Today, we continue our popular series of group interviews with the top wedding professionals in the DC/Maryland/Virginia market.  Below, you'll find advice and tips on hiring a wedding videographer from some of the most talented videographers in the area.  Ready?  Go!

What are some current trends in wedding videography?

William Gaff, Humanstory: Wedding VideographerWilliam Gaff, Humanstory Films: "Wedding videography is beginning to mature in much the same way as photography has. People are moving away from trends and stylized work that has a short shelf life. In their place are the timelessness of journalistic and fine art approaches similar to that of photography. Many, if not most videographers are realizing that the focus needs to be on the story of the day and the people and not simply just 'photos in motion.' There has to be a sense of Character development in the video. This really supplements your photography and adds to documentation of the day."
Haynal Papp, Dolce Studio Films VideographyHaynal Papp, Dolce Studio Films: "DSLR cameras are trending in wedding videography.  DSLR stands for Digitial Single-Lens Reflex camera (  Basically, what this means is that the filmmaker is using a photographer’s camera to shoot video. Pros to this type of coverage: the footage looks like cinema film. The lenses are interchangeable and there’s much more depth of field to the shots. Cons: they record poor audio (so another method needs to be used for recording sound on site) and most don’t have auto functions (for example, auto-focus), so footage can become soft or out-of—focus quickly unless the shooter is really on their game (especially during live footage and low light situations). A few years back Super 8 was all the rage and while it’s still popular, requests for it have been decreasing."
Michael Eller, Monachetti: Videographer for WeddingsMichael Eller, Monachetti: "I think some of the current trends come solely from the equipment being used. It seems a lot of videographers have switched to the DSLR cameras, and using rigs and sliders to achieve cinema looking shots."

What are some of the different styles of wedding videography?

Jenny Lehman, Cinematic PhotographerJenny Lehman, Cinematic Photographer: "A couple who is shopping for a wedding videographer should first decide what style of coverage they want. There are many different styles and thousands of variations. A few of the most popular styles include the Documentary, Cinematic, Storytelling, Short Form, and Movie Film.

A Documentary style, sometimes called a Traditional style, is shot pretty much like it happened. It generally includes pre-wedding preparation, all of the ceremony and all of the main events of the reception including entire first dance, all toasts, and includes some dancing. It can include multiple cameras and microphones and lots of editing but is generally fairly straightforward. It would be edited so events happen in the order they did on the wedding day and would include mostly actual music that was at the wedding and very little music dubbed over it. This edited video would run about 60 to 90 minutes in length.

The Cinematic style is a term that is used to describe a more dramatic style of video. It's a coverage that is shot with more creative camera angles cut to more dramatic music to give a more epic feeling to the video. It's often driven by the music that is dubbed over much of the video using sweeping dolly camera moves, and more "wow" shots. It can be a style that is incorporated in a short or long form video, running 5 to 120 minutes in length, but is more likely to be a shorter video.

A Storytelling style is where the video is driven my sound bytes and/or a narrative. Interviews with the couple and/or guests can tell the story of the wedding day. The story can start with the their courtship through the wedding with thoughts of the future. This usually requires interviews before, during and/or after the wedding. The length of this edited video can vary but is usually around 60 to 90 minutes.

Short Form style is edited to compress the wedding events in to a 20 to 30 minute video. It usually includes about 1 to 5 minutes of pre- wedding coverage, about 10 minutes of the ceremony and 15 minutes of the reception. The total length of the edited video is usually around 30 minutes in length but can be 15 to 50 minutes. A Short Form can also be called a Highlight video but most Highlight videos are shorter, around 10 to 15 minutes.

Movie Film is really a media format more than a style. But if your wedding is shot with real motion picture 8mm or 16mm movie film it will be a shorter film as the costs to shoot, process and transfer real film is roughly $100 per 3 minutes of raw footage shot. Some videographers shoot with all movie film, others use it and mix it with video and some try to fake the look with digital filters. Regardless of how much film is shot, it has to be processed and transferred to video. Real film gives a very nostalgic arty feel and look to the edited video that has a totally different look than video. Many videographers try to emulate this look with 35mm digital single lens reflex DSLR photography cameras and lenses."

