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

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Old July 7th, 2010, 10:45 PM   #1
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My first pass on taping a couples wedding.

I recently met a bride whom right off the bat threw up red flags for me. I asked her where the fiance was and she told me,

Bride: "Oh he doesn't really want to meet with you. He doesn't want a videographer. He feels they are intrusive and annoying, but I really want a videographer."

Me: "Oh did he have a bad experience or know someone who did?"

Bride: No, he just doesn't like cameras in his face and thinks a videographer isn't necessary."

Me: "We can certainly stand in the corner the whole night if that's what he wants."

She barely laughed at that joke.

So there were other flags that came up that I wasn't comfortable with but I won't go into those cause you really had to be there to hear this lady.

But I went along with it cause she was paying me for 10 hours work but for a 5 hour event in the morning which you may all know is the ideal wedding time to have when you have a wife and kids and always do weddings till Midnight.

She also wanted a bunch of add-ons as well.

Of course she tried to get me to go down on my price because of the number of hours, but I insisted that my prices are non-neogiable and that I have a 8 hour minimum for Saturdays. She was fine with it in the end. Then I was thinking, damn, I just couldn't shake this one loose if I tried too.

So on the way home in meeting with her, I thought about and told myself I'm going to have to go with my instincts and believe that Wedding Videographers are NOT an after thought but should be first, second or even third on their list to hire. I was not.

So I wrote up this email, but I can't find the right words to let her down nicely without offending her. I want to be as professional about it as I can.

Here is what I wrote. Feel free to add on or change it. We could all use a good template for these occurrences.

Hi "Bride", it was nice meeting with you yesterday. Unfortunately, I am going to have to pass on taping your wedding. The reason is that I prefer to work with couples who see video as necessity and really want the videographer to be a part of the event and not as an annoyance, second fiddle or in the way.

Thank you. Good luck with your wedding.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 01:19 AM   #2
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well its never fun to work with anyone who doesn't want to be videoed ,but i think it really boils down to whether you need the money or not
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Old July 8th, 2010, 01:41 AM   #3
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was he still dismissive when you showed him your work though? if it's just based on a meeting, without showing work, then his views may have just been based on old-school stigma, and not current standards.

when i very first started out, i had a similar story.
the guy could barely smile at me when we first met, and he tried to talk his missus out of having a Love Story add-on too, saying he couldn't imagine anything worse.

when i handed over the Love Story (pre-wedding), oh how things changed.
the guy invited EVERYONE over to see it, and couldn't stop talking about how it was the 'best thing he'd ever seen' etc. then he added me on facebook and did the same thing.

on the wedding day, he was completely accomodating and made sure i had top priority, even more so than the photographer!

in other words, it proves the stigma 'can' be quickly and easily rectified.

but yes, that's just my story, and it may not have worked out like that for you. if you feel more comfortable turning it down, then at least you won't feel like you're stepping on egg shells the whole day, just to hopefully impress an already-dismissive groom.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 01:56 AM   #4
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Ugh. Your email sounds pretty harsh. I have to remember that most couples have been long conditioned to view wedding videography as far less than the art that most of us love. It's not their fault for feeling as they do, and if someone is camera shy/resistant, there's really nothing wrong with that.

If you're getting a bad vibe, run like mad for sure, but I think you should let her down much more lightly. I suggest something along the lines of, "I don't believe I'll be able to create the type of film that I'm accustomed to making, given the particular things that you're looking for. My style just wouldn't be a good fit for your wedding."

It sounds like she's going to end up with either no wedding video or a poorly made one. I feel sorry for her, but if this couple's video experience does turn out to be a bad one, it will be one more story added to the conglomerate of other stories of remorse (over not hiring a competent videographer) that I think is slowly emerging as a warning to future couples...

Invest in a good wedding video. It's worth it.

Alec Moreno
Wedding Art Films - Southern California - Los Angeles - Orange County - Video
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Old July 8th, 2010, 05:13 AM   #5
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Hi Kelly,

The only recommendation I would make is that you put a better tone on your email to her. I picked up a sense of "snottiness" from it whether you meant it to read that way or not. It almost felt like it was coming from a place of defensiveness.

I'm always thinking about referrals and public image. If this bride is on the big wedding sites where she talks about all her planning, vendors, etc....You don't want her writing that "this one video guy was an ass.."

Again, I'm not saying you meant your email to be curt, but you might want to take a second look at it.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 05:35 AM   #6
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I have to agree with others that the tone of your e-mail is a little condescending. I think the right thing to do is emphasize that while you appreciate their interest, you feel that you may not be the right fit for them, and you don't want to take the job when you feel another studio may be a better fit. It may or may not be stretching the truth a bit, but sounds much more diplomatic than the wording you are currently using.

