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


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Old August 28th, 2009, 04:49 PM   #16
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My advice for the OP is something I offer to clients who 'love the work' but don't have the means. If they are not passionate or excited (or even knowledgeable) about your offerings from anyone else, then they are just kicking the tires--feel free to refer them to a lower priced competitor whose work you have seen and judged to be competent/comparable. Whatever you do, try not to send them into the arms of a Craigslist newbie or starving film-student who put out a substandard product that will haunt our industry for many years to come.

I offer to capture the footage, and present them with an unedited (or deferred-edit) product on DVD. When you start with great raw material, you have much more flexibility to give them a wonderful finished product down the line (when money is looser). As an incentive, offer them a discount if they edit within one year. After a pre-determined length of time (when you figure they have forgone editing entirely), you can sell the master tapes and recoup a bit more of your time investment.

Here's the big catch. They must be EDUCATED by you as to what they will receive. If most of your work is out of focus, poorly color balanced, with distorted audio (please tell me this doesn't describe your work), the client will be unhappy no-matter how low the price. I always tell them that there will be some bobbles, false starts, or the occasional shot that runs long while nothing is happening (like waiting for a grand entrance). The audio will be unmixed---but legible and clear. There will be NO transitions, titles, or music beds. Its called RAW for a reason. But if it saves them 2/3 of the price (or whatever you deem proper), it might just allow them to have a good quality recording of the day done with professional equipment which can be turned into a beautiful movie down the line.
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Old August 28th, 2009, 08:04 PM   #17
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I offer to capture the footage, and present them with an unedited (or deferred-edit) product on DVD.
I started offering this sort of package this year and had one taker immediately. I have one for the no-edit next year. Since this package is only $800 it is more obtainable for the couple that overstepped the flowers or catering (why oh why is catering the single biggest ticket on a budget and the cause of problems???? it is just going down the toilet that night!).
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Old August 28th, 2009, 08:08 PM   #18
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I was expecting to be in similar situation as OP this season... Turns out that it's my busiest time yet. I'm doing weddings as a part time job, so I didn't plan to book more then 6-7 weddings through the summer - now I have already 12 gigs (3 more to go). And ppl are calling 3-4 weeks ahead of their event. I think many couples postponed their decisions till the very last moment thinking about saving money. Later they realized that they have extra money for the video and/or they do want the video despite the cost. Funny thing that nobody asked me for any discounts - didn't have to lower my prices at all. I'm fairly priced on my market - most of the "veterans" out there are charging more and they are already booked, so I get as I call it "left overs". And I'm happy about it. But I have to add that I am not seeking for more work - I don't want to end up with tons of unedited projects. I'm still working on optimizing workflow and reducing amount of hours put in every video.

Also have to agree on others thoughts that many couples are asking for a discount just because everyone is expecting to beg for business opportunity. My approach is that if the client likes your work, they have to accept your terms. I know value of my work and I know that I deserve every penny for it. If customer cant afford it then I can offer them cheaper package - never more for less - always less for less. That also will prevent from future questions from referred customers wondering why my prices next season are higher then this season. If I respond that their friends got smaller package then it will be logical that they paid less. It'll sound stupid that I gave them discount just because they begged me for it.

So my motto is: be patient and evaluate your work fairly.
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Old August 28th, 2009, 08:47 PM   #19
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Hi Michael

After agreeing to do a "raw footage only" shoot for a couple last season, I really regretted it!! Most people seem to have no idea what "raw footage" is!!! They seem to think that they will get perfectly shot clips that simply haven't been "assembled" as such and had music and titles added. My groom in this case ("Don't worry, I'm an expert editor and will edit the video myself") Complained about each and every bit of footage that had a wobbly bit it in and he really expected to be able to drop each clip into the timeline, join 'em up and make a DVD!!!

If you are going to make a virtual loss on the job, rather don't do it!!! If you know that even your time at the venue is not covered, never mind the editing, you will not have the usual enthusiasm to do a good job so rather turn them down and spend the day with the family!!

You don't have to make a killing on your job but I do feel that you must at least make minimum wage for your efforts!!! If brides start complaining "we can't afford it" then rather suggest a smaller package..just do the ceremony only if needed. I have a little package called a "Mini Budget" wedding that usually satisfies the really low budget bride and they get me for 3 hours for $599.

