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


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Old January 2nd, 2007, 05:14 PM   #1
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full-time wedding blues??

I am thinking of leaving my full-time job and doing weddings full-time. I'm currently working part-time for a wedding videographer now, and he has enough work this year that he wants me to work for him full-time. I went over the financial end of it, and we can make it work. This could be a great lead-in to me doing my own weddings full-time in the next couple of years. He said that I could work as many weekends from March through November as I wanted, or as little... just depends on how much money I want to make (this guy does about 260 weddings a year).

BUT... I'm concerned that to do the quantity of weddings required to make the money I need, I might get so burned out that I don't even want to do my own weddings later. I'll have to shoot nearly every weekend from April to October to make enough for the year to get by financially, and edit every one of those as well as others. With that many weddings, I will just become a wedding factory. And that concerns me. Doing my own weddings, I will make a lot more money than what I get paid freelance, and therefore not have to have as many bookings to get by.

My question is this: Do you professionals doing this day in and day out think that jumping into a wedding factory situation like this is a bad idea? I know it's hard to say and ultimately up to me, but I wondered what some of your thoughts were.

Here are some pluses and minuses:

+ it would get me in front of many many many other wedding vendors
+ it would give me a ton of experience
+ it would get me away from a job in web development that I am severely burned-out on
+ it would free up *some* time during the precious M-F day shift to try to build up some freelance work as well, and slowly reduce weddings (whereas now I work M-F during the day and can't build much freelance corporate type work at all)
+ my hours overall would be a *bit* more flexible

- Most of my Saturdays would be history... more than if I were doing my own weddings
- I can certainly whip out a wedding edit quickly, but sometimes it drives me crazy to do that because I am a detail oriented editor, and love to spend a ton of time making it as perfect as I can get it
- I would lose the stability of a regular full-time job (which I would lose regardless of doing my own weddings or someone elses)

I'm struggling with sticking it out at a job I don't like anymore and doing weddings part-time until I can go on my own, or doing weddings full-time, but so many that it might burn me out and not even want to do my own later. I would LOVE to also get into some freelance corporate work, and other types of event video also.

Anyhow, let me know what you think.

Thanks,
Dan
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 06:19 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Shallenberger
My question is this: Do you professionals doing this day in and day out think that jumping into a wedding factory situation like this is a bad idea?
I would say absolutely yes, jumping into a situation where your overloaded and trying to get out as many as possible would be just as enjoyable (which your saying it isn't) or less than your current job. However, within a year, you could easily be doing 10 weddings of your own and cut your work with him in half. I'm not sure what he charges, but I would guess at 260 a year it is more of a quantity oriented strategy which is not the kind of business model I would want to learn from if I was going into this for the enjoyment of it all.

I just check out your website- there are some great shots there. What do you shoot the flower stills with (in terms of glass and body)? Maybe you should consider a move into the photo side of weddings more so than the video side. That would be 260 referrals a year you could get from your friend if you could produce a good product.
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 08:24 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm sure you're right about it being as bad or worse than my current job. I have a lot of thinking to do. See, working for this videographer, I'm doing camera 1, and camera 1 requires a commitment in advance, because he has to know I will shoot it if he books me. As camera 2, I didn't have to be commited months in advance, so I had some freedom to book my own weddings. But as camera 1, I will be committed for many weekends this summer and fall, thereby eliminating the possibily of booking my own weddings on the popular dates, and many unpopular dates. He doesn't want me to do camera 2 anymore, so if I don't do camera 1, I likely won't be doing weddings for him. Oh well... I have a couple of months to work things out and think some more.

Thanks for the photography compliments! I shoot with a Canon D30 (yes, the original... very old now) and a Canon 70-200 f4L with Kenko extension tubes for floral shots, and a mix between the 70-200, Sigma 35-70 and a 50mm prime for everything else. I would LOVE to get into more portraits, but I'm really not interested in wedding photography, only video. It might be a good idea, and I could likely make more money for less work, but I just don't like wedding photography.

That's another benefit for going full-time with this wedding company. I would be somewhat available through the day to try to get some freelance work with photography and corporate video, and if I couldn't get much, I just pick up more weddings. If I do get some, then reduce my weddings a bit to make more time for the freelance work. At my current M-F day job, I don't have the time to pursue any work that isn't done on weekends. Maybe I'm way off here.

