Category Archives: General

Off the cuff – A wedding cinematographers guide: Does your second shooter Win, Place, or Show?

Finding a second shooter for a wedding cinematography team is similar to owning a horse.

Let me start by saying I am not a horse owner, nor do I ever plan on purchasing one.  They intimidate me slightly, and I don’t care to smell a horse when it’s wet, so there is really no point in calling one my own.  That being said, this post will have some direct similarities to finding yourself a skilled second shooter along with the responsibilities of owning one of these majestic creatures.

When looking for the person(s) that would be able to carry a pretty big responsibility as second shooting with a wedding cinematography team, here are some qualities and soft skills I look for:

Compatibility – First and foremost, you must to be on the same page with the expectations being discussed.  Hands down, my favorite characteristic.  Sometimes an aged horse fits the bill, sometimes a yearling.  It’s all relative, and you want a shooter that is bomb proof (someone who doesn’t spook easily).  We all know weddings can scare the mess out of you if you don’t know what to expect or how to anticipate the flow of a wedding day, look for a well trained person with a conditioned response so they can properly handle things.

Commitment – Once your shooter is found, now you can train and teach them the way you want them to handle their responsibilities.  Commitment is needed on both sides of the fence, from the colt and the purebred.  As a second shooter, if you commit yourself to assisting with a wedding, you should never, ever, (did I say ever) back out of said wedding, especially days before the event.  This can cause rogue behavior with the purebred also causing a slight panic, not to mention being unprofessional on the second shooters part.  I get it, things happen, but taking another job because it seems cooler or may pay more is just wrong.  There are no do overs with weddings and though the purebred may have a list of wedding cinematographers to step in if needed, they too may be booked that day already. The purebred was able to build lasting relationships, and have people to rely on, because at one point they too were a yearling and they proved themselves being compatible and committed.

Communication – This is a key factor in almost any situation.  Talk about expectations.  Review the footage of your second shooter as soon as you can after the event.  Make those corrections, critique their work, give constructive (not destructive) criticism and give kudos when they do a great job!  This leads back to either being compatible, or unsound.  If you find your second shooter not a fit for you, or your business model, maybe it’s time for that horse to be put out to pasture.

**side note – sometimes as a wedding vendor, it takes a lot of running, never taking a break and being on your feet all day.  When it does come time to eat dinner, Please leave the feed bags at home.  Be Professional.  Always.

Also, Don’t EVER Nae, Nae, or Whip for that matter!

Lastly, Cinematography – Toys are fun (drones, sliders, etc.) but if you don’t use them properly the footage isn’t worth anything.  Be a solid shooter with the tools you use frequently.  Don’t be a chief.  I feel the role of a second shooter is to get solid, usable footage.  Finding someone who can compose a shot, nail the exposure and have the ability to keep things in focus are a great start.  I’ll take 5 minutes of solid stuff over 2 and a half hours of footage that gets trashed any day. Also, be prepared to handle your duties like you would a lead shooter. Always have extra cards, batteries and lenses with you, it saves you from interrupting the day or running out to your car.

During this process you may have to put up with a lot of horse manure in order to find your shooter, but once you do, you’ll be galloping  like “Hoof Hearted” to the finish line with a great team, leading the way!

So, as I did my research to find some useful horse related terms for this blog, please do the same when looking for a solid second shooter for your wedding cinematography business, and hopefully your second cinematographer doesn’t smell nearly as bad as a wet horse!

To check out some of our other blog posts, click here

Off the cuff – A New Beginning. The Salt Life.

I’ve grown to LOVE Cleveland over the years.  Yes, I said LOVE.  Keep in mind, Cleveland had always been a tough pill for me to swallow considering I was raised in Pittsburgh.  When I came here in 2001, there were a ton of uncertainties.  A TON!  Would people like me?  Would I fit in?  Would  I have a chance to finally do what I love?  Most importantly, could I find any good sushi joints there?  Cleveland is a great city and I can’t wait to see it flourish again in the next few years.  My decision to move here was easy… I fell in love.  Crazy, right?  Fast forward several years and I’ve since been blessed with a beautiful, supportive wife, two AMAZING kids, truly inspiring friends, and some of the best memories of my life!  Not forgetting to mention some of the most talented and dedicated vendors I’ve ever been around!  Here are just a few:  Changing a baby’s diaper on a 90 degree day in a car with no air conditioning is no party.  Romeo’s makes a fantastic buffalo chicken pizza.  In order to coach a baseball team of  6-9 year old kids, one must have dedication, patience and a lot of heart.  Lastly, even quirky things, like knowing your left running shoe isn’t tied as tightly as the right, but continuing your run because you think you can beat your best mile!  Cleveland brought forth thousands of memories – big, small, happy and sad.  These moments helped shape me and will stay with me until the end of time.

