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


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Old April 1st, 2011, 02:31 PM   #1
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Save or spend? That is the question. :)

Hey guys I was just wondering what you guys think. Should I save the money I make or buy more equipment as I can afford it? I just started my business towards the end of last year. It seems like, according to the start of this year that I will be fairly busy. This for now is just my part time job. I might add that I pay my helper for helping but the rest of the money goes into the Business account.
Me and my brother work together. I bought a new Sony FX7 and he bought a Sony FX1. We each have a decant tripod. I use Sony Vegas to edit. I just bought a Wireless Mic system and a beachtek adapter. Next I was looking to buy a Blackbird steadicam, and then keep adding to our equipment. Maybe next year another camera and so on. Would you guys advise saving my money and then buy stuff at the end of the year or buy stuff as I can afford it and keep my account drained? Any advice would be great!
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Old April 1st, 2011, 03:06 PM   #2
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

I would fall on the side of saving. It's always a good idea to keep some cash available in case a camera goes down, or some other catastrophe befalls you. Maybe try to work up some goals for this time next year, then try to budget accordingly.

Plus, you may find out over the course of a year that you'll really benefit from a piece of equipment that you may not be thinking about right now.

But then again, it's always fun to get new toys :)
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Old April 1st, 2011, 03:17 PM   #3
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

Lots of ways to attack this Tyson, it sounds as though the income from this isn't needed for your day to day living expenses.

Cameras and some other electronic gear is typically announced only a few times a year. One is in January at the Consumer Electronics show. Another will be in a week or so at NAB. Then there is Photokina in late fall, not sure if that is annual or not. Once the new model is announced, soon after that you find the old model at reduced pricing. So if you are going to pay full price, you want to gear those purchases to the newest and bestest out there. That means buying most cams in Dec is not the best decision.

Cams and other electronic gear have a short shelf life and can depreciate quickly. Where as lenses, tripods, heads and stabilizers etc, don't change much, last a long time, so they don't depreciate very fast either.

With all of that in mind, I would put together a "wish list". After each item I would also classify it as "1.need", "2.can use", "3.want" "4.would like" and "5.this might be fun to have".

"Need" gets bought first, as that will help you in your work right now. "Can use" comes in second, if there are no "Need" left on your list. Keep going down the list, adding and subtracting as you go forward. When you get down to only "want", "would like" and "this might be fun to have" left on your list, that is when you go into saving mode. Those are the items you should wait and watch for a great deal on before you buy, as they are not imperative to your business.

The other thing to give some consideration to is what percentage can you write off on your taxes right away. Because of purchase or IRS's presumed life of an item, you may end up having to depreciate some purchases over time. I am no tax pro, but I believe only larger purchases fall into this category.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 04:38 PM   #4
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

You know what!!! we just love spending because its your passion!!! its hard to not give in to the additions because you are always being a perfectionist, but sometimes like last year with me i bought a fisheye!! wow but earned money and built up a little nest egg!!! sometimes just make money, stop thinking ahead!!!!!! loadsa money......
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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:04 PM   #5
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

After 27 years in this thing called VIDEO BUSINESS I can tell you it can be a money pit! The manufacturers know our passion for having the latest and greatest so every year maybe more they come out with something to whet our appetite and open our checkbooks. I know from personal experience over the years that one can spend many more dollars than either necessary or one has to get the newest stuff.

So the question IMO has to be "do I really need have that certain piece of gear or can I live without it until I can really afford it?" "Can I rent or borrow it and do I have the work coming in to justify the money I will spend on it?"

This industry is very much up and down with the economy, at least in my area, for the most part vido is last hired and first cut when the see their budget. I understand believe me. So I have to say for right now SAVE IT until you can JUSTIFY the cost. Do I have enough work coming in not just next month but 6, 8 10 months from now to allow me to spend on the gear and not deplete my bank account.

I know a lot of folks that all have/had the newest latest greatest stuff and could book a job to save teir lives. Guess what they're doing now. Well lets just say it has nothing to do with video work.

I bring this all up because of the time I have spent in the industry (plus 12 years prior as an independent still photographer) that I have had years that were FANTASTIC and I've had years that were not so much, but we always managed to pay our bills, raise 3 kids, marry 'em off and live a decent lifestyle. I learned a long time ago about keeping some of what I made so now I never have to look longingly at my cameras ans "wish" I had.

