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


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Old August 8th, 2005, 01:43 PM   #1
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When does your time START?? *frustrated

The way I chose to set up my packages is for full coverage of the ceremony and 2 hours at the reception with of course the option to pay for additional hours. All of the weddings I've done this at has worked out well, except the last one. What I tell the b & g is that the time starts when they enter the reception. Usually the b & g do pics after the ceremony which gives me a chance to get to the reception and video the hall. However, the last wedding I did it took over 2 hours for pics before the b & g showed up to the reception. So for 2 hours we stood and waited and then when they finally showed up I still had 2 more hours to go. So I'm looking for a different way to set things up and was wondering how others dealt with this situation.

Just a side note, I do NOT want to change from a time frame to "I'll cover the formalities" because I've been to weddings where they make the formalities span over a 4 hour period.....
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Old August 8th, 2005, 01:55 PM   #2
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We start our "time limit" from the beginning of the wedding ceremony. We, naturally, get there earlier to get the pre-shots and set everything up but time actually starts at the beginning of the ceremony. If they want to have a 4 hour gap between the two, no problems but all four hours count against their time.
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Old August 8th, 2005, 04:13 PM   #3
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I would add that a more fair option would be to charge for a 'non-activity' period which would cover time between ceremony and reception.

This 'non-activity' rate could be slightly less than your normal hourly rate but I am always wary of the 'charge for every minute' scenario which would scare people off especially if they know they are going to have a longish dead period between ceremony and reception.

Remember that sadly the videographer mostly 'gets the hinds end' of the budget - a perception I am REALLY working hard on to change!

Cheers
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Old August 8th, 2005, 05:27 PM   #4
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I can see the splitting of hairs really come into play in terms of when you're "on the clock" and when you're not. Ideally the bride and groom should outline for you when they want you to record. I'd lay out all of the reasons why the more expensive package may be better because then your camera is rolling a lot longer and you're getting a lot more footage.

If they can only afford "x amount of footage" then explain to them that it is your experience that we should be hitting the highlight points like: prep, ceremony, reception: dancing, cake... I realize the latter two items are difficult to determine because of photographers, long reception lines, etc... and schedules are so difficult to keep up with.

But you may get an idea of some of the timings if you talk work with the caterer or the wedding planner - so as to give you an idea of when they plan on eating.. Most brides and grooms know that they shouldn't be keeping their guest's food waiting -- (assuming that the b&g wait to eat at the reception) (especially if they pay a lot for their food!)

Good luck!
-Michael
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Old August 8th, 2005, 09:41 PM   #5
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the easiest and no brainer way of doign it is "thusly" god i hate that word...

shoot whatever preceremony stuff you need and give yourself half an hour BEFORE the bride leaves.. if the cars arent there by then, tough... therell be plenty of chances to get the cars in later anyway...

okies, so youve shot ur preps, and the brides gonna leave in half an hour.. so you leave NOW.. this gives you half and hour to set up and get ur preshots prior to anyone showing up..

okies, do ur thing at the ceremony, but advise the couple that any family shots WONT be filmed.. i mean who really wants to see a bunch of people standing around taking photos in a line up? Yeah u can get some nice candid stuff, but you can utilise this tium eto pack form teh ceremony and preapre for the photoshoot (theres usually 2.. the family shots, and then the formal bridal party BG shots.. THESE second ones ar ethe ones u want.. )

Now from here, just follow them.. compose ur shots on the fly, but get afew key shots which make your videos different from the norm.. its always good to have a specific shot which you can call your own..

anywyas, from here, find out what time theyre leaving for the reception, then leave half an hour before that. This gives u time to set up at the reception.

Now if ur package requires a set time limit, i actually tell the client to write down what time they want us to start shooting, and if they go overtime, tough.. they could easily have upgraded he package to include the full receptopn, but some people dont..
Dont fall into the trap of "we leave after the cake and first dance" what if theyre first dance is at 10pm?? and youve been there since 5 or 6...? Brides are prolly the most scrupulous people your ever gonna deal with, so even though your servicing them, dont forget, that its also a business transaction for them, and they WILL milk you for what your worth..
I tell them that if they go for our 3hour reception coverage, the time will start at the time the reception is stated on their invitation.
This is a fair call and they never argue that point. Basically they understand that we start when the reception starts, even if the couple isnt there yet..
Usually were shooting for about half an hour prior to any announcments so its a good time to get interviews.

