Ways To Get Better Wedding Photographs Without Spending More

Things To Look For In A Wedding Photographer

Finding vendors for your wedding can be a daunting task.  Your wedding vendors need to meet your individual needs, and you may require more or fewer depending on how extravagant your event.  Each one is providing you with an essential service that is helping to create the perfect manifestation of your dream wedding.  Once you’ve figured out exactly the kinds of goods and services you require, there is now a seemingly never ending list of vendors to choose from.  How do you decide?!

The Indisputable Constants

When it comes to wedding photography, there are a few constants that are non-negotiable when finding your ideal photographer.  First, you have to consider how important wedding photography is to you.  Some people place it near the top of their list, considering the documentation and preservation of their day top priority.  For others, as long as they get to be married, they are good with sharing guests photos.  Determining how important wedding photography is to you will determine how much of your budget you’ll be using for your photos.  Which brings me to budget: the single most defining factor for most people.  It’s true that there is a photographer for every budget, and having a ballpark from which you can start your hunt is essential.


This is a big one because it isn’t just the technical ability of the photographer to take your photos.  What helps shape the way a photo looks is the the artistry involved in post processing and editing the images.  A good photographer doesn’t just point and shoot.  Understanding the camera settings and how to compensate for your desired effect while still properly exposing the image is a skill.  Which is just a lot of jargon that means there are a lot of factors to consider before the shutter even gets pressed  Posing is a big deal as well.  Do you like posed or candid photography?  Lifestyle or editorial?  Choosing the style of photography will help dictate the storytelling of your day.

The skill set behind the camera, plus the posing and framing, are factors that dictate the way the image looks.  But the end result you see when your gallery is delivered is pulled together in post processing.  Professionally edited images are a signature for the photographer.   Everyone’s editing style is different.  From sultry and moody, to light and airy, you’ll be drawn to a particular style that will set the tone for your wedding photos.


It might seem trivial, but I’m not kidding!!  Getting your photo taken is awkward for most people, and when you have a stranger photographing you for HOURS, asking you to kiss in front of them, it can get pretty uncomfy.  When I was looking for wedding vendors, I went to a wedding show where I dropped into many photographer’s booths to chat and gather contact info.  I knew right away when I met with our future wedding photographer, because within the first minute she had me laughing.  I knew I could never do sultry and steamy poses with my hubby with a straight face, so we were looking for someone fun, friendly, and funny to bring out our joy and happiness in our wedding photos.  Picking someone you vibe with to ease the tension on your wedding day is so important.  Your discomfort will show up in photos if your photographer makes you feel awkward, or is rude, terse, too shy, too outgoing, tells too many dad jokes… too whatever you find off putting.

Take advantage of in person meetings, Skype, and phone calls to get to know your photographer!  And if you get the chance, having engagement photos done with them will help you both to get to know each other so you are your most relaxed self come your wedding day!


Last but not least, how do you know you trust someone you’ve never met?  Look for testimonials or reviews on Facebook or Google.  Comb their website to see if there are testimonials.  Join local Facebook groups and ask for recommendations or comment on other people’s posts inquiring about their experience.  Personally, I establish immediate transparency by posting my prices upfront on my website.  Couples tend to be appreciative of this so they know right away if my services are in their budget.  Posting your prices upfront however is not an industry standard.  You should always inquire about a photographer’s price sheet.  Sometimes there are hidden charges in the fine print that may go undisclosed after you initial inquiry, and that could raise some red flags.  You always want to ask questions, go over package details, and review contracts carefully.  Take time to speak with your photographer about your needs, your concerns, and your questions.  Photographers should want you to have the best wedding day experience possible, so if anyone is cagey with you or avoids answering your questions, it may be time to look into other photographers.

Here are key wedding shot list considerations to cover with the couple:

  • Do either or both people want photos of them getting ready? If so, when does that process begin?
  • Will photos of the wedding party and family be taken before or after the ceremony? What members of the family should be present for these photos and when do they need to show up? Will members of the wedding party’s dates be in these photos?
  • If the first look between the couple takes place before the ceremony, it needs to happen before any other photos. Make sure to leave enough time for this important emotional moment.
  • Get a basic rundown of the ceremony so you can be ready to capture special moments during this packed 30- to 60-minute part of the day.
  • What’s the schedule for the reception? Are events like a first dance, father-of-the-bride dance and cake cutting happening? Get the timing on these so you’re not changing camera batteries when the bouquet’s being thrown.
  • When are you going to eat? It’s important to find holes in the schedule that allow you time for food, water and trips to the toilet.


