Ten helpful tips when shopping for your professional wedding videographer:How should you shop for a professional wedding videographer? I believe it is very important for all couples who are either just considering or currently shopping for a talented professional wedding videographer to also consider a few important videography shopping tips before investing in this unique audio-visual art form to forever preserve all of the precious living memories of their priceless wedding day. As a veteran Maryland BBB accredited professional videographer and former public school art teacher having personally produced several hundred wedding videos dating back to 1989 including 15 international award winners, I believe I am qualified to share what I consider to be my top ten most important professional wedding videographer shopping tips.
- If not already clearly displayed on the website, ask to also see their important professional credentials and then meet with and verify a videographer's professional legitimacy but only in their actual workplaces:
Regardless of any "audio video entertainment" you see on any videography websites, before you sign any contracts with any video company for any professional wedding video products or services, also look for or ask to see their much more important professional credentials; (accreditation certificates, professional association memberships, licensing documents, film or video school graduation diplomas, local, national or international video awards, etc.), that validate the video companies' professionalism! Flashy special effects enhanced video streaming "demo-tapes" or other "video samples" alone are never an accurate or truly honest representation of any video company unless they also "back-them up" with their more important up-to-date professional videography company credentials and awards that should also be clearly displayed on their websites and in their print literature! Example: Videography Awards. Just as you would not hire an amateur, inexperienced, and/or unlicensed doctor, lawyer or any other professional service provider, the same common sense should also apply to any professional wedding videographer and/or photographer you employ to artistically forever capture the priceless memories of your wedding day! Unless you trust an amateur hobbyist or "professional impersonator" to videotape your wedding day, in addition to any video samples you see on any website, be sure to also ask to see up-to-date professional videography credentials and any awards they might have won unless they are already clearly displayed on the website or in the print literature.
After researching the professional videography market including viewing websites, seeing legitimate professional credentials, and communicating with several "videographer candidates" by email and phone conversations, the next and most important step is to arrange private studio consultations to meet them in person to see their workplaces and watch some recent samples of their work. Before making a final videographer choice, regardless of how impressive a website and/or sales promotion literature looks or even how "friendly" and knowledgeable phone conversations seem to be, it is most important, whenever possible, to visit those videographers in their actual studios or other workplace(s) to have the opportunity to meet them face-to-face where your visit should also include a brief tour of their modern video production office/studios. When visiting, you should also see on display; all of their important professional credentials such as a current WEVA certificate, Maryland BBB Accreditation, videography or film school graduation diplomas, etc. In addition, if they are genuinely skilled and talented professional "video artists," you should also see a number of local, national and/or international video awards that clearly display the name(s) of the winning videographer(s) you are actually meeting with and hopefully also working with on your wedding day. Lastly, if you love the full-length, (not demo tapes) wedding video samples you watch including seeing a legitimate state-of-the-art video production office/studio, it is perhaps even more important that you genuinely feel comfortable with and trust the videographer enough to "invite" him or her to your wedding. After all, your videographer, photographer and other professional wedding vendors will be spending most of your wedding day working closely with you and your other family members and guests. I believe it is very important for all of your professional wedding vendors, especially your chosen photographer and videographer to be not only professionally talented, but also pleasantly unobtrusive and highly personable with everyone in attendance. You can never make that important evaluation based solely on websites, phone conversations and/or sales literature you received in the mail. If at all possible, be sure to meet with any and all professional wedding vendors before you employ them.
- Visit the Better Business Bureau website, www.bbb.org to check a company's business report and see if they are also a Maryland BBB Accredited business BEFORE you do business with them.
The BBB was founded in 1912 and it is the nation's authority on trust in the marketplace. Today, the BBB serves communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 3 million local and national businesses and charities. It is estimated that fewer than 10% of businesses are eligible for BBB Accreditation. BBB Accreditation is an honor and not every company is eligible. The BBB is a private, non-profit consumer protection organization whose membership is by invitation only. Membership in the Better Business Bureau is subject to a rigorous company evaluation and background check and is based on a business' established reputation including a history of high ethical standards and a dedication to customer service excellence. (When checking the company(s) BBB accreditation, also be sure to take note of the evaluative rating assigned by the BBB, A+ being the highest awarded to only a select few distinguished BBB members). For a small annual membership fee, any honest reputable licensed and insured company or business that also guarantees their products and/or services in writing including having a history of very few or most likely no consumer complaints are most likely eligible for BBB membership. A recent national Gallop survey showed that 85% of consumers would prefer to do business with a BBB member. Companies who are eligible and choose to accept a BBB membership and continue to be active members of the BBB are demonstrating their commitment to business ethics which are more important now than ever before.
