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How to Shoot Video at a Family Reunion or Family Event

When you are the one recording video of a family get-together, the process can be a little overwhelming.  Imagine the frustration of trying to entertain your great-grandmother and aunt at the same time!

 

But all-too-fast, your family elders may stop coming to your events, and the newest additions always seem to grow up too fast.  Capturing family events on video let you relive and share video of these special moments for years to come.

 

Family Occasions to Record on Video

Here's a short list of events that will typically bring your family together and be worth recording on video:

  • Memorial Day
  • July 4th, Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Family Reunions
  • Weddings
  • Holiday Parties
  • Birthday Parties
  • Anniversary Parties
  • Graduation Parties
  • Housewarming Parties
  • Family Vacations

Tips on How to Prepare for the Occasion

Here are some tips and tricks on how to prepare and what to do before, during and after the family event:

  • Check your camcorder the night before the event to make sure your camcorder batteries are fully charged
  • Make sure you have enough videotape stock. Always carry at least one extra videotape cassette with you in your camcorder case
  • Everything you need for videotaping should be in one place ready to go
  • Try to think of a plan in advance of what you will do if something both unplanned and unpleasant occurs while you are recording video
  • Make sure there is natural lighting. Often a cloudy day is the best for videotaping, although it is hard to predict what the weather will be.

Recording Video

  • Make sure you are fully aware that you canít tape everything that goes on at the event
  • Write out a recording schedule with the person hosting the event so you know when you can relax and when you can shoot
  • Make sure to try and record video of people as they start arriving. Their reactions to the event might be good to cover at this point
  • Some people at the event might be willing to tell stories on video from the past. Try to work with them and give them a time limit, like 10 minutes or so.  You can always edit out portions that seem to ramble.
  • Tape people while they are enjoying the event; for example when they are eating at a barbeque or when the bride and groom are opening their presents
  • Follow the rules of shooting good video --  wide shot, medium shot, close-up, minimal panning and keeping the camera steady (use a tripod if necessary).
  • Include all the guests in your tape at some point, if possible
  • Be even in the amount of time you spend with an individual or group

How to Catch the Best Moments at Family Reunions

  • Check the reunion schedule and make an outline of the story you want to tell on video, and who you want to interview on video
  • Ask the older folk to recall their childhood and to give their remedies for physical ailments and share household myths
  • Keep the mood lighthearted. You can enlist the help of a couple of family hams to play talk-show host, having people tell their family secrets, or recall funny moments and make comments about one another
  • Record quiet moments also such as a mother and child cheek-to-cheek, a grandmother having a conversation with an aunt or an older child taking a younger sibling for a stroll
  • Try to get all of the family together for a group shot. When the rest of your family is trying to get everyone together be sure to keep filming. Often the best memories come in the 10 to 15 minute time frame when everyone is scrambling to get in position for the shot.
  • Be sure to take video of your elders and the grandchildren. This may be one of the only times in your life when you get to talk to and catch memories of them on camera
  • Always be ready for something unexpected to happen and when in doubt, keep the camcorder rolling
  • If you are having trouble keeping the video interesting, go around the reunion and ask a particular question to everyone, and see the reaction. For example, do you remember when Johnny was chasing his puppy around the yard and he fell into a mud puddle? Something to this affect might make the video a bit more interesting in terms of memories the family can reminisce about.

 

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