Wedding Photography Investment – Notes On Budgeting

Budgeting is key when planning a wedding. But what happens if you find your perfect photographer but discover they’re quite a lot over the fee that you’ve set aside for photography?

You don’t have to choose the best wedding photographer but good photography isn’t cheap. The photographs are the one thing from your day that you’ll take with you to look back on for years to come. They’re an investment in memories and should be well worth the extra money that in the future you’ll be thankful you spent.

If you like a more expensive photographer, revisit your budget.  You’ll likely have a lot of time between booking them and your wedding day to save a bit extra.

When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer Ask Yourself:

  • Do I like the photographic style?
  • Can I see myself in similar styled photos?
  • Would I feel comfortable with this photographer being around throughout our wedding day?


What To Ask Your Wedding Photographer

So, you are getting married, congratulations!  What to Ask Your Wedding Photographer – our ever-so handy, but slightly long article

All of a sudden you need to become an expert in all things weddings; and you will.  I promise, it’s not as daunting as it seems.  Our little guide will tell you all you what to ask your wedding photographer before you book them.

You’ll be meeting suppliers, trying cake… trying on dresses, arguing about colour schemes/flowers/favours and wondering if you really do need the two dressed up Lamas attending your day. Seriously, this is a thing now, or if you have the budget for a Magician (you do, and you won’t regret it – forget the Lamas).

But the chances are you’ve never had to speak to a professional wedding photographer before.  I’ve often said, wedding photographers can be the weirdest of all your wedding suppliers.

And, because they tend to be with you from the start of your wedding day to at least the first dance (although I stay on until your last dance.  That way I get to photograph all that terrible ‘ties around your head, air guitarists’ drunken, yager bombed fuelled dancing), getting the right wedding photographer is crucial.  And it’s not just about the pictures.

So, what’s next?

You need a wedding photographer with experience, who knows what the running order of a day will be, and who has the confidence to persuade people that they really ought to be in a photograph, rather than getting another glass of champagne.

So, here are my top ten things you should know, do and ask your potential wedding photographer – before you book them.

  • Meet your wedding photographer. Actually, meet at least four!

You may have found your photographer online, via recommendation or attended a wedding fair.  That’s great, but before you decide to book, go and meet them and have an initial consultation.

I always insist we meet, away from a wedding fair, usually in my studio.  So we have a proper chance to chat and to see if we are the right fit for each other.  We’ll also look through albums and examples of my work.  And during my initial meetings, I always encourage my clients to go and meet other photographers.  It’s not that I don’t want to work with you, it’s just that I would be doing you a disservice if I insisted that I am the ONLY photographer you should look at.

Be wary of photographers who insist you sign up there and then.  Trust your gut feeling on this one.

  • Tell your photographer what you want, what you really, really want!

This is your day and your wedding.  And although your photographer can advise, they should also take into account what you want.  Whether that be the style of photography, the coverage or the way you’d like the images presented.

During our meeting (tip no: 1), I’ll get an idea of the style of wedding you’ll be having and how I would ideally approach it.  However, I welcome you to show me Pinterest boards, and I love it when a couple have a clear idea of the images they like and want.

Photographers shouldn’t be put off by demanding brides or grooms, and how ever lovely you both are, this is your wedding so please unleash your inner BrideZilla or Groomonster!   We only get to photograph YOUR wedding once, so it has to be perfect!

  • Look through complete client galleries.

This will bore you both senseless as they feature other peoples’ wedding.  But this is a crucial step to deciding if your wedding photographer has not only photographed a full wedding (some photographers set up a business having just attended portfolio building courses), but if they’ve photographed at your venue.  Tiny hint / plug – visit my venue portfolio page and look through some of thee most stunning venues in and around Cambridgeshire.

If your photographer isn’t able to let you look through some complete galleries, then perhaps look for another photographer.

Don’t get me wrong, if they are just starting out and they can demonstrate to you they have the confidence to shoot your special day the way YOU want it photographed, then ok… But they must be honest about the lack of complete galleries.  That way, it’s up to you to decide.


Get a contract

Get a contract, signed by both parties from ALL your wedding suppliers, but especially your wedding photographer.