Cue the transition in life…

“There’s a place in the sun for everyone, you just got to find it.  I wish you luck with yours, I have to go and find mine.” – jl

In a few short weeks, I will be heading south.  My family is relocating to Hampstead, North Carolina.  It’s been a personal goal of mine to be able to film weddings in multiple states and cities.  Moving south is something my family and I have wanted to do for a long time.  The timing couldn’t be more perfect.  First and foremost, to all of my couples in Cleveland, past and current, I will continue to go above and beyond for each and every one of you.  The only difference is that I will travel to you for your wedding.  I’ve  made all my arrangements for the future weddings I’ve  booked here in Cleveland.  I will still personally be the one filming your special day.  If you haven’t heard from me yet, you will soon.  I’m looking forward to the couples I’m working with this upcoming year.

The definition of progression is – “A movement or development toward a destination or a more advanced state, especially gradually or in stages.”  My move/progression will involve: unfamiliar territory, unexpected challenges and successes, networking, building my brand in another state, and, as always, sarcasm.  Then, once again, a search for good sushi!

I’ll keep in mind what happened when I came to Cleveland –  Life moments.  Goals attained.  Great relationships built.  Art Williams said it best:  “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it”.  Another quote that sticks with me is this one: “What we desire is always out of our comfort zone.”  I am a true believer in that statement as this move will be WAY out of that zone of comfort, but that is what makes it so exciting!

I will miss a lot of things: family & friends, Taco Tuesday gatherings, and cold beers at Whiskey Island.  One day, very soon, I’ll return and I hope to continue right where I left off with all of you!  I really can’t say enough about the great people I’ve met.  I am proud to call you friends.  You all have a place to visit anytime!

I honestly don’t know what the future holds, I ‘m just living for today!

Oh Yeah, one last thing.  As far as good sushi in Cleveland, do yourself a favor and visit Lily at Mizu Sushi.  You won’t be let down!

Talk to you later!


Off the cuff – ‘Tis the season to be the Reason

Every year around this time, I reflect back on what means the most in life.  It is not planned,  it just happens.  While it may be cold out, with dirty snow on the ground, and gray muck on the cars, it’s also the time to take in how grateful we are to have the time to spend with our loved ones!  This year, on a personal level, my wife and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary in Punta Cana.  I trained and ran my first 5K.  My son started Second grade and my daughter, Kindergarten!  We traveled to the mountains of Tennessee and also to the beach.  We had teeth lost and enjoyed dance recitals, soccer, Tae Kwon Do, baseball, swimming lessons and gymnastics and sushi, yes lots of sushi.  We honored my dad on the 1-year anniversary of his passing by spreading his ashes on his favorite lake where he loved to fish.  Lastly, my brother and his wife finally moved back home from Las Vegas, after being there 17 years.  We are still looking for the teeth!  Needless to say, we created a lot of memories from this year.

On a professional level, we said goodbye to our company Attention to Detail Wedding Films, and gave life to Cuff & Veil Wedding Films

My couples that were married this year were all super cool to work with!  I have been inspired by their love for each other and that really helps us put together an inspiring film.  We worked with many new vendors this year and it was a joy to work alongside so many professionals.  We had  some Friday weddings, and even a few Sunday weddings, which was a welcomed change.  My team & I pulled off an amazing feat (not really, but I think so!)! We shot three weddings in two consecutive days.  It was a bit crazy, and trust me, I had a hard time getting out of bed Monday morning, but I enjoyed every minute of it!  Would I do it again..?  Of course, but I would make sure I have some extra Ibuprofen with me and next time I’ll be wearing ice packs!

My last wedding of 2013 was at the beautiful Hillbrook Country Club, we had a great time celebrating with Josh & Lindsey! Plus they had an AMAZING S’mores Bar!  We hope to have their film ready to view soon so stayed tuned!

A few weeks ago, I took my wife and kids to see Christmas lights.  Now these aren’t just ordinary Christmas lights, these lights were magical!  They synchronized to the music and changed colors.  It was almost like being at a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show on a much smaller budget minus the pyro!  As my children sang along to Frosty the Snowman, with smiles on their faces, I quietly observed the lights twinkle in my childrens’ eyes.  While holding my wife’s hand, it was that moment that I relived all of these memories of this year.  I remained silent and took it in, with a smile on my face and tear in my eye.