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Old August 28th, 2009, 09:02 PM   #20
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I think it’s a very bad idea to offer a discount. I would consider it a slap in the face if I were in the groom’s shoes and discovered that the videographer I wanted was willing to drop/negotiate their price from what they had originally proposed. I would have to think to myself, “How many people actually paid the full price, essentially overpaying this person? How can I trust someone who just a moment ago was trying to squeeze me for more money than they’re trying to get me for right now? How low is this person willing to go on their price?” At this point, the customer can easily start thinking about your profit margin, rather than the value of the final product, and I don’t see that as a good thing.

How about the client who already booked you at the full rate, and then heard about this reduced rate that you gave to another couple? If your answer to this question is, “I’ll just do my best to keep this quiet,” then you should really ask yourself if you’re comfortable conducting business this way. If you’re doing something that you don’t want others to find out about, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

There’s no way I’m going to tell one couple that my minimum rate is one price, and then drop it for someone else, regardless of the reason. I would consider it an insult to every other customer of mine who paid full price. You have to know that while some customers would be willing to pay you much more than you’re asking (but of course won’t tell you that out of courtesy), others will have to really stretch things to meet your full rate (and likewise won’t say anything…they simply respect your work enough to pay the rate that you’ve set). Although it’s possible that the former may not care much about you offering a reduced rate to someone else, the latter is in exactly the same position as some of the couples that you might be wanting to offer a reduced rate to. The only difference is that while one tried to negotiate with you, the other remained silent. I can’t justify charging the silent customer more than the other when they’re receiving the same service.

The fairest solution I see is to offer less work for less pay as noted throughout this forum, but you’ll need to figure out how to maintain a certain level of quality, since your name will be associated with that work, regardless of any disclaimers you make. This is extremely easy to do. Offer less coverage, eliminate extra cameras, shorten/drop any highlights, lose the cocktail hour, edit in SD, give them less copies, don’t spend eternity on the edit, cover only the main events at the reception, don’t make custom menus. Pick and choose what you’re going to eliminate or streamline, and if you’re still comfortable with what the resulting quality will be, then you have yourself a less expensive package.

Of course, the potential problem with this is that a customer from last year who stretched their budget to pay for your minimum package at the time, and who would have definitely gone for something less if it had been offered, may feel offended that you’re now giving a lower-priced film to someone else. I don’t believe this to be bad form on the videographer’s part at all though, since price changes are to be expected from any business…but more importantly, because the lesser package has been made available to all new customers instead of a select few. I just cannot justify charging customers different amounts for the same product based on their finances.

My rate is my rate, and although I instinctively dislike it when a customer asks if the price is firm, I have to remember that in many cases they’re simply trying to be savvy customers. They’ve become acclimated to a world of sales, negotiations, and special offers, and don’t want to “overpay.” I can’t blame them for being smart with their money, but that does not mean that I must also offer such things. As I wrote, offering something involving less work for less pay makes the most sense. You’ll be meeting them on price, and keeping your hourly rate at an acceptable amount, while remaining fair to your other customers.

What about a special case? If you’re in a serious jam and need to make some money quick to support your family, I doubt many people would fault you for discounting a package to cinch a booking. If this is truly the case though, then it’s probably time to restructure your business from the ground up. Think about streamlining your workflow, creating new packages, advertising more effectively, rebranding yourself, going after a new market, and possibly backing off from videography to focus more on an entirely different job.

You read from a lot of people that making something for a job is at least better than sitting around, and there’s some merit to that. However, along with that short-term profit comes possible long-term negative equity, and if taking the reduced-rate job ends up hurting your business in the long run (whether by encouraging ill feelings among your customers, associating your name with a negotiable price, filling your own head with the knowledge that you accepted a less-than-desired rate, etcetera), then it’s not the right move, assuming that you intend to stay in business for a good while.

Alec Moreno
http://www.1Day1ShotProductions.com
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Old August 28th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #21
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a long time ago a friend of mine who just happens to be, well, rich with a capital R, told me when you discount your price, you lower the value of your work.

