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Old March 19th, 2013, 07:51 AM   #61
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Roger,
I realized with all of the silly talk about markets, I never answered your original question. Here's my experience. When I started to focus on quality, not image quality necessarily, but overall quality; the impact I started to have on the brides increased 10 fold. They don't know what it is that makes them excited about it, they just know they are excited. It was a lot of hard work to completely change my company over from a straight documentary style to the short form style we have now. As a result of that change, I'm able to charge about double what I did for the basic doc. The way I handle my backlog is through editors. I have 2 independant contractor editors that work with me, and I pay them per wedding so I can control the costs. So, as a result, I haven't edited a wedding in about 18months. I'm simply a director, they send me cuts and we revise until it's right. I make about 60% of my income right now through weddings, and the other 40% is made up through corporate work. I'm in the process of a creating a market there as well, staying away from 30sec tv and long form workshop stuff. Which is, btw, something else people said would never work in my market because I'm the only one I know that's doing it. I own a slider, and use it occassionally, but I'm concentrating on relationships and finding every couple's story. I do weddings because of the creative outlet. Brides don't generally give us any guidelines other than what they are planning for their day, it's up to us to hit the mark and get it right. There's an adrenaline there that just doesn't exist in scripted work, and it keeps my skills honed. Hope that answers your original question.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 11:25 AM   #62
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Bill it is clear from all the widely varying comments, that there is no definitive answer and as your methodology works well for you in your part of the world, then you have got it right!.

It most definitely would not work for me, the costs alone would make it prohibitive, especially finding editors that would give me full confidence in their ability to produce what I want. I would assume that either they have their own editing facilities, or you use a facilities house, or they use yours. None of that would be suitable for me.

I totally agree with you about the excitement of filming as it happens with nothing scripted, which is why I have continued to film weddings for so many years.

Your style of working, in my opinion, only works for certain types of customers and they are people that I rarely find here. The very type of work that you obviously enjoy doing, would frighten away many of my clients. I recently contracted a couple who were very indifferent when I first visited them, but they started to relax and become chatty as they watched my video. After a while they looked at each other and said 'shall we tell him'? It seems that they had tried to ring me to cancel the appointment but I had already left. I was the seventh video guy they had seen and the previous six had made them decide not to have a video. They had all left showreels which they suggested I took with me and watched.

Every single showreel was of artistically filmed and stylised footage, with romantic soft closeups, slowmo moments, and film like movement and crane work to varying degrees. Romantic music entwined shots and scenes to add to the film effect. They videographers all wanted to discuss requirements and planning with pre wedding meetings and site visits. I was the only videographer to show moments like the bride's mother getting her heel caught in a grating, the bridesmaids huddled together for a sneaky cigarette, and a very natural fly on the wall documentary style. No pre planning and no site visits. They said that it was exactly what they wanted and booked me immediately.

That sort of response and comment I have had time and time again over the years and the company's that offer the more cinematic approach seem to pop up like mushrooms then disappear just as quickly. That is of course just my experience in my area of the UK, and very occasionally I do get asked for something a little different, but not enough to make me think I could create a serious demand.

Roger
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Old March 19th, 2013, 12:21 PM   #63
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

I don't make enough money to live off weddings alone.

I have other jobs to get me by (not video related).

The whole reason I got in to weddings 2 years ago was because I just happened to do a family event ... and after everyone loved it, I started reading up on the topic even more and now offer my services and have invested a considerable amount on equipment. Near enough 5000 with lenses, camera, tripod/slider etc.

I think I would have to do what you guys do. Offer documentary style long form edits, and at reasonable prices to take on more work. At the minute, I have a glossed up website. But my prices aren't affordable enough. And to me it isn't worthwhile making the effort for anything less ...

1 out of 15 enquiries is a booking.

I think that says a lot about cinematic weddings.

