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


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Old April 26th, 2011, 07:32 PM   #1
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Thought this was interesting

2010 Real Weddings Study Results

Category 2010 National Average Spend

Overall Wedding (excluding honeymoon) $26,984
Ceremony Site $1,393
Reception Venue $12,124
Reception Band $3,081
Reception DJ $900
Photographer $2,320
Videographer $1,463
Wedding Gown $1,099
Florist/Décor $1,988
Invitations $351
Wedding Cake $540
Ceremony Musicians $503
Catering (cost per head) $61
Wedding Day Transportation $667
Favors $222
Rehearsal Dinner $1,127
Engagement Ring $5,392


Data: TheKnot.com & WeddingChannel.com
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Old April 26th, 2011, 09:18 PM   #2
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Re: Thought this was interesting

looks about right except for the transportation in my area. when they rent the stretch Hummer or Escalade its about 2 1/2 to 3 times the amount in the survey. Of course each area of the country is going to be slightly different on a couple of items but I think the total number is probably pretty close in most areas.
it's almost enough to make me think about retiring and I don't mean putting 4 new goodyears on my car.

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Old April 27th, 2011, 01:21 AM   #3
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Re: Thought this was interesting

Mate $1400 odd is pretty cheap. What does this include in the States? Full day coverage and two cameras?

Here is Aus for a full day with two cameras we are charging $2550. For $1660 package two gets you 6 hours coverage. Melbourne Wedding Video - Lasting Impressions Videography with my beautiful wife as our pin up girl :)
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Old April 27th, 2011, 01:22 AM   #4
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Re: Thought this was interesting

Videographer $1,463

Pretty much falls in line with the pricing I see locally.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 06:08 AM   #5
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Re: Thought this was interesting

I live just outside of Chicago. Take Cook County (the major county of the state that includes Chicago) and the Collar Counties (the counties that surround Cook) and there is a population of about 9 million people. This is about 1/2 the population of the state and covers around 1/3rd of the area of the state. After a lot of market research on my part a while back I found the AVERAGE pricing of video thruout that area to be in the $1500 to 1700 range. Regardless of 1 camera or 2, 1 person or 2.
You ask how people can make a living doing that? Well that's the market here in this area. Of course there are those that are much higher and many that are lower, there are big box studios and boutique studios, there are 1 person operations and too many to count operations. Some are part-time some are full time, some I think, are no time.
I freely admit that I donot know what the average in my area is today as I haven't done any research lately and frankly don't care. Why don't I care? Well 1st, I don't have a big operation, I work by myself and have for the most part for 27 years, I do a doco style and don't get into the making a Hollywood epic, I do 45 to 60+ weddings a years along with other social events as well as corporate work so I eek out a pretty decent living, I also don't care because I'm just about at the point of throwing in the towel and retiring.
If I raised my prices to say $2500 or $3000 my work would drop off to a level that would not be sustainable for me so I do what I need to and that is keep the pricing in line with the average and do better than average work. While they maynot appreciate it, they always refer me and when someone whose wedding I did 5, 10 or even 25 years ago refers me, I get free business.
You need to price competitively to stay in business. My motto is 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 09:24 AM   #6
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Re: Thought this was interesting

Those numbers are kind of sad, actually. At least for photographers & wedding filmmakers, they are certainly not a sustainable figure to keep a business running very profitably. This is the national average, so I think this just means that there are far too many businesses who charge under $1400 per wedding. Even more sad. I'd be more interested in a better statistical number, maybe the mean, or remove weddings that cost under $1K.

OK, in my area in Boston, maybe the cost of living is higher than a more rural area, but how can a business only make $1463 average per wedding and stay in business? I won't even go into the calculated hourly pay because this is so hard to determine in our work, so I'll just focus on yearly income after expenses and taxes. Let's say that your target is to make 50K after expenses, one would need to shoot and edit at lest 37 weddings before expenses. So maybe 45, 50, 60 weddings to cover expenses? Then there are taxes. I personally don't want to work that hard just to make that much. And I don't want to be a "National Average".

