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Taking Care of Business
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Old March 21st, 2004, 11:58 AM   #1
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Wedding business - a split from a question thread about the 'Sony DSR-270'

Agree with you Mathew about the size of the camera.
Actually, a shoulder-mount cam could be a liability.
I've had girls tell me that the conspicuity
of a large cam may be off-puting to some
And regarding whether the world is ready for
HD footage, our business offers
a widescreen option "for viewing on
HDTV/Home Theater" and there has been
*zero* interest in this on the part
of clients.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 12:18 PM   #2
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It's funny how much my perspective has changed over the last few months since I started my wedding video biz.

Before I was so apprehensive about buying a camcorder. I worried that it needed to be HiDef, widescreen etc.

Quality is important but content reigns supreme. Nobody cares if you have a superior camera if you fail to capture the emotion. Bottom line is that for wedding videographers our primary customer is the bride.

Regarding widescreen. I'd really like a camera that was switchable between native 16:9 and 4:3. A mini version of the dsr570 if you will. However as you and others have said there has been zero interest in widescreen. I'm not sure if it's because of a lack of knowledge or that that just don't want it. I'm surprised more grooms have not asked for it.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 01:10 PM   #3
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And we offer other high-end "exclusive" options
such as Dolby recording, the incorporation
of movie film, steadicam "for those floating Hollywood-style shots". No one's interested. We've invested
in the equipment to be able to offer these
add-ons, but it collects dust.
You'd think with how much Gen Xers sit home
watching movies that they'd want some of this
for their own wedding ....
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Old March 21st, 2004, 02:05 PM   #4
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Dave, I have found in my limited experience that most clients are not into extras. I might sell a photo montage every few weddings but most just want the basics. In fact the more extras I offer the more confused and frustrated they become. The way you off set that is to just include the extras with your base price. Use that steadycam and incorporate the shots in every wedding. It will better sell your product when you do raise your prices. If you want to sell the widescreen option try just showing that particular demo at that price and see if your clients go for it. If you don't see any sales increases off of it or if your clients just "don't like those black bars" you'll know that it isn't worth the trouble.

In terms of quality most brides are fine with a straight camera that's in focus and is not too dark. A clear picture if you will. They much rather pay for stuff like the groom's face light up as she come's down the aisle. Whether it's in widescreen or high def is not so much an issue.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 02:33 PM   #5
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One thing I've been wrestling with is whether or
not to include bride prep in the base package.
As it is now, it's an add on. Some of my
competitors just include it. What has been
the experience? Do most brides want the
prep covered? Do most videographers just include this
with the base package? I just received
a note from a bride with a comment that
she just wants the base package, and then
she goes on to mention what time her prep
will be. Now I have to contact her and
tell her that'll be $200 more.
I've just been concerned that I'm gonna
hear "I don't want the prep so how much
do I get off".
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Old March 21st, 2004, 02:58 PM   #6
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Hourly rate...

I think the current trend is to charge by the hour. Have a base 3 hour price that is say $900 and then charge so much for every hour after that. All the editing is inclusive with this price. This way if a bride decides she wants house coverage then just tell her it's not a problem but you'll be leaving the reception an hour earlier. She probably won't care since nothing really of note happens after the garter and bouquet. Actually house coverage is one of those things most brides don't want until a week before the wedding, then suddenly they want it...

I have a current problem with a bride, actually it's more her mother, that thinks that I should throw in house coverage for no charge. There was somehow a mis-communication. She thinks I said I would do it for no extra charge. I never said that. It's clearly $75 listed in the brochure. Nevertheless it's a current sticking point. I thought about just relenting but she's being picky about a lot of other things to. If she would just play nice I'd probably do it for her.

Anyway I currently only offer one package. It's pretty simple and most don't have a problem with it. It includes ceremony and reception but stuff like the house and park is extra. What's frustrating is that I price these extras nominally. I mean we're talking about the cost of a plate of food at the reception that will probably go un-eaten...never mind they won't offer it to me.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 08:36 PM   #7
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Ah, include food in your contract. Since you can't do much while they eat, it is reasonable that they feed you too. Or charge them extra for the food you have to bring or buy.
Mike Rehmus
Hey, I can see the carrot at the end of the tunnel!
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Old March 21st, 2004, 09:06 PM   #8
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In fairness regarding those other add-ons I mentioned,
our site does not show any examples of them,
nor does the mail-out demo.
Suppose it might help to get some of that up.
Regarding being fed, we have right on our contract
"Meal provided for videographers? YES NO"
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Old March 21st, 2004, 09:10 PM   #9
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You know that's interesting. Back when I worked up in Chicago I would eat at 95% of the weddings. Often if there was no place for me to sit I would be given a meal in the back room at the hall. That is not the case here in St. Louis from my experience. I've only eaten at one wedding and that was because the photog was fed up "with never being fed" and we grabbed something from the banquet table and took off to the bar with it. However it seems and I have discussed this with photogs and dj's that it is uncommen to be fed. I just bring a sack lunch now.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 09:19 PM   #10
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"What's a glidecam?"

