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

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Old July 30th, 2010, 11:58 AM   #1
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Freelancer Problems

I'm on a very tight budget for my wedding (by choice, I'm paying for the wedding, "cash is king") so I definitely looking for something I can afford. I know a young guy who has done only two or three weddings and he takes good shots but I was not a fan of his editing. So I asked him to freelance the wedding and a shot list and get me the shots and I planned on doing the editing. About a month ago I offered him $100 (which isn't much, but he's definitely not a pro). He agreed to it.

Everything would have been solved if I had gotten the contract to him sooner but I sent it to the wrong email address. He said he needed to talk to me the other day and needed the shot list still, so I sent him the shot list. He called and said the normal pay per hour in Spokane, WA for freelancers was $150/hour and my shot list was a 7-8 hour shot list. He didn't ask for that much but was using it as a reference point.

My questions are:
1. Is $100 unreasonable for a newbie to freelance a wedding? (He has no travel costs.)
2. Is this shot list a 7-8 hour shot list?
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Old July 30th, 2010, 12:50 PM   #2
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a) you get what you pay for... IMO that's borderline insulting for shooting a wedding.
b) how long a day are we talking...

That's the short answer, but shooting a wedding can easily be an all day affair, just because of how "events" are timed, or I've shot small affairs that were over in under 3 hours... it's not necessarily how long the camera's rolling, it's how long you've got to be "on set" to get the shots. Unless he lives at the church... there's still SOME costs involved in "being there". Unless it's a good friend who is doing this as a wedding gift, or this guy NEEDS footage for his portfolio, $100 is pretty cheap.

I'm still trying to figure out what a rate in WA has to do with a rate in AR? Rates can vary depending on location and also on what equipment is being included (you didn't say what he's shooting WITH, how many cameras and of what type, what sort of peripheral gear he's bringing...).

I'm taking a shot in the dark without knowing the answers to the above variables, but I'm thinking more in the order of $300-500 would at least be "reasonable", although I'm sure that wrecks your budget - maybe you could trade him for some editing services?
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Old July 30th, 2010, 01:17 PM   #3
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Even a lowly PA on a professional set makes $200 - 300 for a day, which is pretty much what you're asking him to sacrifice time-wise. I would say $100 is too low - AND, you get what you pay for. People will work harder for you if they believe they are being fairly compensated. They will work against you if they feel you're holding out or being cheap. Maybe not fair, maybe not right, but it's the truth.

Ask yourself honestly how you'd feel about doing that much work for $100, regardless of "pro" status or not...
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Old July 30th, 2010, 01:26 PM   #4
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I have to agree with Dave. 99% of the weddings I've done even without doing bridal prep are at least 8 to 9 hours unless the B&G agree in advance to change the schedule of the day.

For example; ceremony starts at 3PM, I start at 2PM getting B roll of the ceremony venue, setting up my B cam, audio, micing the groom and not having to run around like a chicken without a head and breaking a sweat to do what I need to do. I also get to talk to the officiant and photog to make sure we're all on the same page. A typical Catholic ceremony with mass runs from about 45 to 60 minutes. The post ceremony photo shoot and cocktail hour before introductions not including travel time to the reception venue, is about an hour and a half to close to 2 hours at least in my area. If it's not a Catholic mass ceremony then it might be about 30 minutes less. Now figure the introductions, toasts, cake cutting, special dances, and bouquet and garter are about an hour and a half IF the bouquet and garter are done immediately after the special dances which only happens rarely around here. Generally that happens later on in the evening. So if the ceremony starts at 3PM and I start at 2 PM and the cocktail hour starts at 6PM intros at 7PM the cake cutting, dinner prayer and toasts run until about 7:30. The first dance doesn't start until about 9PM and the bouquet and garter usually at about 10:30PM which means by the time thats done and I do my goodbye shot I'm not done til 11PM. So 2 to 11 is 9 hours.

The typical average rate around here for a primary shooter is $300 to $500.

Keep in mind that freelancing is a term that means you get to work for anyone you choose to work for. You are not an employee working for ABC company shooting exclusivly for them. I'm a freelancer and I shoot stuff under my name, I also shoot for 3 other wedding companies under their name and I shoot for 2 AV companies under their name. I've done TV work both as a camera operator and tech. I work for whomever hires me so I'm a freelancer. Actually I'm an independent contractor and get 1099'd at the end of the year.

Now having said all of that, this guy has shot only a few weddings so is he worth more? Maybe, only you can decide but honestly, I think $100 is way too low but would I pay him $150 per hour? Not on your life.

I'm sure there's a happy medium somewhere but honestly the job is worth $300 to $500 to shoot.
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old July 30th, 2010, 01:51 PM   #5
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Yes & Yes :) I agree with Dave that its borderline sure he'll take the job if you offer him $30-$40/hr...just explain that is a pretty good rate( job/work wise) + no edits at all... and that $150/hr in Washington must be for experienced or not; shooting weddings is draining and time consuming so getting your video guy fairly compensated will give you piece of mind..

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Old July 30th, 2010, 02:23 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kren Barnes View Post
if you offer him $30-$40/hr...just explain that is a pretty good rate( job/work wise) + no edits at all
My HARD COSTS are between $15 - 20 an hour (tape stock is $13 my cost per 1 hour tape and I won't re-use tape or use any other brand than JVC + amortized wear and tear on the camera at $5 per hour of head time). Solid state shooters have some benefit here.

But I do agree that $500 is potentially a little rich for a NEW shooter... I bailed a buddy of mine out for a wedding shoot 2 weeks ago and I made $250 for a LONG day (did it as a favour ONLY) but didn't have to supply any kit. And I'm a 12 year shooter (news, international docs and corporate) but VERY few wedding hours.

