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


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Old March 27th, 2005, 02:55 AM   #31
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Hi Graig, and all of you that feel the same way.

Regarding business/prices and marketing again


It won't get any better. It will get worse. Prices are going down because new people sell cheap. When these new people will get old (just a few years down the road) other new people will show up.
Technology and "gear" will always sell from now on; are "cool", therefore consumers (potential videographers ) will always buy.
New web directories every year (where you can promote your web-site) makes pro's or wannabes acting like my wife at Macys sales.
Marketing is powerful - most of these people got Master's degrees and know how to sell, we are not - we know how to make videos.

I love making videos. I love the competition - good things are coming out. But I hate to give $ 100.00 for a ,,,battery or $ 300.00 for a wind screen, or $1.000 for a tripod?! Man,, this money will get you a used car!

I believe that too many pros are addicted to Hi-quality gear. I can save lots of money (and put it into advertisement instead) if I buy with common sense.
What good will does a mic that costs $700 when a $200 will end up sound the same? They both have the same freq-range.
What is the difference editing with $500 pc monitors while my $150 dell will do the job?

So, we can save from high-priced gear, high priced advertising, expensive cars (do we really need a 30k SUV to deliver a better video?!) survive and step-by-step grow/improve our business.

Now that I said it all, I feel much better!!
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Old March 27th, 2005, 09:54 AM   #32
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"Problem today is that many people buy the gear but have NO long term business understanding. I live in a market in which the typical 2 bedroom apt. rents for around $2000 a month. Add utilities, cost of gear, food, a car to go to the weddings, etc. and one understands that one can barely cover costs at $1000 a wedding a week, let alone 'make a living.'"

A question worth asking here is what's the average income in your area, especially for people who don't have the necessary qualifications for some of the better paying jobs? If the answer to that question is less than what someone can make doing wedding videos at $1000 each, then maybe peole's business understanding isn't so bad after all. Perhaps the figure should be a little higher than $1000, but a lot of people would be happy to have that kind of weekly income and be their own boss.

Clearly competition for producing wedding videos is increasing. If you've been doing it successfully for a while and are suddenly finding you can't pull in enough money to make things work, then you either need to figure out a way to adjust to the new reality or consider other alternatives. Bemoaning the increased competition won't change anything.
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Old March 27th, 2005, 10:25 AM   #33
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Kevin, I think you're missing the point. In my market one can't make enough to make ends meet. People who are charging $750-$1000 for a wedding in my market are "weekend warriors" who have day jobs. They work 40-50 hours a week at that job and then spend nights editing wedding (meanting they're working 80-90 hours a week!). Otherwise these are kids living at home or in a shared apartment so they only need to pay a few hundred towards rent.

This came up because we've been apartment hunting and we're seeing 650sq ft studios in INDUSTRIAL (read NOT luxury!) areas renting for as hight as $2200. I'm not talking Manhattan here either . . . outer boroughs (counties).

Me, I DON'T depend on weddings for my income. As I said I do local cable spots, industrials, demo reels. I can make more money shooting and editing an actor demo reel than a wedding. It's specifically the wedding market, in my market, that DOES NOT match other market conditions.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 09:01 AM   #34
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Craig: I see your point, and unfortunately it probably won't change anything. If most couples are satisfied with the results they get by hiring 'weekend warriors' for significantly less than what a full-time wedding videographer would have to charge, then it's up to the full-timers to figure out how to respond to that. This is arguably a bad thing for all concerned, but I think we all agree it's the direction we're heading until couples decide to put more value on video.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 10:23 AM   #35
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Kevin,
The "odd" thing about this is that I don't see anything this bad in the Wedding Photography business. This leads to the broader question about not only couple's attitudes towards video but videographer's attitudes towards their prices. I know many "weekend warrior" wedding photgs and they have no problem making reasonable money for their time. Since most of them do no Photoshop touch up, they're just doing an album, labs are doint the prints, it doesn't even impact their weekly hours much.

1) Part of it is the attitude of couple's BUT

2) part if it is how bridal magazines misinform people about the time and cost of doing business as a videographer

3) and a large part is also that "weekend warrior" videographers will work at much lower rates based on hours put in compared to "weekend warrior" photogs.

Based on this thread, I'm not the only one seeing the impact and even seems some of us are seeing a significant change in bookings just since last year.

I'd thought I'd add that we full time videographers have what was once a few good sell points. We have our experience and quality of our work. What seems to have changed is a significant increase in demand for price over quality though.

So many of the inquiries I've gotten this year (and I get many, word of mouth has worked for me) start with , "well we just want something simple." That has meant they want cheap. But once talking to them "simple" still involves an fully edited wedding. In their minds the main effort seems to be the decision on using B&W and Diffusion filters, transitions, slow mos, which really isn't the bulk of the editing work.