Contracts are tedious, I get that, but they are in place to not only protect both parties, but they also list all that you will receive and ensure your expectations are met.

If your ‘professional’ photographer doesn’t do or have a contract, then that would set some alarm bells ringing.  Also, if you take out wedding insurance (which you should as it’s so inexpensive), and your photographer didn’t have a contract in place (or insurance), then your wedding insurance could become void if you claim against your photographer.

Walk away from the ‘Diva Photog’… Choose someone you’d be happy to have at your wedding day.

Remember when I said that wedding photographers can be the weirdest of all your suppliers.  Sadly, I meant it.There’s only room for one diva on your wedding day.  And that’s YOU, and possibly the person you are marrying.

We do an important job, but we do that important job for you, not for our portfolios or our egos.  And we should tailor our approach to your requirements.

We are not shooting for Vogue, we are shooting something more important, your wedding.  And that Diva Photographer has to spend the day with you both as well as your friends and family.  You don’t want an over excited diva at your wedding!

How To Choose A Wedding Videographer

Do I really need a videographer for my wedding?

We all learn from mistakes, but you probably don’t want to test that theory on your wedding day. After all, you want your wedding day to go off without a hitch. So, to ensure everything goes just as you envisioned it, we asked real brides to reveal their biggest wedding planning regret. From not speaking up to skimping on their cake budget, take a tip or two (or seven!) from these fellow ladies who have already walked down the aisle and said “I do.”

Not Specifying Who’s Invited on the RSVP Card

“Although it was written on the envelope, we had numerous people add on significant others we didn’t even know existed and children that we’ve never met before. My parents wouldn’t let us un-invite them because they thought this was rude.”

Doing Without a Wedding Planner

“My biggest regret is not listening to my instincts to hire a wedding planner. Don’t get me wrong, my wedding was beautiful, but being a perfectionist, there were minor details that were missing. For example, the music I walked down the aisle to wasn’t cued on time. I would encourage brides to a least get a day-of planner who can make sure last minute things are handled properly.”

Letting the Wedding Planner Do It All

“I hired a wedding planner, who was wonderful, but I just let her do most of it and didn’t keep track and it ended up that certain things weren’t the way I wanted them. I think it’s crucial to hire a planner if you have time constraints. However, if the event side of your wedding matters to you, you also have to make sure that the lines of communication are open and that your hands are in that pie. If you don’t get involved and check in on things that are important to you, you could end up disappointed.”

Trying to Please Everyone Else

“I was so worried about doing things the way our parents wanted them done that I didn’t speak up and really explain the things that were important to me. I ended up with a beautiful wedding that didn’t feel authentic to me. Looking back, I wish our wedding reflected mine and my husband’s personalities and not our parents’.”

Not Hiring a Videographer

“We splurged on a top-notch photographer and opted not to hire a videographer for budget concerns. After the once in a lifetime night was over though, I was so sad to know that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to relive any of those special moments again. I now recommend to everyone I know to make sure they somehow capture some of the event via video.”


The Phenomenon of Wedding Haze – You’re Going To Forget Your Wedding

Even though your wedding day is all about you, it is also about planning a large, complicated event for a huge amount of people. In many cases it can quickly become overwhelming as you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the moment.

Your big day is full of hundreds of tiny decisions, setbacks, and new challenges that essentially have to be managed by the wedding planner, the maid of honor and best man, and the groom and bride-to-be. This means that there is an immense amount of pressure for everything to be running smoothly.

On your wedding day, you wear many hats, and sometimes the event planner hat ends up getting worn even more than the bride or groom hat. Because of this, many couples years down the line admit they never really got the chance to really sit down and appreciate all the beautiful moments that were occurring throughout the ceremony and reception.

This is when hiring a wedding videographer really comes in handy. Being able to cozy up with your new spouse on the living room couch and look over the wedding footage, beautifully edited together by professionals, allows you both to look back on the beautiful ceremony, embarrassing toasts, and happy memories with family and friends.


What You Should Know Before You Book Your Videographer

Find the right videographer to get that critically acclaimed, action-packed, tearjerker wedding video.

A videographer combines the skills of a documentary filmmaker with the eyes of a movie director, and when it comes to capturing the spirit or shaping the story of your wedding day and consider these things before you book.