"It was great meeting you, but unfortunately I am going to have to pass on covering your big day. Based on our conversation, (diplomatic way of saying you don't fit goes here)." Give them a couple of names, wish them the best of luck, give a courtesy apology for things not working out.

Not every couple is for every studio, and kudos for being willing to give up a shoot that will give you more trouble then it's worth, but you have to leave them thinking that you're looking out for their best interests, even if you're looking out for yours.

If your name comes up in conversation with someone else, you want her to say something positive. "They passed on our day, though they were courteous and professional about it" rather than "They thought they were too good to shoot my wedding."

Either way, best of luck, and again, kudos for being willing to pass on a paying wedding for your principals.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 06:51 AM   #7
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You could mention that your style of shooting requires both the bride AND the groom to be 100% willing participants and that you'd be happy to refer to another videographer that might be better suited for this type of shoot.
__________________ - Modern Wedding Films based in Michigan - Michigan's dedicated wedding blog
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Old July 8th, 2010, 09:39 AM   #8
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Thanks guys for all your advice. I changed the tone and added some of your words to the email.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 10:08 AM   #9
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Hi Kelly,

I see where you are coming from.. We had a similar scenario where the groom was just dismissive and non-chalant at the meeting and kept talking about how they spent "big bucks" for the photographer so he doesn't have to "deal" with recounting his bad videog experience from his sister's wedding the previous year... after showing them some samples, they reluctantly signed the contract..... In the end after all was said and done ; I got a call from the groom and he said
" that was best investment we had for our wedding more so than what we paid for our photos, thank you ! can we order 12 more copies ?"

i guess we just saw a great opportunity to influence and change someone's perspective on wedding videos....especially in our market "the home of the $99 all day video package" :)

Best regards,

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Old July 8th, 2010, 10:32 AM   #10
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Guys probably just camera shy, doesn't want video in his face. He might have been at one where the videog was trying to get interviews, and get people to say "Congrats", and insisted on putting a mic in his face.

I'm probably in the minority, but gotta disagree with you as far as video being "first or second on the list". A bad DJ can ruin your wedding day (static & feedback, awful song selection, no one on the dance floor), same with a bad caterer/food. A terrific one can make it awesome & people remember it & it be special (that chicken/fish was amazing). People almost always want good photos over video, and the couple probably would rather have an awesome honeymoon than video, so you have to look at things from their eyes, not yours. Videos 5th or 6th.. Also, guests never leave saying "That video guy sucked", so it's more of an after the fact thing. 6 months later "Did you get your video done?" "Yeah, it's not that good." but doesn't impact the day, although yes a great one can reinvigorate it.

But I uhnderstand you when you say there were other things involved, sounds like you got a bad vibe from her, and that you two just weren't clicking. You probably trusted your gut & did the right thing, she might be a pain for the next guy who accepts.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 12:23 PM   #11
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I would say it is a good call.

If you feel initially that they are not your couple, more likely you wont get excited to shoot on their wedding day. thus outcome wouldn't be as good as the other couples you love working with.

I'd like to work with people who wants my work not because they gotta have one. It is more fun shooting that way.
Bay Area Wedding
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Old July 8th, 2010, 12:35 PM   #12
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Dear Bride,

It was wonderful meeting you yesterday. I was really looking forward to be part of your special day, however my assistant missed out on a conflict for that day and I won't be able to shoot your special day. I apologize for any inconvenience this might have cost you. Would it be okay to refer you to a colleague of mine?

Pass it on to an unfriendly competitor.

My 2 cents.
Noel Lising
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Old July 8th, 2010, 04:02 PM   #13
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I don't know... My word is my bond. If I agreed to do their wedding, I'd do it. Now if the conversation ended on a noncommittal tone, that might be different, but your initial email sounds like it was a done deal.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 05:17 PM   #14
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Hi Guys

For me, If I have made the unfortunate mistake of agreeing to do a bridezillas wedding and she has indeed signed a contract then I have to do it. I think if was just a verbal agreement, I would STILL honour my obligations must probably phone her and tell her I'm coming around for a contract signing. If she doesn't back out of the deal then I don't think the videographer should either.

Ok, it's not going to be the best wedding you ever did but at least you keep your side of the deal. Dumping her just might cause her to say "Don't hire him" and you don't ever want a bride going around badmouthing you. With social pages like Facebook etc etc ..word gets around pretty fast nowdays!!!

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Old July 9th, 2010, 06:51 AM   #15
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dont be a schmuck, she wants to pay you top dollar, take the money and win him over. who cares
if he doesnt like it. let him deal with your second shooter, preferably a female. its all HER friends
you want cooing over your work.
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