- Ask any videographer you are considering hiring this simple question;
"Are you a full time professional wedding videographer?" If they only do videos part time because they have other unrelated, "day jobs", it is likely they are either amateurs or incapable of producing high quality video products because of their other "career responsibilities". It is also possible they are not true professional videographers themselves but only salespersons that contract out their wedding video business as supplemental income only. After your wedding is over, I spend an additional average 40+ studio post-production hours meticulously editing each and every one of my wedding videos to create an elegant, highly emotional and very entertaining wedding video DVD you and your loved ones will enjoy for generations to come. This would not be possible if I was also working full time in a different career. Also, after you meet with a videographer whose sample full-length wedding video DVD's you love, be sure to get a guarantee in writing, that whoever videotaped and produced the videos you watched is also the one who will show up at your wedding! Some companies will show you some very impressive demo-tapes to excite your interest into signing a contract but on your wedding day, they send a contracted "camera operator" to shoot your wedding who may or may not have experience or know what they are doing. If the videographer or company sales representative tells you something like, "I'll be sending one of my associates or available videographers to shoot your wedding", be very cautious because the end product could be a huge disappointment.
- Hire a Wedding Video Specialist.
Be sure to ask any professional videographers you are considering hiring if they specialize prmarily in wedding videography. Not every professional videographer can successfully videotape a wedding ceremony and reception unless of course they are talented wedding video specialists with years of experience. Unlike a Hollywood movie and many other special events as well, in wedding videography, there is no room for error and especially no "second takes". A wedding is an ever-changing and often fast-paced event that requires a very alert experienced videographer who not only has the "eye of an artist" but is also a confident technician who thru years of videotaping many different weddings, understands and anticipates the important sequence of events. It often requires years of exclusive wedding videotaping experience before even talented/trained videographers are able to produce beautiful award-winning wedding video DVD productions. Therefore, it is very important that your videographer is also an experienced wedding video specialist, not someone who videotapes "everything under the sun", with weddings being only a small part of their total business. If you visit a videography website and have difficulty locating the wedding video products because they are lost in all of the other "stuff", it might be wise to continue shopping elsewhere. When surfing the web, ideally look for wedding video sites that obviously specialize exclusively in wedding videography.
- Ask if they belong to a professional videography Association like WEVA International.
All competent professional event videographers should be able to show you their professional credentials including being active members of one or more professional videography associations including attending industry expos, conventions and other professional improvement seminars. They should also subscribe to industry publications and keep up on current popular technology such as the now very popular HD, (high definition) Blu-ray DVD disc video format that is rapidly replacing SD, (standard definition) DVD's as the preferred video format choice of many technology savvy couples who demand the very best currently available audio video products. The talented videographer who does one or more of these is more likely to be up-to-date on cutting edge video techniques and equipment breakthroughs. Even if they are gifted video artists, they still need the necessary tools to create their video masterpieces. You most certainly would not want to hire a videographer who only offers now obsolete VHS tapes just as you would not hire an "Uncle Charlie" with a consumer camcorder who's never videotaped a wedding before to produce your wedding video
- Never base a wedding video contract decision solely on a sales promotion package you received in the mail, a phone conversation or any commercially produced video demo-tapes you viewed.
