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


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Old November 30th, 2009, 12:00 AM   #16
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A wedding video does not have to be a huge production. You do need a wireless mic. If you can sit a second cam on a tripod it will make the edit a lot easier. But you can do it with one cam. You don't need fancy graphics or a lot of audio or color processing.

An hour of shooting and a half day to edit and encode.

The wedding video will have a raw feel compared to many, but the work of an aspiring pro is still going to be worlds away from an amateur home movie. That is what they are asking for.

The "it has to be perfect" imperative is yours, not theirs. Working for 20 hours on the shoot and 3 weeks on the edit is likely going to embarrass the couple.


If you want to take a lot longer over the shoot or the edit to get something for your reel, then let them know that's what you are doing.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 06:53 AM   #17
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I pretty much say "no" to all requests like this. I explain that what they're asking for will take at least 40 hours of work. Once they hear that, they understand why I can't do it free.

I'm on a few committees for the chamber of commerce and such. Since I'm on the committee the subject of doing a video for this event/that fundraiser/etc. always comes up. Somebody says "Oh, Chris can whip that out in five minutes!" I just calmly reply "No, if I do it I want to do it right and that will take three days..."
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Old November 30th, 2009, 10:12 AM   #18
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I say yes/maybe to just about every request I get from close friends or any charitable cause that I'm connected to in any way. But I never commit until a week or less out.

I turn up five minutes before the event, shoot with one cam and use whatever audio I can easily obtain. A quick edit with simple titles - bada bing bada bong.

Things go wrong - sure, but not that often, and the consequences are not worth worrying about.

I would never dream of turning up at a paid gig at the last minute with only 1 camera.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 05:16 PM   #19
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I really like Don's idea of a full price contract with a discount - it shows them the bargain they're getting.

The first 3 weddings I did for free to get some runs on the board but from day 1 I have never contemplated producing work that is not my best.

"gee that wedding video is pretty average - who did it?"
" a relative did it for free - he's a professional videographer"
"we'll it was worth every penny - I wouldn't hire him"

or

"gee thats a terrific video - who did it?"
"a relative did it for free - he's a professional - normally charges $2000"
"wow - he must be good "

While wedding video's are not seen by a wide audience, those that do might well be potential customers. Every guest at the ceremony/reception could be a potential customer.

The work you do on the day, how you look & act is a form of marketing. The bridesmaids & family who watch the finish product are potential customers.

I'm not that good or that busy or that experienced that I can afford to push out 2nd quality product.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 07:27 PM   #20
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"gee that wedding video is pretty average - who did it?"
"a relative did it for free - he's a professional videographer"
"we'll it was worth every penny - I wouldn't hire him"

Paul, I read this and almost spit out my coffee. Really good!

I learned a long time ago that if you don't place a value on your product people believe it is worth just that. A very very wealthy man taught me a long time ago, that even if you give the product away you have to, HAVE TO, let people know what the value of the product is AND taking 1 step further, you MUST give them a legitmate reason for giving them the price you are giving them. IOW "I'm doing this for you at NO Charge (never free but No Charge) because I'm just getting started in the business and need footage for my reel. I'm sure you've done some shopping around and know the average cost of professional video in this area is $(whatever it is) so I'd appreciate it if you didn't mention our special deal to anyone." (Big smile)
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Old December 1st, 2009, 12:02 AM   #21
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Well put Don!

It's also respectful to OTHERS in business (which is good in the long run) not to lowball or give away your product/service willy nilly... neither you or they will be in business long if you don't fairly value what you offer. You'll both end up working at Wal-Mart...

Not saying that offering a "business startup special" isn't good to get some demos/samples and track record under your belt, but keep in mind it's a special limited time offer!

When shooting for friends/relatives it can potentially be awkward, but if they like YOUR work, and would be hiring someone anyway, they shouldn't be too offended if you tell them your going rates and then offer a deal, because they are special to you!
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:26 AM   #22
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Some of you guys are pretty harsh on your families. Why don't you send them a 1099 for the cancellation of debt income too? Just kidding.

It should be a freebie. The few times I have done this the family offered money, if not the B&G, because this isn't just for the B&G, but for the family too. And when the family offers money, I feel it's okay to accept a moderate amount. That way everyone feels okay about the event. If no one offers money, that's okay too, although it's never happened, but I was once paid in little neck clams (Eastern Shore VA Family).

