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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old May 10th, 2005, 09:42 PM   #1
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Loving wedding videography over time

I am about to spend a very large sum of money (for me, at least :-) on wedding video equipment. Right now, I'm very gung-ho and just itching to practice as much as possible and get out there and do some weddings. I love it all so far... shooting, editing, working with others (although stressed out brides/mothers aren't always much fun), getting out from behind a desk, and on and on.

What do you long-time weddings videographers have to say about what you love so much about it and how you've lasted so long without burning out? How do you keep it fresh and fun, making you want to continue doing it year after year?

I just really don't want this to get old, boring, and repetitive, leading to burn-out. I love it so far, and I know if you do what you love, it can lead to burn-out quickly sometimes. Plus, I don't want to be strung up by my toenails by my wife for getting bored with it after spending this much cash!

Thanks!
Dan
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Old May 10th, 2005, 10:24 PM   #2
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Well I guess I qualify as an old timer (in more ways than 1). I've been shooting weddings as the majority of my workload for about 22 years and before that for 12 years as a still photographer. There is very little I haven't seen in the business and sometimes I get a bit jaded but in all honesty, I can say that I still really enjoy doing the weddings. I've met some really terrific people over the years, also met some really not so terrific, but the vast majority of the ones I've worked with really want the video and want it to be something they can watch for a long time. At least thats what they say. I enjoy the freshness and excitement that each couple brings to the table. I enjoy watching the parents and the looks on their faces as the day goes on (some because of love-some because of all the money they spent :-0) its fun to interact with the bridal party before the wedding and the guests during the reception. Hey don't get me wrong. I've had some miserable experiences as well. The kind of stuff that makes you either want to get out or write a book but I don't know how to do anything else so I keep doing what I know. I changed my editing style a few years ago and that gave me a fresh look at things, I've married off 1 daughter and 2 sons so I look at things differently now that say 10 years ago, the equipment has gotten smaller and better than 10 years ago which can really give you a fresh perspective and of course I'm generally older than the parents of the B/G so I can get away with saying stuff that most of the young guns could never get away with. Priviledge of age ;-)
Anyway, as you can tell, I still enjoy what I do. Truth be told, I'd rather retire and move to Maui but until that I do that (won't happen-my wife will never leave the grandkids) I'll keep doin' what I'm doin' or die with my camera in my hands!
Enjoy yourself keep a smile on your face and remember it all about them. Oh yeah get paid BEFORE the wedding!

Don
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Old May 10th, 2005, 11:08 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Shallenberger
I am about to spend a very large sum of money (for me, at least :-) on wedding video equipment. Right now, I'm very gung-ho and just itching to practice as much as possible and get out there and do some weddings. I love it all so far... shooting, editing, working with others (although stressed out brides/mothers aren't always much fun), getting out from behind a desk, and on and on.

What do you long-time weddings videographers have to say about what you love so much about it and how you've lasted so long without burning out? How do you keep it fresh and fun, making you want to continue doing it year after year?

I just really don't want this to get old, boring, and repetitive, leading to burn-out. I love it so far, and I know if you do what you love, it can lead to burn-out quickly sometimes. Plus, I don't want to be strung up by my toenails by my wife for getting bored with it after spending this much cash!

Thanks!
Dan
I don't know if I'd qualify as "long-term" wedding videographer- I'm still in my meek beginnings- starting my 4th season this year. And I only have about a dozen weddings under my belt.

Keep in mind wedding videography by nature is, in some ways, very stagnant. I used the analogy before that it's like shooting a short with the same script over, and over, and over again- but with a different cast each time. That won't change- and there's really nothing you can do about that aspect. What you CAN do is find variety in constantly developing and improving your style. Despite the fact your shooting generally the same things- look for different ways to do it. Experiment, create, and apply.

After each wedding I find myself looking forward to the next. Whether it be looking forward to improving a particular technique or trying out a new one. Other than the creative aspect I find wedding videography to be very challenging. Unlike any other genre you only have ONE chance to get the shot. It's a bit nerve racking sometimes but it makes you learn....very quickly. I like the challenge, the creativity it lets me exercise, and the reward when clients view their video for the first time. It's quite a good feeling to know you are working with a medium with so much emotional power over it's clients. Also, it's about the only job where you will be praised for your good work. I can't remember the last time my boss at my office job said "thank you" about my work. The gleaming priase you recieve for doing your job coupled with it's ability to evoke an emotional response in clients and their families makes it quite a rewarding venture. To me that outshines any shortcomings it has about monotony.
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Old May 10th, 2005, 11:59 PM   #4
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Hi Dan,

We have been doing wedding videography since 1996. We really love it. My wife and I work together. Sure, every wedding has similar things, but it is the people that makes it so interesting. It is so much fun to get to know our clients. Everyone has a different story to tell. Some want to open up to you with their thoughts and emotions and other are more private.

We really enjoy trying new things. Sometimes it's just a little twist and other times it is a totally different approach.

