Wedding Videography That Tells a Story

By Daniella Levy

Yoni Zur is a videographer specializing in religious and charedi weddings. Boasting 15 years of experience, he has filmed weddings throughout Israel and even in Switzerland, Belgium, and France. We were fortunate to be able to speak with Yoni and he shared some tips and insights about the trade.

How far in advance should a couple book a wedding videographer and photographer?
As soon as they can. In general, the most convenient days are taken quickly. Especially in the charedi circles, people usually prefer to hold events between Mondays and Wednesdays because Thursday and Sunday are too close to Shabbat. Also, the well-known photographers and videographers are booked very fast. I am very busy, so I suggest people call to book right when they have a wedding date. There are people who plan the wedding date based on my availability!

What’s important to know before choosing a videographer?
First, make sure you see their work and get a sense of who you’re working with. Sometimes you’ll get a recommendation but that videographer’s style won’t speak to you. Second, it’s important to make sure that the videographer is familiar with the particular sensitivities of the family. For example, it’s not always suitable to place the groom’s brother next to the bride. Not everyone knows this. Generally, a good, well-known videographer will be able to tell you what kinds of people he’s worked with, and you can get a sense that he knows what to do to avoid awkward situations.

What are the advantages of working with a photographer and videographer separately?
When you hire a photographer and a videographer separately, you can ensure that each of them is an expert in their own specific field. If you hire a professional videographer who brings along photographers, you don’t know who he’s bringing or how good they are at their jobs. My specialty is video. I have a whole studio just for video, with other professional videographers and a whole editing crew. We take the time to make sure that every video captures the feel and the atmosphere of the wedding.

Why is it important to hire an experienced videographer?
Weddings are stressful. The bride might be very emotional, and the family is often stressed — especially if it’s one of the first weddings in the family. A videographer with experience knows how to calm everybody down and get everyone smiling and relaxed. A professional will know how to make the most out of the time they have, even if things are running late. It’s not only about knowing how to video, but knowing how to approach the family and the event. An experienced videographer plays the role of a psychologist: he knows how to facilitate calm and effective communication between himself and the two families.

Moreover, weddings can differ greatly from one to the next. Sometimes the hall isn’t full or the dancing isn’t interesting. Some weddings are nice and happy and easy to video but not every wedding is like that, therefore you have to know what to focus on to get a good video. For example, if the father is a politician or a Rosh Yeshiva, the crowd might be so big the videographer will forget there’s a couple getting married! He could end up with a nice video of a big crowd, but it’ll be missing the point. I see videography as an art of telling a story and make sure the final product reflects the specialness of the day for the young couple.

With my expertise, you feel that I’m there, but you don’t notice that I’m there. I give people their space, but confidence that their precious moments are being captured.

How do you choose what to include and what to omit from the video?
This is what distinguishes a good videographer from a bad one. Anyone can stand there with a video camera and film the whole thing. A good videographer will know what to focus on and what to leave out, taking into account the client’s sensitivities and priorities.

It is important to let the photographer and videographer know more or less how many people you want in the family portraits. We have to know the size of the family so that we know when to come. Everything takes time. You should also let us know if the bride is going to want to take photos in different places like outdoors, on a tour, on the kallah chair, etc. We film while all these photos are being taken. It’s nice to see afterwards who was there and how the photoshoot progressed.

How do you make sure you are always in just the right place at just the right time, so you don’t miss anything important?
If it’s important to you not to miss a single moment, you will want to consider hiring two videographers. Not every event needs two; a single videographer should be able to capture all the important moments, too. It depends on the size of the event and your budget.

So you offer the option of hiring a second videographer?
We offer the option of two full-time cameras, and an option of one full-time camera, supplemented with an additional part time camera. We have different packages and combinations so that the price won’t be too high. The second camera is generally for the chuppah and for the dancing, but some request a full-time backup, so the video features shots from both cameras. The main difference is in the end result. It’s important to remember that in the end, after the wedding, the video is what you have left from the whole night.

Some photographers offer a photoshoot after the wedding. Do you offer such an option?
We do, and although it comes out nice, I don’t think it is necessary. After the wedding, we video the family getting their portraits taken. We don’t have a time limit. When we’re done, we’re done.

Any tips for ensuring a great wedding video?
Come as relaxed and as calm as possible. Rest assured that we care about everyone— not only the family that booked us—and we want to capture everyone at the event with no preferences! Don’t look at the camera unless you’re asked to; this helps the video look more natural. Sometimes I just film what’s happening. Other times I’m asked to give people instructions. It depends on the family and what they want.

Can the couple choose the background music for the video?
The couple can choose music for the highlight video clip. For the actual video we combine the audio from the event with the music that was played at the wedding.

How does the family receive the final video?
We provide a disc on key with the video file. You can pass it on to the rest of the family members who want it and download it to wherever you like. And don’t worry if you lose it: I think I’m the only videographer who keeps old videos and materials for 7-8 years.

Did you learn your craft through classes or through experience?
Both, but mainly experience. Today I teach videography, I create video clips and music videos for artists and musicians, and edit videos for institutions.

How can one get an impression of your work?
One of the special things we offer is our highlight video clips of around 7-9 minutes. These help viewers get a taste of the entire wedding without watching hours of footage. We are highly experienced in putting together these clips and create them very carefully, so that every time you watch one, you discover something new and interesting.

Yoni can be contacted at 052-458-8631 or 052-458-8631