Now having said that, I'm neither rich nor am I stupid and in this industry and this particular economy you do what you need to do to keep business coming in HOWEVER... I agree with Alec that instead of lowering the price, lower the package...if you lower the price for one, then believe me, the word gets around and pretty soon you're doing it for everyone. You've set a precedent and that can be a double edge sword. Change your packages and offer a ceremony only, or a full wedding without bridal prep, or a set amount of time at the reception, 1 camera (2 but one is locked down) instead of 3. That sort of thing.
No offense to ANYONE but we are not selling used cars here and we all complain that we don't get enough for our work and we get little respect. Hey all the bridal magazines say either you don't need video or you shouldn't pay more than $XXX and you really could have uncle Charlie do it for free. POOP I say!
I understand that for some it's either lower the price or not get the work but IMO if you discount then you don't have the right to complain about not getting enough to pay the bills or buy those new great toys we all covet. Again, I understand the need for lower prices in some cases so adjust the package to fit.
I've had people call me 3 or 4 weeks prior to the event and if I am open I certainly do not (emphasize DO NOT) even think of offering a discount- not that I do anyway but certainly not on a last minute booking.
Now let me say I DO have a special pricing for 2 venues that refer a decent amount of work to me and if the client lets me know they got to me thru the people at that venue then they qualify or the special price. Trust me it's not a lot off but it's the principal of it and neither of these venues is open to the public. They are both private clubs and are quite costly to join. I wish I could both have great golf courses.

Anyway the point is, don't discount unless you're going to do it across the board and IF you're going to do that then simply lower you package price(s). I
n the long run your reputation will remain higher and you don't have to spend time with a client "going to talk to the manager".

Just my $.01 worth (I gave a discount here)
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Old August 28th, 2009, 10:17 PM   #22
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Hey all the bridal magazines say either you don't need video or you shouldn't pay more than $XXX and you really could have uncle Charlie do it for free.
Why do you think that is the case? A few months ago on a morning TV show in San Francisco an event planner said the same thing. She wound up with some sort of comment about loving your photographer. It made you wounder what other "arrangements" she had.
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Old August 29th, 2009, 02:50 AM   #23
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Since the thread seems to have wandered may I offer my 2c worth about one aspect of selling our services in this time of money squeeze?

Rather than reduce our prices we decided to increase the value. First at the end of last year we added a CD with 100+ still frames taken from the HDV master - complete with our copyright release letter which added to the value. We also ofer to give them a copy of the "Dream" wedding (the summary set to music they've chosen) suitable for their iPod, phone etc. Clients liked the offers but they weren't the clincher.

So, starting this last Spring we now offer the loan of a Standard Def camcorder for the couple to take on honeymoon and record (up to an hour on a 4GB SD card) as they wish. When they return we convert it unedited and only basically authored (ie no chapters etc) to DVD and include a single copy in the package.

The response has been terrific - not only with those who have taken up the offer but amongst those who have their own cameras but like the fact we're taking some action to make the product better. We also got good local press write-ups.

From our point of view the investment is marginal (less than £200 - $300 - per camera) and they all come with software which allows a simple conversion/burning to DVD.

The key is to increase the value of our package without significantly increasing the workload - which would be the same as offering a discount.

Finally it also allows us to make a little joke "and if a free camcorder for the honeymoon gives the groom lascivious ideas, be assured that we won't be looking at the video - it isn't necessary to see it to transfer it to DVD!"

Has anyone else any suggestions?
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Old August 29th, 2009, 06:16 AM   #24
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Jim,
I wish I had the answer to why. There could be lots of reasons that video is the forgotten child of weddings not the least of which is the availabilty of video cameras that anyone can buy and operate, even uncle Charlie. Back in the 70s and early 80s when I was doing still work, it was a VERY rare thing to see a guest at a wedding taking pictures on their own.It just wan't done. Now EVERYONE has a camera and EVERYONE is taking pictures at a wedding. I keep telling some of my photographer friends that the guests have better gear than they do ;-)
Back in the early 80s thru the mid 90s, while more and more couples wanted a tape of thier wedding and the gear prices and size started to get smaller it was by and large beyond the reach of the average guest so we had no competition other than other pros. Today you can walk into to most big box electronic stores and buy an HD palmcorder, walk out and start shooting. So availability is one reason.
Video is also still very new to weddings compared to photography of course, and unfortunately we made our own bed and now we all have to lie in it meaning back in the 80s and 90s look at what was produced. I don't mean the VHS tapes that ran for days (it seemed like it) I mean the style. Flying hearts and page turns (thanks Amiga) and while we don't do that sort of stuff anymore (I don't think most do anyway) it is STILL the reputation that follows us in the minds of many. People don't see what goes on behind the scenes, in post production. They see us standing there during a 1 hour ceremony and barely moving (during the mass) and think 'wow, videOAHgraphy isn't so hard' so that goes toward thinking lower prices.
In many cases we get hired LAST and cut FIRST. Last after they see how much they have left in their budget and cut First when they see they have run out of money.
Then you get people who have never a well done video. It doesn't have to be an award winner, most aren't, but a well done video. Proper framing, porper color/exposure, nicely cut, great audio and it tells the story of the day and all they have is the thought of someone coming in with 1000s or watts of big bright lights to light the reception, pointing a big camera in everyones faces with the old 200w sungun on it, making a fool of themselves at the cermony and you get a wedding planner who says 'love your photgrapher, you don't need a videographer let uncle Charlie do it'

