Videographer, Cinematographer, Filmmaker – What’s the difference?

“…don’t let the terminology, define their capabilities..”

One thing we realized after our first few years in the wedding industry is that everyone has a different name, explanation or take on just about everything in the video world. It’s a place full of these incredible and talented group of creatives who have the amazing ability to turn ideas into captivating and inspirational stories.

One of the biggest things people in the video world can’t seem agree on though is what to call themselves. In truth, it was something we struggled with. After taking a deeper dive, we came down to a few big questions. Does the language we use define what others believe we are capable of? Does what we call ourselves truly have an impact? And our biggest question was, if the way we describe ourselves would ever hinder someone from wanting to work with us.

Did you know that “Videographer near me” is one of the biggest hit searches on google? It may seem TOO simple that people are searching that easy of a term, but most people start there on their FIRST initial search. And can we tell you, sometimes that is all it takes.

Here are some of our thoughts after exploring the different verbiage we throw around in the videography world, and whether our assumptions and interpretations have any weight to them.

First, let’s break down the technical definitions of each according to google.

  1. Videographer : a person who makes video films.
  2. Filmmaker : a person who directs or produces movies
  3. Cinematography : the art and technology of motion-picture photography

To someone with a creative background, these all mean entirely different things. But when a client is searching for someone to hire for a video project, they probably aren’t making the same assumptions.

If we get down to the most basic meaning, the argument between videographer, filmmaker or cinematographer really comes down to our own perceptions. More often it is the people in the video world who tend to believe someone that labels themselves as only a videographer, could not also be capable of the same high standards of a cinematographer or filmmaker.

In fact, “videographer” is one of the most commonly used search engine keywords marketing professionals use when looking for a vendor.

So to a filmmaker who wants to market themselves as a creator of high end video content, he or she could be losing out on lots of potential work, simply because they don’t want to describe themselves as a videographer. However, the argument could be made that IF the client arrives at your page organically, do they translate your terminology into a higher end product? Which is the better gamble?

The most interesting idea is that the term photographer has not changed. In today’s world, anyone can call themselves a photographer, but the term refuses to be diluted. So even though professional photographers could easily create themselves a new terminology, such as Photo Producer, to distinguish themselves on a higher level, it has stayed the same.

Now how does this translate into the wedding world? In our opinion it is vastly different because we play many different roles. Now obviously we would never yell “CUT!!” in the middle of a ceremony because the lighting was incorrect. We are simply documenting the moments from the angles we know are the best. There is no creative director or lighting guy, WE play all of those rolls on a wedding day. However, at engagement sessions we have creative control and the ability to manipulate every aspect. We can film a moment in another take or make slight adjustments in between. We are the producers, editors and creative minds. This is why we struggle with defining ourselves in the video world, our roles change vasty through each part of the experience.

We have many clients who are in the same position as any typical client, where they aren’t aware of the subtle differences between what we choose to call ourselves or the roles we identify with or play in our business. Sometimes the terms can be confusing and clients are left wondering what their experience will look like.

We settled on using the terms videographer and filmmaker interchangeable because we feel it best describes our style. We make films but let’s be honest, we want to reach our couples in the first place! Every business is so different and that is also the beauty in this industry.

Our final point we do want to make. We think most wedding professionals agree, whether it’s a simple ceremony documentation, creative love story, highlights reel, or feature movie, you go with whatever the client calls you anyways! For example, we have been called… wedding videographer, wedding cinematographer, wedding video producer, wedding cameraman, and wedding filmmakers. All of them are great, because all of them are correct! We feel like we play each of these roles on a wedding day to create a dream product for our couples.

In conclusion, if you had to take away one simple thing, let it be that when you are searching for someone to capture your wedding memories, don’t let the terminology define their capabilities. ❤️

-Stephen & Melissa

Check out how we bring love stories to life

Check out our most recent Photo + Films wedding day HERE

Check out there Engagement trailer HERE

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Kelly + Chris |
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We are published Phoenix wedding photographers and wedding videographers, engagement photographers & elopement photographers specializing in joyful, genuine and romantic story-telling images and films. We service all of Arizona including Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, Tucson, Sedona, Flagstaff, & beyond! 


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