Monday, April 21, 2008

Ready for my Close-up?

Yikes. Long time no post. Something about the convergence of Little League, my spouse's work travel, my daughter's production of The Music Man and a nasty stomach virus that has been moving serially through our family.

Sorry to reappear only to rant but can I just say "Put the damn video cameras away already!!!!"

I pretty much get doing videos at weddings: it's an extension of the long-standing tradition of wedding photography. But lately more and more people have been requesting videos of memorial services. I can sort of understand why the deceased's loved ones find comfort in replaying the service, especially the testimonials by their loved ones' friends and colleagues--but it still seems sort of, well, macabre to me. Maybe I'll discover I feel differently when it is my loved one, but I don't know. Do I wish I had a video of the funerals of my grandparents who died before this was technically possible? I can't say that I do.

And yesterday--we baptized a young man, a high school senior. Seeking baptism at 17 takes some guts and initiative, so the congregation was excited about this. So were his family who turned out by the dozens to attend worship. Just as the Prelude was winding up, his mom waved to me from one of the front pews. She was holding a digital video camera and mouthed the words, "Can we tape the baptism?" There was no time to speak pastorally about the sanctity of worship or the distraction the camera would pose to the congregation. I just firmly shook my head, "NO!" She looked disappointed and stowed the camera under the pew.

I felt a bit badly. She's been through some drama with this son, and she is also very fragile right now due to her mother's diagnosis with cancer. Still--WTF? I'm used to having the "appropriate and inappropriate times for cameras" discussion with brides and grooms--but I guess the time has come when this conversation has to happen with anyone having any kind of significant ceremony in worship.

My Mom says her church handles this by doing "re-poses" of the baptisms after the service is over, like with weddings. Better than having family members crawling around the font with cameras during the actual sacrament, I guess.

What do you all do?


cheesehead said...

I feel that pain. My attitude is that we should be able to have a sacred moment or two that are not captured digitally for all time.

But most families here do not ask. They simply show up with a film crew. Wen a family is kind enough to ask, I offer a re-shot after worship

Susan O said...

The last church I worked for videotaped all services from the balcony by a paid student (with a very good camera). It was a shut-in ministry/alumni ministry/parents of students ministry (they were posted on the web afterward, minus the copyrighted music). We did not allow others to video-tape, as we could not count on them to not crawl all over to get the "perfect" shot. We allowed no still photography, but did do "re-poses" afterward. We video-taped from one location in the balcony. We did not move around to get a better shot of baptism. (our baptisms took place in the center of the aisle, so baptism videos tended to be sort of top-of-the-head).

I don't know if what we did was right, wrong, or indifferent, but I thought it might be nice to have a response from a church that actually does video-tape. We weren't opposed to video-taping. We were opposed to the intent of the video-tape (to get the best possible footage, or to record the service as a ministry to those who could not be there).

Presbyterian Gal said...

My church: absolutely no cameras in worship, unless the church is recording something and if they are, you never see the cameras.

I like the re-posing after worship. That's a reasonable compromise.

jadedjabber said...

It is hard to repose with a video camera. I think a camera in the balcony would be ok...... Not preferable by ok. I probably would have had the same response though, given the way it happened.

KnittinPreacher said...

We struggle with this one and here is what we find works for us:

Cameras are allowed in any worship service provided the photographer NEVER uses flash and stays in the pews (I have the ushers trained to take cameras away from people who use the flash, no exceptions. We have only had to do it once and people got the message). I will not adjust the order or manner of worship for photos. Same rule for videos. if you can't see with your camera from the pews, too bad. I have only had one problem - -my first baptism where the person taping (a long time member of the church!) actually asked the family to move so she could get a better shot. we had words about it later.

That said, I always make myself available for photos after. It seems to be a good compromise because then I am not trying to read liturgy with the flash spots in my eyes, and in the age of digital photography, people only take a picture or 2 during worship before they realize they really need the flash and quit trying. I just got tired of the arguments. When the sunday school kids sing in church it is awful (the cameras, not the kids!), and so by making people stay in the pews and not allowing flash, it is easier to control and maintain the worshipful spirit.

Juniper said...

I got nothing on the camera controversy, but I wanted to say... man! yeah music man!!

It's ridiculous how much I wanted to be Harold Hill when I was in my gender bender high school days. Alas, I had to settle for stagehand :)

esperanza said...

We restage after worship.

But about the funerals--I first saw this when I was in high school, about (cough cough) 15 or 16 years ago. A classmate was killed in a car accident, and most of her family was in China. The U.S. family was going to send the tape over for them to see the service. It made sense, but still kind of creeped me out, even as a high schooler. Haven't seen it since, come to think of it.