Viewing Vibe

The first question you have to ask yourselves is how do you want the video to feel? Would you prefer it to be more cinematic—a movie telling the story of your wedding day—or more like a documentary? This choice between a cinematic and documentary style will be the filter through which you make all other decisions, from whom you hire to how the day is filmed and the footage edited. But don’t feel like you have to commit to one or the other—many videographers these days use a combination of both styles in the finished product.

Camera Cues

Two types of cameras can be used when shooting video: DV (digital video) and analog (non-digital). Analog was standard until DV technology became more affordable—DV is now much more widely used, and the advantages are clear. Digital produces crisp, pristine images where the color and skin tone rendition is flawless. Better yet: The cameras are significantly smaller than analog, can be handheld and are twice as sensitive to light as analog, meaning that free-standing, blinding room lights are a thing of the past. (On-camera lights are still required to illuminate faces, however, and smaller, handheld off-camera lights are used when staging a specific shot—backlighting a veil, for example.)

Tag Team

You may see ads for companies that offer both photography and videography services. Besides a cohesive look to the final products, there are other advantages to this approach. For example, two people with different agendas may jockey for position or get in each other’s way, whereas two people who work as a team can look out for each other and keep in touch about what’s happening. And with one less vendor to worry about, it’s also easier on you. Another plus is that still images taken by the photographer can quickly and easily be added to the video. You may even get a discount if you book both with the same company. If not, ask about getting free extra copies of your video for family and friends.

Sound Bites

The person who wears the wireless microphone varies. During a church ceremony, a wireless mic is usually attached to the groom behind his boutonniere—the bride’s dress prohibits this—and if the church is large and full of echoes or there are readings, a mic on the podium is advised. What if your ceremony is outdoors? Everyone will have to have microphones, including the groom, readers and musicians. Luckily, some cameras can receive sounds from up to eight different mics at once.


Reasons Not To Have A Wedding Videographer

The videographer uses annoying lights!

All videographers use light on their camera or set up room light at the wedding reception. Have you ever been to a wedding where the mood was set, candles were beautifully lit and all of a sudden…BAM! room lights go on and the ballroom is bright or there is a harsh light staring you in the face? With the technological advances and DSLR cameras such as Canon, Sony, Panasonic and Nikon the need for massive amounts of light is unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when you must have light to enhance the details of the film, but not to the extent that the guests have to wear sunglasses in the ballroom!!

SOLUTION: Find out how they use lighting throughout the day. If it doesn’t match your expectations, see if the videographer can make adjustments to meet your needs. Let’s say you love the videographers work, but don’t like extra lighting. Keep and open and honest line of communication with your videographer for the entire wedding process.

I HATE those video interviews at the reception!!

There are companies that incorporate video interviews when creating a film and they are wonderful! You are hiring that company in order for them to weave the interviews into your video and that’s awesome! I’m referring to the videographer who goes from one table to the next at the reception and asks people to “say something on the microphone”. Unless you request interviews make sure the videographer doesn’t do them. People are attending the reception to have a good time, relax and unwind. The last thing they want is for some videographer to stick a microphone in their faces. Many people are uncomfortable on camera and don’t like to speak, not to mention the added pressure of having the entire table watching as you speak! Let’s not get into the drunk friend who I’m sure will have some great things to say on camera.

SOLUTION: Make sure you speak to your videographer and are aware of the interviews before your wedding day. Ask him or her if they interview the guests. If they don’t interview your friends and you want that included just express that as well.


The videographer is Always in the Way!!!

I’ve spoken to brides on many ocassions who were “on the fence” about a videographer because they attended a wedding and the videographer was, as they put it, “in the aisle for the entire ceremony” OR “a distraction all day”. The videographer who stands in the middle of the aisle for the entire ceremony or stands on top of you (five feet away) during the toasts, first dance, ceremony, etc… Again, there are instances where this can happen, but, the videographer can always zoom in and not have to get in your face all the time.

SOLUTION: Talk to your videographer when you hire them and find out if their approach is the right for you. If you want a Ninja Cinematographer like me, then make sure you get that. Remember, there has to be a good fit between you and your videographer.

My Photographer doesn’t like working with most videographers!!

There are some fantastic videographers who will take some alone time with the couple to create the film the bride and groom expect from them. That’s great if it’s planned before the wedding day. I’m referring to the videographer that starts to pose their shots of the bride all day and before the photographer has finished taking pictures!! Many photographers offer their own video services because they don’t want to work with other videographers that are annoying. Many photographers I’ve worked with have told me that they’ve had bad experiences with videographers on the wedding day.