On the other hand, if I actually bothered doing documentary style filming I might get more work. But problem is, I have no examples on my website. So im terrified, if I accept work for less, on the basis im providing a documentary style edit. The clients expectations will still be high as they only see cinematic style work on my website.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 01:15 PM   #64
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

James, I though it better to answer this on the thread about how you sell your service :-)

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Old March 19th, 2013, 03:45 PM   #65
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

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Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
When I started this thread, it was because I had noticed the level of detail and amount of equipment that some wedding videographers introduced into their work. What has become increasingly clear is that there seem to be two fairly distinctive groups, I call them the Realists and the Idealists for convenience.

Realists tend to use good quality fairly minimalistic equipment, usually filming with one person and one camera, sometimes with a second locked down camera if space and situation requires it. They normally capture the action as it unfolds, looking from the outside in, allowing the day to take it's own course, editing for visual flow and shot consistency. Output to the client tends to be full length video with sometimes a short form as well.

The idealists take a much more artistic approach, frequently using multi cameras, gliders, steadycams, sound recording systems etc. they tend to require more movement, use of shallow DOF for effect, full use of artistic editing and processing and music to emphasise romance and drama according to the videographers style and preference. Output to client is usually short form but sometimes with unedited long form.

Pretty general overview and many mix both styles, but there is a definite difference, with seemingly a preponderance of the artistic short form in the US.

I think that Chris's comment on the $299 video has been taken out of context by others and used as some sort of cheap video guideline price, which is not the case at all and should be forgotten in the context of the thread. But there is a big difference between high end big time and cost video and lower priced less time hungry offerings.

Many in the higher end of the market are passionate about their artistry and equipment, with the feeling that if brides are properly educated in video, that they will gladly pay for a masterpiece. Others, which include myself, perhaps feel that the high end is not something they want to concentrate on, and that the remaining 80% of the 'no video' market could be educated to appreciate the worth of a video at a price that they would feel acceptable.

The other side of the coin of course is why are you offering weddings at all? Do you want to make stylised and artistic films and find that weddings give a vehicle to achieve that? It is much simpler than getting a sponsor for a cinema production and gives the opportunity to apply skill, artistry and interpretation to an intimate and romantic subject. In my case, I love observing the whole wedding feel, with family and friends witnessing two people in love pledging their lives to each other. For me, the drama and romance is already there in the whole atmosphere of the day, with no requirement for me to shape it or add dramatic effect. I capture close up moments and general scene overviews, but allow shots to dictate themselves.

I work to live, rather than living to work and I can't see spending weeks editing one video, even at a very rewarding price, when I have a life to enjoy and places to see. I love my work, but it is a means to earn a living while making my clients happy and giving me time for myself and family. I am very good at knowing what I want as I film, and can edit a video in a day if I get my head down. I normally allow a couple of days, but it gives me time to fit my work round my life. That is the whole reason I have worked for myself in audio and video for the last 45 years.

Roger
Hi Roger,

Those are some interesting observations. But after reading this post, I'm a bit confused about what was the point of this thread exactly? Was it to confirm that you have noticed that there were different ways to approach wedding videography? Or were you actually interested in knowing how many of us really care about offering high quality work?
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Old March 19th, 2013, 04:21 PM   #66
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

A couple observations....

You can focus on "only 20% of brides are looking for video", and get really depressed...

OR you can focus on 20% ARE interested, and there's a HUGE pool (80%) out there that just isn't aware or thinks it's too expensive or whatever... who might well be interested if exposed and educated a bit.

"Marketing" is not just buying gear, getting some business cards, and sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring... have a local newpaper do a "interest story" on your business, network with other vendors, get out there and show your "stuff"... EVERY successful business eventually has to figure out how to make the phone ring!!

To do that, you need to understand what your unique VALUE is to a potential client - are you offering a "cinematic" artsy final product? A "document your day as it happened" approach? A hybrid of some sort? Pretend to be the client for a moment, what is it that would make you as a client WANT, desire, NEED to include video in the budget?? How do you get that message in front of your potential clients?