Another thing that keeps it fresh for us is attending wedding video conferences. It is so refreshing to meet new people as well as see videographers that we have been friends with for several years. By attending the WEVA Expo we have become friends with videographers from around the world. We have also traveled to both coasts to work for and with some awesome videographers.

The bottom line is THE PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS is what keeps it fresh for us.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions, Inc.
www.TulsaWeddingFilms.com
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Old May 11th, 2005, 12:29 AM   #5
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Hi Dan

Hi Dan

To reach the point of trying not to repeat your self it propably means
that you survived and you work , and get paid like a pro.
Because, No matter how exciting weddings can be, if you are not getting paid (while you want to buy new things every six months) you canít be that happy, smiley and creative.

Now, if 4-5 years down the road you manage to make a living out of wedding videography, then I am sure that you wonít repeat your self and you will always try to make something new. The digital marketing will help for this. New gear (software, cameras, e.t.c) coming every year, and those that wonít follow wonít survive.

Too much competition. I really believe that the wedding videographers creativity is all ready pre-planned from Canon, Sony , Canopus, Sonicfoundry e.t.c. Those who don't try to be creative are getting out of the game.

Anthony
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Old May 11th, 2005, 08:57 AM   #6
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Too much competition. I really believe that the wedding videographers creativity is all ready pre-planned from Canon, Sony , Canopus, Sonicfoundry e.t.c. Those who don't try to be creative are getting out of the game.

Anthony[/QUOTE]

Hi Anthony,

I'm not sure what you meant by that statement. Perhaps you could help me understand your point.

The way I see it is the Sony cameras are the most widely used wedding videography camera, yet the results vary greatly, depending on the person behind the camera.

While NLE do have their own list of effects, a dissolve is a dissolve and color correction is color correction.

I think creativity comes from the person behind the equipment, and while the equipment can enhance or stiffle their creativity, we are still telling a story and it's up to the client and the producer on how the story will be told.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions, Inc.
www.TulsaWeddingFilms.com
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Old May 11th, 2005, 11:26 AM   #7
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Hi Dan,

I would definitely say that wedding videography is not for the faint of heart. It's hard work and takes a lot of time and dedication. My hubby filmed his first wedding in 1991 and I started assisting him in 1995. He will tell you it's a good thing for him that I became hooked b/c it has made his life much easier in many ways. Not only do I carry (more than) half of the workload, I support and execute many of the biz decisions. For example, in the beginning, I was nervous about equipment purchases - always watching the finances - but eventually, I became so addicted to it that I was the one spotting gadgets and software and declaring, "We need this!"

Also, as he became burned out from editing and lost interest in it, I picked it up. I now do 90% of the editing. He still likes shooting and loves the technical aspects of it, but he leaves most of the creative and editing decisions to me. Which, of course, I don't mind. ;o)


Here are some things to consider before taking the leap:

Investments: With video especially, technology is constantly changing and requires upgrading to remain competitive. You could invest in a set-up today, which could be deemed worthless tomorrow due to format changes. If you don't plan on reinvesting, you could get left behind and if you do, you see that the profit is not as great as you had hoped or expected. Either way, it may become a loss, unless you stay dedicated.


Time: You have to give up quite a few family weekends. You'll miss birthday parties, reunions, weekend trips. Unless your family understands and supports your commitment, they may end up feeling neglected. And friends... after a while, they stop calling b/c chances are you have a wedding to shoot and aren't available to 'hang out.'

If you work from home, family again has to understand that designating a time and place where you can get some work done can make the difference between backlog and staying on schedule. Just because your physically present doesn't mean you are constantly available to them.


Patience: Wedding videography is a very unpredictable creature. The phone can ring three times in one day and then remain silent for weeks. Inquiries come and go in random spurts and especially for newbies, this can be very unnerving. I often hear of videographers panicking (I know the feeling, as well) and the impulse is to lower your price or offer discounts b/c you worry that you aren't going to book enough weddings to support your expenses, let alone make a profit. We don't experience this quite as much anymore b/c we've been thru it enough times to know that it comes around. We log and track our inquiries and we've learned that there are patterns for calls and bookings. Having the endurance to hang in there and the conviction not to give in can make the difference between profit and loss.


Willingness to learn new things: Personally, this is where I get burned out. Every year it seems there are new things to learn - new software, new gadgets, new techniques. And while I do get excited by the prospects of new ideas, and while they do keep things fresh, I sometimes feel burdened or overwhelmed by it, as well. Again, time and commitment are tested as you try to maintain your current workload while learning and intergrading the new ideas, software, equipment... Like I said earlier in my post, thank goodness Brian, my hubby, still takes an interest in the technical stuff b/c I have no patience for most of it. I leave it up to him to "figure it out" and then he shows me.


Passion: Lastly, this is the glue that holds it all together. If you don't absolutely love doing it, then you will get burned out faster. Weddings can be as tedious and repetitive as mathematics, but to each couple, it's a new adventure and if you love it as much as they do, their enthusiasm will rub off on you and you'll find new and unique ways to complete the equation.