That moment froze in time as I reflected for those few seconds, but I also took a moment to look forward at the many more memories being created with family & friends.  I cherish these times.  I hope you all do the same.  Whether it’s Christmas, or any special holiday that you celebrate, may you create awesome memories with the ones you love.

Make it Magical & Be Merry!

kids leaning back swinging hands

Off the cuff – The Leader of the band is tired…

I guess I took for granted that my dad would always be around.  Now, I know that everyone dies, but I never would have thought it to be him so soon.  My dad never said a lot, he didn’t have to.  He was a gentle giant.  When he did speak, his words were full of meaning, very impactful and always heartfelt.  Just knowing his kids were in his house gave him peace and great joy.    As a father myself, I never go a day without kissing my beautiful kids and wife because well, you just never know.

The day my dad died I missed a call from my mom, so I called her back within minutes, and I will never forget the tone in her voice.  Strong and scared at the same time she said “dad fell”.  Keep in mind my mother doesn’t like to get anyone worked up, but I could just tell this time was different.   I was taken a little by surprise because he had fallen before.   He’d been a police officer for 32 years and had his leg damaged from back surgery years ago from a car accident while he was on patrol.  She told me she started doing compressions and said “it doesn’t look good; I just want you to be prepared”.  I left for PA as soon as I could, crying and praying that my dad would be ok.  Now,  I pray every day regardless but this one was more of a request to God to ask him to not let him go, so that I, we can all say goodbye to him, to tell him we love him one more time, to just thank him for everything he has ever done.  I’d give anything to be able to sit beside him on his boat on Keystone Lake to cast out into the water again.  To sit behind my drums while he played his Les Paul and hear his voice singing one of his favorite songs.  Turning the street tires into slicks on the old S-10 to make one more pass down the quarter mile, or to just simply walk beside him in the woods before sunrise on the first day of deer while letting him settle at his favorite spot before I moved on to mine.   Life changed that day in a blink of an eye.

I was in Warren, Ohio that day with my family and in-laws.  As I got on the Ohio Turnpike about 3 minutes in, I looked into the sky and saw a rainbow.  As much as I didn’t want that to be the sign of my dad passing, it was.  It was a beautiful rainbow.  Between my balling, praying and driving, I managed to take a picture of that rainbow.  It is a horrible picture, but nonetheless one I will keep forever.  Minutes after, I got the call from my mom saying he didn’t make it.  I will NEVER forget those words, or the tone in her voice, ever!  I wanted to jump through the phone and hug her right then.   I couldn’t drive at that point; I had to pull over and then continued to cry for the next 40 minutes or so.

The irony with my dad dying is that he did so on Labor Day.  Ever since I was a child, my father had always worked 3, maybe 4 jobs at a time.  He was the Captain of Police in my hometown.  He was respected by a lot of people, young and old.  The local football team dedicated their game to my dad, along with a moment of silence, the Friday following my father’s death.   A lot of the players reside in the neighborhood where he patrolled almost every night where he righted people’s wrongs and always guided them when someone needed help or was down on their luck.  Just like at home.

My dad died in the kitchen of his house where we grew up, cutting up cucumbers.  What is more ironic is he died at 6 PM which is the exact time he was to go out on patrol.  His last words to my dear mom were, “Honey, Honey,” with every ounce of love in his voice, I’m sure.  He died of a heart attack.  Following his death, I couldn’t listen to the radio for more than a week.  He loved music and was a great musician.  I’ll admit, not having any music on in the car was a weird feeling, but I just couldn’t listen.  It was way too hard.  My Father was the one who taught me to love and appreciate music from a very early age.  I used to drive my parents nuts from banging on pots and pans, while learning to play!  Music was always on in our house growing up.  To this day, my taste in music is huge, thanks to him.  The day after he died, I went to the store to pick up a few things I needed and as I walked the aisles, the song “Wipeout” came on.  My dad and I played that song for years when we played together.  It was almost bittersweet knowing that my dad loved playing that song only because he was so proud of his son being able to play it.  It was pretty symbolic.