Cara Bowen, Suburban Video - Wedding VideographyCara Bowen, Suburban Video: "There are several styles we use in-house and all our shooters and editors understand what we're looking for in the film. They are historical documentation, artistic, journalistic, romantic and high energy - but all styles should tell the story of the bridal couple and their love culminating in the wedding celebration."
William Gaff, Humanstory: Wedding VideographerWilliam Gaff, Humanstory Films: "There are many different styles but a couple of my favorites are a documentary style and fine art (or cinematic style). Documentary tells the story of the day by sequencing the footage of the day in a dramatic arc. Sometimes interviews are used to support this. Fine art or Cinematic style focuses on the feeling and beauty of the day and less on the story or the way it is structured. Often these two styles are combined in beautiful and meaningful ways."

Why is wedding videography an important investment?

Cara Bowen, Suburban Video - Wedding VideographyCara Bowen, Suburban Video: "We just had one of our brides come in to finalize plans for her son's bar mitzvah. With tears in her eyes she told us she knew she wanted video when she married, but she didn't understand the importance until viewing her wedding film last week when preparing for the mitzvah. Seeing all her loved ones -- especially those who had since passed -- with so much joy and love not only on their faces, but also in their voices as they gave loving comments was overwhelming. Her son couldn't believe how beautiful his mom was and laughed when he heard his dad talk about her while choking back a tear. Video is the only item you purchase for your wedding that continues to give so much after the event. It captures not only the images, but the sound, atmosphere and total experience for generations."
Michael Eller, Monachetti: Videographer for WeddingsMichael Eller, Monachetti: "In my mind, wedding videography is the second most important investment for your wedding (with the first being photography). At the end of the day, after the food has been eaten, the tent taken down, the music stops, and the guests leave, your video and photos are all you have to take with you for years to come. Sure, you have your memory, but when memory begins to fade, it's priceless to have these two mediums to remember your day by."
Jessica Piscitelli Robinson, Jessica Pi ProductionsJessica Piscitelli Robinson, Jessica Pi Productions: "The number one regret couples have after their wedding is not hiring a professional videographer (if they didn’t!).  Couples put so much importance on having a beautiful keepsake of their special day in the form of photos (and having great photos is important!) but so many couples don’t think to include video on their list of priorities, yet only video can capture every aspect of your special day.  Photos have no sound or movement. As a videographer, I meet people all the time who tell me horror stories of things that happened at their wedding that they wish they could see again.  An impromptu song by the bridesmaids. A crazy dance routine by the groomsmen. Or words of wisdom from a loved one who is no longer with them.  Photography is a great medium for freezing a moment in time, a still life.  Video captures living, breathing, moving moments."

Jenny Lehman, Cinematic PhotographerJenny Lehman, Cinematic Photographer: "A couple spends a very large amount of money to have the wedding of their dreams and for some reason they end up having very little memory of their wedding day when it's all over. I have interviewed couples at the end of their special day and they can't remember who was there, or most of the events that just happened. It's sad they have so little memory but video can tell their wedding story and bring back memories and show the couple and their friends what really happened.

Video also records audio and hearing the bride's father's reaction to seeing his daughter in her dress, the vows, the ceremony and reception music, the toasts and laughter and cheers of their guests are priceless and can all be captured in a wedding video. I would just ask, what would you pay to see your parents wedding on video?

A high quality video production is expensive to produce. The videographer has a large investment in equipment and hours in the production and post production of their wedding video. You should budget accordingly if you want a high-quality wedding video."

What are some factors that affect wedding videography rates?

