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Old June 4th, 2009, 09:33 AM   #1
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Venting/Frustration

Twice this week I've been contacted by brides who are paying their photographer over $4500 and ask me for a price break on our way under priced $1800 package.

I've had it with this, I'm frustrated beyond belief with the state of wedding videography. It's a struggle to get our prices up to where the need to be and have anyone book at those prices, yet they're willing to drop twice as much on photography. The amount of hours I put into a project is double that of what the photographers are putting into theirs and yet I can't get paid nearly as much. I'm almost to the point of giving up and writing off high quality wedding video as a viable business model.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 10:00 AM   #2
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I think that wedding photos are seen as mandatory -- virtually an instutution in themselves -- and video is usually perceived as a luxury, a nice to have extra. To the bride/customer, what matters is the value to them, not the workload or profit margin for you. Just the way it is.

I'm not either a pro photog or videographer, but if I lost my day job in my chosen profession and decided to go for it in wedding/event, I'd set up my company to do both as a one-stop shop. An integrated package. I just don't see the dynamics changing in favor of the videographer over "The Wedding Album" so I'd have packages that covered both.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 10:01 AM   #3
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Hi Ethan,

Crumbs, sounds like your having a bad time at the moment. Don't give up! hang in there.
Yes it can be frustrating, but we are also probably in one of the worst economic climates to date...well as far as I can remember....

Take a step back, a deep breath....and carry on. Now I may sound like an optimist, but things can only get better!

Yes we still have a long way to go in educating the public that a wedding film has moved on from those old vhs days...and that they are approaching production values far in excess of what we are charging. The problem is those vhs style weddings are still floating around and cemented in their heads, portrayed poorly when any tv documentary is about weddings etc etc...

Back to what I first said...hang in there...

Cheers.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 10:17 AM   #4
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I guess this has to do with the market. When I started my business in Canada, I was suprised that video is an after thought after photography. Coming from the Philippines which is a different market, it is embarassing on the part of the groom to not include videography ( Parents of the Bride are willing to pay for videography to spite the groom sometimes) price wise they are even and given equal importance.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 10:25 AM   #5
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Well then, that explains why there's such good video work coming out of the Philippines.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 11:01 AM   #6
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Hi Ethan,

I've seen your work before reading this thread. (I love watching other people's work) :P

And I can honestly say, no offence whatsoever, that you will be a fool to give up your job.

You've got talent and it is obvious that you love what you're doing or at least passionate.

What I learned, in a short time (I'm no oldtimer) that whatever good things that we do, whatever effort to make the best that we can with our work, some people realize that. We may not know about it now, but some people see it and there will be fruit coming after some time from those good seeds you put in with hard work.

Hope that helps.

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Old June 4th, 2009, 11:07 AM   #7
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Hi Ethan,


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Cooper View Post
Well then, that explains why there's such good video work coming out of the Philippines.
Good point. But don't give up hope. The easiest solution would seem to be to adapt a different strategy with less expensive services that don't demand so much post production, but that can be a trap. Keep doing the work you want to get paid for, don't do the work you're getting paid for (if that makes sense). Keep working and improving and create the demand for your work.

"Show 'em what you can do, and don't worry about what you're gonna get. Say you'll work for free and make yourself invaluable." ~ Clinton Eastwood Sr. to his son early in his career.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 12:07 PM   #8
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Ethan,

This is going to sound crazy, but.....

Raise your prices. I think a lot of your problems will be solved. I know it sounds crazy, your price needs to be what you feel you are worth. Don't sell yourself short.

I remember the days of charging what everyone else in my market charged. Those days where very frustrating and I know exactly what you are going through. One day, it clicked, I stepped up my game big time, set myself apart, charged what I feel I'm worth, and haven't look back since. Yeah, a lot of it is attitude, but a lot of it is perception as well.

Charging more will get you a different type of client. TRUST ME on this, people who aren't spending much usually expect more for less. Wine taste on a beer budget. While people who are spending more tend to ask fewer questions and have more of the attitude of, it's more expensive it must be better. When we raised our prices things got easier not harder.

Most importantly, you need to be worth it! CHARGE WHAT YOU ARE WORTH!
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Old June 4th, 2009, 12:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Cooper View Post
Twice this week I've been contacted by brides who are paying their photographer over $4500 and ask me for a price break on our way under priced $1800 package.
They probably asked the photographer for a price break too. Maybe they got it, maybe they didn't.

Andrew is right, if you don't ask for $4500, you can't complain when you don't get it.

I don't know what your experience is, but I do know there are a lot of photographers around here that can claim 30 years experience as a wedding photographer. No videographer around here can claim more than 10 years. To you and me, that doesn't say much (in fact, more often than not "30 years" means you're doing things the old fashioned way...) But to a bride, and especially her parents if they're writing the check, that means a lot.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 12:51 PM   #10
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Let me share a brief personal philosophy on that.

I contemplated on that, the reason for lower pay for video compared to photo lays in the nature of our product.