The sole purpose of these "sales tactics" is to hopefully impress you into purchasing their video products without ever actually meeting with them where it is much more difficult to "trick you" into purchasing what could potentially be in the worst case scenario, a bogus sales scam. Instead if possible, meet with several videographers in person where they work to actually see their video production office/studios and watch some of their recently produced & delivered full-production not demo tapes wedding video DVD's. If you are pressured in any way to "leave a deposit to reserve the date", I highly recommend you walk away and find another videographer, especially if you are the first couple to inquire about the wedding date. Any competent/honest professional videographer will politely extend the courtesy of temporarily reserving your wedding date for at least one to two weeks to give you the opportunity to discuss it with other family members and/or decision makers before making a final decision to hire them. I never ask for any commitments or deposits at our initial consultation but instead after showing you recent samples of my work, give you a comprehensive folder of videography information to take along to share & discuss with other family members. I then put a temporary freeze on your wedding date for a minimum of 2 weeks. If within that time frame you then decide to employ me as your professional wedding videographer, I will send you a personalized wedding videography contract for your review and approval. If you choose to accept the contract, your wedding date will be officially booked only after I receive your signed contract and initial investment deposit.
- Consider referrals from other happy couples who had their weddings professionally videotaped or ask your videographer prospects for testimonials from some of their former clients.
Referrals from happy family members, friends or even co-workers who love their professional wedding videos are also a very good source, especially if you have seen and also love their completed DVD's. Also be sure to ask about their wedding day working experience with their professional videographer. Some videographers will even offer special discounts and/or other sales incentives for referred clients. If you have already hired your photographer, he/she might know some talented videographers they also enjoy working with. In addition, any reputable professional wedding videographer should be able to provide you with referrals from some of their many happy clients. Some including myself, will also with the written permission of their former clients include testimonial letters on their websites
- Ask if they have ever videotaped a wedding in the location where you plan to get married.
In addition, also ask about your wedding reception site if it is in a different wedding venue. Chances are very good if the videographer has worked at your chosen wedding venue(s); he or she may have some DVD's that were videotaped at your chosen location(s). Be sure to ask because it's always fun to see an actual wedding ceremony and/or reception or two that took place at your chosen venues. Some might even be able to lend you a wedding video that was filmed at your location.
- Ask some technical video equipment related questions if this is important to you and/or your future spouse.
If you are interested in the professional videography "tools of the trade" or you are simply "technology savvy" and curious, feel comfortable to ask specific questions about the professional video equipment the videographer is using. This could include camcorders, accessories, editing systems including software choices, etc. I find this is usually more of a "guy thing" but occasionally, some of the future brides I meet know more about it then their future husbands-to-be do. If you really understand and appreciate this "technical stuff", it doesn't hurt to simply ask about it, especially if you know what is involved in videotaping and producing high quality professional wedding videos. Even the most gifted video artists also need the right tools to create the most beautiful wedding videos possible! Be sure to also ask your videographer prospects about their HD, (high definition video) capability even if you are currently only interested in SD (standard definition video) formats. The never professional high definition camcorder's superior quality videotape footage can always be downsized to SD in the post production editing phase which will also result in a higher quality final product even if you only desire an SD DVD product.
- Lastly and perhaps most important, when meeting with prospective videographers, insist on seeing only copies of fully edited real wedding video DVD's, (not sales promotion demo-tapes), that were videotaped & produced by the videographer who will also be working with you on your wedding day!
If you are told someone else produced the DVD's, request that only the responsible videographer(s) also be the one(s) who show up at your wedding! Be very cautious if you are told something like, "I will be sending one of my associates or other available videographers, (you haven't even met), to shoot your wedding". The end result can be disastrous. Because I take great personal pride in both videotaping and editing each and every one of my unique "wedding video masterpieces, I never sub-contract my work out or send someone else you've never met to shoot your wedding. I do however have several professional back-up videographers always available in the event they are ever requested or needed.
In conclusion, I always advise couples to be just as selective or even more so with their professional videographer as they are with their photographer because as most couples I've had the honor of videotaping their weddings during the past 20+ years has told me, you and your loved ones will most likely enjoy & watch your wedding day DVD video much more often than you will look at the pictures and over time it will become even more valuable to you. And of course as with photography, it is also a very good idea to visit with several professional videographers before making a final selection.
Please email or call me at 410-757-0582 if you would be interested in learning more about my award-winning wedding video products or would like to arrange an informal friendly meeting to watch some of my recent wedding DVDs in a comfortable HD home theater setting. I will also be happy to give you a comprehensive package of information and a recent wedding DVD sample to take along to share with other family members and friends.