My day rate when I started out 12 years ago was $200 a day for labour and by the time I was charging that, I already had regional commercials on my resumé as DOP.

$150 an hour? I'll assume that is a PRO level shooter with serious gear, NOT a single chip HD camcorder... For $150 an hour, I'd expect a shoulder cam (thinking XDCam HD...) and a serious shooter. And I'd expect a 4-5 hour minimum call strictly enforced. Nothing WRONG with $150 an hour but NOT for a newbie. EVER.

ADDENDUM: Just to show I'm not completely out of touch - the DAY rental on the cameras I suggest in my market is about $750 a day BUT I was suggesting that in THIS market, if a guy is charging $150, he probably OWNS gear and a LOT of us are having to do value added right now... If you are able to charge out full labour AND still get full gear rental in your market, more power to you... If you factor in a 10 hour production day at $1500 ($150/hr x 10) minus the rental ($750), you'll see that my estimation is fair. Not nearly so much at 5 hours IF one has to rent the camera for the day...
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Old July 30th, 2010, 02:42 PM   #7
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Ok... another way to look at the equipment component - from any reputable video rental house, day rate on gear is NORMALLY 3 - 5% of new purchase cost per day, depending on how "consumable" the item is - light kits typically cost a higher percentage than tripods or C-stands for instance. Cameras are usually right at 3 or 4 percent IN MY EXPERIENCE. If he's shooting with a $1500 camera, by my calculations, rental FOR THE DAY would be in the $45 to 75 dollar range. Tape or other consumables extra. Add in wireless, tripod, lights et al for a reasonable figure.

TOO MANY newbies try to pay for their entire kit in 3 shoots...
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Old July 30th, 2010, 03:00 PM   #8
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From the list I read, you are asking him to shoot from the bride getting dressed right through her tossing the bouquet, which here is the entire wedding. There's nothing wrong with that, it would be a complete and thorough coverage of the day for you to select from.

My opinion of "when I am working" is the time I am not available to go and do as I please, for as long as I please. So, in this case, I would consider myself to "be working" from arriving at the bridal prep until I shut the cam down and put it away to go home. I use this same definition for those I hire, as waiting around is not their fault and they have no option of using that time for other than what I wish of them as needs arise.

You know the approx. times bridal prep should begin and when the bouquet would most likely be tossed. Here typically that is going to cover a span of 10 hours or more. I consider all "10 or more" of those hours, hours I should be paid, or hours I must pay those shooting for me.

Right now I am training a brand new shooter who has near no experience and no gear of her own. For the wedding you describe and the typical time frame here for all those things to occur, she would be paid more by me to be there for training, than you are offering this person to go in and do it with the skills he already has.
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Old July 30th, 2010, 05:04 PM   #9
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To answer a few questions:

He has a t2i, rode shotgun mic, a tripod and some sort of thing to hold his dslr on top of to get creative shots. (He did our engagement video. Told us he'd do it for free because he wanted the material but I ended up giving him $100 just for appreciation of him helping.)

As far as insulting, he didn't see it as insulting when he agreed to it. And he is a lifetime friend of the bride. Granted, I'm definitely not in the business of using friendships to get free stuff, but if I'm hiring a newbie freelancer, I'm going to throw out a number and see if he'll take it.

Length of the wedding: The planned time of the wedding would be 3-4 hours. (1 hour early for pictures, estimated hour for the wedding and 1 of reception) We'd stage any prep shots to help with time.

The distance: it's his church that the wedding will be at. The wedding is in Spokane, WA.
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Old July 30th, 2010, 06:05 PM   #10
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You're probably spending more on your napkins than your wedding videographer. I recently agreed to film a client of the bride getting ready and ceremony (without the reception) for $400 (no video of them getting there pics taken by the photographer). about 4 hours of work... YouTube - Pay that man his money
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Old July 31st, 2010, 01:29 AM   #11
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Most of what we learn in this field comes from (A) trial and error or (B) the wisdom of more experienced people.

I think the operator you hired made an (A) error in agreeing to the flat $100 (though I can't fault him for it since he clearly didn't have a reference frame for shooting rates at the time). However, this is a chance for you to (B) teach him a little about bidding/accepting jobs. I vote for determining a fair rate (like you're doing here on the forum) and then offering him that, rather than throwing out a dollar amount to see if he goes for it. Help the guy out a little. He can use some guidance.

If you're looking for my short answer...I say $50(ish) per hour is a decent rate with a guaranteed minimum of $200.

Alec Moreno
Wedding Art Films - Southern California - Los Angeles - Orange County - Video
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Old August 6th, 2010, 01:33 AM   #12
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From looking at that list your demand is very extensive. "ALL people at the tables, don't forget the little ones, special moments, decorated car." I mean you have 18 establishing shots. "Doors?" Really? In my opinion you sure are asking a lot for a little. 8+ hours easily. I kindly suggest that it would be kind of you to help this kid out and pay him a more reasonable rate. It would be very difficult for him to capture all these things. I always shoot with two videographers and with a list like this I can imagine wanting three.

If you want to make sure you get everything you want, maybe consider hiring a pro. Otherwise, don't take advantage of this person. I understand that he'll do it for free and he's your friend and all that but he's trying to make a name for himself and do good work. Be a friend. Help it him out. I pay my guys $50/hr and they do less work then what this guy is going to go through.

I shot my first gig when I was 17 and was offered $100 because I was "Just holding a camera." I refused the money, did it for free and worked my ass off. Don't put him in the same place as me. He has at least $1000 worth of gear. Shooting a wedding with a DSLR takes some skill and knowledge. All manual settings and full manual focus. $100 will only buy him two SD cards he'll be needing to capture all the little details you want. At that rate it'll take him forever to grow. I thought he was your friend?

I'm offended for the guy.
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