I try to kep my packages basic. Too much info on the coverage side of things can get confusing for me and the client, especially if ive just shot 3 weddings over the same weekend (fri, sat, sun)
its always best to arrange with the couple what is coverd and what isnt, the way i see it, if im there to shoot the event, ill shoot whatever is worth keeping, or shoot what i can use to make the edit easier.
so i take these portrait shot times etc, as a way to rest, coz by then, ive already hit the 5hr mark so i deserve a rest.. but if its a Macedonian wedding, forget it.. trust me.. Maco weddings are prolly the hardest to ever do, let alone edit and deliver... Some people think Indian weddings are difficult.. no theyre just boring coz yur sittin there for 4 hours straight... cutting is easy, jsut make sure you have at least an hours worth of cutaways... but for Maco. i tell ya, there a friggin knightmare.. god money, but an extreme nightmare.. i can say that coz im part Maco myself, so theres no racial issues here.. hey maybe we can write up a culture sticky.. hmm..
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Old August 8th, 2005, 09:56 PM   #6
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oh i just remembered.. with the cake and the first dance..
I have done afew weddings on the cheap where the couple didnt even need us (us as in photographer and me) to stay longer than the time the meals came out.. prolly coz they didnt wanna fork out $100bux to feed us.. but either way, weeeve actually set up dummy cake cut shots, and even dummy bridal waltz's so even if you are restricted to time, get them to pretend to cut the cake, just make sure the angle your shooting at LOOKS like the knife is going through...who knows they might want to even bump up the official cake cut anyway..
as for the first dace.. u really only need 3/4 footage of the actual duration of the song..(slow mos will extend this and give u room to move during edit.... ) the song doesnt have to be played, but i find that gettin them to dummy the dance, is actually funnier and the response from BG is that they get a lil embaressed so they laugh.. this is a good thing as the looks they give each other is actually alot more natural as oppsed to feeling 100 prying eyes staring at them.... but in the end, they have fotos and a video which is workable with a story and doesnt bust their bank.. on top of that, you can even get some awesome shots this way, as you dont have to worry about being unobtrusive at this time. Theyre doing this for YOU and and Photographer, so getin in there and gettin those trippy shots is also a good thing..
bow about a hand held crane like shot over their heads DURING the dance... :) u dont see that often..or how bout setting up a light behind them and gettin the camera about 30cm from their faces and as they close in for a kiss you slowly zoom in while you pull the camera back?
its shots like this you CANT get in "real life" (well you can but youd look silly) so you can always get a good result, even if you think its a bad situation..
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Old August 8th, 2005, 10:07 PM   #7
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Jennifer,

I know zip about shooting weddings so I probably shouldn't even be replying.... But it seems to me that if you are on stand-by and unable to make money shooting another gig, are tying up your equipment and crew etc.; than you should be paid for this time.

Professional clients understand this. Perhaps you SHOULD add something to your contract regarding this issue. Try not to give any of your time away unless you are just starting out and need the video for your reel.

Sincerely,

Steph
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Old August 8th, 2005, 11:34 PM   #8
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My time starts generally a day or two before the rehearsal and ends either at the very end of the reception or [occasionally] after a morning after brunch. I work out w/ the B&G or wedding planner a day close to the wedding when all of the final preps start coming together. I work out the hours that I start to be before everyone else shows up :)

Then I'm at the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, any after parties, etc. I've done a bachelorette party this way as well.

All of the footage (averages about 20 hours worth - up to 3 cameras) gets edited into a feature length mocku/documentary with normal feature style special features.