Yeah it helps if people can actually see what a glidecam does. We mustn't forget that we are geeks to the world with our knowledge of cinema. Most brides wouldn't know the difference between a glidecam and a tripod. I have a current mother of the bride (the same one who doesn't want to pay me for the house coverage) who doesn't understand what a video projector is. She honestly can't comprehend what I'm talking about. I've explained it to her several times. She thinks when I say projector it's for slides. She then doesn't understand why it costs $200 to rent one.

Regarding the glidecam: Make sure you have a WA lens on the front of it, makes all the difference.
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Old March 21st, 2004, 09:42 PM   #11
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Well we also have in our contract that if a meal
cannot be provided, we will have to take an
off-site meal break. One of the biggest-named
videographers (i.e. highest-priced and
fully booked this year for some time) in my
market has his name
set up at the table where he will sit. (Incidentally,
he does *not* use a shoulder-mounted camera.)

Haven't received the steadicam yet. Ordered
(and payed for) it
some time back (~1.5 months ago) but there has been an
unexpected production delay; there's no
estimated time of arrival at this point.
How does the WA help with steadicam?
And is it best to keep it at the widest setting?
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Old March 22nd, 2004, 12:13 AM   #12
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Nice Dave and Matt routine you two got going here. Now do you two sit in side-by-side cubicles at the Panasonic tech support center? :-)

I guess I am not supposed to complain about Panasonic regardless of what happen.

Gee, I learn my lesson.
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Old March 22nd, 2004, 05:43 AM   #13
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I can't speak to this for where everyone else is or what anyone else is doing but I will tell you that in the wedding business in Chicago at least, there are many many many brides that have access to money and aren't afraid to spend it on video. They also want things like bride and groom prep, not so much the photo montages as much as a short love story stlye video for the reception.
Whether I use a stedicam or not, on camera light or not or full size camera or not is up to me and THAT has nothing to do with perception at a wedding. Corporate work, you bet, but not a wedding. I've never been asked to do HD, wide screen and until 3 years ago DVD's. Now DVD is standard in my work and tape has to be asked for.
To see how different people take different approaches to the business as to style, content and equipment look at people like Dave Bonner in Canada-he uses a small cam and a glidecam-thinks out of the box, Loi Bahn in Canada, Shoots with a DSR500 widescreen only and 1 camera, also think out of the box and does a 30 minute edit, Robert Erlich in New Jersey, PD150, monopod, 1 camera shoot and is probably THE innovator of the 30 minute edit for a complete wedding. I read how much he charges, most need to do 4 or more weddings to earn what he does on 1.
The point being it's pointless to discuss whats right because EVERYTHING'S right. If it works for you and fits into your market and business, then it can't be wrong.
I have a very very tight contract that I paid my attorney to write up and trust me when I say I'm covered and yes, I include a meal.
If they don't feed me, I can leave for up to an hour, here in my town it's unusal NOT to be fed.
As to clients not being into extras, I take a mid ground as many are and just as many aren't. It depends on the brides feelings more than budget but also remember that most of my work now comes from referrals and if 1 girl got the coverage the next MUST have it.
Not using a full size camera or a glidecam or offering HD or widescreen hasn't hurt my business but offering well framed, well exposed top quality footage with an edit that although is short tell's the story of their day in the style that they saw when they viewed the work when we fist got together, standing up to a mistake and fixing it, and not letting the client take advantage has HELPED my business for the last 20 years.
But that's just me and my opinion. Take at your own risk, do not pass go do not collect $200, wait one hour after eating before entering the water and remember, only you can prevent forest fires.
Don B
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Old March 26th, 2004, 10:38 PM   #14
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We took your advice to heart about the add-ons.
We have re-aranged our site so that now they
are no longer additional but rather are just
incorporated into the base package.
Hopefully this will allow for us to increase our
base price. For now though it is staying the
same as we have no demo material to show
of these "add-ons" in use. We *would* have
some demos of it, but no one ordered it.
One option we did remove is widescreen.
We contemplated keeping it as additional
but, as luck would have it we'd probably
just get one bride wanting it. This would
not justify the significant dollar investment
in the equipment. I'm in the mid-USA (just
north of you, Don) and,
atleast in my area, brides don't seem interested
in 16:9. Heck, you read their local chit-chat
board called The Knot, and all they are looking
for is a "good cheap" videographer. I've never
once seen one looking for a "good reasonably-
priced" videographer. I've heard Knotties have
a reputation for being "budget brides" and I
think it may be the case, in general.
So, Don, ever gonna get a Flowpod or something
like that? We both know, they're all the rage in
some circles.
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Old March 26th, 2004, 11:50 PM   #15
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Dave, the trick to getting away from the 'knotties' is to get your work up to the $2,000 level. If you're located anywhere near a metropolitan area (Milwaukee in your case?) there should be plenty of upscale clients willing to spend this amount. The trick is getting into this elite circle. Once you do word will get out and very soon you'll have a network of clients.

Don, I'd love to have those clients you speak of. I personally dislike photomontages, its not where my skills are at, they take too long and there are dozens of people in the phonebook who will do them at cost. However I'd love to do more 'love stories' and narrative style work. Unfortunately nobody wants this around here. At least I haven't found them yet.
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