Anyhow, thanks again for the photog compliments. I enjoy it as much as video and hope to do more of it soon.

Thanks!
Dan
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 10:19 PM   #4
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Making the choice to do weddings and events full time is a tough decision. For some folks the only way to go is to work for someone else and be a good employee but let the boss have the headaches of running the buisness, getting clienets in the door, advertising, dealing with clients, the money issue and all the other stuff that it takes to own and run a sucessful production house.
Some of us on the other hand do not work or play well with bosses so therefore have to work for ourselves. Having been self employed in the still business for 12 years and now the video business for 23 years I can tell there have been many times over the years I have wondered if I made the right choice (even as late as a few weeks ago ;-o). The thing about being self employed is to be sucessful (write your own definition of sucess here____) and that means always hustling, always talking to people always doing SOMETHING to move your business ahead because you are either moving ahead or moving around and since moving around won't pay the bills you better move ahead.
Is being your own boss hard work? You bet. Would I personally have it any other way? Not on your life! I'm 60 years old and frankly I can't really think of anything major I'd change over the last 35 years. There are a few small things maybe but since there are no do overs, I'll take what I got and be happy and move ahead and try to make this year better than last!
It's a mental thing with me.
Anyway enough --- if you like what you're doing, the money is good, the boss is decent and you like having a "steady" paycheck than keep doing what you're doing. If you don't mind working your butt off, chasing clients for work, for money and sometimes NOT getting a paycheck for a few weeks (or longer) than do your thing.
Oh yreah, if you go off on your own, then if you're the toughest boss you ever had you'll be the best employee you'll ever have! Besides, you know the boss pretty well and can have a talk with him every morning and no matter what he probably won't fire you ;-)
Good luck

Don

PS-working every weekend isn't so bad once you get used to it-when I AM home on a weekend my wife wonders whats wrong!
Don
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Old January 2nd, 2007, 11:10 PM   #5
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We ran a successful a/v company for 30+ years and found you have to have a few strings to your bow.
When one goes slack for a bit, the others take up the tension so you're always on your business target.

Dan, one here would be to eventually provide a good DVD copying service, maybe a small auto duplicator which could run unattended overnight. Do the best print you can manage and in a while you could build it into a separate company.
We managed that with tapes and CDs and it grew into a solid outfit which had its own clients with regular weekly orders.
We specialised in overnight and weekend work and during the 80s recession here, we didn't even notice it.

A location tip: wear a white shirt and manually white balance off the sleeve, bound to get recommendations doing that.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 10:04 AM   #6
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Can you afford to pay your own health, dental, life insurance etc if you work for this guy (as a subcontractor, I presume)? If you can, I'd say you should leave the job you don't like for the one you do. 260 weddings seems like steady work to me and I assume that you're using his equipment, correct?
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 01:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom
For some folks the only way to go is to work for someone else and be a good employee but let the boss have the headaches of running the buisness, getting clienets in the door, advertising, dealing with clients, the money issue and all the other stuff that it takes to own and run a sucessful production house.
Don
Don, are you following me again.


Seriously Dan,

If I had to guess, I think you're in the middle on this. I believe that if you do what you love and the end result makes you happy, then that's what it's all about. Working for just money money money and being unhappy, is probably similar to prostitution. You just are there for the money and the thrill is pretty much gone. Don't get me wrong, sometimes you have to feed your family and your happiness at the job is what you give up, but your happiness of providing for your family I would imagine is more important.

So I would throttle your heart a little, take a step back, consult an advisor if needed, then discuss other options. Such as being paid more for working for the other guy.

If only I'd been born with a silver spoon and not one made of eco-plastic.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 04:12 PM   #8
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Hey Steven,
I'm a sneaky kind of guy so every now and then you gotta peek behind ya cause ya never who might be there ;-)

I got the best boss in the world-he lets me play golf at least once a week and even take time off for vacations. He pays me on time, he doesn't get mad when I take an hour and half for lunch and...wait, oh yeah he's me!
I love workin' for myself no matter how good or how bad-for me there's never been another way.

Don
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