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Capturing Emotion on Video

I bought your book via Amazon kindle.  I have my first wedding to shoot next week. My intention is to capture the momentum leading up to the wedding, the wedding itself, and party celebration, focusing on capturing as much emotion, people as possible. Any suggestions specifically tailored toward a wedding?


Thanks for the legal download!  (Sure it’s flattering to be heavily torrented, but flattery only goes so far. Like not, say, to the grocery store.)

I’ve written here about shooting weddings and other human rituals.  There’s also a wedding chapter in the book— but I love your question about how to capture the feel of a wedding.  Capturing emotion in video is a huge challenge.

First, let’s understand that you can’t actually “capture” emotion on film.  Film has no feeling.  It’s the audience who have the feelings.  When we talk about capturing emotion, we’re really talking about making the audience feel something. The two main things you need to do that in film–  Specifics and Time.

Specifics, well captured, invite the audience to respond emotionally.  A wide scene of the “i do” moment from the back of the church doesn’t buy you much emotion.  But a tight close up on the bride’s face while the priest is asking her the question- the slight hesitation and welling up in the eyes as she pauses for a moment and looks up at her about-to-be-husband– that’s specific.  And it’s emotional gold.

The good news about weddings is that they happen in a predictable order.  As a videographer you want to plan your moments so that you’re always very close to the key players and ready to capture your specifics.

Time gives the audience the space to feel.  Think about the difference between a quick cut to the bride’s face for the words “I do” and the 30-second shot, tight on her face that shows us the whole moment.  As you watch her face you’ll feel every emotion she’s feeling.  That pause– that time– is what allows the viewer to process and feel the emotion themselves.

You don’t have to slow your whole video down to a snail’s pace to be emotional, but give us room to breathe– to feel– at key moments.  A toast is funnier and a mother’s emotions sadder if you let us watch a while, so we can imagine what it would have been like to be there.  And be them.

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How To Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck: The Video Course

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About The Author

Steve Stockman

Steve Stockman, president of LA-based Custom Productions, Inc., is a prolific producer, writer, and director, known for over 200 diverse media projects. He is also the author of the best-selling book "How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck," taught globally from middle school to graduate level, and available in 9 languages.


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