Weddings hold a special place in my heart.
And always will.
But I didn’t realize so quickly, that my time as a wedding filmmaker this year was coming to an end. Flipping back to December 2016, I had tagged along with my cousin Isaiah to Starkville, Mississippi, for a wedding he had booked that I was originally only going to help him take pictures of, as a 3rd backup. I had bought my first gimbal a couple weeks before, so I decided to take it with me and I told him the day of, that since he already had one of his buddies coming to help, I would capture footage instead with my new toys, and see what I could come up with.
I remember telling the couple that, “I know Isaiah said nothing about this, but I’m going to film your wedding and maybe make a video out of it. You won’t have to pay for it, but if you want it for keepsakes, it’ll be up on YouTube.”
I filmed so much footage that day and actually ended up creating a wedding film for them that I edited in one day. However the magic happened when I placed some footage from their wedding day in my reel for that year. It squeaked in honestly, with it being December, but it was putting that footage in my reel that would change a lot of my life for 2017.
One of my friends from church, Sarah (Hester, at the time), contacted me after she saw the reel, and asked me what I would charge to film her wedding. Her wedding was in January so it was coming up soon.
Me? You want me to do what? You’re gonna pay me?
I was floored and nervous and didn’t know what to do. It was weird that someone liked my work enough to pay for it. And this whole thought process that every creative says they go through for their first gig, I promise you, it’s true. Long story short, starting with Sarah and Nathan Diller’s wedding, every other wedding filmmaking gig has been a branch off of one I’ve done before. Either brides know each other, or they’ve seen a past wedding film I’ve done and want theirs done by me as well. So in 2017, I had a breakout year of weddings! I enjoyed every second of it, made a good chunk of dough which I reinvested into gear. I was able to grow as a person and as a storyteller, and in turn I booked a lot of weddings for 2018.
Here is where I inadvertently caused problems for myself. I booked those weddings, not even considering what my school and work schedule would be for 2018. And I’ll preface by saying this, video is a worlds difference away from photography. The workflow is different and the amount of time it takes to churn out content is much longer. In 2017, I had no idea I would take a co-op position at ADTRAN starting in January 2018, meaning I would take a full load of classes in the summer, and then take two of the hardest classes of my collegiate career that following fall. All this made for a very stressful time for me. And bailing on the couples who had trusted me with their memories, wasn’t an option.
Starting in May and ending in October, I filmed 5 weddings (2 I had to pass on; more on that in Part 3), edited them, worked through revisions and final delivery, all while taking classes and moving out during the summer, managing a part time co-op during the fall 2018 semester and working part time as a videographer on campus at UAH. And overall, it was FUN. I captured some of the most beautiful shots I have EVER seen, and I’m not even trying to brag. That’s how well these weddings were put together. They made my job easy for me. Many of the brides were people I knew, so it was just an amazing time to be doing what I was doing and capturing the memories I was blessed to film.
One of the highlights of my filmmaking career was filming the wedding of my friend Lyndsey. We’ve known each other since we were 2 years old. There’s not many people that I don’t remember not knowing, but she’s one of them. She and her fiancé, Drew, actually spoke to me for a bit at my first wedding, Sarah (now Diller’s), and asked me how I had gotten started in wedding filmmaking and how much I was charging. At one point both she and Drew said right then and there, “We want you to film our wedding”.
I was high off the fun of what I was doing, so I chalked it up to the hype and left it alone, but I never forgot what they told me. And as May 10th, 2018 (her wedding day) approached, she contacted me and asked to meet with me to go over details. It was so surreal at this point. To grow up with a friend since almost day one and to be able to capture their wedding day, a day they will cherish for the rest of their lives, my two worlds, personal, and professional, were colliding, and it’s a feeling I will never forget. It’s a feeling that I will continue chasing because it lets me know I’m doing what God has destined for me to do. I can say this here, in an opinion blog lol and not catch too much heat for it, but their wedding is my favorite wedding film that I’ve created. Do not get me wrong, every wedding that I have captured, deeply and truly means something to me, and the people I’ve grown to know through my wedding films are friends I will have forever, parents included. But Lyndsey and Drew’s holds a special value with me.
But it wasn’t all perfect. Stressed does not even begin to tell you the state of mind I was in as I was nearing the halfway point of the fall semester. Typing this now, it was insanity for me to even attempt all of these things, let alone survive through it. But I did.
But I gave myself one rule before I started wedding filmmaking and it was, that if at any point in this time of my life, I started approaching wedding films as something to get through and get it over with, as opposed to truly thinking and pondering over the best way to tell someone’s story, I would quit. I noticed elements of that thought process start to creep in and so I knew a decision had to be made at some point. Little did I know that it would be made for me.