The practical fact is "budget" is a real world factor - ignore it at your own risk. This applies to the client "budget" and to your own business "budget". Sure you WANT to shoot with a Red... but will you recoup the costs? The client might not be interested in video or only have a "beer budget", but when presented with a well shot showreel that MOVES them, they might BECOME interested... maybe even develop a "champaigne taste"!



I found Gabes comments interesting - one thought, if you're there ANYWAY, because the client booked the "el cheapo" package, how about being the "hero" that shot with a couple extra cameras/angles, and when the 'tog blows it, you've got the extra footage to "save the day"??? You can ALWAYS deliver a one camera product, but the idea that you might be able to "upsell" later is worth considering.



I've quoted the $299 price point as well, because it came up here, but I've SEEN it locally... so it's not completely absurd that you may be competing with this sort of "competition". That the "competition" may produce horrid unwatchable drek (seen it at local bridal fairs!) is probably helpful to those who insist on quality, but it's still good to be aware that such "competition" is out there, Know you will sooner or later probably hear "but I can get it for $300" from potential clients and be prepared to point out the strengths in your own product/experience (yes you can include "equipment" in the mix, but is it REALLY going to impress the bride? REALLY??)

I would hope one would always strive to produce "best" quality product, no matter what the price point, and if the product is good... word of mouth, networking and a little promotional marketing should lead to enough work to make a real business of it! I don't see it as being "obsessed with quality", but rather that I expect to produce quality PERIOD, with the equipment at hand (or readily affordable).

I'll stir the pot and suggest that IF you can get the shot (or the clip, with video), you should be able to pick up a darn smartphone and shoot workable footage! Yes, every device has limitations, but in the end it comes down to knowing how to SHOOT and later edit, not how big or expensive your "gear box" is....
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Old March 19th, 2013, 04:37 PM   #67
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

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Originally Posted by Long Truong View Post
Hi Roger,

Those are some interesting observations. But after reading this post, I'm a bit confused about what was the point of this thread exactly? Was it to confirm that you have noticed that there were different ways to approach wedding videography? Or were you actually interested in knowing how many of us really care about offering high quality work?
Hi LT,

I thought the point of the thread was quite clear, which was are we obsessed with obtaining the highest quality at all costs, at the expense of a much wider field of opportunities that are also out there.

I think that like all threads, it has thrown up a number of points that have also been expanded on, although I also feel that much of my original post has been answered very succinctly by Daves post just before this one.

Roger
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Old March 19th, 2013, 06:55 PM   #68
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Dave,
that was awesome.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 09:55 PM   #69
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
Hi LT,

I thought the point of the thread was quite clear, which was are we obsessed with obtaining the highest quality at all costs, at the expense of a much wider field of opportunities that are also out there.

I think that like all threads, it has thrown up a number of points that have also been expanded on, although I also feel that much of my original post has been answered very succinctly by Daves post just before this one.

Roger
Hi Roger,

Please forgive me if If I'm not fully understanding the message you are trying to get across. When you say "at the expense of a much wider field of opportunities that are also out there", are you suggesting that people who care about delivering high quality product are missing opportunities because the type of brides they cater to are part of a minority in the large market scale? If that is the point of this discussion, I think that the idea of "missing opportunity" could go both ways, depending on how you see it.

Whether you decide to drop quality to keep your cost low and cater to the mass market or you want to raise your standards and target a higher end clientele is your personal choice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either business model as long as you are able to reach the target brides YOU want to cater to and make the type of films YOU want to make.

The problem only occurs if you are not getting the weddings you want to book or you are not feeling fulfilled doing the work you do. If that is the case, there are SO MANY things you need to consider on top of the "quality obsession" question.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 11:19 PM   #70
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Hi Long

I don't think that Roger was suggesting a quality reduction of any sort..we all deliver the best resolution we can. He was simply comparing the guys who take 60 hours to produce an absolutely perfect product and correct every single detail taking weeks which sadly the bride doesn't appreciate or even notice.