Haynal Papp, Dolce Studio Films VideographyHaynal Papp, Dolce Studio Films: "The main factors affecting the price of a couple’s video package are: the number of cameras they choose to have on site, the number of filmmakers they choose to have manning the cameras, the length of coverage on the day of and the amount of post-production required to create the final product of their dreams. Put simply, a single camera shoot with one filmmaker filming for three hours on the day of and then the raw footage given to the couple on a dvd is going to be a rock bottom price. A two- or three-camera shoot, with each camera manned, filming for 2-3 days of events and fully edited into a 2 disc set delivered on Blu-ray is going to cost the most. Most couples choose a single or 2 camera package for about 6-8 hours of coverage on the day of. These packages are priced comfortably in the middle of the spectrum."
Tom Bowen, Thomas Bowen Films - VideographyTom Bowen, Thomas Bowen Films: "When hiring a videographer, it’s VERY important to educate yourself on the differences in style, services and equipment to ensure your expectations are met. The trend these days is DSLR filming. The DSLR method opens the door to a multitude of looks, several lens options and the ability to film without on camera lighting. It’s kind of like still photography in motion. Most companies' packaging begins with one videographer shooting with a HD camera. From there, you can choose to greatly upgrade the quality of your video by adding an additional videographer, more time and the use of higher grade camera equipment (DSLR, 35mm camera). These are the three factors that will greatly affect a videographer’s rates due to the amount of work that goes into both covering the event and the editing process. Not only does this affect the rate, these three factors directly improve the quality and style of your final product. That’s why when viewing a company’s portfolio, you want to make sure you communicate which videos you prefer and ask to see a video example from the package you’re thinking about booking to see how they match up."
Jim Skipper, Black Tie Video Baltimore VideographerJim Skipper, Black Tie Video: "Rates are based on a number of factors, probably the most significant being the amount of coverage time needed. Some couples want all day coverage which will of course cost more than a basic ceremony and main reception event approach. Also significant is the number of cameras/videographers. Multiple cameras yield a much more professional looking result but increase cost due to paying additional personnel as well as many more hours spent editing the final video. Dates are key as well, prime dates/months will typically carry a bigger price tag. For example, demand for Saturdays in May, June, September, and October are in enormous demand whereas a Sunday in February...not so much. Also in some cases whether the studio is shooting in SD or HD, and whether they are delivering in Standard or Blu-ray DVDs."
Michael Eller, Monachetti: Videographer for WeddingsMichael Eller, Monachetti: "Hours on site, length of final edit, number of videographers used, number of DVDs produced. Those are probably the biggest."

What are some questions a couple should ask when interviewing wedding videographers?

Tom Bowen, Thomas Bowen Films - VideographyTom Bowen, Thomas Bowen Films: "Asking questions is crucial when looking to hire a videographer. First and foremost, ask to see some examples of their work. Seeing their portfolio will give you an idea of their style and level of experience so you can make sure they’re a good fit. Next, I would talk to your potential videographer about your own wedding traditions to make sure they have experience and a firm understanding of your religious ceremonies. Lastly, be open and honest with your potential videographer about what you are looking for, your likes and dislikes. If you have specific videos you loved share them with your videographer so they can explain to you which package would be the best fit."
Jessica Piscitelli Robinson, Jessica Pi ProductionsJessica Piscitelli Robinson, Jessica Pi Productions: "There are some options couples may want to consider in their wedding package choices. Do you want one camera person or two? Do you want the wedding shot in HD and mastered onto Blu Ray, or is standard definition your preference? How much editing do you want? These are options you should discuss with your videographer. Also, I think every couple asks me if I bring lights. I guess there are some videographers out there who set up lights at people’s weddings? I have never done this, but if NOT having lights at your wedding is important, that is a good question to include."
William Gaff, Humanstory: Wedding VideographerWilliam Gaff, Humanstory Films: "Before you even ask any questions, you need to see and like their work. I am surprised by how many people do not even see a videographers work before talking with them or even hiring them. There are so many different approaches to filmmaking and levels of ability.  Don't make decisions on price and personality alone. That being said, the next thing is just having a conversation to determine if your personalities and goals align. If they don't, it will show up in the footage later on.  You don't want that. The next big thing is to ask for referrals from former couples. Not from other vendors. We, vendors, may be inclined to recommend people we like working with, which is important, but you really want the point of view of a recent past client to help make sure a vendor is right for you."
Jim Skipper, Black Tie Video Baltimore VideographerJim Skipper, Black Tie Video: "Many of the standard rules for most vendors apply. How long has the company been in business? In the case of Videographers, is this all you do? That is, is this your livelihood or more of a part time thing?  What is your style? There are a number of different camps regarding how coverage is done and what the final product looks like. There is a cinematic, heavily manipulated, montage style which compresses the day into more of a flowing love story presentation, often integrating real sound snippets with music. There is documentary which tends to capture all of the main aspects of the day, full ceremony, toasts, first dance, etc. in their entirety with real sound. Some companies specialize in one or the other, and many tend to meld the two. Creating a nice document as well as a wrap up montage for quick easy viewing. Who will be at my wedding? Will it be the person I've dealt with throughout the process or will the studio just send "one of their people". Make sure that the work you see is the work of the person shooting your wedding. Different shooters definitely see things different ways -- the best scenario is to actually meet and make sure you mesh well."

