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


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Old February 4th, 2010, 08:09 AM   #16
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don't do it

you are a stay at home mom. if you value your family and time with your children, find something else to do. you are going to spend a lot of money on gear, to start a business with no gauranteed income. My "passion" for other people's happiness has cost me my own family (yes, getting divorced) because I didn't know how to have a work life balance, and it is an easy rut to get in to. You will have to start off offering your services for a lower
price to get started, and will have to stay there for a season or two. NOT WORTH IT!
Find a good job working for someone else, with insurance, that you enjoy doing. Keep your free time free.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 10:15 AM   #17
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Scott makes a very good point. Most full production video guys/gals that own their own business probably work 80+ hours a week... If you have a family or social life that you want to keep around, you will have to figure out a way to balance your time better.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 10:30 AM   #18
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Family and social life? What are those?

Scott is right. The wedding video business doesn't really allow a whole lot of time for either if you're out trying to make a decent living. Meeting with clients, shooting, editing, putting out fires, meeting with clients, phone calls, etc...and frankly the retirement benefits aren't so good.
HOWEVER!!!! Having said all of that, one must do what one feels is best for oneself. Almost 38 years ago I knew I couldn't work as an employee for anyone, since I knew I didn't work or play well with bosses, so I struck out on my own as a still photographer. Then 12 years later went into video. I've been my own boss since 1971 or 72 and while I have contracted long term to companies thru out my career as both a still photog and vidguy, I run my business my way. Right or wrong, it's mine.
I have been very lucky thru out the years to have a wife and kids that understood daddy worked weekends, day and a lot of nights but when he wasn't working he was as involved in family life as anyone. Instead of vacations in the summer we went in the winter, even though I might not be at all the games my boys played or the drum and buglecorp compititions all my kids were in they knew I was always there in spirit.
It is a hugh balancing act and not everyone can do it which is unfortunate because even after all this time and all the events I've done over the years, I still love it enough to keep doing it even at 63 years old.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 11:37 AM   #19
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Apples to apples

Rose - I can probably offer you some pretty fair advice... moreso than anyone who hasn't tried to obtain this goal in your situation. I am a mother of 2 (one 5 and one 3 year old) and own my own videography business for 5 years. We shoot between 25-35 weddings per year. I do all of the marketing, shooting (with some assistants), editing and customer interactions. I will tell you, that while trying at times, it has proven to be extremely rewarding.

One factor that has allowed me the success I have experienced is my husband's undying support. He assists me when I need him, watches the kids when I have client meetings, lends an eye to my work when I have doubts, encourages me to keep going when I'm ready to throw my computer out in the snow, and much much more. If it weren't fo this, I might not be where I am...

I went into videography on a whim... I had a cousin that asked me to film their wedding... just because I had a consumer camcorder. I had one editing class (yes, only one) in college to teach me the basics, so I decided to play with their footage. I enjoyed it a ton, so I decided to maybe do one or 2 low cost weddings a year for fun, mainly to help those that couldn't "afford a videographer" - I was a newlywed that had to eliminate a videographer because my husband lost his job right before our wedding. After my first "paid" gig, I got a ton of referrals because this client was on the Knot chat boards and the next year I had 35 weddings. I didn't even purchase my professional equipment until I had 10 of those booked. [NOTE - I am not recommending that you try this!] Leads me to another point... I went in with no overhead. I purchased all of my equipment with those deposits and waited until I made money to buy more.

Money can be a huge stress so be smart about it. I no longer offer low cost services as previously stated and I'm still shooting no less than 25 weddings per year. I am a firm believer that where there is a will, there is a way. The only advice I can offer to you is first listen to your FAMILY... then your HEART. Its hard to step back when you have a dream and listen to those around you, but it will save your family in the long run. I can tell when my family has had enough of my endless hours on the computer and needs to be with me. I take a break (usually much needed) and we do something fun!

Take on only as much as you can handle. As a woman in the field, things tend to be difficult. Standing with a camera on your shoulder for 10+ hours in a day is very physically demanding... but if you are in shape, its totally doable. I have done up to 3 weddings in a weekend (don't recommend it and will never do it again)... but learn your limitations. Understand that while your kids sleep/play, you are going to have to work (I bring my laptop into the family room so I can be with them AND work during the day). When you have deadlines, you may not get a full night sleep for days. There are tons of "negatives" but only YOU can decide if the "positives" outweigh them!

I could go on for days... but start out small, should you decide to move forward. If you aren't good on the business side, find a friend/family member to maybe give you some input. You want to start things out being legit... so when you get the ball rolling, you don't have to throw yourself in front of it to slow down. Please feel free to email me with any questions/advice. I am not perfect, nor am I one of the "leaders" on this board or in wedding videography in general, BUT I do have a passion for what I do, offer the best product I can to my clients, have a love for wedding/event videography in general, and balance this with being a full time mom of 2 toddlers, as well as teaching Zumba part time for fun...

;-)

[all that being said - if I was an outsider reading all of that, I'd think I'm nuts! Hehe!]
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Old February 4th, 2010, 12:10 PM   #20
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I punched a time clock for forty years, the last thirty in the health care industry. I just started my business in August, but am really enjoying my work now. It's a big change starting a business for the first time. It's not stress free. Money can be a problem, especially in today's economy. But there are worse stresses in life than money problems.