I understand that for some businesses it might be hard to find clients to pay over $3K for their wedding film, but there are just too many studios under that price (same applies for wedding photography). IMO it becomes a commodity item to clients to simply find the lowest priced studio. Studios that really thrive and bring their business to a higher level are the ones that look beyond competing on price and add value to their service that clients are willing to pay for. And it doesn't always mean that their work is better than the lower priced studio. But the value of what they offer their clients is probably much better.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 11:21 AM   #7
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Re: Thought this was interesting

I agree, it is more about value than about price, of course there is always a budget, but i mean couples are ready, and do go over if they see that they get more than they pay for, my prices start @ $3K, but compare to other studios I offer better package for less money, and that works well.
of course there are couples out there that just do an online 'auction' and the lowest price offer is a winner, but a few months later they call me asking if I can do anything with their video, so it doesn't look that terrible.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 01:12 PM   #8
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Re: Thought this was interesting

This is something that I noticed some time back and commented on in threads discussing pricing. If you spend time and pay attention, pricing for wedding videos seems fairly consistent across the country. Where I think the rest of the national average list is way out of whack for my area, the video pricing is just about dead on the money. I had brought up in threads that we as an industry have varying "percentages of the total wedding budget", but have pretty consistent prices.

A wedding that would cost in the low 20s here is probably mid thirties in the burbs of Cook Co. where Don is, or 50K if done downtown on Michigan Avenue. If our "percentage of the total wedding budget" was consistent, what costs $2200 here should be $3500 for Don in the burbs, and $5000 if he hooks a downtown wedding.

But we all know that's not the case.

As an industry we have priced our "service" as a "product". Don would pay more to have a plumber come to his house than I would. But when we would both go shop for a new car, we would see the same sticker prices. The plumber bases his prices for his "services" on lots of factors for his area, where GM, Ford and Toyota price their "products" universally.

If I would compare Don's business to here, IMO, a big part of Don's success, along with his long term relationships with his clients, would be his "percentage of the total wedding budget" is far lower than what it would be here. I can guarantee there is no one in my area doing 45-60 weddings a year. But from what I have been able to determine, the "average wedding" here is in the sub 15K range. So $1500 here for video becomes at least 10% of the total "average wedding" budget. Using these "national averages" the "percentage of total wedding budget" for video is more like 5.5%.

Just another way to look at it.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 02:28 PM   #9
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Re: Thought this was interesting

You certainly "should" consider regional conditions/economies, as you can "charge" whatever you want if you're willing to travel to a location with high $ clients, but you may not work terribly much... and that might be just fine for some studios!

Unlike a car or other commodity/good which you can stick on a truck or in a box and send it off (albeit for a shipping cost), there's a practical consideration to a "service" that will take the better part of a full day (or more) to "shoot" on location - you've got to have a warm and alert body or two THERE, and taking care of the "business". That's of course before editing at your "studio".

Unfortunately, many people shop $$$$ only, don't consider what's involved, and will hire someone who will do a lousy job because of low budget, and regret it later.

Rather than publishing a "national average", which is just collecting a pile of numbers and crunching them to produce a "statistic" (how's that saying go? There's lies, damn lies, and statistics or something like that!), it would be far more useful to have a compilation of regional costs... Of course the statistical analyst (more likely a junior "reporter"...) would actually have to do a little WORK to get that, and I'm sure THEY don't like to work unless being paid for it... but they don't mind creating false expectaions for others I suppose?!
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Old April 27th, 2011, 02:45 PM   #10
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Re: Thought this was interesting

Chip and Dave, both of you added greatly to this conversation. You both have very valid points. A regional comparison would be more appropriate and IMO far more valid and while the cost of most services here in Chicago as in most major market seems to be more than say Green Bay or a less urban area, I think we're all finding that it still comes down to a few things like, do the B&G place a value on video, if they do how much value do they place on it and of course the good old, can we afford it?

