What Would They Know? Nathan Kaso of Nathan Kaso Weddings

by | Cinematography Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom

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There’s photography and then there’s cinematography. Both mediums give so much to a wedding day’s impressions – both so different and yet so much the same. With film, the movement, the spontaneous emotions, the changing expressions on people’s faces are captured in all their dynamic glory – giving movement and light to the scene. Nathan Kaso Weddings is manned by a cinematographer whose passion is for creativity, and capturing the little moments that make up the wedding day.  Nathan gives his heart and soul to creating the perfect film for you – something that he not only presents to you with pride, but one that will bring up all the emotions of the wedding day every time you see it.

Here’s Nathan’s story.

How long have you worked as a cinematographer?

I have been working on and off in video production for nearly 13 years. I’ve also worked as a designer, animator, photographer and a short stint as a DJ at my local roller skating rink back in the 90’s (not kidding). The last three years I have concentrated solely on video and haven’t looked back.

Of all the work with visual mediums you have done, why choose videography as your passion? Why is making films important to you?

Video is something I have naturally gravitated towards. It is a medium I have always felt comfortable working in and feel I have a natural connection with. There are so many tiny moments in life that might otherwise be forgotten if they aren’t documented with images, and sometimes these can be the most significant. I take a lot of pleasure in knowing I have captured some of these moments and they can be looked back on for years to come.

How would you characterize your filming style?

My style is candid, personal and intimate. Using a hand-held, documentary technique not only allows me to stay nimble and capture moments on the fly, but also softens the look of the footage and creates a more personal image (not one that looks like it is shot by a robot).

You use different mediums to capture the wedding – what end result are you looking for?

I love shooting super 8 film at weddings. It is very emotive, creates a beautiful sense of nostalgia with its home-movie look. It balances nicely against the clean look of modern digital images. There are parts of the day that I find work well in slow-motion digital, and others that look great in super 8. For me it’s about finding the right balance and having fun.

What details are important for you to capture?

The main thing I concentrate on when filming a wedding is building small sequences that will tell the story of the day. It’s very easy to get carried away getting the ‘money shots’, but there are also lots of tiny moments and details that help tell the story. Because I put together my edits in chronological order, it’s important that each part of the day is covered in a way that establishes each scene for the audience and guides them on a journey as if they had been there.

I notice that you concentrate on the people rather than the surroundings in your films. Do you see this as the most important aspect of the wedding to capture in the film?

Weddings are all about the people. It’s easy to become indulgent when shooting surrounding landscapes and locations, but this takes the focus away from the bride and groom who are really the stars of the show. It is very important to establish locations without making them a feature. I am brutal with my edits and only include shots that enhance the final video. Sometimes I have to cut out a shot that I really love, but if it doesn’t fit in the edit it gets left on the cutting room floor.

Do you use a ‘fly on the wall’ approach to your filming, or do you plan everything in detail?

I pretty much just show up and document what happens. I have a few set shots that I like to get, but each wedding is so unique that I like to just let things unfold naturally and not give any direction. It’s when people forget you are there that you capture the best moments, so for me discretion is key.

Apart from the technicalities, what makes a ‘good’ cinematographer – is it curiosity about life, or other subtle qualities?

For me it’s the ability to capture a scene or subject in a unique or interesting way. Anyone can point a camera at a scene and use a lens to get shallow depth of field, but the real skill lies in composing shots and building a sequence that captures the mood and emotion of a scene and subject.

How do you ‘know’ what makes a great film shot? Is it instinctual?

After a while this becomes instinctual, but you need to keep a keen eye on everything that is going on around you. On a film set you can provide this direction and do multiple takes until you get the perfect shot. With weddings it is an exercise in patience and observation, but this makes it all the more rewarding when you capture a something great.

In what ways do you regularly challenge yourself creatively with your film work?

I love producing my own personal projects. It’s how I started in video many years ago and is what has maintained my interest to this day. I genuinely love filming, photographing and editing images, whether they are moving or still. If I have an idea for something I want to create I can’t stop thinking about it until it’s finished. The day I don’t feel that way is the day I’ll stop (but hopefully that never happens).

Creatively, where, and doing what, makes you feel most inspired?

The main thing that inspires me is the desire to do new, better work. As soon as I finish a piece of work I want to move onto the next thing and test out some new ideas and techniques.

You must travel to some amazing places to take photographs. Can you name some of your favourites?

New Zealand has become my favourite place in the world to visit and at times feels a bit like a second home. I’ve made many trips there over the years, for holiday and work. The landscape blows me away every time, there is something different around every corner. Whether I’m shooting time-lapse of a snow-capped mountain or capturing a couple celebrating their wedding it’s pretty much impossible to take a bad shot in that place.

Please explain your concept of charging a flat fee for your services?

I worked in advertising agencies for a number of years, and while I gained valuable experience that allows me to produce work at a very high standard, it was also very restrictive in regards to how much time and effort I could put into my work.

Every time I make a video I want it to be as good as it can possibly be, not limited by budgets, allocated time or equipment. I don’t want my couples to have to decide if they want to pay an extra fee for me to use super 8 film, or worry that I’ll miss out on any special moments because they could only afford a six-hour package.

I love being creative and having fun with my work. Weddings are a great opportunity to do this, so for me putting limits in place just isn’t an option. I put every effort and resource into each wedding I capture and hopefully that comes across in the videos I produce.

What’s next for your business?

I really enjoy the balance between commercial video production and wedding videography. They represent different challenges creatively and allow me to improve my skills and discover new techniques, and stop me getting bored with working in one area. Right now work doesn’t feel like work, so if I can continue along that track I’ll be pretty happy.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I actually got a great piece of advice from my favourite lecturer at uni who said in order to avoid a mid-life crisis, you need to have lots a little crises along the way to make sure you always keep your life on track. That way when you hit middle-age your life should still be headed in the direction you want.

I’ve done my best to stick to this idea. I quit my first full time job after three days with no other work lined up because it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. At the time it was pretty scary but looking back it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I guess I would tell young Nathan to make sure you’re always enjoying what you’re doing have a bit more confidence and belief in yourself.

What do you like to do for rest and recreation?

I love spending time with my wife and kids, we have a three-year-old son and two-month-old daughter. We go to the zoo, the museum, the park, or stay home and make popcorn and watch movies on rainy days. Being a dad has given me a fresh outlook on life and made me a much happier person.

Thank you Nathan for sharing your story. There’s nothing quite like the moving image to relive the atmosphere of the wedding day. To find out more about Nathan Kaso Weddings visit the website.

Headshot and films by Nathan Kaso Weddings.

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