SOLUTION: Have the photographer and videographer speak before the wedding day so there is a clear understanding and expectations. Have them talk to each other or add yourself to the conversation, so everyone is prepared for the event

Understanding The Camera Operator


Once you know why you are producing a video – what your objective is – you can put together a script and storyboard with a director/producer to help you determine the best way to communicate your message. Bring the DP or cameraman in early on in the development process, so they know what you want and can discuss the available techniques.

1) Easy to work with/Flexible

Finding someone who is flexible and easy to work with is always nice to have, but it is especially true when selecting a camera operator. You want someone who can: put those being filmed at ease; be patient when working on set during unavoidable delays; and be understanding about reshooting if you’re not getting what you had envisioned. You may be able to step in and do an “okay job” at other tasks, but shooting with a $50,000 camera and lens takes technical skills learned through school and years of practice.

2) Honed technical skills/Tech savvy

Operating a camera, maintaining composition and adjusting camera angles is no easy feat. Learning, understanding and honing the technical skills required to become an operator takes many years – and then several more to hone a specialty. For instance, to be good at news requires a cameraman who is quick thinking and fast on their feet.  Others may be good at sports production and following the ball, or an expert in EFP (Electronic Field Production) which requires precise lighting and composition.  Still others specialize in multi-cam for meetings and the like, and then some can do it all.  Camera operators also need to stay up-to-date on shooting techniques, lighting, new equipment, and a plethora of formats, frame rates and resolutions.

3) Physical stamina and strength

While keeping abreast of the latest news through industry associations, forums and journals is important for honing technical skills, the camera operator must also possess physical stamina, strength and manual dexterity. Shooting, although lots of fun, can also be very demanding – with long hours, challenging conditions, and the need to be on your feet all day.

4) Creativity: they have a “good eye”

Creativity is something that cannot be taught. A good camera operator will be able to spot a good opportunity and have an artistic eye for framing shots. Having the ability to look through the lens and picture how all of the elements come together – visual composition, perspective, lighting and movement – is crucial so that the images captured will reinforce your message and tell your story in the way you want it to and one that is consistent with your brand image.

5) Attention to detail

Producing professional video is an orchestrated event that requires all parties to work together. A good camera crew will carry out instructions accurately and with precision. This level of coordination between you, camera and audio people, lighting and the rest of the crew will multiply your productivity and benefit your communication objective. Getting “what you need” or “more than you need” in the field will streamline your editing process and provide additional content for the future.



Camera Assistant: Job Description, Duties

Camera assistants setup equipment for the crew, whether in-studio or out in the field. The education is not set in stone as this is considered an entry-level job, but various postsecondary courses are available and useful to promote career advancement.

Essential Information

Camera assistants are members of technical teams that produce feature films, television programs, and Internet videos. These professionals prepare the equipment that camera operators use to shoot scenes or images. Being a camera assistant is a good way to improve work skills and gain practical experience in preparation for a career as a camera operator. Some postsecondary training is generally required, though a bachelor’s degree is recommended for those who want to advance.


Camera assistants work in the production of television news, entertainment features, documentaries, and corporate training films. As such, they are often employed by local and national television broadcast stations, cable networks, independent film productions, and major film studios. Thus, work may be conducted both in the field, within a studio, or both. Camera assistants may also be self-employed freelancers who on a contractual basis.


Aspiring camera assistants may look to vocational schools and technical institutes, as well as community colleges and four-year universities for postsecondary courses and programs in cinematography or a related field. Programs may range from seminars and workshops in camera operations to certificate and associate’s degrees in cinematography. Coursework typically covers film editing, lighting, and producing. Students in advanced courses may be required to shoot projects allowing them to hone their operating techniques.

Camera Assistant Job Duties

Camera assistants set up and position the camera equipment so that it is ready for the camera operator to use. This may include inspecting the equipment to verify that it is in good working order and loading the camera with film. Camera assistants may also position lighting equipment in preparation for shoots. Once the shoot is complete, assistants may then move equipment back to storage areas.