I can tell you that back in the 80s and 90s I was charging $500 to $800 (raised thru out the years) and that was about right for the area at that time. The 90s seemed to bring some bigger jumps in prices and at 1 point in the early 2000s I raised my prices quite a bit to try to get the more discriminating "buyer". Almost went out of business, thank goodness I had the corporate work.

Lately it seems that even if they really do want video for the wedding, there is, in most cases, a budget constraint and while I've had a number of potential clients that loved the work, when it came down to the bottom line, they go to CL or have uncle somebody do it. It seems like were the last to get hired andthe first to get cut becaue they ran out of money but somehow they still have the BIG money for that stretch Hummer for a 45 minute ride that they won't remember a month after the wedding. Sad state. We should all be making a lot more but for the majority of us it is what it is, Thats a shame but I guess there's little we can do about it. Honestly, right now with the state of the economy I'm happy to be working on a fairly regular basis. I developed a funny habit over the years; I like to eat!

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Old April 27th, 2011, 05:04 PM   #11
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Re: Thought this was interesting

I'm not sure that The Knot (who also owns WeddingChannel) is the best source of information. From my experience most brides who troll there are price shoppers. But that's just my opinion...

Budgets are a funny thing in that once someone pays more for YOUR service the budget somehow increases. Budgets are flexible, and other things that shouldn't have high priority can somehow be cut back (like flowers or cake). If a client REALLY values having a wedding film, specifically YOUR wedding film, they will find a way to pay for it. Or at least get closer to your price.

My question is do you as a wedding filmmaker really think that the photographer's average price should be 40% more than your price? I've done wedding photography as well, and I know for a fact that it costs less for equipment, takes less physical effort (again, equipment), and takes a lot less time in post production. IMO what we do is worth more money, but it goes back to the client's value in our product. Another example would be to look at the reception band: why is their value more than double?

I'm not saying that you can make a big change in the national average, but you can get closer to what you are worth for your services than you are getting now. The way most studios do that is to network with the right people, such as the wedding planners and the photographers that already have the clients who you are looking to attract. You want them to refer you. Once your perceived value increases it will allow your prices to increase as well. And it helps if your work and customer service is also excellent and above the national average.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 07:23 PM   #12
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Re: Thought this was interesting

[QUOTE=Jim Greene;1643626]I'm not sure that The Knot (who also owns WeddingChannel) is the best source of information. From my experience most brides who troll there are price shoppers. But that's just my opinion...

That's a great opinion. When a bride from the "knot" contacts me, I know she's "not" going to book me because she's looking for a cheap videographer.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 08:31 PM   #13
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Re: Thought this was interesting

I honestly do not disagree, it should be priced as a service. It also should be locally adjusted to reflect the local costs of living etc.

Before I went down this path for my market analysis, I had already noticed the almost near universality of pricing. I saw it here in threads and from members websites, then from other boards, threads and finally in my local research. What made me sit up and take notice, my friend Chris Harding from Perth has almost exactly the same pricing as I found from others in the states as well as locally. That's what jumped out at me.... half a world away and half a world down, and the price was still almost exactly the same!

It's hard to say if that is something we did by selecting our prices, or if that is what the market perceives/dictates is the value. As Don points out about his "going for the discriminating buyer" it could be that is what the market is dictating.

Trying to present the value of a product is always good suggested selling. How is best to do that though? Do we try to install this really is worth:

A. "As much or more than the photographer charges"
B. "$3000 is stupid cheap when you consider a lifetime of enjoyment"
C. "Isn't it worth X percent of your budget to be able to relive these memories forever?"

I do agree seeing regional numbers would be nice, but would rather see a total and then either dollar amount of percentages to see where people place their priorities.
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Old April 28th, 2011, 04:28 AM   #14
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Re: Thought this was interesting

This is always going to be an endless discussion.
An industry that has no barriers to entry and requires very little start up finance is never going to be able to achieve an across-the-board pricing structure. It's a classic case of chalk and cheese or apples and oranges.

