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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old July 26th, 2004, 07:29 PM   #1
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How many weddings a year?

All,

I've video taped and edited a few weddings for friends & family members and really enjoy every aspect of it. Given my level of interest I thought it worth while to do a bit of additional research and create a mini-business plan to see whether this would be something I may want to consider as a second career when (if) I retire from my "real", "day" job.

I have a pretty good handle on equipment requirements and costs. I understand that the typical prices people are willing to pay range from $500 basic min-edited footage to $3k for full package deals.

What I dont know is how many weddings a typical wedding production company can create a year. Likewise what is a typical wedding production company profile? Single person shop.. cameraman, sales, & editor? or larger shop with contract or full time employees.

I would really appreciate it if some of you with established experience in this industry can share a quick company profile and approximate number of weddings you typically shoot in a year. Also I'd be very interested in knowing whether most people opt for the basic $500 basic package, the $1,800 fully edited rehearsal and ceramony package or the $3,000 fullly loaded gig with all the bells and whilstes (love story, pic montage, etc).

I would really appreciate any information you guys with years of experience could share.

Thanks in advance.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 03:38 AM   #2
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Billy
As with most 'Hobbies' they tend to be enjoyable, and people will say, I can do this for a living. Quite often the reality is something very different. Once you become a Professional, everything changes and the pressure is on. Friends and relatives are very forgiving, paying customers are not!

I don't know if there is any typical number of weddings a year. Some years are good and some are not so good. It all comes down to marketing your business. In the early days you're not going to get that many refferals so the alternative is to spend lots of time (and wads of cash) promoting your business.
Using your camera may result in only a few hours each week, or every other week, and a huge amount of your time will be taken up with chores that you didn't have as an amateur.

I don't know of any wedding producers here in the UK who just shoot weddings and nothing else. They all have other strings to their bows. Most tend to work on their own, contracting out for second camera etc. Don't try and shoot a wedding on your own with one camera, it's like signing your own death-warrant.

Don't forget, there are additional items to purchase once you turn pro. Todays brides wont accept a home-made DVD with writing on it slipped into a plastic wallet.

How many weddings a year? Competition is very fierce and you will be competing for business against seasoned pro's who have all the resources to hand such as demo's of previous weddings and hopefuly, lots of refferals.
I doubt if you'll find 30 weddings in your first season, it may be nearer 5 or 6, but if you have the patience and stammina, you might achieve this number in your 3rd of 4th season.

Here in the UK an average mid-price is about 8-900 GBP rising to 12-1500 for the all day job plus expences such as travel and overnight etc.
What you charge is directly linked to what you can do. If you produce in the same style as ten years ago, then you wont be able to command much of a price. 'Wedding Video' here stood still for many years with lots of so called professionals turning out nothing more than rubbish. Thankfully, this has changed, and todays bride doesn't just want a record of the day, but wants to be entertained as well.
In short, develop a modern style, spend a lot of time creating an image and then marketing it and you'll be in demand.
Good luck.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 07:44 AM   #3
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The largest workload I've heard of and this is from videographers that do soley wedding videography with no "day job"- 50-60. That's a least a wedding a weekend.

A friend of mine who is well established does at least a wedding a week and edits 5 days a week. He finishes a wedding a week roughly...all the while avoiding each one not being cookie cutter.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 08:06 AM   #4
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That sure is some order book.
What marketing methods does he use, they can't all be word of mouth.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 08:22 AM   #5
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Your workload will definitely depend on your experience,
marketing, and most importantly the word of mouth that you get.

Keep in mind that there are only 52 weeks in a year, and many
times of year are dead (for example, right now in Texas there are
very few weddings going on due to the heat).

The largest workload I know of is the company I work with often.
Last year I believe they did 80+ weddings. But, the business
is owned by a man and his wife, and they both shoot on their own.
That means that on an average weekend, they are both out
shooting seperate weddings. On the weeks they are already
double booked, they will hire me to shoot for them.
We have shot as many as four wedding in one weekend.

I think the "average" company profile would be a single owner
shop, contracting out second camera, as David suggested.

Depending on where you are, I don't think you'll be able to keep
a business afloat very long charging only $500 for a basic package.

As others have already mentioned, doing wedding videos professionally
is a whole different world from doing it as a hobby. There is a level
of skill that is expected, and it requires more solid and reliable gear.

If it is really something you're interested in, then I would suggest
you ease yourself into it. Try to book a few weddings over the next
year, maybe no more than one a month. And then see how it goes.

The danger is getting burnt out. As Glenn mentioned, when you
are shooting weddings year round, it is difficult not only to stick
to your editing deadlines, but more importantly it is very difficult
to stay creatively fresh.