What are some indicators of a wedding videographer's professionalism and skill?

David Morley, Zinnia Films - Videographer at WeddingsDavid Morley, Zinnia Films: "We strive to have face-to-face meetings with our potential clients. The skill set can be seen in the work, but hearing what a client's interests are, to discern the dynamic between a couple, is critical prior to a wedding day. We really want to establish a modicum of trust and rapport between us and our clients. We shy away from clients who don't want to meet up in person, unless, of course, they live outside of the area, or time doesn't permit. If that's the case, we aim to interview them over the phone fairly extensively to find out what their interest is."
Jim Skipper, Black Tie Video Baltimore VideographerJim Skipper, Black Tie Video: "You've really got to look at their work. As mentioned earlier, different people simply see things different ways. It's always best to see a more thorough version of some final videos. The highlight montages we all post on the net are there because they're quick easy ways to se a lot of weddings. But that's really only a small part of the full video which can run up to two hours. Another really good reason to see more real time footage is something no one really considers: AUDIO! A quality videographer is typically hiding nifty expensive wireless mics everywhere. Sound without a microphone near it is lost or muddy on video and it doesn't matter how great it looks when you can't hear your vows. A nice variation of angles, shooting everything from head height becomes tedious. Look for a variety of angles and close up, medium, and wide shots. An overall sense of the day, experience brings the ability to stand back and take in the entirety of the situation. It is easy early on to fixate on the bride and groom and miss so much of the nuance of the day. Look for lots of shots of guests and details, and decorations. Definitely get some references or at the very least check out some reviews on wedding wire or the knot. Most clients won't hesitate to let you know what they liked and what they didn't."
Haynal Papp, Dolce Studio Films VideographyHaynal Papp, Dolce Studio Films: "Always ask to see a fully edited finished film from start to finish, because this is where the men are separated from the boys (she said rakishly!). Most filmmakers (including us) advertise their product by showing gorgeous montages set to music. It’s fun to create and it’s fun to watch, so it makes sense. However, taking the best shots and putting them together to a song is almost always going to look good. Seasoned industry pros will deliver more than a sexy montage; they will also provide excellent coverage of live events (ceremony, speeches, toasts, dancing, etc.). These chapters make up the biggest chunk of a fully edited film and the quality of shooting and editing here is vital. When you’re screening vendors, it may not be fun to watch the live parts of a stranger’s wedding video...but it is reassuring to know that your own ceremony will be shot well without shaky camera work and missing patches and that your dad’s welcome speech is captured in full and not just from AFTER the part where he said 'Welcome!'"
Jessica Piscitelli Robinson, Jessica Pi ProductionsJessica Piscitelli Robinson, Jessica Pi Productions: "I would say 90% of my business comes from referrals. Maybe even 100%. If someone you trust has referred you to a vendor, chances are, they are professional. There are a few other signs you can look for. If they are charging $1000 or less to cover and edit an entire wedding, chances are they are either just starting out or it’s a weekend hobby. I would ask how they are able to charge so little.  You want to like their work. If you get a vibe that things are off, first of all, don’t book them. But if you really want to do due diligence, you can ask to see a full wedding, from start to finish, rather than just their samples. As a side note to that, I keep lots of copies of my demo DVD lying around. I just keep one DVD master of past weddings, so it does involve extra work to make more and more copies, so don’t go crazy. Obviously, you hope that the videographer has a good camera and wireless microphone system, but unless you are in the field, determining what cameras are good versus not good can be a nightmare. So I would work off your gut, off the samples and, of course, off referrals."

