The organ begins playing.
It’s the top of the hour and nerves are high.
The two men are about to walk down the isle.
They look at each other one last time, give each other the head nod and go.
Josh Helton carries one camera, and Zach Gray the other.
“I will usually follow the groom, and Zach will follow the bride, both of us keeping the camera rolling, because anything can happen,” said Helton. “So we buckle up and make sure we don’t miss anything epic.”
Gray, a Belmont junior, and recent Belmont graduate Helton, both with video and photography backgrounds, joined this past November to create Paper Cabin, a company designed to capture some of life’s most memorable moments on film.
“And wedding videos were the first thing that came to mind,” said Gray.
Both bring something different to the table.
“Zach has such an eye for art and creativity, and I love working with the couple and tackling the video side of things,” said Helton. “We really feed off each other and that is what makes us such a great team.”
They both realize that getting married is an incredible celebration, but also can be a lot to handle when it comes to the clients.
But they handle it just right.
“Weddings should be a day that the couple looks forward to, with the least amount of stress possible,” said Gray. “The wedding party has enough to worry about with planning, so we market ourselves as a team that will take the stress and put it on us.”
And those are not just words to market themselves. It has proven to be successful.
“Everyone knows that weddings have the potential to be extremely taxing and unpredictable,” said client and newlywed James Strader. “But throughout the day, Paper Cabin maintained steady professionalism and even helped me calm a lot of unruly relatives.”
Paper Cabin does all it can to prepare and plan, but come wedding day, the pair has to be on their A-game.
“The rehearsal day is big for us, because it allows us to take notes and get an idea of shot placement,” said Helton. “But unlike a music video where you can get multiple takes, all bets are off on wedding day—you only get one take.”
Paper Cabin, right now, is primarily a film company, with plans of expanding to photography as well. But it sees more advantages on the film side.
“The photographers at the wedding are working right up close to the bride and groom, with their presence known at all times,” said Helton. “But being the videographers, we are invisible and capture everything from behind the scenes.”
As Gray explains, just using still photography for occasions such as a wedding is starting to become less popular.
“People are getting married every day and they don’t just want photos,” said Gray. “They also want videos to capture the true and raw feelings of the moment.”
A unique and favorite part of Paper Cabin’s filming is capturing the moments just before the bride and groom see each other for the first time that day. This is the only time during the day that Paper Cabin gets one-on-one time with the bride and groom.
It is the biggest day of the bride and groom’s lives.
They are about to see each other.
“Everything is chaotic leading up until those few minutes we get with the bride and groom,” said Helton. “I tell them to take a deep breath, realize the love they share, and talk to the camera as if it were their future husband or wife and what you would want to say to the other moments before the ceremony.”
Capturing the love between the bride and groom is why they do what they do.
Helton and Gray started this company to become storytellers of that love.
“We capture the feeling of the day, so it is personal and unique to each couple we work with, but at the end of the day,” said Gray. “We want it to be emotional, and want our audience to feel that emotion the bride and groom are feeling.”
The Paper Cabin brand derived from Helton’s love for the word “cabin,” as well as the fact that he is in the process of building a cabin.
Building a base has been a common theme for these two. As soon as their first video was finished, emails started rolling in, and since then have lined up seven weddings for this summer.
“Another unique part to our company is that we compose original scores to each film that we do,” said Helton. “That, along with our personable, approachable, and professional style to our company, is what sets us apart from a lot of what you see out there today.”
While still maintaining their professionalism, Helton and Gray know when to let their hair down, or in Gray’s case, his dreads.
That can all be summed up in the Paper Cabin tagline: “Zach and Josh. We make professional, creative wedding videos. We’ll probably dance at your reception.”
After experiencing the whole process with Paper Cabin firsthand, as Strader explains, video is more valuable than photography.
“Pictures are awesome, but when these guys get behind film there is no comparison. I would choose this video over photographs every time,” said Strader. “They really captured the love in the room and made everyone feel like a part of the ceremony.”
With a big summer ahead, Paper Cabin begins to make a name for themselves as bringing memories to life through the art of film.
“When it is decades down the road, all the pomp and circumstance and glitz and glamour of this celebration will fade away,” said Helton. “But the video will last a lifetime.”