To become a cameraman, of course you need passion for the film industry itself. But, in order to be successful in your movie production career as a cameraman, you’ll need three key elements:

  • Career training as a cameraman from film school
  • A successfully completed internship as a cameraman
  • Effective cameraman job hunting skills (Career Development skills)


You need to learn the behind-the-camera techniques used by film industry professionals. That’s the only way you’ll be able to compete in this job market and find careers in film. Pre-production, production and post-production skills are needed to make it as a professional cameraman in today’s world. You also need to make sure that your film school is accredited so your credentials actually mean something once you graduate and start pursuing careers in film.

An accredited film and video school will teach you fundamentals of the technology behind cameras. Some of these concepts include lenses, frame rates, exposure, field depth and resolution. Your film school should teach you the science and art of visual storytelling and advanced editing techniques. You’ll also learn various other filmmaking techniques, such as writing scripts, scheduling, budgets and pitching ideas to clients.


Almost all good cameraman positions, even successful entrepreneurships, will require that you complete a cameraman internship. It’s very beneficial to your field, and provides exposure to networking opportunities and the film industry itself. However, these can be hard to come by if you don’t have connections in the news, film or TV industries.

Although finding a cameraman internship is the student’s responsibility, some schools do provide assistance. A quality Digital Filmmaking and Video Production school will give its students access to campus job boards, social media pages, and Career Development advisors to assist with finding cameraman internships.


Your career training at an accredited film and video school will give you the education you need to discover how to become a cameraman. Once you’ve completed your internship, you should have the on-the-job skills needed to be a cameraman for news, TV or movie productions.


Pros & Cons of Being a Cameraman

Being a cameraman is exciting, but it does have its moments of tedium. It’s a unique career choice for someone who is physical, focused and likes to be around action. Camera operators use digital equipment to capture live action for different forms of broadcasting. Having a background in photography or engineering is handy. College degrees are also helpful but not always required.

Pro: Close to the Action

Working as a cameraman can position you very close to the action. Camera operators are hired to capture live events for film or live broadcast. You could be called upon to film anything from a local flower show to a professional sports game. Cameramen see new and interesting things nearly every time they accept an assignment. You could be sitting across from a local celebrity one day and filming from the football sidelines the next. Operators are hired for jobs with conventions, news broadcasting and racing events. The field keeps you hopping and you’ll likely not have much time for just standing around.

Con: Long Work Hours

Since a cameraman is called upon to record live events, he usually works a fair share of evenings, weekends and holidays. Assignments can last over a period of days and a camera operator is usually needed to film various activities during that short period of time. When camera operators are hired for special events like weddings or graduations, they’ll work weekends too. It’s also hard to escape working holidays as many action-oriented events, like important games, happen around those times of the year as well.


Edit in Camera

Make sure your footage will cut together.

In drama this isn’t so critical because the Director will have a clear idea of what is needed and tell you all the specific shots he or she requires to create a particular sequence. In documentaries, especially stressful unpredictable situations that you have no control over, you are responsible for shooting sequences and getting all the necessary cutaway’s (pick up shots) so that the sequences you are filming cut together seamlessly.

We call this ‘editing in camera’. When filming in certain situations like war zones or riots the director relies on you, the camera operator, to get all the necessary material. In these situations everything happens so quickly that it’s simply impossible for a Director to tell you what to shoot and how to shoot it. It’s all down to you and it’s your responsibility to make sure you have all the material to make a sequence work in the edit.

Tips To Learn To Become A Camera Operator Profesional

Random Tips from a Professional Camera Operator


I really enjoy working with geared heads, although I rarely get to use them anymore. Most of my projects can’t afford to rent one for me. Hopefully this will change with the advent of the Gearnex geared head, which I’ve now used on several shoots.

The geared head offers an incredible amount of control over camera moves, especially dolly moves. For some reason it’s very easy to match pan and tilt speeds to a dolly move by spinning wheels rather than moving a pan handle around. The wheels also offer a wide range of possibilities from very subtle adjustments to aggressive camera moves that stop on a dime.


There are times when responsiveness is the key to getting a shot, usually in a situation where you’re shooting either very emotional or action-packed material. Keeping your hands moving a little bit on the wheels, in the case of a geared head, or keeping your hand in motion on the pan handle, in the case of a fluid head, can speed up your responsiveness. I learned this trick originally from a sound mixer, who always wiggled his hands on the mixer knobs during takes. I asked him why, and he told me that it is much easier to move your hands quickly in response to a loud noise if they are already moving. If your hands are standing still it can take longer to react. He never wiggled his hands on the knobs enough to affect sound levels, but if he had to turn them quickly his hands were already in motion.


