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Old March 10th, 2011, 05:57 AM   #1
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How rewarding wedding videography business?

Hello,

Is your weddding videography business makes you money enaugh for financial freedom or output is just enaugh to cover basic living needs like bills, food etc. I know many of you already years and years in business, so it means it pays for itself but how good is income?

Depends on location, market etc. of course i know..
I will be moving in 1-1.5 y to on of the Ex Ussr countries , and wedding videography market downthere its like USA one let's say 5+ years ago. Noone shoots with HDSLR , all videos mostly SD and some "more advansed" is HD. Weddings is quite popular over there but videography is out of date, really. So if market doesn't change to much in next 1-2 years i'm basiclly entering into unexplored land with a lot of possibilities for development, but form another side it want be easy to change clients mindset for new cinematic full hd wedding films.

All i want to know - is your wedding videography business gives you financial freedom?
And also how much time it took to cover investments and to start earning money?

Thank you
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Old March 10th, 2011, 06:21 AM   #2
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

Good question thats been here before but it was a long time ago so I''ll be the first to play.
I have been self employed since 1971, first as a still photographer until 1983 then as a videographer until present. Does that mean I'm debt free and sitting on riches? Uh, no. I wish. My wife needs to work more hours. OK seriously, it's impossible to compare between us. First when I started there weren't a lot of us, 2nd I had a couple of clients from my still days that started to use me as a video guy, third I'm a hardheaded type A hard driving person (more so then than now) but let me put it this way. Over the years I have lived pretty well, decent house, decent cars, pretty nice vacations, bill paid a little extra in the savings account and now as I am at retirement age and my kids are grown, married and gone life is good. Did all of it come from me? NOPE! I have a very hard working, understanding and open hearted wife who has always worked in her choosen field. She's a medical professional so her income has always been stable.
So bottom line FOR ME it has worked. For other it has not but keep in mind no matter who you are or how hard you work there will be ups and downs good years bad years and many in between. The trick is to keep the lows as few as you can, the highs as many as you can and the rest a level and even as you can.
Theres so much more but I can only say so much and I have done that. Whatever you decide is up to you, remember one mans bad experience is another mans path to sucess.
Good luck
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Old March 10th, 2011, 07:31 AM   #3
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

Hi Andy

It also totally depends on your market. It would be utterly useless doing high end shoots in an area that has a low income level. I moved from South Africa to Australia and expected things to be the same but, of course, they were far from it. This is basically a business and your market depends on the local infrastructure. Seat yourself as a high end cinematographer in a area where 3 months income wouldn't pay your video costs and you are doomed!! However I'm sure you realise this already.

Do I make a decent income??? Absolutely!! I get to the stage where I have to buy new gear to try and offset the business turnover otherwise the tax man will grab my profit!! BUT if I decided to shoot high end weddings for around $4K I doubt whether I would make a living because the market is with budget weddings. In other cities you can make good money with high end because overall incomes are better.

I would firstly look at the local videographers and what they charge. If they are working a full wedding for say, $750 ..there is little chance people will want to pay $4000 for a wedding video, no matter how good it is!!!
I would do some serious market research there before jumping in head first and being disappointed!!

With capital equipment I just keep trading up and selling gear that's more than a year or two old so it's easier to pay for. My first two cameras here when I moved in 2000 cost me $1500 each so the first two weddings basically paid for them. Our tax system is probably also different too but here your gear depreciation, cost and even loss when you upgrade comes off your taxable income. Most of my gear was paid for within the first 3 months in total (but I made no money at that stage!!!)


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Old March 10th, 2011, 01:47 PM   #4
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

I did research of market briefly and avarage videographers do not charge much, but there is some who charge good money for that market. The point is - i can charge the same avarege and not to jump above my head, but the quality of videos which i will provide probably will be 100% better then any of them (at least right now) and it will be a bit pointless to charge the same as other videographers who still dont know what is Full HD.

Im really serious about this business and im very organized person, i know i will shoot great films. That why when i did a BP i put in my equipment really good gear. I mean really good and expensive. (HDSRL)Investment is something around 6000-9000$ . what im worried about is - do i really need to use best lenses and other expencive stuff if i will be chargin like everyone else? From another view, if i will use cheap equipment i will not provide that high quality of videos i want, and that can make me sad, as i dont like idea to look cheap.And also - providing great quality films will give me opportunities to grow.Isn't it?

