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


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Old June 17th, 2015, 11:14 AM   #1
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May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

Good morning,

I guess I don't have a specific question, but rather just floating the idea so that all the more experienced and more smarter people here can offer advice or criticism.

my wife and I live up in the very rural, frequently frozen north of the U.S. (very near the Canadian border). With our big towns nearby being 80,000 and 150,000 people, respectively. Because of my DJ and video business, I book well enough during wedding season (June-October) and then... nothing.

With the oodles of free time during the cold, dark winters here, I think I'm going to start chasing some out of town weddings. Florida in February sounds lovely. Heck, I'd even go to New Jersey.

I know our quality isn't superstar or anything, and entering any new market is difficult, so I'm considering starting out at roughly the same price we are now ($2000 for 2 shooters for 9 hours of coverage, though that will hopefully go up to $2500 soon), which would be enough to cover any and all expenses (both travel, hotel, and business related), but not much of anything else.

We would be pretty happy if we got 2 of these each winter, when we wouldn't be missing out on gigs that actually earn us a profit. Of course, as time goes on if this worked, and if we continue to improve, prices would go up.
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Old June 17th, 2015, 11:35 AM   #2
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

You're a little late. Videographers have been moving to Florida for years, and the "Snowbird" videographers have been coming down each winter too. ;)

That being said, winters are much nicer here. The grass really is greener in the winter here, provided it's a wet winter like this year's was. I've only seen real snow once in my life and had to go out of state to see it.

There are a lot of destination weddings at certain venues, and plenty of videographers and cinematographers living right next door to them to handle all the price ranges. Personally, I'd have to say Florida is not the promised land for wedding videographers. A small percentage do very well. Only a fraction of my business comes from weddings. I'd like to do more, along with the other kinds of video jobs. But the market is fairly saturated with really talented competition. And the Film Schools here are graduating newbies in droves. Even the community colleges all have film schools.

Oh, I'd forgotten this but am adding now. During the recession, large studios in the area like Nickelodeon, Buena Vista Studios etc. closed down. Cable operations downsized. A lot of employees were let go. Many of them, very talented professionals, unable to find other jobs started their own small businesses or freelancing. There's only been a partial recovery. The closed studios haven't reopened and cable and the local stations are still operating in a lean manner.

You might consider letting people in your area who are planning destination weddings elsewhere know that they can take you along rather than take their chances with the locals where they're going. But the locals already know how to really smooze the tourists.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; June 17th, 2015 at 12:14 PM. Reason: forgot about the layoffs
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Old June 17th, 2015, 12:39 PM   #3
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

Thanks, Roger. Good points.

Florida comes up because my mother's family is from Tampa. My parents still have my grandparents' house there and we try to make it down every year. I've just missed the past.... 6 years or so.

For me, I wasn't thinking of trying to get into the Florida market, per se, just other places that aren't here. Random, so to speak. A paid vacation. 4 days in where ever, 1 day of that working.

So your idea of hitching on to locals who travel is a good one for that.
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Old June 17th, 2015, 02:30 PM   #4
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

You could always bring some of your gear along on a vacation. While you're here, you could scout out the lay of the land, maybe make a few contacts. If you are really serious, start scouting venues on line. Pick a couple and visit them when you're down. Getting prospects to feel comfortable with you, then later like you, know you, and trust you, works in Florida just like where you live.
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Old June 17th, 2015, 02:39 PM   #5
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

Well, from a B&G's perspective, do you think they would like to hire someone from so far out of state? (Possible blizzard, plane delay issues, inability to get the funds to fly & hotel stay etc). Just seems like they would be so much better off hiring a local. Secondly, how will you advertise & obtain these gigs. Possibly Craigslist, but then you run into issue #1 (I live far away), same with Weddingwire/The Knot.
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Old June 17th, 2015, 08:35 PM   #6
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

We have a similar situation here but on a smaller scale. The attraction to brides is our South West Coast which is a 2 -3 hour drive from where I am and yes, there are local DJ's there and local photogs and Video too yet I still have brides booking me and paying a surcharge of 25% of my package price to cover travel and accommodation costs. If I was getting married I would certainly look for local vendors rather than out of state ones.

Just a thought Rob?? Since Florida is the land of Sunshine even in Winter, could you not work in with a local video guy in Tampa and offer to take his excess bookings just for the Winter period? That way the bride is working with a local vendor and all you are doing is coming in to soak up his excess work??
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Old June 17th, 2015, 10:24 PM   #7
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post

Just a thought Rob?? Since Florida is the land of Sunshine even in Winter, could you not work in with a local video guy in Tampa and offer to take his excess bookings just for the Winter period? That way the bride is working with a local vendor and all you are doing is coming in to soak up his excess work??
Damn, that's a smart suggestion. Good'un, mate.
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Old June 18th, 2015, 09:13 AM   #8
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

I like your idea, Chris, but we can't spend too much time in a spot since we've got kids in school, but that might still work, getting a booking or two through a local.

The other idea was to pick places we're auditioning to move to. My wife (from the desert of Arizona) doesn't care for the flat and cold and would like to move to another part of the country. Working vacations to these spots could get us a better look at the area.
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Old June 18th, 2015, 09:24 AM   #9
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

Hey Rob

Whether locals will actually agree to let you do their overflow is another story of course. I have contacted a few locals here about doing my extra bookings and they never came back to me ... As long as both your price structure was the same I see no issue if you can get a willing partner

Would you be doing just video or DJ as well combined???

Chris
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Old June 18th, 2015, 10:17 AM   #10
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

I'd prefer not to do DJ'ing. I do enough of that, and then there is a whole gear issue (it doesn't travel well).

Though maybe if I could book a DJ gig in Minneapolis (my nearest big city, 5.5 hours away), then hop on a plane or something.

------------
I will say, DJ'ing is pretty sweet. when I'm done with the gig, I'm done. I often do a blog post and try to get a review, but its basic. Not like video. However, I really like the new challenge and the variety that DJ'ing about 25-30 weddings and filming 10-14 a year give me.
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Old June 18th, 2015, 10:46 AM   #11
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

At $2000, I think you'll actually be losing money. Not to mention that you could possibly undercut the local market wherever you go. Why is it that photographers have been racing to the top while videographers want to give away their work for free (or race to beat the lowest price). Travel adds to the cost and complexity of any venture, and unless you've got a nice fat trust fund waiting for you, I'd seriously consider doubling your rate for travel work, and then adding the expenses of travel on top of that.

Not only will you find a better breed of customer at the higher prices, you'll usually have fewer headaches afterwards. From experience, I can tell you that those that pay the least expect the most.
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Old June 18th, 2015, 11:57 AM   #12
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Re: May enter the wonderful world of traveling wedding video

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Originally Posted by Oren Arieli View Post
Not only will you find a better breed of customer at the higher prices, you'll usually have fewer headaches afterwards. From experience, I can tell you that those that pay the least expect the most.
Now that I have found is true. Ever since my DJ'ing has become 30-50% above average market price, I've had much better customers. I'm better, too, than I used to be, but I rarely have an issue anymore. And I'm rarely at the local Legion hall anymore either.
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