I find that I operate a fluid head better when one hand operates the head and the other is placed around the base of the head, where I can sense panning movement, or on the tripod or dolly. Having that point of reference, either in feeling the head rotate or having a solid surface against which I can judge movement, aids me considerably, particularly on dolly moves where one can become “lost in the move” and not quite know visually what affect your movements are having on the camera because everything is moving.


One key advantage of a geared head is that it divorces your mass from the camera’s movement. In the event of the dolly coming to a sudden stop, your body may want to continue down the track. As long as the gear head wheels don’t turn, though, the camera won’t follow your body. This can be more difficult with a fluid head, but it’s definitely possible if you can distribute and brace your weight through three points of contact with the dolly. If you’re sitting, plant your feet firmly, or find a comfortable sitting position, and then put your upper body weight onto your left hand, which should be placed somewhere near the camera (around the base of the fluid head, or the boom arm itself). The idea is that your weight is firmly planted between your legs and that hand resting on the dolly, leaving your panning hand free to operate the camera.


In a 1980’s movie entitled “The Hit,” two characters have a conversation at the base of a lighthouse. The camera is on the ground looking up and the bulk of the lighthouse dominates the dead center of the frame. One character is leaning against a car in the foreground on frame left, and the right side of the frame is empty.


How To Be a Better Camera Operator


As there are so many different cameras out there I’m not going to discuss the ‘right’ camera to choose or use, as this largely depends on the type of work you do and anyway, as I’m sure you’ve already discovered there’s so much stuff online now about all the various cameras that are available, their pros and cons, special features and …well the internet groans under the strain of it all!

In fact every time I Google ‘DSLR‘ I’m sure I can hear my laptop give out a little whimper. Bless it!

Camera Care

Looking after your camera is number one. It’s simple…Look after your equipment and your equipment will look after you.

Remember film and video equipment is highly sensitive and precision built so don’t throw it around like it’s an old saucepan! Treat it with care and respect.

If you hire camera kit, treat it as if it’s your own, don’t mistreat it because it’s ‘just hired’ – that’s just totally unprofessional. Remember, if you don’t look after hire gear then the hire company you get it from probably won’t hire it out to you again. Simples. Respect all equipment at all times!

The Tripod – Your three legged friend…

The poor old tripod gets a pretty bad rap, nobody really seems to rave about it. It doesn’t have any fancy buttons to press and you can’t look through it and marvel at the amazing shot you’ve just framed. No, it just stands around lonely and dejected and you tolerate carrying it around on your shoulder because you’re obliged to (feel bad yet?…).

But the truth is, a good tripod is like a good friend… and as we all know you can always rely on a good friend. My trusty Ronford F4 weighs a ton and has legs as stiff as a geriatric with chronic arthritis, but we’ve been together over 30 years and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Despite its little foibles, it’s rock steady and its pans and tilts are as smooth as the day it was made… it has never let me down.



Director of Photography Etienne Sauret’s Viewpoint

Experienced camera operators possess unique combinations of skills. They all seem to have artistic sensibilities – facile perception, a keen eye and the ability to compose balance and beauty in a frame; they also have impressive technical skills – a solid understanding of lighting, audio equipment, electrical requirements and even the physics required to produce the right shot with efficient timing. Due to the rigorous demands of the job, and the un-repetitious nature of the work, most camera operators build a career with a blend of education and on-the-job training. They also tend to be confident, lifelong learners willing to take on new challenges and learn new technologies to develop their craft.

The Camera Operator Job

A camera operator is someone who sets up a camera and records images that will later be edited for an audience. Camera operators are employed to film TV shows, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, news segments, corporate meetings and sports events. In the US, most operators work in the motion picture industry or in television broadcasting, but the number of operators working in corporate video production is increasing. Some camera operators are employed by production houses, corporations and institutions such as churches with in-house studios; and others work as freelancers or owner operators. The median annual Camera Operator salary in the US is $38,938, as of November 07, 2016, with a range usually between $31,958-$47,334, however this can vary based on geography and industry. For example, the mean income for the motion picture industry is $64,810 and the mean income for Broadcast and Radio is $51,970.

