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Wedding videographer brings traditional, original elements to screen
Will Watkins aims to tell story through the camera lens
Will-Watkins 0002
Will Watkins, 26, of Gainesville, talks about his goal of telling each couple's unique story when creating wedding videos. He gets most of his clients from the Athens area, but is looking to expand his business. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Questions and answers from a videographer:

1)      Can you tailor the package to our needs?

Yes. The package can include the videographer’s arrival time, outside detail shots of the venue and location and shots of the couple getting ready. But agree to the package in writing. Be clear and concise about expectations and deliveries. If it wasn’t included, then don’t expect the vendor to add more value for free.

2)      How long is the editing process?

The full ceremony is complete as close to the wedding day as possible, giving the couple something to watch as the film is edited. Editing can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks. If it is wedding season, it generally takes longer.

3)      Are three cameras necessary during the ceremony?

Three cameras allow for a center or “safe shot,” to cover the officiant and for video of the groom and bride at all times.

4)      Should we have a first look?

It is a very intimate moment before the ceremony. I love capturing that moment of the groom seeing the bride for the first time.  And don’t let anyone hinder the moment. Talk to videographer about letting you naturally have that moment with no interruptions. Only when you give the OK is when it should be time to direct posed shots and/or re-enactments. It’s a first look, not a second, third and fourth look.

The Times’ Brides & Groom magazine

For more advice, tips and information about weddings, pick up your free copy of The Times’ Brides & Grooms magazine at the 2016 Bridal Expo on Jan 31, at the Gainesville Civic Center or at The Times offices.

Will Watkins describes himself as more of a storyteller than a wedding videographer.

Sure, he sets up the cameras, edits and colors the videos himself, but he strives to be more than just a guy behind a camera.

For him, it’s not about the paycheck or the clip to add to his growing resume.

“I’m telling people’s stories,” the 26-year-old Gainesville native said. “It’s about telling the story of their relationship.”

And his way is not traditional storytelling with a piece of paper and a pencil. Instead he uses moving images and artistic vision in his precise, clean cuts and edits.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” Watkins said. “You’re really crafting a story from a blank slate.”

His style also is the “new school way,” as he says. It’s not anything like the old-school process of setting a video camera in the corner and calling it a day or entrusting a relative to shakily record your biggest moments.

Watkins’ methods are much more involved as he wants to create a story when it’s all said and done.

To accomplish this, he likes to meets with  his clients before the big day rolls around. And since a wedding is a very personal experience, Watkins wants to know  the personalities of the bride and groom.

“I can get to know what they like, who they are, their personalities,” Watkins said.

The introductory meeting also allows the couple to become comfortable with him before their wedding day.

Watkins then devises a plan for videotaping their wedding. While he still captures the moments everyone wants, such as the first looks and first dance, he adds some originality.

“I do interviews with the people,” Watkins said. “I try to get the stories of their relationship, like funny stories.”

He knew the story behind the couple for his very first wedding gig. It was for a friend in 2013, but he has stacked up countless ceremonies since.

“I’ve learned so much since then,” Watkins said. “You can never learn enough. Especially with YouTube, you have all the resources to learn new things if you want to.”

Watkins is a self-taught filmmaker, never attending a single day of film school or any film course. But this occupation has been the end goal.

“I’ve always wanted this to be my career,” he said.

Like any good filmmaker, Watkins has his own style that separates him from other wedding videographers. He describes it as clean, with a focus on natural lighting and detail shots. But he also likes to show the emotions of his subjects.

“If I can get a few good tears in there, some emotion, I’m happy,” Watkins said. “I try to get them as natural as possible. I don’t like posed.”

He also likes to capture footage of the couple doing activities outside of the typical wedding ceremony, such as dancing in a field, for example. He will then use that footage to illustrate the different parts of the wedding.

To capture the shots he wants, Watkins has been known to dance along with the wedding party at the reception. But he knows when to put his zoom lens to good use.

“I try to stay back and let them have their moment,” Watkins said.

But he is not without moments of his own. Watkins is the sole proprietor of his company, William Bradford Productions. The name is rooted in his family’s heritage, as it is his first and middle name as well as both names of his grandfathers’.

“It’s a family thing,” Watkins said.

In fact, he started his filmmaking career with short videos he made with his younger brother, Seth Watkins, for their church. The 18-year-old even joins his older sibling on wedding shoots now as part of his team.

“He was always around when we were filming,” Watkins said of his brother.

His other team member, 29-year-old Brandon Blackburn, was a co-worker of Watkins’.

When he’s not filming weddings, Watkins has filmed several music videos and documentaries, and likes to create his own music. He can be found online at www.williambradfordproductions.com.

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