Are there things a couple can do during the planning process or during the wedding itself to ensure they get the kind of video they've envisioned?

Tom Bowen, Thomas Bowen Films - VideographyTom Bowen, Thomas Bowen Films: "The most important thing a couple can do to ensure they are receiving the video of their dreams is to share that vision with the videographer. Everyone has their own preferences and as soon as we’re able to hear yours the more we will be able to customize your wedding film.  Also, the more you keep your videographer in the loop with the timeline of events the better prepared we can be going in. The last aspect that really adds a lot to a wedding video is natural sound. Typically, the most compelling videos are those where the couples write their own vows, read their personal notes to each other or have touching toasts during the reception."
David Morley, Zinnia Films - Videographer at WeddingsDavid Morley, Zinnia Films: "I always advise them to keep in touch with any ideas they may have. If there's a vision they are looking for that is outside of the body of work we've shown, we suggest sending them to us, including examples. Any decisions on lighting/color/etc. are always helpful for us to know about prior to walking into the day."
Cara Bowen, Suburban Video - Wedding VideographyCara Bowen, Suburban Video: "View films that the videographer has shot and take time to talk to them about your event and the style you're looking for in your final film. Make sure they have a schedule of events and that you relay not only the style you're interested in, but also, who's important to film. Give the videographer a contact at your event that will help them find these people and let them know if there's something unusual that you want to capture and when it will occur."

Jenny Lehman, Cinematic PhotographerJenny Lehman, Cinematic Photographer: "Once you know the style of video you want, start your search for the perfect videographer. This is one that fits your style and can professionally make the video you want. They are your eyes and ears. Communication is the most important part of the planning process. You want to be sure they are listening to you and able to fulfill your requests.

Make sure you are viewing the actual work by the videographer who will be filming your wedding. Some video companies just book jobs and then hire shooters from Craigslist to fill the jobs they book.

Your videographer needs to have the experience and expertise to make a quality video. It's a job that is both technically difficult and needs creative skills. When viewing sample videos be sure to view and listen them. Listen to the ceremony vows and readings recorded. Many videographers will only place a wireless microphone on the groom for the vows and not get quality audio of the clergy, readings, prayers and music. Also the reception music is so important, it is the key ingredient in making the party. A quality videographer should tap in to the audio soundboard and record the music and toasts through the soundboard and have additional microphones for ambient audio to record clapping, laughing and other audio to mix in with the soundboard audio.

Check their reputation with other event professionals as you shop. Most vendors know each other's reputations. Get a detailed contract that spells out your agreement. The best and most popular videographers book early. You want all your wedding vendors to work together as a team to make your day the best. And finally, be patient with getting you finished video, as quality editing takes time to create. You will have it for a lifetime; it will be worth the wait and investment."

Do you have any other advice for couples who are considering wedding videography?

