Vendor Preview: Studio West Video

When I first started wedding planning, I was determined to be a "no video" bride.  Mr. HC and I are among the last of our friends to get married, and at almost every wedding we've been to with videography, I have been annoyed by how distracting the videographers were.  At one otherwise beautiful wedding we went to, the videographers literally stood three feet in front of the couple, completely blocking the audience's view.  At another wedding, the videographer stood in the middle of the dance floor, "interviewing" the, ahem, more well-endowed ladies while forcing other guests off the dance floor or within tripping distance of his cables.  Oy.

But I think wedding videographers have gotten a bad rap.  I mean, they can't be faulted for much of this behavior. Some of their aggressiveness should be attributed to the bride and groom or their families, who either really wanted every single moment of their nuptials to be captured perfectly on film or neglected to communicate with their videographers ahead of time about how conspicuous they ought to be in recording the events.  Some of it can also be credited to culture and custom; many videographers serving Chinese wedding markets, for example, are used to dealing with families for whom documentary evidence of the event is often more important than the experience of the event itself.  (Hence the popularity of uber-cheesy pre-wedding "let's pretend to be marrying!" photos from Hong Kong studios.  Mom, if you're reading this, Mr. HC and are NOT getting those photos done, ok?  :-))

Of course, some of the blame does properly fall on the videographers -- every profession has a few bad eggs, right?  -- the wannabe auteurs who see every wedding as a chance to do channel their inner Steven Spielberg, the preferences of all others be damned.  Don't get me wrong:I think wedding videography is an art, but (for me) part of that art is figuring out how to capture, with honesty and sincerity and style, a moment without intervening in the moment to such an extent that you destroy it.  Sort of like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, minus the complex physics yackety yak that I don't understand.

Anyway, all of this yapping is a prelude to explaining that when Mr. HC and I thought about all the people who were going to be at our wedding -- our aging grandparents, our extended families who were rarely in one place, our network of friends who have now scattered across the country -- we really wanted a record of their presence.  We imagined one day showing our children the video of their great-grandpa being served tea at the Chinese tea ceremony or of their great-bubbe, all shikkered up and kicking up her heels mid-hora.  We thought about asking a friend with steady hands to film the day, but we decided against it, since we wanted all of our friends to enjoy themselves.  But since our budget is stretched pretty tight, we also didn't have a lot of money to throw at the problem.

Enter Dirk of Studio West Video.  He came with excellent recommendations (a 2008 Best of the Knot pick).  The videos posted on his blog are lovely: simple, yet artful; carefully edited, and (for the lactose intolerant like me) non-cheesy.  And -- gasp -- he was affordable.  I researched a number of talented and well-regarded videographers, including LuvBug Films, DVArtistry, and Living Cinema, but all were out of our price range.  Dirk, unbelievably, was offering a special package that includes 2-camera ceremony coverage, 1-camera reception coverage, six hours of videography, wireless microphones, personalized dvd covers, an online-trailer within 1 week, complete editing of the footage with a 10-12 week dvd completion time, and 4 copies for . . . wait for it . . . $1250 (probably not that awesome anywhere outside of L.A. and N.Y., but pretty flippin fab in those markets).  Plus when I spoke with him and communicated to him our desire for non-obtrusive coverage (no awkward interviews, please!), he was totally reassuring and on board.

Check out Dirk's highlight video from a recent wedding:

I don't know this couple, but I would have loved to be at their fun, festive, and beautiful wedding! 

I'm pretty psyched to have found Dirk.  One more item off my check list.  One more awesome vendor on our team.  And one more reason to ply bubbe with extra liquor.

Are you hiring a videographer?  What affected your decision?  And, b/c I'm all about spreading the love, any other recommendations for affordable, classic videography (wherever you may be marrying)?

Jessebel  – (December 22, 2008 at 7:09 PM)  

On your comment: Thank you so much for the kind words! Coming from you that's a major compliment cause I love your posts. Concerning your question - email me at jessebel82 at It has definitely piqued my interest.

On your post: At first, we weren't going to get a videographer because every video I have ever seen was cheesy. Eventually, I changed my mind and convinced my fiance to do the same after reading how so many brides regret not having a video documentation of the day. We chose a basic raw footage package from TTD Weddings. At least it's something.

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