Catholic videographer seeks to highlight the sacred
Cody Reed spent three years at St. Joseph Seminary College discerning a possible call to the priesthood.
When Reed graduated from St. Ben’s in 2012, the native of Jarreau, Louisiana, a small town near New Roads, he decided that God was not calling him to holy orders.
After graduation, Reed worked for two years with the Louisiana Right to Life Federation and then spent a year as a theology teacher at Archbishop Hannan High School.
But always in the back of his mind was the avocation he had pursued at St. Ben’s, making short, lighthearted video clips for his classmates.
“We wrote some scripts and had some fun,” Reed said. “We tried to show a little bit of the behind-the-scenes life of the seminary.”
Reed met his future wife Mary when he was working as youth programs director with Louisiana Right to Life. When they were married in 2014, some of Reed’s friends videotaped their wedding Mass and gave Reed the raw footage to edit.
“I was working on the footage when I turned to my wife and said, ‘This is what I want to do – highlight the sacrament and bring this to couples so that we can highlight the importance of the sacrament in a couple’s life,” Reed said.
From that humble epiphany grew “Reed Between the Lens Videography,” Reed’s videography business which emphasizes making sure the sacredness of the marital union shines through in the finished project.
For a Catholic wedding, that means making sure the exchange of vows, the priest’s or deacon’s homily, the readings and the couple’s first chance to receive Communion together as husband and wife are the focal points.
“I just try to incorporate Christ in any way I can into the video,” Reed said. “With the sacraments, you only get one shot to capture it. You don’t get to repeat things. You can’t repeat your vows.”
That’s why Reed has experienced the interior anxiety that every photographer faces: Will the camera, including the microphones to capture the audio, actually work?
There is no going back and doing it over.
“I’ve learned one major thing: Always have extra batteries!” Reed said, with a laugh. “Technology can be very fleeting. I always carry three cameras. If one of them stops working, I have two more. It’s unlikely that all three will go out.”
Planning the videography for a wedding is more than just showing up the day of the ceremony and scoping out camera angles. It starts weeks or months earlier in discussing with the couple exactly what it expects.
Other key calls Reed makes a week ahead of the ceremony are to the priest or deacon who will officiate – learning what is and is not permitted in terms of set-up areas – and to the still photographer, so that they are not encroaching on each other’s space.
“I like to call each priest a week before the wedding and make sure I’m cooperating with exactly what he wants me to do,” Reed said. “I approach it by using my background. I tell him I was in the seminary for three years and I’m familiar with the liturgy and I’m not going to distract from the liturgy. Certain churches have certain rules. You have to follow them but at the same time get the best possible footage.”
Get permission first
In most cases, Reed said, priests allow him to move freely but do not want him in the sanctuary area. Many also do not like flash photography, which is more relevant to still photographers.
Reed uses three cameras: He shoots the main close-ups near the altar, his wife Mary is his second shooter, and a third camera normally is placed on a tripod “in the back of church to get the best angle for the full ceremony.”
“I think that’s very important,” Reed said. “There’s a new school of wedding videography that will offer a 20-minute docufilm. To me, for a Catholic wedding, that doesn’t work. You’re leaving out most of the sacrament, the Mass and the readings. The couples I work with want to remember that.”
Another critical component of a quality video product is the audio, which can be tricky, especially in churches where there is no sound equipment to which Reed can hook up his mics.
He recently purchased some new microphones that will allow him to pick up the exchange of vows more clearly.
“You need to get those words from the couples themselves,” Reed said. “You want them to be able to hear that. That’s an amazing thing. For us, when we watch our video, that’s what feels so great.”
Heads-up to photographer
Reed said the advance call to the still photographer allows him to anticipate that person’s needs.
“My method is to be there in the moment and not to do a lot of directing so that the couple can be a part of that day rather than to get them to ‘do this or do that,’” Reed said. “Every photographer I’ve worked with has been very helpful in telling me what he’s going to set up and allow me to get footage of that. They’ve also been very understanding about their flash.”
What questions to ask
Reed has a few tips for couples considering the services of a videographer:
➤ Realize that the price of videography includes not only the day-of-the-wedding shooting but many hours of video editing. “There’s sometimes 30, 40 or 60 hours of editing,” Reed said.
➤ Be as precise as possible in what you are looking for in the video. “That helps me know what shots are most important,” Reed said. “At the reception, I like to know if they are doing a special father-daughter dance. That’s good to know because you can set something up to capture the full thing.”
➤ Determine if you want start-to-finish footage, such as capturing every moment of the bride preparing at her home through the end of the reception. “I offer a five-hour, seven-hour or nine-hour package,” Reed said.
Also, producing a quality wedding video is not as easy as snapping your fingers.
“It varies, depending on the number of projects going on,” Reed said. It normally takes about six to eight weeks for the first video and then, shortly thereafter, the full video of the full ceremony.”
Reed said his involvement in filming Catholic weddings has brought him closer to his faith and to the sacrament of matrimony.
“Even though I spent three years in the seminary, you can always get closer to the sacraments,” Reed said. “I’ve always been a fan of beauty. Working with videography allows me to appreciate the beauty, especially through the sacraments.”