Probably doesn't help what is being looked for, but it throws some different boundaries and perspectives in the mix :)
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Old August 9th, 2005, 09:51 AM   #9
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You should be paid for travel and breaks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephanie Wilson
Jennifer,

But it seems to me that if you are on stand-by and unable to make money shooting another gig, are tying up your equipment and crew etc.; than you should be paid for this time.
I second this. It's not like you can go home and walk the dog or do anything else meaningful with that time. Whether you're shooting or not, you're on the clock. There's always something to do. Here in Indianapolis, it's not uncommon to drive 30 minutes from the ceremony to the reception. By the time I park, unload, set up, and finish shooting establishing shots, the B&G are arriving. There's usually very little, if any, down time.

I sell my services in a continuous block of time starting one hour before the ceremony. There are no breaks for me. My clients know my availability, and they do with it what they want. My standard wedding is a six-hour block, but I can also provide comprehensive coverage in as few as four hours, if the ceremony and reception are at the same location. Don't sell yourself short. I started out charging only for time shooting but quickly realized how unfair this was.

T.J.
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Old August 9th, 2005, 11:04 AM   #10
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Patrick,

What do you charge for your three day wedding coverage? I have been asked about it but am not sure I even want to get into it. Seems to me the price tag would have to be in the $4000 range to even start making that worth it.

Mike
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Old August 10th, 2005, 05:41 AM   #11
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Charging for "shooting time" is like charging by the minute for ACTUAL tape used. Instead of 2 hrs ceremony + 2 hrs reception, think in terms of six hours total time start to finish. Some you will shoot a lot, some not so much. Aim for average time/price and don't sweat the extremes.
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Old August 10th, 2005, 06:17 AM   #12
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I too agree with Stephanie. Keeping in mind that I don't normally do weddings, take it for what it's worth. I charge from the time I set up, to the time I break down. If I only shoot 3 hours, but was there 8 hours, they get charged 8 hours. It helps keep people mindful of my time.
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Old August 10th, 2005, 09:33 AM   #13
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I thikn you also have to keep in mind that your selling a service here too. Well it is very reasonable to want coverage to be continuous, or to charge for periods of inactivity, with all other things being equal, clients will often book with those who are more flexible. If your quality is like nothing else in the area and you feel you need to be treated that way, then of course you have plenty of freedom to do things how you would like.

From a marketing perspective, I think it is a much better route to estimate the average amount of inactivity, price your packages accoding to that, and don't worry about small variations. If you come up against something that is extreme, then add in an additional fee, but I would price your packages assuming a couple hours of inactivity. Of course this means that some will pay for that inactivity when they don't need it, but I think you get more value out of being flexible, reducing the number of additional fees, and having a more comprehenzive option. This is how we work our mid-to high packages. We are less flexible about our lower ones. Just another perspective.
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Old August 10th, 2005, 09:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Moreau
I think it is a much better route to estimate the average amount of inactivity, price your packages accoding to that, and don't worry about small variations. If you come up against something that is extreme, then add in an additional fee, but I would price your packages assuming a couple hours of inactivity. Of course this means that some will pay for that inactivity when they don't need it, but I think you get more value out of being flexible, reducing the number of additional fees, and having a more comprehenzive option. This is how we work our mid-to high packages. We are less flexible about our lower ones. Just another perspective.
I would agree with Patrick's assesment. Having some time built in keeps you paid and the B/G happy! Be flexible for the "unexpected" I had a wedding three weeks ago where saddly the brides mother had a seizure and the B/G went to the hospital with her. The reception had just started, and they wanted to come back if everything went ok at the hospital. Three hours latter they returned in jeans and tee-shirts, looking a little down. They went through the rest of the reception and seemed to be alright. Myself and the rest of their vendors stayed as did most of the guests. While it was a large amount of time not-paid for, I felt a little good will would be better than playing the professional who's time was money and had to leave. Each situation is different, and while I realize this case is a bit severe you should use your best judgment.
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Old August 10th, 2005, 03:03 PM   #15
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Ok... In case of stroke, I could see sticking around, as that is something out of the ordinary. But 2 hours, because of a photographer? That is just not cool to do to a working person.
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