Photography is more authentic, more original, reproduce essential qualities of "a wedding" truer, in a deeper sense "being actually and exactly what it is claimed"

Photography does not depend on a music, soundtrack, the song that is popular one day, but a couple of years passed, does not mean a thing. I am convinced that deep inside our clients mind is that thought.

In other words, generally, video is and can be more counterfeited, imitated, or adulterated. That is true, thinking of us using same musical composition, similar editing techniques, and more importantly representing what we do in very limited form of video cut to a music that end in a 3, 4 minute clip to a song.

How many similar clips of various weddings are on the internet? A lot.
Does short clip show our work in a complete way? No way.
Does it serve to self promotion over the internet? Yes.
What is our main product, in essence ? A wedding film.

It leads me think of a crisis in videography, that is secondary to photography, if our work
is presented in a limeted and "formal" way, by formal I mean form over a substance.

Do not get me wrong, we have some great leaders in the industry, each unique in their approach. Some of us make great money, but overall we are much weaker as an industry, compared to photography.
Developing a strong product that can sell well, better than photos is possible Imo, how?
it has to be authentic, no photograph can replace a good documentary film.
I am sure that is the future of our industry.

Cheers!
Everything said IMHO :)
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Old June 4th, 2009, 12:52 PM   #11
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hey Ethan,

i was trying to think up a really good, supportive reply for you. and thankfully, John, Susanto and Andrew all said exactly what i was aiming for!

forget the tog's prices for a minute.

raise your prices. i did that, and i get a completely different client list, and i can get away with less weddings now (each with more passion/dedication) and more time to seek out additional paid corporate work. i would just love to see you do that too, rather than give it all up.

ok, back to the tog. you're forgetting that the $4500 could very well include one of those fancy $2000 italian photo books. and the togs get charged that, i.e. little space for profit.

hang in there. A LOT of people are saying that if you can make it through this year then you'll reap the rewards in the next.

p.s. listen to the 'raise the prices' advice, and be confident in what you do :)
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Old June 4th, 2009, 12:57 PM   #12
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Ethan I have the same frustration as yours, in the market I am in there is a Studio who charges $ 950 for the whole wedding (Photography/Video). I have to pull out my AD in the local papers as we are both in it. I don't know how many weddings I have lost because of that. Try as I may, I can never educate my market about what makes me different it is all about the money. Hey look I mic the groom, doesn't it sound better? I tap from the DJ's board, see the difference it makes? Our albums are laminated, mounted, they have inserts. It's all about the money.

Okay I am done venting.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 01:02 PM   #13
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Noel + Ethan,

have you thought about advertising further afield?

also, IMO, ads in the local paper attract the low-budget hunters anyway.... online (e.g. google adwords) IS the best way, and will attract the widest audience (high and low-budget hunters)
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Old June 4th, 2009, 01:49 PM   #14
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Ethan:

Over on DPReview.com there is a thread titled: "Who actually "cares" about quality wedding photos". Basically, some photographers have come to the conclusion that the B&Gs have so little clue about the product they deliver, it almost does not matter what product they deliver, the B&G will be thrilled in the age of camera phone users.

I forget where I was heading with this, but the digital age has totally and will further change the face of both photography & video.

As for the here and now, a lot of photographers took Andrews advice a long time ago to raise prices and act the part. Somehow a market niche developed, accepted it and it's viable. I don't think a market niche has ever opened for the $4,500 wedding video. Probably because as someone mentioned, the video is considered a 2nd documentation and it's percieved value is lower. Sure there are some selling in this price range, but they are few, and only in the most affluent areas.

Stick to your prices, they are getting a great deal, and if they don't like it after a nice explanation from you, let them go.

PS: $4,500 for any high-range (but not elaborate) wedding photo shoot is crazy, but you have to admit the photographer has good marketing. I could throw in two hours of helicoptor rotor time for aerial shots and still do the photos for less than that.

You have to work on booking some recurring annual event video. It pays more than weddings and you can usually depend on doing it the next year. Think poker runs (motorcycles-boats-etc.), marathons/half-marathons, annual fundraising events, festivals, etc. You have to get involved in year one because they tend to use the same people every year.
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Last edited by Jeff Kellam; June 4th, 2009 at 02:57 PM.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 02:04 PM   #15
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Price versus quality is always somewhat subjective, but as my wife is a photographer I thought I'd add my 2 cents here.

In my opinion $4500 for a photographer is not crazy. Sometimes we as videographers compare ourselves directly to photographers, and it's not a fair comparison. Sure, we spend more time editing than photographers typically do. However, photographers also have the hard cost of included prints and an album generally, and oftentimes a printed guestbook. You also have to factor in the time of the engagement session and ordering sessions. On top of that, there is typically some redesign that happens with albums.

My point is that it's always easy to look at another profession and make snap judgments, but unless you have actual experience in that field your judgment might be off. I've come to learn that although my wife typically commands higher fees, she also has much higher hard costs, spends more time with the client, and generally has to deal with more issues as people tend to be much more picky with things in photography.

I'm just sayin' ... d;-)
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