I read through the thread


I read through the thread fully and noticed that imagep and m_paransky echo the thoughts of many potential video production clients. I rarely shoot weddings because of those very ideas ‘that videographers charge too much.’ Yeah, if a videographer hands a client a poorly produced, poorly shot video with terrible audio and missed shots (like the vows or ring exchanges per se), then I would absolutely agree.

But reputable videographers would not want their reputation ruined by turning out such product. And that’s the point. Video production is the means to creating a ‘product’. Image, the amounts and fees you mentioned are useable in a classroom setting and paransky, your rank and file logic is great for those who honorably work on the ‘assembly line’. However, neither of you take into account the ‘process’ of making the ‘final product’ which is the completed film.

If it’s a case of ‘Uncle Bob’ running out with his little handheld 1CCD rig to get some shots of the wedding, then yeah the costs are minimal. No matter what you think, wedding videos are productions that require pre-production phase planning, production phase acquisition and post-production phase creation of the final product. Everything involved with creating the wedding video/DVD costs money. All of those costs have to be weighed in to determine proper pricing.

The $20 DVD at wal-mart didn’t cost $20 to make. In the case of ‘Waterworld’ or ‘Titanic’ that $20 DVD actually cost over $200m to make. The end product only costs $20 dollars only because there will be enough units sold which can recoup the costs of creation and promotion if not turn a profit.

Wedding videographers don’t have the luxury of selling mass units of their final product. More often than not, it’s a one-shot deal. All the costs and potential profits are usually recouped by the client paying for the planning, production and editing of their wedding video. In essence, the client has become an Executive Producer. The client has hopefully, hired a professional contractor to do the work and should not only expect professional level work, but expect to pay for it as well.

Unlike unskilled labor, contractors no matter what profession are highly trained and skilled professionals. What the client is paying for is the use of the contractor’s knowledge, expertise and equipment for the completion of their project (in this case, a wedding video.) No one questions a doctor, lawyer or architect concerning their skillsets and their fees for their expertise. So why do you believe that anyone inclined to pick up a camera and turn it on is equal to someone who is a trained and experienced video professional? Do you really think Uncle Bob and a wedding video pro should be paid equally or not at all?

Lastly, earlier I made reference to ‘rank and file’ thinking. $12-13 an hour is a respectable wage for unskilled labor particularly if you receive proper compensation for overtime work. What you do not take into account is as an employee you are actually paid $24-26 an hour because your employer has to match unemployment benefits and payroll taxes. If they are also matching your insurance benefits, then the price is higher.

I can tell you from long experience that it is difficult to attract skilled video professionals for wages less than $20 an hour. If they are required to bring their own equipment, travel or take up temporary lodging as well forget it.

You two are only looking at the base amount of the hourly wage. Personnel costs money, equipment usage costs money, the operation, care and maintenance of working facilities cost money, operational supplies cost money and the list goes on. Just like the end price of the big-budget movie DVD, the wedding video/DVD’s cost must cover the expenses to create it, the personnel involved in the creation and a reasonable amount of profit to justify its creation. You cannot run an independent business with a rank and file attitude towards production costs. When calculating pricing, you want to be fair to your clients, your business and to yourself. Neglecting any of those points will put you out of business.

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