Now what can WE do to improve the market collectively?
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Old March 28th, 2005, 10:24 PM   #36
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Craig: I'd say this all reflects a continuing emphasis on photography as the "must have" record of wedding day events, with video still taking a back seat in terms of both expectations and budget priorities. I can think of several ways to try to counter-act that, but I'm starting to believe the best answer is to offer combined video and photography services. If people are willing to pay more money for photography than for video and the latter is arguably more work, why not collect the money for both activities and increase your income per hour that way?

My brother is convinced that we're headed for a day when most couples expect one company to meet all their video and photography needs at some reasonable package price, since these are in some sense related services. As an added bonus, if videographers are providing the photography we might finally be able to restrain the impact the photographer has on the video, which is often quite problematic.

My wife and I are in the process of shopping for new photography equipment now and getting formal training in professional photography techniques. I'd suggest more videographers consider doing likewise.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 11:49 PM   #37
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Photos are much easier to view. You can hang them all over your house. Videos are more trouble to watch. That's the first inherent value difference.
Combine that with the trends in wedding memorabilia. Traditionally, a "pro" wedding photographer would show up with some lighting kits and at least a Hasselblad or two which cost more than every piece of gear the average wedding videographer even owns. Also consider the years of training to understand exposure and lighting and framing. I mean, no offense but there are an awful lot of people who think that buying a $2000 camera and a $500 computer suddenly makes them a videographer (lighting? what's that?). Then they go around undercutting everyone's prices to get work (because they have no experience and thus no referrals) and the next thing you know, the industry won't pay anyone what their worth.
The best videography I've seen comes from traditional photographers. There actually was a time when you had to know the "Sunny f16" rule, and most videographers couldn't tell you an EV from ET and that translates into lower production values. Wanna improve your video's? Buy some lights (or at least some reflectors) and learn to use them, buy a fully manual camera and experiment with it, learn how shutter speed and aperture effect the image.
Video "is" more work to do well and the production values better be there if you want good money for it, but don't start thinking photography's cheap and easy to just "add on". Take a look at some of the equipment you're going to need. If you cringe about a $2500 camera, heck that'll barely get you a decent lens!
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Old March 29th, 2005, 09:26 AM   #38
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Rhett: that's an interesting mix of thoughts there, but the most pertinent observation is that pricing for videos has dropped because someone with a $2000 camera and a decent computer can make a video good enough to keep most customers happy. The same would appear to apply to photography today, a point which I avoided mentioning in my previous post. Bottom line is that most consumers are price conscious shoppers, and are simply not going to pay $3-5K or so for wedding photography plus another similar amount for videography. But there's every indication that they might be willing to pay a fair amount for some decent combination of the two services, and that's where I'm predicting the industry is heading.

I have to smile a bit when someone starts talking about elaborate equipment and complex production values, when it's obvious from what's happening to pricing that most customers don't really care about all that. Clearly we should all strive to improve the quality of our work on an ongoing basis, but it's just not the case that you need a master's degree and a truckload of equipment to produce marketable results.