The main point I think was dividing time between shooting weddings and having time for yourself. If like Roger and myself do edit/packaging within a few days then you do have more time and you can still make a decent income at the costing rate you deserve. If my total shoot/edit/travel time was say 70 hours (10 hours shoot +60 hours edit/package/travel) I would have to charge $5250 to achieve my $75.00 an hour and my market wouldn't support that sort of pricing. I can comfortably do a wedding with a total cost time of only 25 or 30 hours all up and sell that for around the $2000 figure and still achieve my $75.00 per hour and have more time for me and more brides that are interested.

Of course if the USA and Canada have lots of brides willing to over the $5K figure for a basic wedding then there is nothing wrong with that.

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Old March 20th, 2013, 12:40 AM   #71
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

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Hi Long

I don't think that Roger was suggesting a quality reduction of any sort..we all deliver the best resolution we can. He was simply comparing the guys who take 60 hours to produce an absolutely perfect product and correct every single detail taking weeks which sadly the bride doesn't appreciate or even notice.

The main point I think was dividing time between shooting weddings and having time for yourself. If like Roger and myself do edit/packaging within a few days then you do have more time and you can still make a decent income at the costing rate you deserve. If my total shoot/edit/travel time was say 70 hours (10 hours shoot +60 hours edit/package/travel) I would have to charge $5250 to achieve my $75.00 an hour and my market wouldn't support that sort of pricing. I can comfortably do a wedding with a total cost time of only 25 or 30 hours all up and sell that for around the $2000 figure and still achieve my $75.00 per hour and have more time for me and more brides that are interested.

Of course if the USA and Canada have lots of brides willing to over the $5K figure for a basic wedding then there is nothing wrong with that.

Chris
Hi Chris,

The problem with this kind of comparison is that it can easily become completely irrelevant as soon as people start talking about their own clients and their own market.

The statement that brides don't appreciate or even notice quality is as true as it can be false. It all depends on who is speaking on whose behalf.

A fast food restaurant owner can say that customers only appreciate the quick and cheap meals while a fine dining restaurant owner can say that customers actually care about good quality food. If both of them are running a successful business respectively, it becomes pointless to try and compare the two.
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Old March 20th, 2013, 01:04 AM   #72
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Chris you said
************ If my total shoot/edit/travel time was say 70 hours (10 hours shoot +60 hours edit/package/travel) I would have to charge $5250 to achieve my $75.00 an hour and my market wouldn't support that sort of pricing. I can comfortably do a wedding with a total cost time of only 25 or 30 hours all up and sell that for around the $2000 figure and still achieve my $75.00 per hour and have more time for me and more brides that are interested.***************************************

Your point is well taken. The reality is that most wedding videographers aren't realist. When you add equipment cost, shoot time, edit time, booking and office time, the $2000 videographer could easily be making $15 bucks an hour just like the $500 wedding guy. Most wedding videographers will dance around this topic their whole career.
The cost of multiple cameras, multiple audio devices etc. The setup time and edit time for multiple devices can be off the chart. You hear guys constantly bragging about how many cameras they set up for all the different angles.. All the audio devices to back up the other audio devices. All the sliders and dslr rigs.

You hardly hear them mention the cost of that gear? The time it takes to setup and tear down? How many hours they spend on wedding day? And you will rarely ever hear the REAL numbers on how many edit hours.
And even more rare is you never hear anybody say, I'm putting in the time but I'm getting $6000 for that wedding. And I realize in every market there are a few that do.

But I do believe because we are so obsessed with equipment and quality that average wedding videographer relegates themselves to roughly $15 bucks an hour. Admit it or not.
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Old March 20th, 2013, 01:51 AM   #73
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Thanks Al

Trust me, if I could do just ONE wedding a month for $8000 it would be far better, time management wise, to do that instead of doing 4 x $2000 weddings. The only point however (as $8K is a pipe dream here!) is that if you do a $2000 wedding then spend 25 hours on it, not 60 hours so your profit margin is sustainable. It's great to see someone slave over footage over and over attending to minute detail but it sadly doesn't make business sense. I leave that sort of obsession to personal stuff I might shoot but not on weddings where profit margins are concerned.

