Here is some very sensible pieces of advice I wouldn't have said better myself.
I recently met with a wonderful couple at my studio and while they were interviewing me I realized that they must be asking questions they found in an obsolete publication or website. After the meeting I went searching the Internet for information relevant to hiring a professional videographer and quickly found out that there wasn’t much, and what I found was mostly years old predating high definition video. What information I did find was mostly written by people other than videographers and instructed the couple to ask questions in which they would have no clue what the correct answer would be or even understand the answer (for example ‘does the videographer shoot with a 3-CCD camera?’).
I decided to come up with a list of relevant items to consider while interviewing professional videographers. Here goes:
Style - Watch many samples online and get a feel for the style of video you are looking for. While it may be hard to classify a videographer’s style you will know what you like when you see it. Styles will range from basic documentary to very artistic. Long-form vs. Short-Form. If you are looking for something artistic try to find something that matches your personality. Ask the videographer how they describe their style. While many of the words he/she uses may be ambiguous, matching them to his/her work and then comparing that to other videographers, and how they describe themselves, will help you decide what styles you prefer and what terms you should be using while searching for the perfect videographer.
Equipment - Unless you are very knowledgable on the latest video equipment don’t worry about asking what equipment the videographer is using. If you are happy with the sound and video quality in the samples the videographer shows you that’s all you need to know. Listen to a sample of the vows during a ceremony, and a sample of reception toasts. Make sure the video samples are in focus (unless it is intentionally out of focus for effect) and the lighting and color look natural (again, unless it is intentional for effect). If the videographer is using obsolete equipment it will definitely show in their sample work.
Who’s Shooting/Editing - Some videographers are a one-man-show while others use hired help, while some others have many employees. One way is not necessarily better than the other. Again, look at many samples from your videographer. As long as they are consistent then you can feel comfortable in knowing that regardless of the resources your videographer employs to capture your wedding day the samples you viewed will be representative of what the end product will be. Chances are that if the style you choose is very artistic and stylized the videographer is a one-man-show.
There are some videography companies who employ many shooters and editors. If you interview a company such as this and you find that their samples vary in style then ask if you can choose which style you prefer and then find out which of theor employees had a hand in creating that style and make sure you can have them work on your video. If the company can not guarantee which of their employees will be available to shoot/edit your video then they can’t with a straight face guarantee the style of the end product. You’ll probably not want to consider them then.
Turnaround - OK, so this is something that surprises most brides and grooms but it shouldn’t, taking some things into consideration. If the videographer you have chosen is a one-man-show as I mentioned earlier and if videography is their full-time job then it isn’t unusual for them to have a 10 or 12-month turnaround. They are most likely shooting 20 or more weddings a year (some as many as 40, I should know!) and not only are they spending 40, 80, or even 100 hours to edit your video they also have to operate their business. That means marketing and advertising, attending networking events, accounts-payable/receivabl
The larger a company is (the more employees they have) usually the faster their turnaround will be. Of course there are always the part-timers who only take on a handful of weddings a year and they usually sport a quick turnaround as well.
Remember that you will have this video, movie if you will, for the rest of your life. It can’t be re shot. It’s gotta be perfect. Let your videographer take their time on creating the masterpiece you commissioned them to. Its great if you can get your video a few weeks after your wedding but don’t be disappointing if it takes longer. If they can deliver your wedding movie in time for your first anniversary imagine how much more special it will be. By then most of the details have faded from your memory, and so the video will remind you that much more effectively how happy and special that day was.
High Definition - This shouldn’t be a consideration. I am unaware of any videographers in the Bay Area who are NOT shooting in HD yet. Some videgraphers create your wedding movie in high definition by default while others offer it as an upgrade. Regardless of how it’s offered it’s a must that it is offered. If the videographer can not offer you high definition then unless their work is mind-bendingly awesome don’t consider them. Even if you don’t currently own a high-definition television or Blu-Ray player there is no reason not to get your video in high definition. Very soon now you will not even be able to buy standard definition TVs. Ten years from now you’ll be glad you chose to have your wedding movie produced in high definition.
Price - I list this last because it should be the last factor in your decision. I understand that while your budget for video will determine what class of videographer you can choose from, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. It’s not always “apples to apples” either. Wedding Videography is still in its adolescence and some videographers have a hard time charging what they are really worth so it is possible that that cheap videographer is a “diamond in the rough” though more often now that cheap videographer has cheap-looking videos. Give yourself a decent budget for video. You should budget the same for videography that you budget for photography. I didn’t want to say it, but, you get what you pay for.
Do I really need a Professional Videographer? - OK, so I asked the question. Here’s the answer: YES. Just because everyone and their momma owns a DLSR camera you’re not going to let just anyone shoot your photos. Just because Grammy makes a mean apple pie you’re not going to impose on her for your dream cake. These things require skill, artistry, and knowledge that only hundreds of hours of experience can provide. Sure, cousin Bill may be a student at San Francisco Art Institute, and his film project was really cool, but how many weddings has he attended? Does he have the experience required to anticipate all of those one-take moments? You really don’t want to hear, “Oh man! Can you cut the cake again? I was in the bathroom!”
I’m sure I will be adding to this list but these things will get you started and help you in your decision making process. Good luck!