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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
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Old September 27th, 2004, 09:01 AM   #1
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Hobby into a business?

I am retired and found videography as a very exciting hobby. Since I have plenty of time in my hands, I have been giving away wedding DVD videos to friends and relatives and this week I received 2 phone calls from a friend telling me that someone would like to hire me to video their son's wedding. On the same day, I received another request to video a wedding. Both parties have seen my videos. Both parties I considered NOT CLOSE Friends and they are willing to pay.

Now, I am excited, quite anxious and nervous. Now the question is how do I approach this on a business perspective? Do I need a business license? I know I need a contract but I cannot afford a lawyer. Is there any in the Internet I can use as a guide in putting a video wedding contract? What about pricing? I am not a pro and I should not really be charging pro pricing.

I'd like to hear your comments, suggestions,etc. please.
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Old September 27th, 2004, 12:48 PM   #2
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Danny,

I recommend you visit videouniversity dot com and grab Hal's Videography book. It has a sample contract and much more. No, I don't work for VU, just telling you it's worth the money to get that book.

You will be the videographer at the wedding, so forget about whether you are a pro or not. You're it, no one else. Now it's just a question of how good the video will turn out. Obviously they like your work. Whether you like it or not, right now isn't too much of an issue. Bigger question is, can you be consistent? If you know you can give them what you gave the other two couples, then you are set my friend.

Charge at least enough to cover your expenses and to pay yourself minimum wage.

If you doubt your consistency offer to do it for free and continue building your skills.

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Old September 27th, 2004, 03:19 PM   #3
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WEVA might also be a good resource for you, Danny.

There's certainly nothing wrong with backing-into a second career. You might as well enjoy it until your knees and back "retire".
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Old September 27th, 2004, 04:39 PM   #4
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Old September 27th, 2004, 04:56 PM   #5
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There is a reason I retired. That is, NOT TO WORK anymore. I got stressed out and burned out when I was working and I don't intend to do that again.

I am sorry that I might have mislead you all. I don't intend to make this as a second career and really don't intend it to be an income generator. I plan to continue this to be a hobby and importantly, will only avail myself as I feel like doing it.


All I want is to cover all the bases i.e., contracts, license, etc.
I am one of those that like to make sure that my clients are protected and so am I.
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Old October 2nd, 2004, 01:49 AM   #6
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Danny: among other things, use your common sense to determine what you need to do to protect yourself and your customers. Make sure you don't offer more than you can deliver, and do plan to put everything in writing with suitable disclaimers, etc. I've seen video contracts ranging from a few sentences to one so detailed that it's a wonder anyone would sign it, so find the level of that spectrum which feels comfortable to you.

A local business license would be a good idea, plus you may want to register a "fictitious busines name" with your county offices, and you may need to get a sales tax license depending on your location. Keep careful records, and remember all expenses including mileage and postage are deductible from any money you bring in. You'll probably find it's not a problem to spend any money you make on more equipment, so potentially you can break even all around with no increased tax consequences. (For a couple of years or so anyway.)

Get some appropriate books and peruse lots of web sites. Plenty of good advice out there.
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 02:21 AM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Danny Santos : There is a reason I retired. That is, NOT TO WORK anymore. I got stressed out and burned out when I was working and I don't intend to do that again. -->>>

Hi Danny,

I don't want to dissolusion you, or dampen your enthusiasm, but producing a top quality wedding video (I assume you want to do a good job), is one of the most demanding, difficult and stressful areas of videography. It's 'live' event coverage, things will not wait for you. There is a basic 'story' and it's known and fairly easy to follow, but If you miss something you are screwed! The couple will not forgive you even if you are a freind. You are being paid... so you must act like a pro.

You have to capture ALL the main things that happen during the day. You cannot be changing tape/batteries during the vows etc. Miss half of the Bestman's speech and I'm afraid there is no second chance.

You cannot be cleaning your lens when the bride starts up the isle. Excuses like "Well it was cold outside and I came into a warm church" just won't cut it...! This can also cause condensation on the heads - means you might have to leave your camera for hours before using again. Even on a single camera shoot you must have 2 cameras, so if the first packs up there is another ready with a battery on and tape installed - a 'hot' standby.

No auto-focus, no auto-iris, no auto anything. Do you know your camera controls backwards... you need to be familiar enough to be able to work on fully manual at all times even in the near-dark. Have you got back-ups for everything and I mean EVERYTHING? If something goes wrong it has to be replaced immediately.