Chris
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Old March 20th, 2013, 02:05 AM   #74
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
A couple observations....

You can focus on "only 20% of brides are looking for video", and get really depressed...

OR you can focus on 20% ARE interested, and there's a HUGE pool (80%) out there that just isn't aware or thinks it's too expensive or whatever... who might well be interested if exposed and educated a bit.

"Marketing" is not just buying gear, getting some business cards, and sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring... have a local newpaper do a "interest story" on your business, network with other vendors, get out there and show your "stuff"... EVERY successful business eventually has to figure out how to make the phone ring!!

To do that, you need to understand what your unique VALUE is to a potential client - are you offering a "cinematic" artsy final product? A "document your day as it happened" approach? A hybrid of some sort? Pretend to be the client for a moment, what is it that would make you as a client WANT, desire, NEED to include video in the budget?? How do you get that message in front of your potential clients?


The practical fact is "budget" is a real world factor - ignore it at your own risk. This applies to the client "budget" and to your own business "budget". Sure you WANT to shoot with a Red... but will you recoup the costs? The client might not be interested in video or only have a "beer budget", but when presented with a well shot showreel that MOVES them, they might BECOME interested... maybe even develop a "champaigne taste"!



I found Gabes comments interesting - one thought, if you're there ANYWAY, because the client booked the "el cheapo" package, how about being the "hero" that shot with a couple extra cameras/angles, and when the 'tog blows it, you've got the extra footage to "save the day"??? You can ALWAYS deliver a one camera product, but the idea that you might be able to "upsell" later is worth considering.



I've quoted the $299 price point as well, because it came up here, but I've SEEN it locally... so it's not completely absurd that you may be competing with this sort of "competition". That the "competition" may produce horrid unwatchable drek (seen it at local bridal fairs!) is probably helpful to those who insist on quality, but it's still good to be aware that such "competition" is out there, Know you will sooner or later probably hear "but I can get it for $300" from potential clients and be prepared to point out the strengths in your own product/experience (yes you can include "equipment" in the mix, but is it REALLY going to impress the bride? REALLY??)

I would hope one would always strive to produce "best" quality product, no matter what the price point, and if the product is good... word of mouth, networking and a little promotional marketing should lead to enough work to make a real business of it! I don't see it as being "obsessed with quality", but rather that I expect to produce quality PERIOD, with the equipment at hand (or readily affordable).

I'll stir the pot and suggest that IF you can get the shot (or the clip, with video), you should be able to pick up a darn smartphone and shoot workable footage! Yes, every device has limitations, but in the end it comes down to knowing how to SHOOT and later edit, not how big or expensive your "gear box" is....

So, in the interest of full disclosure. As you said, I WAS going to be shooting the wedding anyways.
So guess what? I had an HD Hero cam on a slider (mounted on a tripod) to do a couple 'artsy' shots
and then when the ceremony started, I just centered the slider on the tripod and recorded to have a
'save my butt' angle just in case my main camera got blocked or something. It's things like this that
drive my wife crazy as she always tells me I am not running the business correctly. If they refuse
to pay for the second camera, I shouldn't be going to the work of actually using it! Alas, I often do.
And then I often make the music video that is supposed to be a $500 add on. Then, since I made it
anyways, I will often throw it on the DVD and they end up getting it for free. In this particular case,
I didn't want the client coming over to pick and chose shots, especially since she had agreed that
I would be doing a one camera shoot. So I reminded her of that fact over the phone.
One of those things where I wanted to be very firm with her as she was starting to make me
nervous that she was going to be 'one of those' brides. Wanting to come over and choose which
camera angle she should be seeing after she agreed that she wanted the low budget single camera
wedding??? Really? After I reminded her on the phone, she got very apologetic and told me I was
right and that they would be glad for whatever video I was able to make them, especially since
she had got absolutely no stills from the photographer. Which of course made me feel bad for her and
I put in extra editing time to cut in extra angles from the GoPro, which of course drove my wife crazy....
stinking vicious circle. BUT, the good thing, is what this whole experience taught me.

