It all started with skate videos in middle school for Chris Hannant of Swell Productions. With a passion for capturing a moment in a creative way, the guys behind this videography company transitioned into weddings and quickly fell in love with the special day. Read on to learn more…
Bustld: What do you think makes you different as a videographer?
Chris: It’s pretty much always two of us, myself and another guy named Chris Ellison. Chris and I grew up together in the Outer Banks. We go way back to when we discovered videography. I was doing photography and he was doing video work, in middle school. We were doing skate and surf videos, filming everything. It’s pretty cool to go back and look at our childhood documented, including the shenanigans we got into with our friends.
A lot of people start by shooting weddings. Our style was not born of weddings. Our love and creative energy going in to video content and the visual arts goes back literally decades. It bred a really unique perspective within us where when we approach a wedding, we are still seeing it from a very documentary style perspective. I think that shows in our videos. We are trying hard to show a narrative.
Also, what we learned growing up and shooting together was finding beauty in overlooked moments. The Outer Banks are a really beautiful place so we would just go film. Weddings are all about capturing the moment, but we take it another step – we want to capture the moment in a really unique way.
Bustld: How would you describe your style?
Chris: Documentary. I hate using this word but it’s very cinematic. Imagine like Planet Earth. It’s a documentary but so visually stunning at the same time. That’s what makes it so exciting for us to film. We are going in and we know what we have to capture. But we have a second layer; how can we capture this and make it look and feel beautiful.
Bustld: Tell us about your typical couple.
Chris: We like to work with people that understand what we are doing. These are people who may not be artists or creatives themselves but certainly have an artistic/creative mind. That’s the kind of people we want to work with. We want to work with people who watch our videos and cry. The ones who understand we go above and beyond. And who really connect and understand what we are doing from a creative standpoint. Feeling a connection with the videos we produce, that means they are going to trust us.
Bustld: Why do you think you clients hire you?
Chris: It’s the emotional side of our work. I’ve had a man’s man come up and tell me they cried watching our videos. Making people cry with my work is the greatest thing ever. For me, it’s all about that emotion. Not just about capturing the day and the way it was but pulling out the emotional impact that was there. And maybe even finding emotional impact in overlooked moments, too. That’s what is wonderful about the medium of video. You can find emotionally impactful moments in the seemingly mundane objects or movements.
Bustld: What is the best part of being a wedding videographer?
Chris: The medium of video combines many aspects of art. What makes it powerful is the visuals – which photography can capture – paired with the sound. Capturing multiple elements and bringing it together in a video to me is what makes it so powerful.
The power you create in the editing room, too. It’s not just the day of shooting but how you want to piece all those elements together and put music to the back of it.
Bustld: What's your favorite moment on wedding day?
Chris: On the artistic side, it’s everything before the ceremony before the couple even sees each other. I love those quiet moments of prep where it’s just palpable. The emotion in the air, the nerves. I love that; that’s what makes that day so special. Something that could be considered a negative emotion – like nervousness or anxiety – to me that’s so powerful. It’s really marking that day. Not having a strong emotion, no matter what it is, it’s not going to be as memorable. I love feeling that nervousness of the couple. And alternatively, the excitement, in the quiet moments of everyone getting ready in their individual spaces.
From a work perspective, I love the moment the dance floor opens. We’ve got all the crazy hard stuff we had to capture and now everyone is just having fun so we can focus and be creative. That’s when all the nerves wash away. The speeches are the last thing we really have to nail before we can have fun with everybody.
Bustld: Tell us your backstory.
Chris: I studied photography at The Savannah College of Art and Design. Toward the end of my college career, I slowly transitioned into video. First, experimentally for all the aforementioned reasons like realizing how much more emotion I could pull into something with video. I fell head over heels for the medium and started putting a lot of my personal work efforts in to videography.
I came back home and picked up a few clients doing some promo and documentary work while still shooting surf videos.
The Outer Banks are a very big wedding destination so I knew a lot of people doing that but there weren’t a lot of videographers. A lot of what I saw was very “home video” with no artistic integrity or purpose behind them. I was like man, I feel like I could do something kind of cool with that. Someone asked me if I would shoot their wedding. At first my answer was no, then I decided to give it a shot. I did it for free and shot it in the way I thought a wedding video should be shot, taking a risk. They loved it. Finding creative moments while nailing composition and angle with respect to the light source as it was happening was very exciting, and still is to this day.
I went out on Craig’s List and tried to shoot a few more weddings. It was really stressful shooting alone, so I went to Chris. He shot one with me in 2011 and was like, “Dude that’s actually really fun.” We were both really surprised at how much we actually enjoy shooting weddings. It’s not that different from the shooting the skate videos we used to shoot, it’s all about finding and capturing a moment as it happens in a unique way.
Bustld: Why weddings?
Chris: We really have a passion for this stuff. We really care about our couples and the finished product. When I’m delivering that finished product, I am on edge until the couple gets back to me because I want them to love it so bad. I love meeting all of our couples, and I think we are pretty fun to hang out with on your wedding day.
Still looking for a videographer to capture your coastal wedding? Click HERE to connect with Chris today.