The Difference Between Wedding Videography and Cinematography


What do you think of when you hear “wedding videographer”?

Most people nowadays would say something along the lines of, “someone who walks around at your wedding with a video camera and films you and your family, capturing memories for you to watch afterwards”. And if you asked those people to paint a picture of what the videographer does, they would draw a person, holding a large camera on their shoulder, walking around interviewing guests and standing still, off in the shadows, filming the beautiful couple dance.

And this is why wedding videography sometimes gets a bad rep. Let me explain…. Commence short history lesson!

Back in the day, when the concept of filming your wedding first came about, videography took the form of a documentary style edit. Videos would be recorded from a standstill tripod like mentioned above, the B&G (Bride and Groom) took that tape home and watched a video-esque home-style wedding video for 2-3 hours. Everything was filmed with a “big and wide picture” feel of your wedding; so no moments could be missed but no significant emphasis on detail or emotion. There were not cuts to details, no extra close up shots of the rings and no good audio if the camera was not close enough. Sort of like, when you whip out your smartphone at a concert: everything is very zoomed out, the singer you are trying to film is tiny in the distance and the audio is only understandable because you know what song he was playing.

Then something revolutionary happened; the beautiful photos that photographers had been capturing for many years, were now able to be captured in a video. Done were the days of 15 pound cameras on a tripod. DSLR’s came in weighing 2 pounds! The level of portability changed dramatically. The production value of wedding videos skyrocketed and within a very few short years, the industry standard for wedding video had changed. It was now wedding cinematography.

So what does this new fancy “cinematography” word mean for the wedding industry? Nofilmschool.com defines it perfectly well, “We craft images from scratch, and use the tools at our disposal in order to ensure that the images not only drive the story, but that the images themselves are inherently meaningful in some way or another. It’s all about having a unique vision for what you are creating, then using your knowledge of lighting, lenses, composition in order to fulfill that vision.”

It means a larger emphasis on detail. A cinematographer captures the raw emotions when the groom first sees the love of his life. It means clear audio will be recorded when your maid of honor decides to give a touching speech. When the bride walks down the aisle, her beautiful smile will stand out among the crowd like never before. And we cannot forget the crazy grandmother from New York who decides to have a dance off, whose happiness and joy will be embedded in your film for many decades to come.

What about the end product that you end up watching once your wedding is over? A cinematic video means instead of taking 2 hours out of your day to watch it, you only need 10 minutes. It means instead of the wedding video consisting of only the ceremony through the reception, it goes all the way to the beginning of your day when the bride and her bridesmaids get their makeup done together, all the way through the first look, the beautiful photography session, ceremony and till the last sparkler goes off in the midnight sky. All within a cinematic 10-minute video.

So how does one summarize all of this? What does it mean when you hire a wedding videographer/cinematographer nowadays? It means you are hiring a professional who understands the way light works, how to compose a shot that will be most memorable. To create a unique, original film where the level of quality matches cinematic movie, where the colors will pop out of the screen, and your guests’ speeches will come in crystal clear quality. You’re not just hiring another videographer to make a video that will collect dust; you’re hiring someone to make a film, your film.



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