We are a disparate collection ranging from the enthusiastic hobbyist who is happy to do it for the enjoyment and satisfaction, the opportunist who sees it as a way to make easy money, the creative artists who puts their all into every production, all the way up to the formally trained graduate who has invested greatly in resources, employees and business premises. All have different financial needs and goals to achieve. I'm sure there's examples of each on this and every other forum.

The markets are as varied and challenging. Those working in a rural area are going to have a completely different catchment to those in an industrial conurbation and to those in a cosmopolitan city and those in a beach resort. Local culture also plays a part – some feel self-conscious and want low impact simple coverage and some want to be on a movie set with as many cameras and movie making paraphernalia as possible

Promotion can be as simple and easy as creating a website and driving traffic to it, as inexpensive as cultivating relationships with people further up the wedding supply chain, or as complex and costly as print and media advertising and spending high on fairs and exhibitions.

Productions can be as diverse as single camera edited with basic cut and paste software to multi camera/operators doing SDE and editing with top-end software.

Because of this complexity many couples feel that price is no real indication of quality, if they search they’ll always find someone who will produce an excellent result (in terms of their requirements) at a price they can afford (or are willing to pay). I’ve seen examples of work from someone charging £200 which has been extremely good because they enjoyed doing it and took pride in their work and didn't have to make their living from it, and on the other hand work that cost over £2000 which I’d be embarrassed to present.

Personality plays a great part in where you position yourself in this industry. The quiet creative person may find it difficult to assert the financial aspect, those who have come to it after having worked and been paid by the hour may be embarrassed asking for an amount they would find hard to pay and someone with a business degree will approach it with a calculated costing.

Whilst these statistics make interesting reading it seems to me to be unproductive to see where we fit in the overall scheme of a wedding package without having all the elements to compare with. If we are below the average we'll feel somehow foolish, giving our work away, if we are average - well who wants to be average - if we are consistently achieving top dollar, why are we even bothered by such statistics.

It’s quite natural that we want the quality of our work to be recognised and valued by potential clients and I’m sure many of us do have complimentary comments after the event but it’s before the event that we have to convince people of the value. Unfortunately for us many still have the perception that photography, a fancy car or even a chocolate fountain is more important to the day than a DVD.


We all really know where we fit by the work and prices we get. If we think we are below par we'll put our prices up, if that doesn't work we have to widen our net, if we are still not getting what we think we deserve perhaps we should move to LA.

Last edited by George Kilroy; April 28th, 2011 at 09:09 AM.
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Old April 28th, 2011, 07:36 AM   #15
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Re: Thought this was interesting

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Grinnell View Post
Videographer $1,463
I'm going to go off on a bit of a rant here, so feel free to skip over this point. I don't have time to read the replies thoroughly, so forgive me if this point has already been made, but let's run some numbers.

At that price, if someone shot 50 weddings a year, solo, they would gross 73,150. I would never shoot 50, but we'll assume the average shooter is really ambitious and wants 50.

Take away a conservative $10,000 for equipment purchases and maintenance, maybe $5,000 for business expenses, that's 58,150.

10 hours of shooting a wedding, plus maybe 30 editing, is 2000 hours of production time, means just under $30/hr. $30/hr is good money, but that doesn't take into account all of the time doing paperwork, meeting with couples, keeping your books up to date, website maintenance, and all of that other stuff that sucks your time. You also have 50 brides and 50 grooms to keep straight. You're shooting everything solo which, in most cases, isn't ideal. And, to top it off, you only have two free weekends a year.

These numbers are really, really rough. Everyone's business finances will vary widely, and I don't even know if the average price above is true. The exact numbers aren't my point, but if, in fact, the average is around $1,500, I think it should be said that...

1. No wonder so many company's burn out within the first year or two.

2. We (as in everyone who will shoot a wedding, not just us here) need to brush up on our business skills and start pricing more appropriately to the type of time that it takes for us to do our job.

3. We need to start producing work that is high enough quality that we can justify an appropriate price, because once you start breaking down just how much time and money is costs to keep a business alive, you realize that $1,500 a wedding just won't cut it.
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