I was talking about the whole thing with a friend of mine who does wedding photography. She is
very good, and does roughly 50 times the amount of weddings I do, because....well she's a
photographer, and not a videographer. She told me, that what I do, is make the music video,
and then SHOW the clients the video, and offer them the CHANCE to buy it! If they don't, then you
don't put it on the DVD. But she said, if they see it, they will usually want to buy it! Which
is totally true. As I've seen, they often choose the cheap package, and then after the fact
want the expensive one! She often does this with her photography, and when she shows them
the 'extra' photos, she says they ALWAYS buy them. She also told me that all the expos she
attends, the photographers are being pushed to offer video services as well. She like me,
immediately saw the flaw in that plan as it is hard to do both good photos and video at the
same wedding. Even with DSLR's that shoot HD video and camcorders like the VG20 that shoot
16 megapixel raw stills, you are making decisions (like shutter speed for example) for one medium
or the other. Not to mention, that you may miss a good photo opportunity if you are recording video,
or vice versa. So her idea, was to partner with me, and she would do the 'documentary' style
coverage with the photos, as well as the traditional photo shoot, and I would do the
'cinematic' music highlights video. Apparently, in talking with her brides (and this is a photographer
who does hundreds of weddings) they are NOT interested in a one or two hour long video that
shows everything. They can't get their friends to sit through that, it just isn't interesting enough.
Now this may be a cultural thing (short American attention spans), or an age thing, or who
knows what. Apparently some of you have different experiences and have brides that want
the whole 1-2 hour ceremony plus 3 hours at the reception, and an hour or so of prep captured,
and want to watch it all. But I was told that if I offered the highlights video she would package
it with her photos and sell us as a 'multimedia' package deal as she absolutely loves the highlights
video and thinks it will sell. So I am trying a new venture this upcoming summer. It might be
worth it for some of you to try and find a talented 'one person band' wedding photographer who
doesn't have a big enough business to offer video services, and partner with them to offer
'multimedia' services. Who know, I may get very little work out of it, although we have had
some prebookings already, which is not something I am used to getting. I am also raising my
prices. But the worst that can happen is that people think I am too expensive and don't book
me, in which case I have more time to play with my kids. That definitely won't ruin my summer!
If wedding video was the only work I did, I may have a different opinion, but I decided a long
time ago, not to put all my eggs in one basket so I do TV commercials, events, corporate and
non profit promotional films, and all kinds of other video work. Most times, when one
segment of my business is down, another is up, which keeps me from worrying too much
about something like wedding bookings being low. I just take the free time I am gifted and
spend it with my family, after all that's what's important anyways!!!!
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Old March 20th, 2013, 06:03 AM   #75
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Re: Are we becoming obsessed with quality?

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Thanks Al

Trust me, if I could do just ONE wedding a month for $8000 it would be far better, time management wise, to do that instead of doing 4 x $2000 weddings. The only point however (as $8K is a pipe dream here!) is that if you do a $2000 wedding then spend 25 hours on it, not 60 hours so your profit margin is sustainable. It's great to see someone slave over footage over and over attending to minute detail but it sadly doesn't make business sense. I leave that sort of obsession to personal stuff I might shoot but not on weddings where profit margins are concerned.

Chris
Hi Chris,

If we refer to your own example, I'm not sure what doesn't make business sense here.

If you spend on average 25 hours per wedding and need 4 of them to reach your $8000 monthly goal, then you'd end up working 100 hours at the end of the month to make the same amount that a single 60 hours wedding would make. In this case, wouldn't you be the one overworking yourself to reach the same financial goal?

As far as the "$8K is a pipe dream" comment goes, we are once again falling into a pointless debate about "MY market vs YOUR market" which always ends up with a "good for you, but it doesn't work like that here where I live" type of comment which, once again, is completely irrelevant depending on who's looking at it.

It is just funny to see how some people are so determined to pull out numbers taken from their own personal situation as a reference to what is supposed to be "real" and automatically believe that everything else doesn't make sense.
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N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

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