Long way to go to say I don't have an answer. There are lots of reasons but ignorance is the biggest one IMO and we can say 'educate the client' all we want but for the most part all they want is a low price and top quality work, so whaddya do?
I wish I knew.
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Old August 29th, 2009, 10:37 AM   #25
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You are still paying for it because the favors that you are calling have value. Your equipment and time have value as well. This is quite different from someone dropping their price because someone isn't willing to pay a reasonable amount. If you are negotiating to buy something and want a lower price, one tactic is to say you don't have the money rather than you don't want to pay it. This works better because it is more absolute. If you convince someone who is trying to sell you something that you only have $X, and let the silence weigh heavy, they will be motivated to accept it because they want the sale. But if one recognizes the tactic for what it is, there are some effective sales tactics to counter this that can be learned. There is more to the BUSINESS than the camera techno-blather.
Right on the money. Said well, I applaud you.
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Old August 31st, 2009, 05:46 AM   #26
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I've been confronted with the clients at arranged meetings who state they 'cant afford it'

Other posters have said there are strategies to dealing with this tactic. Apart from something like 'OK, how much can you afford? and lets build a package around that' Are there others?

One client said to me that they've spent so much on the photographer, the venue, the food etc, now they only have a little left for the video - worryingly revealing (and insulting)
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Old August 31st, 2009, 06:19 AM   #27
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Dan

In your position I'd offer a time payment plan (costing more overall of course), but otherwise I think you (and they) have to bite the bullet and say well I'm sorry - which in your case means "I'm sorry you didn't budget properly!. As you say, you've already been placed as a lower priority than most other suppliers so maybe there's a lesson for them to learn about budgeting.

My instinct is (and I've had two brides cancel after paying non-refundable deposits this year) that if you do all the giving you just devalue you product and yourself.

I hope this doesn't sound pompous or arrogant because i really do sympathise, but unless you want to work for nothing alongside others who are being paid full whack, I don't think you have an option. As long as your sympathy seems sincere, I don't think they can fairly bad-mouth you. Sorry.
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Old August 31st, 2009, 09:14 AM   #28
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One client said to me that they've spent so much on the photographer, the venue, the food etc, now they only have a little left for the video - worryingly revealing (and insulting)
I am getting to the point where I no longer take some potential client's inability to plan and their greed as a personal insult..... well ok, not much of an insult. As someone famous once said, shake the dust off your sandals and leave.

Last edited by Jason Robinson; August 31st, 2009 at 10:07 AM.
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Old September 7th, 2009, 11:13 AM   #29
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Ive recently had the 'budget' talk with a client, It's quite annoying that video is the last thing to be thought about when it should be right up there with everything else.

Ive just filmed my friends wedding (yeah he had a discount!)
they have a 2 year old daughter who was the chief bridesmaid, ask yourself this...
(and the client) do you think she will want to look through the photo album or watch the DVD when she is older ?
this is not degrogatory to photogs I believe it is a great medium and should always be present at weddings, but to see herself at that age running, talking (just about)
laughing, being cradled in the arms of her grandparents who may have since sadly passed away to be able to view these memories in motion when she is older (which she will have forgotton...)

PRICELESS


my $.01 (Discount here also) ;)

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Old September 7th, 2009, 11:20 AM   #30
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I wonder how often other wedding vendors hear the "poor boy" I don't have any money speech. Most people on this forum look at this issue from a videographer-centric point of view. The reason I ask is the, "I don't have enough money" pitch is arguably the most frequently used buying negotiation approach.
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