Hobbies are great because they are relaxing, and involve little
pressure. Don't mistake that for thinking that the job will be fun.
As soon as a hobby turns into your main source of income, it ceases
to be a hobby, and the pressure is definitely turned up.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 11:02 AM   #6
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Good post Luis, I whole-heartedly agree.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 11:34 AM   #7
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I really appreciate the feedback. Especially the wisdom regarding the delta between a hobby and a real job. I appreciate the advice with regards to easing into it (5-6 weddings a year) rather than plunging full speed ahead. That would be my plan anyway since I still have several more years in my "day" job.

No rush here and I know I still have alot to learn. I was thinking of the first few ones still being more on the hobby tract with very low expectations set (and price set accordingly) but with the full intent of trying to produce a very high quality video that blows their socks off as a means of building up a client base and a demo reference set. Not to mention a huge opportunity to learn techniques with lower expectation and pressure. Sound reasonable?

Typical profile: Single owner/videographer/editor who contracts a second cameraman as needed. Is this typically run out of the house or a rented office space? I assume rented office space for real pros?

So it seems that a wedding production company meeting the typical profile listed above running at "full" capacity would be doing roughly 30 weddings a year? I assume at maybe US$1,800 average per wedding? Would these expectations be considered conservative, aggressive, or about right?

I also assume that this would leave time for contracting my video services out as well for roughly US$150-US$200 a day on those days I'm not booked on full productions? How many times might that be? Would a typical videographer have more contract days than full wedding project days in a year?

I noticed alot of the local production companies also do video - dvd conversions & Edits, video copies, etc. in addition to wedding productions. Any idea how much percentage revenue these "other" activities might produce relative to the wedding productions?

Any idea what percentage of videographers also do photography?

Sorry for all the questions but I really want to get an idea of the opportunity before I spend a whole lot of money trying to pursue this. Also am interested in which revenue areas to focus on. Thanks again!!!!
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Old July 27th, 2004, 01:15 PM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Billy Dalrymple : I really appreciate the feedback. Especially the wisdom regarding the delta between a hobby and a real job. I appreciate the advice with regards to easing into it (5-6 weddings a year) rather than plunging full speed ahead. That would be my plan anyway since I still have several more years in my "day" job.
5-6 a year is about where I'm at now. With my day job I couldn't really take on much more than that- I take a good deal of time on every wedding, and do my best to tailor it to the specific couple, thus every wedding is different.

No rush here and I know I still have alot to learn. I was thinking of the first few ones still being more on the hobby tract with very low expectations set (and price set accordingly) but with the full intent of trying to produce a very high quality video that blows their socks off as a means of building up a client base and a demo reference set. Not to mention a huge opportunity to learn techniques with lower expectation and pressure. Sound reasonable?
Sounds to me like you already have a good grasp of how it works. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. Every single wedding I've booked has been soley through referrals. I'll take the next step and begin marketing and attending Bridal Shows, etc when I feel confident enough to deal with the increased workload.
The videographer I mentioned has been in the field for about 10 years and has a very VERY deep root in networking with other professionals in the field. I know others from his are that know him on reputation alone. He usually deals with the higher end clients with packages averaging above $3,000. Now 50 x $3,000 a wedding- you can imagine how sucessfull you can become. However that's not without constant editing day-in day-out, and a god given talent for creative, cinematic cinematography.
I honestly don't know if I could keep up with that- as much as I LOVE editing I do get burnt rather quickly...If I work on a project for like 5 hours a night for 3 nights in a row I need a break from it- though that could be propogated by the fact I do, indeed have a day job which helps burnout set in much quicker.


Typical profile: Single owner/videographer/editor who contracts a second cameraman as needed. Is this typically run out of the house or a rented office space? I assume rented office space for real pros?
Yes. Most of the high end wedding videographers are a sole proprietership and hire out assistant videographers. It's the only way to make a living doing this, in the beginning at least. Besides I'm so anal I need creative control over the shooting of every wedding. Sure I could hire out people but I'd feel nervous to stamp my name on something that could possibly be sub-par.

So it seems that a wedding production company meeting the typical profile listed above running at "full" capacity would be doing roughly 30 weddings a year? I assume at maybe US$1,800 average per wedding? Would these expectations be considered conservative, aggressive, or about right?
That really depends on 1.Your region 2.Your noteriety/client base and 3.The level of marketing your doing.
30 weddings a year at $1800 sounds about average (or a hair lower) for a full-time wedding videography business.



I noticed alot of the local production companies also do video - dvd conversions & Edits, video copies, etc. in addition to wedding productions. Any idea how much percentage revenue these "other" activities might produce relative to the wedding productions?
Wouldn't be able to tell you. I have no interest in doing VHS to DVD conversions- it's not worth the time to me and people expect it done cheap.