Edit: Of course I understand there are times we have to just say no. If the family is not close enough to you to clearly make it a freebie, I would probably go with no. And there are times where you have to take control, like a brother who says he dosent want a video, so you have to source, haggle and pay for the videographer yourself.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 01:22 PM   #23
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Some of you guys are pretty harsh on your families. Why don't you send them a 1099 for the cancellation of debt income too? Just kidding.
Do you feel comfortable saying "Hey Uncle Lawyer, would you mind going over my incorporation paperwork for free at the family reunion? Hey Cousin Doctor, my spleen's been acting up - can you check it out at no charge this Christmas?"

I find it amusing that people have no trouble asking for some services at no charge, but wouldn't imagine asking for others. I guess that must say something about the perceived value of the service.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 01:38 PM   #24
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No Chris, the part of it that's serious (and Jeff did say he was kidding) is that many people make wedding videos as a hobby that pays money. As a pro I abhor it but it's a fact all the same.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 02:17 PM   #25
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There are "favors" and there are favors... If someone wants me to grab a candid shot or even a few, no big deal... a full production... BIG deal.

I've got a camera of some sort with me most of the time, just in case. Might get something good, might not even get it out. Not likely to have a tripod or stabilizer gear...

If I'm at an event to shoot? Multiple cams, multiple tripods, stabilizer of some sort, multiple redundant backup equipment, and I'm going to dang sure to get something as interesting and high quality as possible, so I don't gag in the edit. Editing of course adds MORE time, if it's not a "trim and post to YouTube" scenario.

Just like I might ask a relative for a bit of "free advice" if it wasn't much time (like a few minutes at most), if it got complex, I'd expect to go in like any other client and pay.

The challenge is that many people just don't have the slightest idea of what goes into a proper production - I too once thought of it as "you've got a camera..." THEN I started trying to use one seriously...

There's a wide range of video quality out there - do you want to be "uncle Bob", or Stillmotion? Likely somewhere in between, hopefully closer to the latter. I think this is why the OP had the quandry, and where an honest talk with the "client/family/friend" is appropriate so that everyone is comfortable with the end result, both financially and in deliverable product. Even if you get paid in clams (yummmmmm...)!
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Old December 1st, 2009, 02:57 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
No Chris, the part of it that's serious (and Jeff did say he was kidding) is that many people make wedding videos as a hobby that pays money. As a pro I abhor it but it's a fact all the same.
That's probably what gets my hackles up - that people consider my profession to be a hobby. I don't shoot weddings at all anymore, so if they keep pressing the issue, my final "out" is saying "Sorry, I simply don't do weddings."
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Old December 1st, 2009, 04:36 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
Do you feel comfortable saying "Hey Uncle Lawyer, would you mind going over my incorporation paperwork for free at the family reunion? Hey Cousin Doctor, my spleen's been acting up - can you check it out at no charge this Christmas?"

I find it amusing that people have no trouble asking for some services at no charge, but wouldn't imagine asking for others. I guess that must say something about the perceived value of the service.
Although it would be done at their place of business, I would expect professionals in the family to take care of me gratis without thinking about it twice for the above scenarios.

Like I said in the earlier post, there are times you just have to say no.

Believe me I know the value and pain of the service, I have three events that all need editing and getting out ASAP.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 07:14 PM   #28
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Jeff, I agree with you. And I would expect professionals in my family to help me for free as well.

But (there's always a but), there's no way I would approach a family member and ask for what is essentially 40-50 hours of work for free. Try that on your lawyer uncle.

Still, people have no problem asking me if I'll shoot their wedding or other events for nothing. I mean, it's no big deal, right?

They have no clue how much time it takes! Ask them if they would give a $3000 wedding gift to a cousin or somebody, and see what reaction you get.

I've done weddings for family members for free if they are close enough that I want to give them that amount of time. But it's rare.
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Old December 2nd, 2009, 09:34 AM   #29
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The only wedding we would shoot for free would be either mine or Julie's siblings. Vito is right, a 2000 wedding gift for cousin/freind is an awful lot. If I had the spare time then maybe, but most people spend 50 on a wedding gift and an hour down the shops buying it. Not 2000 and 3 weeks.

I would treat it like any other buisness transaction. By all means discount, cost price but have a contract, have an agreement. The last thing you want is for payment time to arrive and they give you half of what you expected or nothing at all because they 'assumed'.
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Old December 2nd, 2009, 09:45 AM   #30
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I think this will answer all questions:

http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail205.html
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