Some things you learn in life can’t be taught, but instantaneously come to you right when they need to in your life.   I learned to be a drummer when I played in his band.  Sure I knew how to play before, but with him, I learned to feel the music and play what I feel.  I learned less is more.  With music, my dad taught me control, timing and to not be too overbearing.  Not only did he carry these attributes in music, he carried these traits very well throughout his life and I now practice them daily in mine.  It’s habitual.   My dad was always ready and willing to lend a helping hand to anyone, even to complete strangers.  Sometimes that took him away from being with his family.  I realize now that he understood that other people might have needed his help just a little more than we did and he knew we’d be fine.

The last time I talked to my dad in person I had dropped my kids off at our midway point from Ohio and Pennsylvania.  He turned to me in conversation and said that Tanner is really ‘something else’ and that Jenna was a ‘beautiful girl’.  I am so blessed that Tanner & Jenna were able to be a part of his life, if only a short while.  Pops will be deeply missed.  My kids still talk about him pretty often!  As we were leaving, he told me he loved me and I did the same as I kissed his cheek.  In hindsight, I think he almost knew this would be the last goodbye, the last time we see each other.  He hugged me just a little tighter that day.

One thing that will stick in my mind forever is the display of emotion at his visiting hours from the three officers that worked together and his partner from his days working in probation.  They proudly stood guard at my dad’s casket led by my dad’s best friend and fishing buddy Bill.  They never left the entire time we were there, standing for 7 hours or so.  It was tough for me to see grown men cry but just another token of how much my dad meant to a lot of people.  It was unforgettable.  Thank you!  I remember my dad telling me a long time ago that I will one day be surprised to how many people knew him.  It was proven at his viewing, with over 1000 people that showed up, most of them telling me stories of how he changed their lives.

My dad’s legacy is what really inspired me to create cuff & veil.  As I was collecting my thoughts & writing down everything regarding this story, the words Fresh, Sweet and Timeless were the ones that stuck with me.  All because cucumbers are fresh, honey is sweet and rainbows are timeless.    Those words are sprinkled throughout my site, my life, and in the films I now create.

Never stop telling your dad, or anyone you care about, that you love them.  If you haven’t told them recently, now is a good time to start.  Think of it this way, my dad gave me life.. What would my life have been without him in it.

Off The Cuff

Hello, thanks for reading the first installment of my blog called “off the cuff”. Here is where you can view our latest work. It will also be a place to catch up on a very informal look at my life outside of weddings, and pretty much whatever else I feel the need to talk about. Regardless, I hope you stop in every once and a while.

Couples I meet always ask me why I do what I do. Well, that’s a great question. To be honest, it sort of started when I got married. I’ll do my best to keep this story short and if you want to hear more, let’s sit down with a beer, or some bourbon!

When we were planning our wedding and looking for vendors, my soon to be mother in law said she knew someone for video, (…and who doesn’t trust their mother in law, right)! Side note – I hate the word video but for intents and purpose, I’ll use it here. My soon to be mother in law knew a company that wanted to expand their folio from providing disc jockey services into video. I met with the owner, grilled him with questions and all seemed well. Our wedding day arrived and low and behold, nothing was right with their team from the moment they walked in. They were horribly dressed and wearing tennis shoes. No microphones were provided, no equipment to stabilize their cameras. I forgot to mention they were using cameras any consumer can purchase at any of the Big Box stores around town. All of which was agreed upon though we never signed a contract (or had one provided). A year almost passes and we still don’t have a video to watch. I make some calls, send some emails…. Crickets!

Finally I get in touch and they promise they are working on the video but in the meantime they’ll send the raw footage over so we can at least watch something.

We get the VHS video tape just in time for our 1 year anniversary trip and to our surprise…
It Really Sucked. Really Badly Sucked! Footage was barely watchable, dimly lit, shaky… You name it! I was fuming, and trust me it wasn’t from the chili I had the night before!

That is exactly why I started my company Attention to Detail Wedding Films in 2007. The very first wedding I shot in Cleveland was Dean and Kelly’s. I remember that day like it was yesterday.

It sure has been a fun ride and it will be tough to say goodbye to Attention to Detail , but change is good and I’m looking forward to ripping off the rear view mirror and leaving the past behind.

Today I give you cuff & veil wedding films!

I owe a very special thanks to a few people. The first is my wife for being very supportive over the years while we walk this journey together. I love you Forever!

The second is Go Media who helped give life to cuff & veil through conversation, many logo and color concepts and ongoing support and direction. Thank you for taking my vision and making it real!

Lastly, to my father for giving me great inspiration to give cuff and veil such character through his story, even though you aren’t here to enjoy it. R.I.P! I’ll blog about my dad later.

Stay tuned!!