Maybe i will get in situation ,where noone really can give working advise, as this market is new for this type and how my potential clients will except my servises - we can only bet i guess

I'm relying on my future wedding businees like my main income and maybe the only one.

dilemma for me
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Old March 10th, 2011, 02:04 PM   #5
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

Hi Andy, can I ask which country you are going to? I am from Latvia, but leave here in England now for 11 years, and I can tell you that situation is really bad over there...All Baltic country's are the worth hit with economic crysis....But of course you can still find people there with money...

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Old March 10th, 2011, 06:47 PM   #6
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

It's pretty tough to evaluate a country without actually, not only being there, but being there for a fair amount of time to give you enough time to do a proper market investigation. You also have to do it yourself!! It's hopeless trying to rely on "word of mouth" from people there who try to be more optimistic just to keep you happy.

I'm sure that Edgar could be a great help to you as he might have contacts in other Baltic countries and would give you a true assessment of economic conditions.

Also bear in mind that you need to examine your income against the cost of living too!! You might only get $500 for a wedding but the cost of living might also be just a third of the UK...!!

Lots of things to consider!!! Let us know how it plays out????

Chris
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Old March 10th, 2011, 11:22 PM   #7
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

Greetings Andy,

I sure read the concern in your words and I can relate to that concern too. This is a big gamble for you to take and we all wish you the best of luck in it !!! :-)

My situation is somewhat similar, although not as important as yours. I too have been sitting here with the unknown and wondering exactly what to do. Let me describe mine and maybe you can see something in there that is of help to you.

Back in September I made the decision to upgrade to DSLRs from SD camcorders. I settled on the GH1 from Panasonic and soon after getting it, the talk of Panasonic releasing a new model began circulating like wildfire.Panasonic did announce a newer and nicer model and by then I had acquired some GH1s. When I read the new specs I decided it would be a better cam to have. So I began reselling what I acquired and ordered new GH2s.The GH2s didn't ship and didn't ship, which kept me from progressing with any plans for my business.

It's now March and still no GH2s. I have had months to reflect on what business I want to explore and have wondered, like you, if it would be successful. I do not mind investment if either:
1. I can afford to lose that much money, or
2. I feel the chances to recoup it from my work is very probable.

I like shooting with 3 or 4 cameras so ultimately I wanted 3 or 4 GH2s with lenses for each. During these months of waiting, the total amount of investment needed from me in order to have this much gear became more clear as I researched more and more. That total amount of money to acquire all that gear surpassed the amount I could afford to lose, and also exceeded what I knew for sure, this business would READILY recoup. So as I stated, it was an investment that understandably made me uneasy.

This week Panasonic in the US announced close out pricing on the remaining GH1 bodies. These bodies can not be hacked because they have the newest firmware. That makes these GH1s less desirable than earlier ones that could be hacked. This lack of desirability is reflected in Panasonic's price of $349.

I do have two GH2 bodies on order that were advertised at a heavily discounted price of $737.50 each. This seller didn't charge tax, unlike where Panasonic does on their GH1 bodies. The end result is 2 Panasonic GH1 bodies that can not be hacked, will cost me almost exactly what 1 GH2 body will. Where I have two GH2 bodies on order at the heavily discounted price, I can now get 4 GH1 bodies.

Are the GH2s better.... yes.
Do the GH1s with this firmware have some issues.... yes.

WILL THE MARKET THAT I BELIEVE I WILL USE THESE FOR KNOW OF THOSE ISSUES, NOTICE THESE ISSUES OR EVEN CARE.... that answer is no.

It is when I asked myself and then answered myself the last question, it was apparent buying GH2s for MY MARKET was going to be overkill and costs I would NOT recover because something lesser would work just as well.

Now mind you, the GH1 is no piece of junk. It does give excellent images and the shallow DOF a DSLR is known for. All of us "tech crazy" video guys though would rip them to shreds because there is newer, better fancier out there now. But if you look at the reviews when it was brand new, the same "tech crazy" video guys loved them!

I see you and your intended market being quite a bit like mine. If your customers are going to be "wow'd" by a DSLR with shallow DOF, whether it comes from a 5D or GH1, is going to be kinda academic. If the competition is still shooting SD, you are going to be giving two levels of image improvement going with almost any DSLR. In many cases this is also going to apply to the lenses. If your competition is using SD camcorders, using Canon L glass on a camera is again, way overkill.

So what I did was back up my gear to a cost level I am very comfortable with. I have good gear and it will suit my market well. If my business does not take off, I also am at a price level that I feel I can afford to lose. So the stress of gear cost, for me, is now taken away. I can now concentrate on doing something with it, instead of tearing my hair out trying to acquire gear I can afford.

