Multimedia Obsession | Weddings

My personal exploration into creating multimedia work started in weddings. In 2008, I began to carry audio recorders with me to all my events. The first one was the Zoom H2, but later I started using a Zoom H1 as well as other Zoom product. It was easy to carry them in my pocket and drop them down in front a PA system, or wire them into a audio board output of a band or DJ. Over time, I even developed a very small cable kit that could support xlr, 3.5, RCA and quarter jacks without having to carry a huge bag.

Zoom Recorders I’ve known and loved.

Zoom Recorders I’ve known and loved.

I used that random audio to create multimedia films for clients.

I’ll be honest, multimedia weddings are hard. The biggest hardship of creating any piece about a wedding beyond photos is the lack of a compelling narrative audio to tie it together. You can capture all the audio you want, but vows and standard speeches won’t make a piece awesome. Pure video can shift your focus from these flaws by keeping your mind distracted with motion. When creating photo dominant multimedia, the lack of a narrative becomes even more obvious. Lackluster imagery can exaggerate that concept and run the risk of becoming just ‘a slideshow with audio’, and not something you can proudly call a multimedia film.

Here is a clip from what I’d call my first successful wedding multimedia film, which closely bordered just a slideshow with images, but the clients loved it, and in the end that is what matters. If the vows would have been less powerful this would most likely have ended up being thirty seconds in the final long film, not 3 minutes. A short wedding film of this could have had these vows as the narrative bed.

Photography by Nicole and Brandon Parigo. Created with Canon cameras and one Zoom h2 in the grass next to the speaker.

Before weddings, my background was in commercial video production. I hadn’t really offered wedding video because I felt that the cameras were not up to capturing weddings like I wanted them to be. They were big bulky things that stood out like sore thumbs and delivered undesirable footage. Then, in 2009, a revolution happened; Canon released the 5d Mark 2. A full framed DSLR camera that captured video that looked pretty dang close to how the still images looked, thanks to the large sensor and control over depth of field. I saw a gap in my market for high quality but small footprint wedding film making, so I switched full time to wedding films instead of photography. I still felt like I needed to work on my multimedia practice, I just wanted someone else to capture the images so I could focus on video, audio and production.

I partnered with Tyler Wirken of Wirken Photography in order to make that vision happen. For most of my work during this time period, Tyler became the prominent photographer and I captured the video and audio elements as well as full control on editing and producing the works. Tyler would step in and capture some video footage at times where two of us would have been awkward (backs of cars late at night, for example).

Here is an example of the multimedia I was producing for weddings at the time:

While this piece stands up really well as a wedding film, it is a rare gem. For every piece I created that flows this well I created a handful more that felt more typical. It was essentially based on how much access the client would give us, and how much care they went into making their wedding personal.

I began to feel burned out on the idea of multimedia at weddings, which I now know is because I was burned out on weddings. That chance of getting something awesome was not frequent enough to support my goals. The wedding industry itself fights against my goals when I cover a wedding. I had to find another way to tell stories using multimedia that made me feel like my work mattered, and could produce something beyond what I was producing for my clients.

Images sometimes lose impact the further down the field of time they travel, and the wedding videos that are most popular seem to be lacking anything other than to make the bride and groom look pretty. I decided to take the multimedia concept into the documentary film world in order to address those issues. I wanted to make films that explained exactly what the wedding day meant, even to people who were not there. I wanted them to feel what it was like and not be hindered by one medium, so I choose multimedia instead of pure video.

Here is Megan and Adams film, it runs nearly 30 minutes. I would call it my first successful long form multimedia documentary film:

Since then, I’ve made numerous long form wedding documentary films, both multimedia and standard video. My short form wedding documentary multimedia work fell by the wayside pretty fast after I switched to doing more long form works. Using post wedding interviews, photos, video and audio from the day seemed to bring everything together in a nice clean way.

Yet, it didn’t satisfy my itch for multimedia. I started looking for alternative expressions of my art and multimedia practice. That is the subject for next week.

That’s it for Multimedia Obsession Part Two. Next week I’ll talk about the development of personal multimedia stories, inspiration for them and the start of my love of teaching.

If you are a photographer who wants to learn more about photo dominant multimedia work, then you should join us at Camp this year. Even if you never use multimedia as a complete tool, understanding all aspects of media creation can help you think of how to tell stories for your clients better in any single media. Come to camp, learn to tell multimedia stories while becoming a better photographer and help out Camp Encourage.

Find out more information here by visiting the Camp Wirkshop website. Watch more films, see the schedule for the week and sign up!