Just one old geezers POV,
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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:06 PM   #6
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

great advice guys! How do you decide when something will make you money. I mean with more equipment (toys) you can produce something that will hopefully be worth more, right? :)
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Old April 1st, 2011, 05:12 PM   #7
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyson Yoder View Post
great advice guys! How do you decide when something will make you money. I mean with more equipment (toys) you can produce something that will hopefully be worth more, right? :)
Not always. It depends on a number of things. Marketplace (what is the client willing to pay) competition (what are they doing and charging) average pricing of your area (where do you fall in that, top, middle, bottom) quality of workmanship (yours and others) style of work you do (I do doco style so would a Steadicam be of use to me? Perhaps some but can I justify the cost?).
Having the new toys could help improve the quality and style but maybe not. The best way to find out is to rent or borrow that certain toy and practice with it to see if it's really worth it.

Again, just an old guys $.02 worth.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 06:06 PM   #8
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

Tyson,

since your just starting out I would avoid all the fancy toys... As a spectator of this forum board its easy to get carried away with the beautiful videos that the members post day to day. It makes us all say "man I need that"... I personally don't think that my video improved until I stopped trying to emulate what the league leaders are doing and just started grabbing simple, well framed shots... The blackbird looks cool, but then you'll have to spend time practicing to get it right. Adding onto the pressure of being new to shooting weddings. Adding some fluid pans and tilts from your tripod can add just enough motion that would be needed to make an edit interesting.
Hope this makes since... I'm only trying to help. After all I must have spent 1000's on things that looked like a good idea that turned out being the biggest waste of money and time.

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Old April 1st, 2011, 06:41 PM   #9
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

It basically boils down to the old adage . . . it's not about the tools, but how you use them. There are spectacular artists out there who could make videos that blow mine out of the water with a VHS camcorder and 2 VCR's.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 06:51 PM   #10
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

Thanks guys! Sounds like I should be saving my money! :) So what about advertising? I have a website set up and use facebook and business cards and stuff. I have been getting alot of weddings just by word of mouth, so thats great!
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Old April 1st, 2011, 08:05 PM   #11
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

I've been buying & buying & buying new gear as I can afford it, I've built up an impressive kit over the years but I've also realized that it will never stop so I'm now trying to save my money. It's a bit of a balancing act, spend your money wisely buy good equipment that will increase your product value & last a few years then stop and save money. Short summery buy the best & save the rest.

Watch out for advertising, word of mouth works, try to connect with people, venues, photographers, wedding coordinators these are the people you need to impress. A good website is also key! In my experience magazines, newspapers, online listings are all a money pit with very little returns.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 08:41 PM   #12
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyson Yoder View Post
great advice guys! How do you decide when something will make you money. I mean with more equipment (toys) you can produce something that will hopefully be worth more, right? :)
Time is money, so if saves you time, it MAKES you money. Everything else is just an embellishment. A bride isn't going to give you two cents more because you own and use a slider over the guy who doesn't. Now spending a ton of time in post to salvage shaky handheld footage over buying a learning a stabilizer, that costs you TIME and so, it also costs you money.
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 06:02 AM   #13
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

I think equipment purchases depend on your circumstances, in my case this includes whether the wife lets me.
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 04:42 PM   #14
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

If the equipment will make your product noticeably different then buy it.

For example: Lighting kit. Do you own one?

Do you have a light stand with a light on it and battery to get great lighting for the speeches, first dance etc.?

If you don't then your product will lack in quality therefore you will grow slower. I spent all that I made on weddings in my first real year (47 weddings) and applied to equipment that would make me more money. The second year I'm charging "TRIPLE" what I was last year. I have about 20 weddings so far this year and I'm making more and working less. If i had saved then I don't think that would be the case. If you have the money and it can go towards something that will boost your work then buy it.

I would get a good lighting kit, glidecam or some sort and a slider. Those will increase the prices of your packages no problem.

Now you just have to be careful about not abusing those devices.
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 10:59 PM   #15
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Re: Save or spend? That is the question. :)

If you are running this as a genuine business then you have to balance your capital expenditure with your turnover. It's no use spending $40K a year on gear and then earn $30K from weddings..that's a loss!!!

I try to keep my gear buys to not more than 10% of my turnover ..then again I'm running full time so the more I spend on gear the less income I have. I only buy what I need to do the job!!

I worked with a photog that spent $100K in 2010 with Canon..he admits that he is a technology nut and probably doesn't even cover his costs. BUT he is the National Sales director of a large company so his "work" income is more than he needs so the photography is a hobby and weddings are an outlet to try out his new gear!!!

You have to decide if your part in the industry is a business venture or just for fun....that way you can either spend (to keep yourself happy) or save (to keep the business viable)

Chris
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