As far as moving to a new country and setting up shop, you sir are a far braver man than I !!!! Good luck with your new adventure !!!!
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Old March 11th, 2011, 12:09 PM   #8
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

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Originally Posted by Edgar Vasiluk View Post
Hi Andy, can I ask which country you are going to? I am from Latvia, but leave here in England now for 11 years, and I can tell you that situation is really bad over there...All Baltic country's are the worth hit with economic crysis....But of course you can still find people there with money...

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I been living nearly all my life in Estonia. Last 6 y. i live in UK. Estonia might be the country i will go for . . I did research locally , so i know what i'm talking about, and yes economically it is very poor, but from another point of view weddings are quite popular in all those areas icluding Poland, Slovakia, Belarussia etc. So there is potential market.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
It's pretty tough to evaluate a country without actually, not only being there, but being there for a fair amount of time to give you enough time to do a proper market investigation. You also have to do it yourself!! It's hopeless trying to rely on "word of mouth" from people there who try to be more optimistic just to keep you happy.

I'm sure that Edgar could be a great help to you as he might have contacts in other Baltic countries and would give you a true assessment of economic conditions.

Also bear in mind that you need to examine your income against the cost of living too!! You might only get $500 for a wedding but the cost of living might also be just a third of the UK...!!

Lots of things to consider!!! Let us know how it plays out????

Chris

Yes it is my mind all the time. But.. i guess the major role of sucess will play of course how much wedding i will do and that is question i really dont know answer to. Regardless that im planning to do huge marketing .Besides that anoother challenge im facing is local language. Depend which contry i will go for - i have to learn new language before i will move. And i have no more then 2 years for everything. I'm not even talking about other expenses which i will not discuss here i guess.

As i mention already i want wedding videohraphy to be my main source of income. I will not work for anybody as i hate to be employed. I like independancy in everything, and be able to do what you love and to get money for that - that is goal. I'm considering another videography like events etc. But i dont want even consider that in my business plan so far.

I know what i want to do is a biggest challenge i will face. New culture ()even if its a similar to estonian/russian (i'm russian by the way) , new language, new job . It makes me frustrated sometimes - will i be able to sort it out, considering that i have a girlfriend who will become my wife and a cat/dog , and i need to provide them financial security.


I would love to hear how other became wedding videohraphers. And how this decision has changed they lifes. And probably will make a new topic for that.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 12:25 PM   #9
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

The honest answer to your question is that no one can answer your question unless they live and work in the market you want to move to. We recently relocated from the northwest US to the southeast US (Miami) and although we had done a lot of research, we still had a lot to learn about our new market and are making adjustments accordingly.

I would say the key for you in this new market would be to distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd both in product and price. Don't make the mistake of offering a much better product for the same price. That is something you could consider initially, but it should be a short-term offering. Otherwise you'll have a much harder struggle to get your prices higher later. I would suggest start with your pricing higher and just offer a significant discount for the first year. This way people realize your pricing is higher and that they are just getting a discount during your start-up year.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 05:29 PM   #10
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

Apart from the other foolish things I did in running my business.. I have one thing that I did that might give a good tips to you

In the first year that I started, I did some pretty cheap weddings... But I was working full time on another job so I survived. During that time, I didn't get any reward in terms of money (it wasn't fun either)... but I didn't spend anything in advertising. I only have a facebook, a blog and a twitter account.. and that's about it..

Despite my low exposure to the market.. I am consistently getting new clients, and from there I figure out how much my work is valued in the market. Words of mouth spread more effectively than a radio ad and now I reach the stage where I was able to book a client at triple the initial price I had.

My price is not for a budget bride but I believe I have priced it right.. I just know it..

The point I am making is.. you probably don't need to start with high-end prices (like Travis said, probably give heavy discount in your first few months). You probably don't get as much money in the start.. but eventually you'll see from the responses you get, how much your video is worth in the society, and how unique you are from competitors in your area.

It's not a black & white answer.. so you have to explore yourself. Good luck mate!! :) :)
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Old March 13th, 2011, 03:50 PM   #11
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

Hey Andy.

We've been going for 4 years. The first 2 were spent in full-time employment, building up the business and gear and now both myself and Julie (my wife) work on Mintyslippers full time. It is our sole income and it's a pretty good one.

Were just your average joes. We have a car, pets, house and a mortgage. This is important as some may contribute who are also doing quite well but are maybe retired and have no mortgage which is quite a big chunk of the money.

I've also heard about the poor state of video in the baltics and elsewhere in Europe and while you may be able to offer the best product out there the question is the same one you face no matter where you go. Is there a Market for it? Pointless offering a polished, amazing product which takes a huge investment in kit and time if people can't pay for it. That said some of the most creative, visually stunning studios out there are from Russia but they tend to film mostly destination weddings. This then means being good locally won't cut it, you need to be world class.

