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Life behind the lens

  • Published at 05:59 pm December 17th, 2019

Amidst the incredible amount of work that a wedding requires, a professional wedding video is often one of those little luxuries that gets sacrificed. We caught up with Nabhan Zaman, CEO and Founder of Cinewedding by Nabhan Zaman in order to discuss the ins and outs of wedding cinematography.

What inspired you to get into wedding cinematography and photography?

It all started when I heard that a client from Chittagong had hired a Malaysian cinematography team for their wedding. This was back when wedding cinematography wasn’t even that common. They made a wedding film which everyone ‘wowed’ at. People hadn’t seen anything like this before done in a Bengali wedding culture. When I saw the video, I felt like this is something I’d love to create. 

So one day, my friend Tanvir Ali, founder of Wedding Moments and Tanvir Ali Photography, suggested me to accompany him to an outdoor holud. I agreed and tagged along. Honestly, I was really confused about where to start. The venue was outdoors and there were so many elements. I took a deep breath, and went with my creative bone. After shooting the event, I edited the clips and made my first ever cinematic video. I was very nervous to put it up, as I didn’t know how people would react to it. With much anxiety and self-criticism, I uploaded the video on YouTube. Within a few hours, it was a hit. And years later, the same people helped me win the YouTube Creator Award, the Silver Play Button, making my company the first in the industry to win this award.

How did Cinewedding and the team come about?

As I started uploading my videos, I started to get a lot of calls. I was taken by surprise. I was completely unprepared, I did not have any packages, I did not have an office or a team. So, I took the time and soon started building a team. Fortunately, I had a few friends who were very excited to work with me. Now we are a big family of 20 people working hard season after season, to make people’s dreams come true. After making a team, we still needed an office. Because, let’s face it, it wasn’t practical to keep meeting clients in cafes and editing at home. So, I set up my office at Baily Road and created an editing panel.

Primarily, we were focused on wedding cinematography and as we started to grow, people started suggesting me to start photography. Then, I occasionally began taking photos at events for my page. People loved them very much but it wasn’t possible for me to handle yet another department by myself. So, I proposed my childhood friend, Tahmidul Hoq Naheen, who is also a photographer, to join my team as the head of the photography department. With a mix of portraits and candids, we slowly won everyone’s hearts. And that is how it all started.

From concept to execution, how long did it take and what obstacles did you have to overcome?

When we started off, wedding videography was secondary to photography. People’s initial budgets always focused more on photography, and videography came second. And it doesn’t help that the amount was not sufficient to create a cinematic style video. Only a few people would readily spend that much money without hesitation in a cinematic style video. So that was, of course, an obstacle to begin with.

Apart from that, a lot of funds went into the setting up of the office space and the editing panel. The gears we used weren’t available here back then. So a lot of them had to be brought in from abroad. Moreover, because we use movie-making logistics during a wedding, it was difficult to train the team. 

Do you think only technical skills are enough to maintain a business such as yours?

As a creative person, I believe technical skills are of utmost importance. In our industry, what’s more imperative is to learn how to handle a client. Handling a client is actually like painting a portrait of someone, your subject needs to have full faith in you. It is a matter of mutual trust. The client has no clue how their painting will turn out. So the client puts all their faith in a cinematographer or photographer, because they are confident about his or her technical skills. 

What factors should your potential clients keep in mind when they approach you for a photoshoot -- be it wedding/pre or post wedding/ mehndi or holud?

This is actually a very good question, and I hope I can cover all the points. First and foremost, I will ask my potential clients to be book us ahead of time. I can’t stress this enough. This might seem very unimportant but what most people don’t understand is, every wedding is like a football match, where the lineup can completely make or break the game. With enough time, we can provide you with a team which would be perfect for your big day. 

Secondly, be honest about your budget with us and communicate it. We have a lot of packages, covering a range of price points. So we can always match your needs and suggest you a package. Even though we give our best in every package, we want to advise our clients to have realistic expectations from their budget.

Moreover, we’d also suggest you to hire one team. There is no point for the bride and groom to hire separate teams. Separate teams from both sides and unavoidable smartphone photography from the crowd may cause chaos on your special day.

Lastly, please make time to meet us in person before booking us. That way, you will already know us and as a result you will feel less stressed on your big day.

What are the packages that you offer and what’s your price range?

We have a range of packages and we have tried to accommodate those here as much as possible. We have individual photography packages and individual cinematography packages -- and we also have combo packages consisting of both. The prices range from Tk10,000 to Tk200,000. Apart from the wedding packages, we also have various pre- wedding and post-wedding packages for the clients to select from.

Any advice to future wedding cinematographers and photographers?

To the future photographers, please do not open up a company simply because you own a DSLR. Work for a company and gain some insight first. It’s important to learn a few skills before you start. You don’t have to enroll yourself anywhere -- everything you need to learn is available online. Moreover, do not worry about expensive gears. Use whatever you have. Even a mobile phone with a camera will do. Make your own vlog and learn to edit them on your own. 

Any future plans or exclusives that you’d like to share with the readers of Avenue T?

We are nothing without our clients and well-wishers. And my recent award has made me realize that it’s time to give back the love and support they’ve showered us with. We also

plan to explore beyond weddings and expand our horizons, working for the corporate sector, collaborating with startups and maybe even share our skills through mentoring. 

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