My advice, get a lawyer you can trust, a CPA you can trust, and a financial planner you can trust. Join a local videography group if one is nearby. Find people who really do know what they are talking about and listen to their advice. Get a tough skin, but keep a tender heart. Work hard, but don't over do it.

Don't go gear crazy. Think about your workflow. Often times some good thinking can save you a lot of wasted work. Don't accept every offer of work. Be nice, but don't be stupid. Pray hard. Give yourself time to get your business established. Think long term.

Listen to the people on this forum who've been doing it a long time. It's helped me starting my business.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 12:41 PM   #21
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concerning gear, buy used! if you intend to do it, buy all used stuff, with the exception of a wireless mic. only because of the new C band restrictions.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 04:48 PM   #22
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THANK YOU! Re: Advice Needed from Wedding Videographers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Jones View Post
I am interested to hear what Rose has to say about all the advice provided thus far. No further posts since the initial one. Has she been scared off with the reality check? Or has this made her more determined to try it out.
THANK YOU everyone for the thoughtful replies. What a great group of people!

No, Aaron, I'm not scared off with the reality check. I so greatly appreciate the honesty from those who've experienced firsthand how difficult this can be...but also the encouragement from those who truly love what they do. All the replies have given me much to think about and process...I will respond when I have a bigger chunk of time...THANK YOU again, and keep the advice coming.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 05:37 PM   #23
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I'd say read and print Dawn's post - she's worn your shoes, and I nominate her for a "most helpful post award"!

We all bring different perspectives and experiences to the table. In the end, you'll have to figure out whether you like being the boss and the janitor... but it you do, it has its perks.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 11:01 PM   #24
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Hi Rose,

You have been given some great advice from varying perspectives. You can see that there is not just "one right way" to do this.

When we started our business as a side thing, our kids were 8, 7 and 5. We went full time four years later. They are now 21, 20 and 18. We worked really hard at keeping a balance between work and family. When they were younger we purposely only did 25-30 weddings a year. Now that they are older, we do a little more than that, but we wanted to make sure that we were around when they were younger.

One of the great things about being self employed is that we could take off in the middle of the day to go to a softball game or a track meet. When we did take off, it meant we had to work after we got home from the game, but if we had a 9-5 job, we would have missed a lot of those games and other activities. One of the keys has been controlling how much business we accept and not letting the business control us. It is a tough balance to keep, but so well worth it.

I love what I do and I am so blessed to be able to do it with the love of my life.

I totally agree with the advice of working for or with another video company. You can learn so much...what to do...what not to do...but more importantly, it will give you a real taste of what the wedding day is like. In reality, we spend a lot more time in post and admin stuff than we do on the wedding day, so while working some weddings will give you a taste, remember, it's only a portion of the big picture.

Once you have gotten some experience with another video company, even if it is just a few weddings, you may decide that you want to proceed further. Two of the keys are buy your equipment right and limit how many bookings you accept.

Gear:

Cameras, Audio, Support Gear, etc...
I highly suggest buying good used gear. With the variety of tapeless cameras that are coming out, you don't have to be concerned with the wear and tear of tape based cameras. If you get a year into the business and realize it isn't for you, you will not take as bad of a hit on used gear vs. buying brand new gear. My camera of choice is the Panasonic HMC150. New price is around $3250, but I have seen used ones for $2500-2800.

Computer and Software
I don't know if you are Mac or PC and I do not want to start a war with my comments. I have two reconditioned Dell tower systems that cost $550 and $600. I still had to add monitors and hard drives, but these systems allow me to edit HD in real time. Vegas and Edius Pro are two of the cheaper yet full functioning NLE that come to mind. Edius Neo is less than $200 and will do 90% of what the more expensive Edius Pro will do.
Bottom line...you can spend $10,000 plus on a screaming NLE, Mac or PC, but like I said before, if you realize this business is not for you after a year or so, then you will not have the financial hardship of spending $20,000 plus on gear.

The key with all of this is to take small and calculated steps. If you take a step in the wrong direction, it is easy to change course. Avoid taking big leaps because sometimes when you take that big leap, you don't like what you landed in. Then it is a lot more painful and expensive to overcome a wrong choice.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 09:00 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Hayes View Post
you are a stay at home mom. if you value your family and time with your children, find something else to do. you are going to spend a lot of money on gear, to start a business with no gauranteed income. My "passion" for other people's happiness has cost me my own family (yes, getting divorced) because I didn't know how to have a work life balance, and it is an easy rut to get in to. You will have to start off offering your services for a lower
price to get started, and will have to stay there for a season or two. NOT WORTH IT!
Find a good job working for someone else, with insurance, that you enjoy doing. Keep your free time free.
I agree with Scott.

The one thing that is not clear from your post is if you intend for this to be a positive cash flow business. If this is intended to be a labor of love and you are financially set already, I would totally go for it. If you have to be careful with your money or need this to produce an income, I would not suggest getting into videography at this point in your life.

When you are just getting into the business, there is lots of setup work to be done and lots of expenses. If you prepare even a basic spreadsheet of costs and expenses and look at your best case revenue for the year, it's easy to see you have to do a lot of work to just break even. And when you do get rolling, you have to know when to say when and stop booking for your particular situation. So even when money is not the object, this can still be a challenging job.
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