Any idea what percentage of videographers also do photography?
I'd have to assume a small percentage. Very rare. I know a few that have just added photography- they even have packages that offer both. In my opinion it's a great idea, as it's easier going from wedding videographer to wedding photographer than the latter. I'm planning on moving in that direction as well in the future. Right now I've forged a relationship with a photographer and we try to throw business each others' way and work gigs together.

Sorry for all the questions but I really want to get an idea of the opportunity before I spend a whole lot of money trying to pursue this. Also am interested in which revenue areas to focus on. Thanks again!!!! -->>>
No prob- that's what this forum is for. I would, however, take the advise of others and start slow so you don't HAVE to spend a "whole lot of money" right off the bat. Wade in a bit and see where it takes you- if you enjoy it and begin to see growth- only then would I put out large sums on more gear. Good luck with everything.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 01:27 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Glen Elliott : <<<-- Originally posted by Billy Dalrymple : Sorry for all the questions but I really want to get an idea of the opportunity before I spend a whole lot of money trying to pursue this. Also am interested in which revenue areas to focus on. Thanks again!!!! -->>>
No prob- that's what this forum is for. I would, however, take the advise of others and start slow so you don't HAVE to spend a "whole lot of money" right off the bat. Wade in a bit and see where it takes you- if you enjoy it and begin to see growth- only then would I put out large sums on more gear. Good luck with everything. -->>>

Glenn,
Obviously there is somebare minimum floor beneath the "whole lot of money" which must be spent (or on hand) in order to produce an acceptable 'professional' product. What do you consider that floor to be? One prosumer cam, wireless mic kit, DVediting suite...?

And someone just shoot me if I ever say I've got up the nerve to do event videography. Glenn, you've got to have some horror stories from past events where equipment or people made the "one-take" capture possibility a nightmare.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 01:53 PM   #10
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Glenn,
Obviously there is somebare minimum floor beneath the "whole lot of money" which must be spent (or on hand) in order to produce an acceptable 'professional' product. What do you consider that floor to be? One prosumer cam, wireless mic kit, DVediting suite...?

And someone just shoot me if I ever say I've got up the nerve to do event videography. Glenn, you've got to have some horror stories from past events where equipment or people made the "one-take" capture possibility a nightmare. -->>>


Admittedly Event Videography is by far the most challenging genre of videography. There are no re-takes, no second chances. It's fast paced, and unpredictable. Regardless of how prepared you may seem you must always be on your toes for the unknowns.
Despite the fact you can do dozens of weddings you will STILL make mistakes. It's the nature of unscripted event videography. The skill is anticipating possible pitfalls and be ready when they arise. I still make mistakes in my recent shoots, for example...following the recessional the couple did a recieving line by the front door of the church. My partner was providing coverage so I decided to go grab the VX2100 off the balcony and pack it up. By the time I was zipping my one bag up the couple was exiting the church with the crowd applauding and blowing bubbles. I quickly looked over for my assistant who had been covering the couple before I went into the balcony and he was nowhere in site! Apparently he went to grab something out of his bag. I MISSED THE SHOT! Such a novice mistake- but it happens. I rolled with it, shooting like an editor (as they say), and reproduced the shot of them leaving (following the church photosession) and had a shot from behind as the exited the front door. It was sunny outside so I let the outside overexpose creating a silloette of the couple as they seeminling walked into a blanket of white as they exited the church. I turned a catastrophy into something that not only can help replace the missed shot but became a really good demo-worthy shot I'll be using for my 2005 Demo.

If your just getting started I'd suggest doing a few for free. The couple will appreciate the gesture and it will help you get experience and some footage to possibly start a demo of your own. You might even be able to get by on 1 single chip cam and a mini disc for vows. Just be weary of dark reception halls and single-chip cams. They don't mix too well. Onboard lighting is a must- preferably diffused. Once you get a few under your belt I'd suggest purchasing a single 3-chip cam like the VX2100...then using your original single chipper as a backup or 2nd angle cam.
Everyone has their own strategy to getting started the only thing in common with all of them is to:
1. Don't go crazy with the spending off the bat- you might not even like wedding/event videography
2. Grow ALONG with your business- in other words buy gear as you need it. Before you make a purchase ask yourself do you really NEED it and will it HELP you sell more packages. I'm guilty of buying gear I don't always "need" thus the reason I've had more than a couple of items here in the "for sale" forum.
Plus...with all my extraneous spending it's going to take me twice as long to get in the green with my business. I have to sometimes remind myself that the point of a business is to net profit.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 03:00 PM   #11
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Two other points Billy.
A lot of pro's, including myself are home-based. An office can sometimes be a drain on earnings which you don't need in the early days of starting up.