Regarding equipment costs, it's a bit silly to try to compare photography and video gear, but it's clearly the case that one can spend a great deal of money on either one. At the high end of video you've got high-definition cameras which can easily cost upwards of $50K each, but almost no one uses those for weddings because customers aren't willing to pay for that...and now you've got the Sony HDV cameras at $3500 each which produce decent HD footage. Most photographers I've seen don't look like they own too many $2500 lenses, and I'll bet they don't have multiple production computers with terabytes of storage on them. It's pointless to claim that the typical photographer is going to own more gear than the typical videographer; there's a wide range in that regard in both industries.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 10:12 AM   #39
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P.S. The ease of sharing video is rapidly improving. When brides can carry their complete wedding video in a device the size of a large cell phone in their purse (which is almost true now), I think we'll see a lot more interest in viewing that compared to staring at a few still photographs. But there will be a place for both...
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Old March 29th, 2005, 10:34 AM   #40
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You're absolutely right Kevin. My point is from a customers perspective. Photography has been around for a very long time and much of that time, including today, the best equipment was outside of the reach of the average consumers budget. The pros were shooting medium format. The higher quality justified the higher price. Years of training the client base taught them that it cost's so much because the skill AND the equipment were abnormally expensive. Ever priced a Hasselblad kit with a few bodies and lenses and backs? It's a lot more than a 35mm rig the brides father has. The problem is that there hasn't been the same "re"-education of the client, based on video.
It doesn't help that it doesn't hold the same value as still images (because of the ease of viewing). But the whole industry has been telling them how easy it is to make your own video (I mean companies like Sony, Apple, Microsoft etc.). Then someone shows up with a video camera that is easily within the budget of the brides father (heck the dress cost more than the shooters camera in some cases, and the fathers 35mm camera could certainly cost more, mine does). Now the impression to pay someone a decent wage is overlooked by the fact that they (the family) think "they" could shoot it themselves. If the equipment is no better than they could afford to buy, and we all know it's super easy to do (courtesy of marketing lies) then "why the heck are you charging me so much, at least the photographers got a 22MP Hassy H1D under his arm."
It's a nasty scene. I know video is a lot of work, you know video is a lot of work, but until "they" know it is, everyone suffers. It doesn't help that someone would offer to shoot one for a really low rate either because they are just screwing it up for everyone, including themselves. I'll bet if it cost them $50K in equipment and a dozen years of training they would think twice about working for $300 a day (and it would be much easier to justify the higher cost).
I'll bet the trend to offer combo packages will pick up. But it'll be best served with strategic partnerships of similarly skilled artists. Why try to offer a new trade when you can't be behind both cameras at once anyway. Learn the skill to better your own work, but partner with a good photographer and let them do their job. Besides, it'll save setup costs, that Hassy, in case you didn't know, runs around $20K+.
Sometimes you have to look at the psychology of things. How many normal people do you know have even heard of Mamiya, Rollei, or Hasselblad? When they hear these names there is a certain amount of mystery behind them because of their "Pro" status. Say you're using a Sony VX2000 and it just kind of... blah. They can get that at Fry's. Doesn't instill the same mystery as if you said it was a Sony DSR-570. NOW there's something they could go "what?", and you could say, "you know, the same kind used by the TV stations and cost's more than your car, that's why I'm charging you $5K!" Of course then you still have the battle of the cheap, video just isn't as valuable as still work to the consumers. Until it becomes cheap enough to hang a flat panel TV in the hall to run your wedding video's on, the still photo will command higher value.


p.s. add to all this, the tremendous stress levels of shooting video during a wedding and it gets worse.
There needs to be some education handed out to the client base as a whole. Why doesn't someone from the wedding industry write a really great article with in-depth detail and photo's of how a good wedding video works and what it should cost (what it "SHOULD" cost) and submit it to BRIDE magazine a few times a year? That's a start, could even bring you some good business too.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 11:16 AM   #41
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Equipment. The very fact that we're bringing up HDV proves a point. Both tasks use expensive equipment. Both require talent. The typical videographer will have to buy a new camera, new computer, update software every couple of years. Thousands of dollars.

I know many good photographers that use their old and excellent and expensive film cameras for many years and even with new digital technology, don't really need to upgrade.

The reason prices are so much lower for videography is that people are accepting prices that, if they're full time, don't even cover the costs of their $2000 camera and "decent" computer, cover the rent/mortgage, car to go to and from weddings, etc.

There's a wide ranging client base to keep all of us busy BUT when I see a quantifiable 80-90% of price requests below the lowest base to sustain a business, WE are faced with a serious market problem.

Fortunately most of my video income does not come from weddings. Others are less fortunate. I can turn around a very low budget cable spot in two days and make as much as the 6 days it would take to shoot and edit a wedding based on the predominate rate for weddings in my market.
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Old March 29th, 2005, 03:37 PM   #42
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Rhett Allen wrote:

*****Why doesn't someone from the wedding industry write a really great article with in-depth detail and photo's of how a good wedding video works and what it should cost (what it "SHOULD" cost) and submit it to BRIDE magazine a few times a year? That's a start, could even bring you some good business too.******


The link below is not for videography, but it makes a good point.




http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/vanRiper/031222.htm


John
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Old March 30th, 2005, 08:47 AM   #43
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"The link below is not for videography, but it makes a good point."

Interesting article, but as I've noted in other posts I think many photographers do significantly overcharge their customers for what they deliver, especially in terms of whether they even give clients copies of all their good pictures. This appears to be changing somewhat with the advent of digital photography and increasing competition, but many photographers still appear to believe they have a right to gouge their customers for simple snapshot-sized prints. And I've met very few wedding photographers who have any concept of how to minimize their impact on wedding videography, even those who swear they'll do their best to keep out of the way. It's time for wedding photographers to make a major change in the way they do business, and if the old-timers won't do so then hopefully the newcomers will.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 11:35 AM   #44
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Kevin

Im sure most people are thinking the same thing about wedding videographers being over paid. The difference is photography always comes first in terms of budget. Videography is more like a luxury to most people.

I do both photography and videography at weddings. Most videographers can be just as annoying in terms of getting in the way of shots. It depends on the person.

John
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Old March 30th, 2005, 12:31 PM   #45
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Why can't photopraphers use a zoom lens for CU? :)
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