February 23, 2021 | Features
We are honoured to showcase words and work from our Irish Videographer of the Year, Gavin Gallagher. Based in Co. Clare on the West Coast of Ireland, Gavin won both the Wedding Short Film and Wedding Instagram Edit categories last November during our online ceremony. Seeing his reaction live was absolutely priceless!
In this article, Gavin is telling us about being part of the media team of the Burning Man festival in Nevada and two RTE documentary series he has been working on in 2020.
Would you share with us a little bit of background on the awarded work?
Well firstly winning the award really did mean so much, especially considering the judges are such gifted videographers themselves. I guess that adds an extra layer of kudos so I was pretty stoked with that.
The short film award was shot in Ballynahinch Castle in September 2019 right after I came back from the Burning Man festival in Nevada. It’s a pretty full-on mission to get to Burning Man and I left Ireland on the 25th of August after shooting 10 weddings that month, only to join one of the craziest and hedonistic parties on the planet. So I was already feeling pretty burnt out getting to the event which is held in Black Rock desert, 10 hours drive outside Reno, Nevada. Each year I join the media team at Burning Man as a photographer/filmmaker and my contribution to the community is to document through photography and a pre-approved short film project.
The art at Burning Man is absolutely jaw dropping and to be surrounded by that many wildly creative people for a week really charges me. It’s tiring, hot, dusty and not an easy mission but in some weird way I return from the desert keen to shoot more than ever.
I got back to Ireland in early September just in time to shoot Hollie and Mark’s epic Connemara wedding. My cameras were still covered in desert dust and my brain was on fire from all the art I’d photographed during the week-long event.
I’ve always found inspiration from shooting other personal projects and then bringing the skills I’ve learned to my wedding films.
Wedding Video from Gavin Gallagher Awarded 1st Place in ‘Short Film’.
We know a lot our readers will love to hear more about gear, equipment and post-treatment/editing. Tell us more.
I was a Canon shooter for years and still love the Canon image and of course focus. However I got impatient waiting for Canon to deliver a good 4k camera with decent IBIS. I moved to Panasonic Lumix S1 in April 2019 and the camera has really impressed me.
The 4k image is just stunning and the files are easy to work with. Granted the focus isn’t as good as Canon or Sony but I’m normally pulling focus manually to give that imperfect look at times, and allow my subject to flow in and out of focus. The newer Sony and Canon mirrorless cameras have delivered better specifications and especially focus, but for the price point, the Lumix is such unbelievable value.
I used to shoot multi-cam throughout the day on different bodies. Mk4 mixed with Sony mixed with Lumix and it was a head-melt trying to match the colour and skin tones. We shoot our weddings with 3 cameras during the ceremony and speeches. Having the same camera body and profile set up on each camera has made it so much easier to achieve a cohesive and consistent look. My main lens throughout the day is my Lumix 50mm 1.4. and 75% of the shots in my films are shot with that lens. I have everything from fisheyes to tilt shifts in the bag, It really depends on the mood and space I’m in.
What are you working on at the moment? Personal projects or client backlog – please share with us?
At the start of the first lockdown last March, an amazing opportunity came my way. I was asked to join two separate wildlife and nature documentary series as a cameraman and drone pilot.
The first, Ireland’s Deep Atlantic follows whales and other marine animals off the coast of Ireland. You can watch series one on RTE player now and it’s well worth a watch!
The other series Secrets of Burren takes an in-depth look into the ecosystems in the Burren National Park and the impact humans have had on the landscape. It’s been a fascinating experience working on both series and I’ve learned so much.
Both will be broadcast on RTE in the coming months and I’ll post on the IPPVA private group to let our members know.
Is there a particular movie or artist that has inspired/moved you in the past?
It would be very difficult for me to pin it down to one particular artist or filmmaker. I watch tons of different films and documentaries – whatever is floating around in my brain all goes into one big melting pot of imagery and influence.
Wedding Video from Gavin Gallagher Awarded 1st Place in ‘Instagram Film’.
Have you had any other professions before becoming a videographer? Did you study videography or are you self-taught?
To be honest I was a bit of a & disaster in school, the system just didn’t suit me and the way my brain likes to learn. If it wasn’t for a snowboard tip to Andorra with my parents for my 18th birthday and my Dad deciding to buy a home video camera I really don’t know what I’d be doing in life.
The minute I got my hands on that camera I was hooked and started making home videos. My parents never saw me so infatuated with something and I would devour the manual learning everything I could about this fascinating creative technology. Despite a shockingly bad Leaving Cert, Ballyfermot college gave me an interview for the TV and Video Production course. I presented my portfolio and a short showreel, which kickstarted my journey into video production.
What would be your 3 main tips for a videographer with a strong portfolio of personal work wanting to start a business?
If you’ve already got a strong portfolio and your work is solid then I feel the two most important elements are your brand image and your network. You need to decide who your ideal client is and how to tap into that market whether that’s hipster elopements, smaller city weddings or big budget castle weddings. Your brand will attract what you show and every good job leads to at least three more.
I feel it took me way longer to get to the level I’m at now than a lot of the new younger guys I see out there in Ireland. Granted the technology has improved so much and that has elevated the standard of work hugely. Also, the standard of YouTube tutorials has basically given anyone with a camera and laptop the ability to learn incredible videography and editing skills. Starting out you may experience frustration as to why you’re not getting the weddings and clients you want or perhaps even booking enough weddings to make a full-time career out of it. Use this time to refine your skills, especially as an editor, storyteller and colour grader.
I made so many mistakes starting my own business in 2005 and that’s all part of the process but one of the biggest mistakes I made was taking every job. When you start out in the wedding industry, you do have to take almost every job and you do learn so much from shooting volume. But in time it’s better to be selective and focus on the craft rather than the volume. That’s where the really beautiful work can be created and clients really will respect what you do. They’re investing in you and your vision to produce something they will cherish for years.
What would you most love to shoot right now if Covid restrictions weren’t a reality? What do you miss the most?
To hug my folks and a good three day festival in a field!