Video production is a business that doesn't need lots of space. As long as there's enough room to entertain the occasional clients and house the editing suite and your office equipment, that's about it.
Three years ago I converted my internal garage into an office, giving 2 of us loads of working space with home comforts. The only downside is, is that it's hard to get away from the job.
During times of a heavy work-load you'll find yourself working 12-15 hours a day, every day.

You say,
"I also assume that this would leave time for contracting my video services out as well".

If you're easing yourself into this, on a part time basis, then you may have underestimated how much free time you'll have for other lines of work.
Filming a wedding will take-up all one day.
Putting it all together can easily swallow up another 30 or 40 hours depending on what you're aiming to achieve.
That doesn't leave much of your week, especially if you want to remain sane, and still have a diminished social life. And don't forget the wife and kids, you'll still need to make contact with them at least a couple of times a month, or they'll forget who you are.
And don't forget comments made earlier about marketing your business. It all takes time. Lots of it!

I had to chukkle at Glen's comments about making silly mistakes. A couple of months back I'd carefuly placed the mics on the top table ready for the speeches and everything was fine. My assistant said a few words so that I could check the levels. Everything was still fine except for one small point. I forgot to plug-in the external mic. I recorded the entire speeches through the on-board mic, from about 30 feet away. result; disaster!
Fortunately the second camera was very close to the top table filming audience reaction which saved the day. It was easy to lay both tracks into the timline and sync-up.
It's easy to make mistakes, but I dread to think what the outcome would have been if I was filming solo.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 04:52 PM   #12
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"A lot of pro's, including myself are home-based. An office can
sometimes be a drain on earnings which you don't need in the
early days of starting up."


I can second this point.
There is no need for an office space today. It will do nothing but
increase your overhead a tremendous amount. There is no
shame in working from home, and most of the videographers I
know work from home (myself included).

I would go so far as to say regardless of the level of success you
reach, if you are shooting weddings there will never be a need to
rent an office.

In the beginning, it is an unneeded expense. And once you've
made a name for yourself, you dont' need to impress clients
with an office, your work will speak for itself.

Although, I do agree with David that it is important to set up an
area in your home as an office. It's hard to get away from the
job, but it's a lot easier if you can close the door and get away
from your equipment for a while. Also, it's important to be able to
work without distractions when you need to. I've had plenty of
those 12 to 15 hour days that David mentioned.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 08:30 PM   #13
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All,

Once again, thanks for the input and advice. I can see now that doing business from the home makes the most sense as oposed to renting office space. I guess when (if) I can good enough no one is gonna really care as Luis mentions.

The point brought up by both Luis and David regarding the difficulty of separating worktime from hometime when working at home is well received as well. As a software development manager who has worked from home before I can certainly relate to that issue. Thanks for reminding me.

David, so you mention that I may have underestimated the amount of "spare" time I would have to contract my videography services out, point well taken... I gather from this statement that the 30 or so weddings a year is indeed running at full capacity for a sole proprietership whereby when not video taping then most other time is spent editing and marketing and of course family time.. Is this correct?

Glen & David, I appreciate your comments regarding the pressure and the mistakes that can happen during filming. and the fact that there are no second takes in event videography. This aspect scares the hell out of me. Last thing I want is to have the angry mother of a bride chasing after me becuase I screwed something up. I think I'll take Glen up on his advice and do the first few for free in exchange for honest feedback, demo material, and potential references. Great idea... thanks.

As far as equipment, I'll probably start a different thread for that, but I currently have a single 1.5meg pix CCD Sony TRV30 and a PD170. Thinking about getting seinn G2 wireless audio setup for mounting on groom. NLE is Adobe premiere pro 7.0...reasonable for a start?

You guys are great... Thanks!
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Old July 27th, 2004, 08:54 PM   #14
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Sounds a bit like me...I have a PD-170, a TRV-33...but I also have a VX2100. I use the TRV-33 as a capture deck and third or fourth (when I have an assitant) cam locked down somwhere to get some odd angles- like on the floor shots as the bride enters.

Regarding NLE's- that opens up a whole can of worms but used to be a Premiere user but have since made the move, happily, to Vegas 5.
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Old July 28th, 2004, 01:41 AM   #15
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Billy.
A wedding will consume most of your working week, especially during your early days.
30 weddings will take approx 30 weeks of your timeand if you're filming weddings in succession, it doesn't leave much of your working week for anything else.
Some corporate projects can take 2 or 3 weeks, or even longer to complete and trying to film and edit weddings arround this is extremely stressful to say the least.
The point I am making is that you can't do both at the same time.
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