First thing to figure out is how much does it cost to produce your work (gear depreciation, insurance, licences, electricity, premises etc). So many don't know and totally undersell their art.

It's a great job to have and one we wouldn't give up.
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Old March 13th, 2011, 05:48 PM   #12
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

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I've also heard about the poor state of video in the baltics and elsewhere in Europe and while you may be able to offer the best product out there the question is the same one you face no matter where you go. Is there a Market for it? Pointless offering a polished, amazing product which takes a huge investment in kit and time if people can't pay for it. That said some of the most creative, visually stunning studios out there are from Russia but they tend to film mostly destination weddings. This then means being good locally won't cut it, you need to be world class.

Good point about Market for that kind of videos i want to offer. That is a question i keep asking myself.
From one side i understand that market could not be ready to pay for this type of wedding films some extra cash or willing accept something more modern. From another point - Patrick from Stillmotion said good thing "You define market not opposite". Maybe if i will offer better videos for nearly the same money - people will choose me over outdated videos from other videographers?

Russian market is growing i see more and more videographers using hdslr in shooting weddings. It means there is a market. it is slow growing but there is a hope.
In Estonia for example as i told already noone use hdslr or do any kind of cinemtic weding films. It's not an Africa, its a Europe just with bad economical situation. But people like beautifull films. Maybe
market just need someone who can offer something new?
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Old March 14th, 2011, 05:11 AM   #13
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

There is no doubt that if you offer something better than the competition people will choose you... if you charge the same. When we charged the same as most other UK videographers we were finding it so easy to get work. But once we actually started charging what we should charge (based on time, materials etc) then were still doing great but its not as easy. Thankfully the UK has a higher end market.

You need to make sure you think about this really carefully. Its all well and good going in there and blowing everyone else out of the water with your amazing visuals for rock bottom prices but how long can you keep it up? We charge more because it takes us longer to create our work. Those who charge rock bottom prices can knock them out inside of a day and therefore do 2-3 weddings a week. We do 1 a week. Anymore and well have a huge backlog.

Dont undersell yourself. Youll just end up killing yourself.

Patrick is totally right. But again, you need the market to sustain it. P and the team are world class, they film anywhere and everywhere so they have indeed defined their market. Do you have any of your work online. It might be worth getting an unbiased opinion as I can vouch that friends and family are often too kind ;)
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Old March 14th, 2011, 06:00 PM   #14
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

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Patrick is totally right. But again, you need the market to sustain it. P and the team are world class, they film anywhere and everywhere so they have indeed defined their market. Do you have any of your work online. It might be worth getting an unbiased opinion as I can vouch that friends and family are often too kind ;)
I didnt shoot any weddings yet, i'm complite begginer, i will obtain my equipment in a 2-4 mont then i will start like intern or assistent for some other videographers in UK, and then as i told already after 1-1.5y i will move abroad and start my own wedding videography.

Right now i'm working on my Business Plan and learn everything what is possible abt wedding cinematography. I've been checking your works as well)

I think on current stage i have read everything what possible on this topic. I'm so hungry for real shooting! I really want to get into filed, too bad i have to wait till i will get my equipment first.
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Old March 15th, 2011, 05:22 AM   #15
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Re: How rewarding wedding videography business?

So starting from nothing. Your in that place where you need to get clients but clients wont go for you without something to show.

The best thing to do is hop onto the bridal forums and offer your services for free but make it clear that they need to have their wedding within the next month or so. Otherwise yourll take on free jobs a year away.

There is always someone who would appreciate a free video. If you have anything you can show, even just some non wedding stuff you have shot then that will go a long way.

No, I know you said you have no gear. Are you saying you have nothing and have shot nothing or just not weddings? You say you plan on spending around $9k on gear which is about 6k. Our current kit bag we take to each wedding is around 30k. And thats not with L series lenses but a mix of Sigma, Canon and soon a Tokina.

All I can say is good luck. There is so much you will learn on this journey and so many mistakes you will make. You will also learn that what you think is true is infact not. For example, being cheap but offering a high quality product actually works against you. You have to remember these people do not know you so when they see something which others charge twice as much for being sold so cheap they become sceptical. The guy selling genuine rolex watches in the carpark may well be an honest guy selling genuine rolex watches but the price he wants for them sounds too good to be true does it not?

I'll let you in on a little secret. We got into this with the plan on making some easy money, on the side of our day jobs. Afterall, there were so many 80's wedding videos it would be easy... right? We quickly learnt there is no easy money to be made in wedding videos. Its all or nothing.
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