If you haven't already done so, assiting another videographer would be a great way to start. Or film a few low-budget gigs. I would never advise someone to go into a job without the proper equipment, but before you drop a large chunk of cash on a full set-up, it may be a good idea to dabble and make sure it's for you. Even shooting a friend's wedding is a good test. If you find yourself looking at your watch every 10 mins or so in anticipation for the opprotunity to leave, that's a bad sign. If you spend the majority of the night talking to the DJ or a wedding guest, that's a bad sign. If you find yourself getting annoyed by all the "sappy" sentiments and neurotic requests from a bride, that's a bad sign, too.

But if you find yourself constantly scanning the room for the best shot or angle and you feel the hunger to capture it, then you may have found your calling.

Best of luck.
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Thanks,
Jenn M
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Old May 11th, 2005, 02:53 PM   #8
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Excellent reply, Jenn!

Wow. All those words were definitely worth the time. Thank you, Jenn.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 02:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom
Anyway, as you can tell, I still enjoy what I do. Truth be told, I'd rather retire and move to Maui but until that I do that (won't happen-my wife will never leave the grandkids) I'll keep doin' what I'm doin' or die with my camera in my hands!
Don
Don, I hope you've got money saved up. If you're even thinking of moving here, the average price of a single family home on Maui is now around $700,000 (and gas is $2.89 a gallon) Yeesh!

I've been doing weddings since '95. Mostly Japanese weddings (when I was working for another company) - before 9/11 we were averaging 30+ weddings per month. Now that I've branched out on my own, I'm trying to recover from nearly burning out on weddings (because the company wanted us to turn the videos around so quickly, each wedding pretty much followed the same pattern, with little time allowed for creativity).

Now I try to pace myself - I know I can't do EVERY wedding that comes my way. I stick to what I can handle and concentrate on doing my best for those few weddings that I do.

I don't think I'll ever completely quit doing weddings. Sure, there's the occasional bridezilla or equipment snafu, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

It's never "just another wedding" - these people are inviting you to share in a special moment in their lives. Respect that. You become a part of their family for a day.

When you're in the groove,
when you get that camera angle that you wanted
or get that goosebump feeling when you're editing the vows,
or when you get that call from the bride thanking you for getting that moment when her now-deceased father walked her down the aisle.

It's all worth it.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 04:23 PM   #10
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Todd,
When we were there a couple of years ago I looked in the newspaper, saw the pricing of houses and almost lost my morning coffee! It's one of those things that go into the "if I ever won a big lottery" pipe but since I don't play I guess I can't win so I suppose that means I'll just have to go there for vacation ;-(
Oh well, every couple of years is OK but I'd still rather be able to walk on the beach in December. Can't really do that in Chicago.

Next year we're going to the big island for about 10 days so maybe my wishes will change but I sure loved what I saw on Maui.

Don
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Old May 11th, 2005, 09:02 PM   #11
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Don, a little photo/video tip for you if you're going to the Big Island. If you're planning to hike out to see the lava flow into the ocean, plan to be at the site just before sunset. (about 1.5hrs hike each way) You'll really be able to see the lava stand out when it doesn't have to compete so much with the daylight.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 11:22 PM   #12
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Wow! Thanks so much everyone for responding with true emotion and feeling for what you do.

The main reason why I asked this is because I tried wedding photography before, and failed at it. Well, not really failed, but I lost interest in doing it. I loved that these families wanted to share their most incredible day with me. I thought at first that it was working with the brides and families, and I would quit for a while, but I kept finding myself wanting to do weddings again, only to not enjoy it when I had additional opportunities. I loved working closely with so many different brides and families, but I just couldn't get into wedding photography.

Then I found video. I have always loved video as a way of documenting lives and events, but never saw my creative talents as enough for doing them myself (but I sure envied the toys you all got to use!). I was asked to shoot a wedding last December, and I've been hooked since. I loved doing it. It felt so much different than photography, but I didn't know why... and I still don't. I just know it feels very different and I like it. Plus, I found out I'm not half-bad at it either.

Jennifer, I am working for another local videographer part-time shooting mostly second camera, and I'll do a reception once in a while starting next month. It's not glamorous at all, and the pay is low, but more importantly it gets me out around brides and parents, guests, pastors, churches, and gives me real-world experience with my equipment and techniques. I've already caught myself trying new things once I started feeling comfortable with the basics, and my boss likes it so far (as long as I don't miss the required shots).

But, regardless, I can't help but to think of my burn-out with wedding photography, and wondering if it'll happen with videography as well. I guess no matter what you do, though, I think you just have to educate yourself about what the real-world expectations are, decide if you might have what it takes and if it's worth a shot. If so, take the risk. Everything in life is risk in one way or another, so might as well choose the risks that sound like more fun!

Plus, I want to try other video adventures, and I think that would help with any possible monotony and creative-block that the stress from weddings might bring.

Again, thanks for all the thoughtful responses! I appreciate your input.

Dan
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