Haynal Papp, Dolce Studio Films VideographyHaynal Papp, Dolce Studio Films: "If you’re trying to decide between a one- or two-camera package, my advice is as follows: Many people believe that the size of the event and number of expected guests should dictate the size of the package. Not true! You should choose a package based on the shots you want to see in your film, because the number of cameras on site affects the content of the film. Here’s an easy guide: If you want things filmed that are happening at the same time in different locations, you will need two cameras. For example, if you want to see the bride getting ready AND the groom getting ready, you’ll need two cameras. If you want to see the bride coming down the aisle AND the groom’s face when he sees her, you’ll need two cameras. If you want to see the processional and the recessional from the front AND the back, you’ll need two cameras. If you want to see the person making the speech or toast AND the couple reacting, you’ll need two cameras. When you film all of these events with only one camera, you can expect to see the main shot in the video, but not the second shot. Finally, as you increase the number of cameras on site, you decrease your risk load. Remember, wedding videographers are shooting in a one take environment over which they have little or no control. The more cameras you have on site, the less likely it is that something will be missed or obstructed, because in the editing room you always have a backup shot and backup audio track. Budget and wedding size should not be your main criteria. We’ve had couples with as few as 40 guests hire us for two-camera shoots and we’ve had couples with as many as 300 guests hire us for a one-camera shoot. Only the couple can decide on their comfort level where this is concerned. Choose the package that suits your comfort level (and your budget) for the best results for you."
Michael Eller, Monachetti: Videographer for WeddingsMichael Eller, Monachetti: "Never settle for a company because they are the most well-known, or even have the best reputation. Do extensive research. A quality videographer will and should cost just as much as photography. Video is an exciting medium that is gaining a lot of ground, and will continue to do so in the years ahead.”
Jessica Piscitelli Robinson, Jessica Pi ProductionsJessica Piscitelli Robinson, Jessica Pi Productions: "Determining if this is the videographer for you comes down to two very important things – 1. Do you like her work, and 2. Do you like her? Both are purely subjective. Most people have samples of work on their website, so you probably won’t set up a meeting if you don’t like the work. Liking the person is important because you will spend a lot of time with her on your wedding day. You want to feel comfortable with her and know that this is someone who will only make your wedding day more special."
Jim Skipper, Black Tie Video Baltimore VideographerJim Skipper, Black Tie Video: "My advice is most importantly, DO IT! The ability to create a family record of this magnitude with so many important people in your life all in one place is rare. And with the level of video technology now available in my mind it's one of the great bargains in the industry. And while some think pictures are sufficient, I would suggest that the two experiences are completely different. The motion, the sound, and in many cases the only record of perhaps a grandparent speaking or laughing is just so unique. I can't imagine anyone not wanting to have it. I do understand the fear of the intrusiveness because of some videographers that do go overboard. This simply reinforces the need to meet with and know that your videographer is respectful of your wishes and gives your guests their space."
William Gaff, Humanstory: Wedding VideographerWilliam Gaff, Humanstory Films: "When you hire a videographer, you may need to let the others around you know how important videography is to you.    This may seem strange but people have a natural reaction to either mug for or avoid the camera. When this happens, your footage won't reflect the day as it really happens. When they understand that this is important to you they tend to behave a little differently around the camera and the final product can be something that you will love to watch."
Tom Bowen, Thomas Bowen Films - VideographyTom Bowen, Thomas Bowen Films: "My best advice to couples considering or on the edge about hiring a wedding videographer would be to remember this...the value of your wedding video is one of the few things that grows with time. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and that one day goes by so fast. To ensure you are receiving quality videography, your video budget should match that of your photography. When hiring a videographer, you want to choose someone that you trust to capture the entire event and every special moment of your day. The last thing you want to do is look back and wish you had more."
David Morley, Zinnia Films - Videographer at WeddingsDavid Morley, Zinnia Films: "In a sense, a lot of what certain wedding professionals do is not a scalable commodity; the rapport one may have with one person may not apply to anyone, even within the same business. The experience of meeting one-on-one is really critical to assess the basic questions: is this person going to do the job I am expecting? Can I trust her/him? Much like other spheres on the internet, we can make broad sweeping statements in our online identity, but the map is not the territory."
Cara Bowen, Suburban Video - Wedding VideographyCara Bowen, Suburban Video: "Of course, we think the biggest mistake a couple can make is by not having video. We've noticed a turnaround the last couple years where more and more of our clients think video is one of the most important aspects of their wedding. Also, understand that for some videographers it's a hobby or way to make fast money. These people will be very inexpensive. There are also some videographers that do a good job of documenting your wedding, but they're limited in their artistry and experience. There are only a small handful of videographers who are true artists; they have a passion for their craft and are very experienced. You will get a beautiful film of your wedding story by hiring these artists. In other words, with video you usually get what you pay for. Make sure you know what's important to you and that you're comparing apples to apples when shopping price."

Thanks so much to all the professionals who shared their thoughts with our readers.  I can't speak highly enough about the importance of good videography -- it's one thing I desperately wish I could do over from my own wedding!

(Also, in case you missed them, here are some of our other recent group interviews: Hiring a Wedding Photographer Part 1, Part 2, Part 2.5; Hiring a Wedding Planner Part 1, Hiring a Wedding Planner Part 2, Hiring a Wedding Caterer.)