change, the characters and scenes stay nearly the same. With enough experience and foresight, every critical decision required for making the decisions of a qualified cinematographer can be made at a wedding, just minutes before each event.

It may go without saying too, that a videographer will also use the swiss army knife of cameras, a true video camera.  Wait, don’t both typesuse a video camera? Well, yes, but no. Though the type of camera used does not dictate whether someone is a videographer or a cinematographer, the camera the operator chooses does have a big impact on their work. There are two major differences in cameras which should be realized. Video cameras, (the “swiss army knife”) are what you will always see news crews shooting. They are ideal for unpredictable events because they are equipped with a power zoom lens, and are designed to quickly or automatically adjust settings. The type of digital film cameras that cinematographers will prefer have interchangeable lenses that must be chosen at each scene change. This allows for more control over the composition and quality of the image, giving you solid shots that are perfectly framed and clear, even in very low light. 

Cinematography is a completely different approach and thought process than videography.  Cinematographers determine ahead of time where to shoot from, what lenses to use, settings they will dial in, whether to use a tripod, monopod, or other stabilization, and so on, to intentionally fit the pieces into your story. It’s similar to baking, in that the baker chooses exactly the right ingredients and amounts to make something delicious.  

So, why do we label our work as “films”?  What we make most closely follows the techniques and styles used by cinematographers for over a century of making movies.  We are highly trained, using our skills to plan ahead and anticipate moments to make informed decisions to better tell your story.  It’s not a question of whether one is right or wrong but which is right for you. We trust this information has made your decision at least a little bit easier!    

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