Assess Your Physical, Technical and People Skills

Your path to becoming an operator starts with taking a self-assessment. Since a camera operator does indeed operate camera equipment and its related accessories (which can add up to over 100 lbs with the most sophisticated camera packages), there is a level of comfort with the physical and technical nature of the work that you must be able and willing to develop. Learning about the highly technical specifications and capabilities of cameras, audio equipment and lighting is the foundation of becoming an operator. If you are fascinated with gadgets and new technology and you can’t keep yourself from experimenting with your camera settings and the video editing software on your computer, you might have what it takes for the multi-year process to learn the craft.


Camera Operating Tips & Thoughts

Last week was a perennial event called “Bridgefest” hosted by a regional radio station the church I attend operates. They typically have Christian artists and presenters in a historic 125 year old auditorium seating 6,250, located in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. This year Pastor Pancho Juarez spoke, Matt Schuler and Big Daddy Weave shared the stage with … well … me.

You see, I volunteered to run camera and that turned into me operating handheld, so at times I was on-stage with the bands.

While operating a camera is fresh in my mind I thought I would share some reflections on camera operating in general and operating handheld in particular. Admittedly, these perspectives are from that of a video director, not solely a camera operator.

If you have camera-operating advice you would like to share feel free to do so in the comments section below!


We had a total of four cameras (Sony HDC-1500 SMPTE fiber tethered CCU/RCP HD camera chains) with a portable video carrypack.

One camera, (the tight follow “money shot”) was situated halfway back in the house, orchestra level with a Fujinon HA42x9.7 (9.7mm – 407mm) stabilized lens. The next camera was “a slash” angle from house-left. This camera like the previously mentioned was in studio configuration (meaning it had a big rear viewfinder, rear zoom and rear focus lens controls), but this one had a Fujinon HA18x7.6 (non-stabilized) lens as opposed to the 42x earlier. The third camera worked a few locations including house-right slash and also had the ability to work the pit and on-stage stage-left as a handheld with a Fujinon HA18x7.6 non-stabilized lens. Since it needed to work both on a tripod (when in the slash location) and handheld (pit and on-stage) it did not have a studio viewfinder, making it easier and quicker to dismount from a tripod and move around. Lastly, my camera had a Fujinon ZA12x4.5 wide angle lens working the downstage center lip, pit and as well as on-stage, stage-right.


As mentioned, the two studio configuration cameras had large viewfinders and rear lens controls. These cameras offered a lens height of about 6.5 feet above the surface that the camera operators were standing. If we had mounted the studio viewfinders on top of the cameras (where they would normally go) that would have meant the viewfinders would be > 7 ft high causing the camera operators fatigue (potentially requiring chiropractic care due to stiff necks) over hours of program content. Instead of mounting the viewfinders to the top of the cameras we had a DIY bar of aluminum which with a wedge mount attached on one end and on the other end were holes to bolt the bar to the camera’s quick release plate. This allowed the bottom of the studio viewfinder to be at the bottom of the camera, side-mounted at eye level for the operator.


TV or film camera operator

What does a TV or film camera operator do?

Camera operators record moving images for film, television, commercials, music videos or corporate productions. They operate film or digital video cameras, usually under instruction from the director or director of photography. On a typical job, you’ll:

set up and position camera equipment

choose the most suitable lenses and camera angles

plan and rehearse shots

follow a camera script and take cues from the director, or floor manager if in a TV studio

solve any practical or technical problems

work closely with other technical departments, such as lighting and sound

You may be the only camera operator and use a portable single camera, or you could be part of a TV studio camera team. On feature films and TV drama productions, you’ll be part of a larger crew with a specific role. This might be:

second assistant camera (clapper loader) – loading and unloading film, counting the takes and helping the camera crew

first assistant camera (focus puller) – judging and adjusting the focus on each shot

grip – building and operating cranes and pulleys needed to move a camera during shooting

You’ll normally specialise in either film or television work, as the equipment and techniques can differ. However, with the growth in digital cameras and HD technology, it’s becoming easier for camera professionals to work across all formats.

What do I need to do to become a TV or film camera operator?

Employers will be more interested in your technical skills and practical experience than academic qualifications. In practice, many camera operators take a college or uni course to develop their camera skills before looking for work.

It may give you an advantage if you can find a course that offers practical experience and possibly a work placement. You can also get practical experience and build up your contacts through:

community film projects

working for a camera equipment hire company

finding work experience as a runner or camera assistant with a production company