For Extraordinary Wedding Memories in Indianapolis
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello, my name is Michael Hallenbeck, and I have been a wedding videographer since 2009. I actually started out at a video production company that covered everything: local commercials, 8mm film transfers, weddings, and just about anything in between that you can imagine. I had a great boss, and I liked the variety of tasks that would be on the docket during any given week.
But there were two things about weddings that stood out to me right away as a young videographer:
- (1) recording a full day of live events - with angles, entrances, and lighting seeming to change at every moment - was a lot more complex than I anticipated, yet
- (2) the differences between weddings and between couples made wedding work more fun, more creatively open, and more fulfilling than commercial work.
How did you become a wedding videographer?
Eventually, my boss decided to focus his company’s efforts strictly on commercial work. He had become the most popular videographer in town among local business owners, and he had physical limitations that made long wedding days very challenging. On the flip side of that, I was enjoying weddings more and more - and becoming better at filming them. So, in 2011, we struck up a deal that allowed me to take over the wedding contracts that were on the books, and we amicably went our separate ways.
I strive to get a warm, cinematic look at my weddings.
How would you describe your style?
I strive to get a warm, cinematic look at my weddings. Different venues and different lighting situations can present interesting creative challenges about exactly how to go about achieving that effect (or any consistent look for that matter). I’m really drawn to the old film look, but I also love the crispness and vividness of modern camera technology; I try to merge those two, to sort of draw on the dreamy, nostalgic look of old film, but also embrace the cool sharpness of modern video without allowing it to look too clinical or digital.
Beyond that, I also want to bring out the story of how each couple fell in love, what makes them unique, and what’s going to keep them together. Sometimes those details emerge from the couple themselves during brief interviews I take with them early during the wedding day. Sometimes they come from the letters the bride and groom write to each other. Or a few of those important details can come out during the toasts. If the couple writes their own vows, that tends to be one of the best sources for gleaning the details of their love. I like to rely on several sources, if I can, to piece together that story. All of this is to say, to me, the story is just as important as the visual component.
Replaying each moment with a quality video production is much more rewarding than looking at pictures of those same moments - the sound of your loved one’s voice as they speak their vows, their full reaction as they see you for the first time that day, the movement and mannerisms of your family and friends - all of these crucial details are documented forever with an experienced videographer.
Why should people hire a wedding videographer?
You’ve planned an elaborate party on one of the most transformative and important days of your life. Not having that day documented is the single biggest regret brides have after the fact (when they opt not to hire a videographer), according to studies. Replaying each moment with a quality video production is much more rewarding than looking at pictures of those same moments - the sound of your loved one’s voice as they speak their vows, their full reaction as they see you for the first time that day, the movement and mannerisms of your family and friends - all of these crucial details are documented forever with an experienced videographer.
Are there things that differentiate wedding videographers?
- One of the biggest distinctions between videographers, first and foremost, is video quality. What cameras do they use, and what resolution will your events be filmed in? There’s a world of difference between a traditional video camera, like the kind used for news or sporting events (which some wedding videographers still use) and a cinema camera, which is more complex but creates a much more beautiful image.
- The next biggest distinction is then: will your videographer actually edit your footage, or are they planning on giving you “raw footage”? Cinema cameras film in flat color profiles with little saturation; once properly edited, that footage has a distinct advantage over the typical video look. But in its raw form, it is nearly colorless and unexciting to watch. Many videographers try to have their cake and eat it, too, by delivering a cinema-quality highlight video but then handing over raw footage for the full events. I’m not afraid to do work, so I shoot cinema-quality all day and edit everything.
If you could ask one thing of the grooms and brides that would make your job at their wedding easier, what would it be?
I can’t think of anything to ask brides or grooms to do that would make my job easier, and I wouldn’t presume to do so if I could. I’m there to capture events for them, and I will do it to the best of my ability.
What was the most memorable wedding you filmed?
One of the most memorable weddings I have filmed is the wedding of Olympic gold medalist David Boudia. I grew up in West Lafayette, and David Boudia was a diver at Purdue University when he went to the Olympics. I actually didn’t know who he was until after he and his fiancée booked my services; his wedding took place the same year he went to the Olympics (2012), and they signed with me just before that event, where he won gold and bronze medals. At their wedding, the groom’s cake was designed like an Olympic gold medal.
In learning to be prepared for all contingencies, I actually look forward to the creative challenge a forced improvisation can present.
Was there ever a time you had to improvise?
I have to improvise at most weddings, to some degree. Schedules may get delayed or changed, or the groom may have a surprise for the bride that, in the interest of keeping the secret, he didn’t disclose to anyone. When I first started out in the wedding industry, that was a little stressful. But I quickly adapted and accepted it as part of the job. I always keep extra batteries and memory cards with me at all times, as well as at least one lens that I’m not planning on needing. In learning to be prepared for all contingencies, I actually look forward to the creative challenge a forced improvisation can present.