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Taking Care of Business
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Old March 29th, 2006, 07:20 AM   #1
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Im giving up the game...

hey all.. im looking at ditching Event Videography in favour of stills.

Now im not going to be silly about it, and i'll keep working video until i get the Stills element up and running, but i was curious if anyone here has been in this position??

the reason for the move is several and i'll list my reasonings why.

1) Earnings. Time vs $$ Earnt is still very unbalanced in the video production area for Events. At this time, Photogs are charging about twice as much even up to 2/3rds as much as video and theyre scoring jobs. From that, their post production work is far less intense and much less time consuming.

2) Cost of equipment. Pretty much the same when u consider bodies and lenses, however the cost for PC upgrades and maintenane are far less as the systems are not used as intently as video editing. On top of that, there s the additional cost in time for editing HD material as well as the forthcoming HD DVD formats whch wil increase time costs even further.
Selling HD to clients at this time is futile IMO and in my experience when it comes to Events. Of the 40 odd wedding clients i get per year, 2 have wanted it in native 16:9 and one queried about HD... This might change in the future, but right now the clients dont care. Corp clients do care as do broadcasters (obviously) but for events (my bread and butter) they dont.

In this case, i would also need to sell off some equipment to pay for a still camera set up with a backup cam, this is another consideration
Obviously ill be going all digital

3) Post Production. Ive done post Prod photographics even before i got into video editing over 7 years ago. i know what i need to do and have the tools already available to me.
Its faster, and i can probably zip through 300 photos a day, most likly more than that. On average when i shoot for photogs, i shoot around 1000 photos per event. on average an event can be delivered to the client (excluding albums) within a week. These delivery times are far more realistic compared to video whereby the trend now is that raw material is provided and a short gighlights clip is where the actual editing takes place. This doesnt bode well for those EDITING long form.. so again, time is a major factor here..

4) Respect. Irrespctive of how good my work may be, the stigma here in australia when it comes to video production is that its not in sync with the actual hands on work we do... More importantly, the fact that its regarded as an "anyone can do it" type of career maes what we do a joke to the general public. ive spent 3 yrs trying to educate the public, but to be honest with you, one person cant do it alone, especially when bad business operators continue to work. Their behaviour makes it hard to change peoples opinions abotu what we do and how we do it..

5) Life. It would be good to not have to work 18hrs a day, 7 days a week, just so i can keep up with my workload... Maybe shooting stills would make enough money to actually take my wife out to donner sometime with some of the spare time i will have..

6) Demand for the product. Wth video, since the advent of digital acquisition and the way our markets are going, every tom dick and harry has a handycam. This has potentially put alot of work out of the profesionals hands . Recent studies and polls show that 85% of weddings have a professional Photographer, while of that same number, only 20% have video.
Now there are far more Photogs out there scouring the fields, however with a market as large as this, getting the equivalent work through the studio now, shouldnt be a problem. More than likely customer turnover would likely increase considering the demand for photographics as opposed to video

7) Weekened warriors. These newbies and par ttime operators running shoddy establishmens (not everyone, but 85% of them here are shoddy) undercut teh value of the product we produce. when a potential client compares my prices to the joe down the road, i dont bother wth that client as thy obviously dont understand the value.
Its these particular clients who have unrealistic expectations when considering how much $$ theyre willing to pay (or not pay). I have found that those happy to pay premium prices wont be difficult to service, however the ones who are fishing for a discount always want more and more and in this game, being so personal, its difficult to say no and retain the customers confidence.
On the other hand, there are these weekend companies which are willing to do alot more for less $$... how good the product is at the end of the day, i cant say, but the fact that they exist make it even harder for those of us who do this day by day.
Also here in Aus the Industry is NOT regulated, therefore anyone can literally pik up a camera and start making money from it. Thats ok, its a free market, but again byu doing this and by offering inferior products, keeps the industry as a whole well below where it should really be.
TO me, as a supplier and trainer, makes me wonder why i bother to keep going..

So thats my reasoning for moving across to stills. its a big gamble and its something i havent done in a long while, and afew of my phtographer friends have offered to take me onboard to refresh myself. I have several portfolios already...

whats my reasonng for this post?? I dont know.. maybe im trying to see the good in what im doing, but right now, i cant see it. Yeah sure i create nice videos and my customers are happy and im making a living.. but IM NOT HAPPY...
i used to be until this industry consumed me, and now i twiddle and dawdle trying to avoid my work... when this happens i know its time to move on..
I dont know.. i might be missing something here.. i guess thats why im writing.. maybe one of u guys can see whats happening here and offer a solutution? I dont know..

but i know im the kind of person who gets depressed when i feel im in a void and right now, this void is very black and i seem to be going nowhere.. I mean the business itself is doing well.. 300% growth in 9 months, but it doesnt change the fact that im still working stupid hours to keep people happy al lthe while my own family suffers the consequneces of my absense..

Any thoughts?? Maybe im looking at this wrong..
i dont know anymore...
Peter Jefferson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 29th, 2006, 07:32 AM   #2
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Bottom line is you have to be happy, you sound like you're not. But at the same time, don't make any rash, snap decisions that you might regret. I say that knowing that you plan to phase it out, which is a good thing, it will give you a chance to evaluate the jump more clearly.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 07:34 AM   #3
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Try this: offer both photo and video services at a plausible combined price and see what happens. My initial experiments with this indicate that it's something a lot of people are interested in, if you can figure out how to make it work for both them and you. The trick is to charge more than either photo or video would cost separately, then balance your efforts for each to match what you think is appropriate. Let your customers think they're paying a lot for photography plus a little more for video, but you're actually putting more of your effort into video and finally getting compensated appropriately.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 07:42 AM   #4
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I've read and respected your posts for a while now. You seem to have thought this through in a reasoning manner, and it sounds like the change will fulfill your personal needs in a more realistic manner. That's a good thing.