You have to be thinking of lots of things at once as well as composing shots and concentrating on capturing excellent sound etc. Have I got enough light? Where do I need to be next? What side of the car will the bride get out? Did I get all the guests?
Don't forget cutaways, or you will end up making jump-cuts.

Sorry to be blunt, but as many pro wedding videographers will tell you if you don't want stress then this is the last thing you should do.

Saying all the above though, it's also one of the most rewarding, and I do wish you well if this is what you decide to do.
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Old October 5th, 2004, 04:29 AM   #8
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That's a brilliant description of wedding vid production. I concur with that!

Jon
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Old October 5th, 2004, 08:59 PM   #9
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It is a losing proposition to do weddings part time because of the business and equipment expenses you wind up paying.

For yourself and the business, you really want to have your business and yourself well protected. You need insurance for both your company and for yourself. WEVA has a very good deal through The StPaul but it still is about $600 per year by the time you cover the business and the E&O insurance. And WEVA itself is $150 per year before you can get to the insurance.

The problem is if you get sued and you have no protection (like a LLC or corporation then you are personally responsible to the limits of your present and future resources.

I was talking to the WEVA broker just today and he said a few recent claims have been a videographer setting a light under a sprinker head in a hotel - $400,000. And another in LA who dropped a camera on a person and killed them - $750,000.

He shuddered that I operate as a Sole Proprietor without any business shield.
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Old October 11th, 2004, 06:56 PM   #10
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Thank You All !

You guys are great ! Thanks for all the info you have provided. I wish someday I can also be of help to someone.

Thank you again.
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Old October 12th, 2004, 09:51 PM   #11
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I am in the same boat as you are Danny.
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Old October 24th, 2004, 01:12 AM   #12
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You guys make it seem like its brain surgery, I am a student and do Weddings part time and find it very profitable, and not all that difficult. If you're going to do weddings part time just make sure you don't offer something you can't handle. Of course your going to charge a lot less then the professionals and make sure you bring this to the customers attention. I use my on camera mic, and sometimes a shotgun mic, I let my customers see a actual wedding video, and listen to the actual sound the mic picks up ( not some demo that has months and months worth of editing ) if they want better sound, then I tell them to go to the high end professional, but they will pay 5x what I am charging.

The main thing is not many people want to pay very much for a wedding video ( at least around here ), and a lot of those people want something better then Uncle Joe taping the wedding, so if you can fit somewhere in-between then part time videography can be a fun profitable business.
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Old October 27th, 2004, 01:08 AM   #13
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Todd,

I like your approach and that is my plan for now. I am doing my 1st wedding (paid) in 2 weeks. Charging $400. That includes editing all footage onto DVD. Hey, its paying for 40% of my new Miller DS-5 tripod anyways! I think the key is setting expectations for what they are paying for. Todd, if you don't mind me asking, what is your average fee for a wedding?
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Old October 27th, 2004, 05:50 AM   #14
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Todd, I think weddings are difficult because of everything unexpected that happens.

There should be a place on the market for all kinds of wedding video and so long as your customers understand what they're getting from you, great!

Jon
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Old October 27th, 2004, 11:48 AM   #15
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Matt,
I charge $450 for my wedding package, that's ceremony and reception. It's usually about an 8-10 hour day. My edit is a very straight edit, basically I cut out some of the people arriving, and a fair amount of the later part of the dance, put some titles and a little music and I'm done. For ceremony only I charge $325 but most people opt for the $450.

Doing this less then 2 years phones aren't ringing day and night, I get a good amount of business from a photographer who has done weddings for 20 years, but not video. I pay him $50 for each wedding he gives me.

I use 1 GL2, usually just on mic camera, sometimes a shotgun mic, don't advertise perfect sound because I can't afford to spend $1500 on a wireless setup, when I only charge $450.

Another thing is that is I lived in Columbus Oh, (I live in Lima, Oh) I could charge double for the same package.


I make most of my money on doing real estate tours. I charge $75 per tour and usually have less then 2 hours total work into it, that's with travel, tapping, editing, and dvd authoring. My main thinking on pushing real estate because with weddings, money is limited and we're usually put on the bottom, or close to bottim of the list. Toally different with real estate. Average comission rate around here is 6-7%, so that means the realtor is making $12,000 - $14,000, on a $200,000 house. $75 is a nominal fee, and from what I've experienced the realtors really like having the tours. Check out my website www.videomemoriesinc.com

Sorry about the long winded response, it's just my theory on the business (only after 2 years)
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