I've seen the "anyone can buy a xyz and become a professional" philosophy at work in everything from theatre to film to LAW. (Plenty of do it yourself legal templates out there.) Long long ago, when I was a still photographer, I ran into the exact same philosophy... "My nephew just bought one of them Nikon cameras, he can shoot it..." I don't think you'll escape that aspect in any profession short of medical. And perhaps not even there.

What I did learn long ago, is that MARKETING is the most difficult aspect of any entrepeneurial undertaking. Plenty of us are good at what we do, except the marketing part. Basically because we make the same mistake that our clients do... "I have a copy of photoshop, and I'm a pretty good writer... i can market myself..." Paying for marketing from a profesional (note the caveat, ask for references) is always worth the money.

Short of paying someone else to market your work, I've always found that the answer to selling myself to someone who would rather hire their nephew is this approach. "I'm not selling you my gear, I'm selling you my expertise. I am, in fact, SELLING YOU AN ASPRIN FOR THE HEADACHES you will get if you or your nephew try to do this yourself."

It has been an effective approach in most of my endeavours. At any rate, enjoy your decision... take your wife out to dinner, stop and smell the flowers.

Life is short... art is long.
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Old March 29th, 2006, 08:04 PM   #5
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Hey Guys,
Thanks for the feedback and everything thats been said pretty much nails my thoughts home. Some things i hadnt considered had also been bought up and im very appreciative of the insight. Thanks guys

I looks like i will be phasing it out, but before that, i need to draw up a business plan and work out how im going to manage it. I guess now it al comes down to preparation.
When i went into the wedding market, it was very different to the corp and commercial video market. It took about a year to set up properly with a good model and airtight contracts and it seems ill have to do the same with the photographic element.
I guess from here though is that im looking at ways to make myself happy with what im doing, and more importantly, how im doing it....
I guess i dont want this to be a subconcious way of running away from my situation, which it could wel be. I jsut cant se it. To me it seems liek the natural way to move, bt i know i delude myself sometimes an convince myself i am doing something for one reason, when in fact the reason is something different. Does that make sense??

Either way thanks again guys. I realy do appreciate your thoughts
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Old March 30th, 2006, 06:51 AM   #6
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One last thought. I have a very good friend, who is a professional leather crafter. He makes well into six figures a year. He works at a lot of Renaissance Festivals and craft shows.

One day, I noticed that a lot of 'newcommers' were ripping of his designs, AND selling them much cheaper. I asked him how he dealt ith the fact that newbies chrge so little.

He smiled and said, "Everytime I run into these guys, I raise my prices. The quality of my work brings people in. They have to work five times as hard to sell the same handbag or boot for one fifth my price, and the quality really isn't as good. My customers know this. Whenever I find myself working too hard, I raise my prices. This means I 'FIRE' some customers, but also attract a higher range of clientele that recognize my quality and pay the price. I'd rather make one handbag a day and sell it for three hundred, then make thirty handbags in a week and sell them for ten..."

I've always kept that lesson in mind when pricing and selling services. Sure, a high price will drive off the tire kickers... but it will also catch the eye of the top level buyers... and if your quality warrants it... you'll get more reward for the effort.

Just a last thought.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 05:31 PM   #7
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ive been thinking about that in fact.. but i had never seen it outlined in the way its percieved here. Thank you for the analogy though, as it really does drive home the fundamentals of what i shoudl be doing as opposed to "giving more" to my potential clients just so i can compete.

Thers alot to mull over here, thank you again :)
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Old March 30th, 2006, 10:06 PM   #8
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Hi Peter,

Sounds like you're suffering from 'burn out'. Been there myself. It's not a good place to be. Are you able to sell the video side of your business? You may be surprised at what it's worth. Try a business broker or just advertise it in the local 'rag'.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 04:39 AM   #9
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hey all.. im looking at ditching Event Videography in favour of stills.
That's more or less what I did. I still shoot video from time to time but carry a still camera around with me these days. For weddings, I use my wife's auto everything thingy which has become very handy (Contax G2). However, it's still all film. My wife loves putting together the albums! It's good money and one wedding a month pays all the bills, including the CC. ;)

Oh, and taking photos is a lot more interactive and fun. :)
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Old March 31st, 2006, 08:38 AM   #10
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Hey Frank,
Long time no see mate, i remember we were babbling about the coming of the MX500 all those years ago.. lol

Thanks for your input mate. It does help in knowing that others like myself are looking and have moved in this direction.

As for burn out, ive been feeling it now for about 6 months... I jsut seem to be etting nowhere and the only days off i get are forced days off where i jsut drop everything and throw on the PS2 to blow afew things up.

Thanks again guys...

time to start making a wishlist of gear methinks..
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Old March 31st, 2006, 04:41 PM   #11
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Yup..., the good ol' MX5 days. ;) I still have the MX3 which I use now and then for fun---outdoors mostly.

For wedding photography, all you need is a good sharp "normal" lens and a good flash. I only use a Zeiss 45mm---and I always bring a back-up of everything, including extra batteries. If the camera is auto everything, you will rarely miss a good shot.

You'll need a good tripod and camera head for the group shots with the bride and groom.

If you're going digital, that Canon D5 sure looks nice. I don't know anything about the Canon lenses for it, though.
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