setting up wedding/event photo-video shoot business

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by michael_mac, May 19, 2006.

  1. Hi All,

    I am new to this forum. I am in the planning phase of setting up a
    wedding/event photo-video services business. I would like some important tips
    from all you experts on how to go about it. I do not have much experience in
    photography or videography, instead plan to hire experienced professionals.
    Please provide your invaluable suggestions in terms of:

    1) Equipment (digital) to buy for photography and videography (No compromise on
    quality, so I want to buy the best in the market)
    2) What to look for when hiring photographers/videographers
    3) Do I need a studio or can I run it via a website?
    4) Since I don't have much experience (IT background), what all should I know
    before getting into this business. Where should I get this knowledge and how
    much is required (since I will not be doing the actual shoot)
    5) What are absolute essentials to be successful in this business?
    6) Pros and cons of this business. pitfalls?
    7) I want to put online on my website all the content captured in the wedding,
    is that a valuable addition? How much extra are clients willing to pay for this?
    8) What software to use to create digital slideshows of albums?
    9) I want to offer business in multiple states, is that a viable option? What
    all do I need to build such a network? How to hire and control professionals?
    Does someone has an example of a business already running in several states
    without any physical outlet (running via website)?
    10) What are the main aspects that clients are looking for when hiring this
    service?

    I am sure I have missed many important questions. Please add any that you feel
    are important to know for a new-bee like me. I will be very grateful to all who
    respond.

    please please please please help me. Thanks..
     
  2. Send $10,000. to photo.net and we'll reval all you need to know. PayPal will work.

    ( note to Mary, if we get p.n. $10 grand, can we then post as many pictures as we want on
    this forum ? )
     
  3. Make that "reveal" all we know ...

    ...and the price just went up to $11,000.
     
  4. Spell check costs $1,000?
     
  5. re: "1) Equipment (digital) to buy for photography and videography (No compromise on quality, so I want to buy the best in the market)", for photography, I'd then say a medium format camera with a digital back, and a HD digicam (broadcast quality).

    There is so much stuff here that hasn't even occurred to you that that all I can suggest is getting one of the many books on the subject (and I know there's a lot of books, since I bought 'em).

    It's not a simple as 'collect money, point-n-shoot'.

    pat
     
  6. "1) Equipment (digital) to buy for photography and videography" - Whatever the professional you hire feels comfortable using.

    "2) What to look for when hiring photographers/videographers" - Someone who know the business, and who wants to work for an employer. Someone who is experinced, and who has done more than a couple weddings.

    "3) Do I need a studio or can I run it via a website?" - Customers want to see samples. You can probably run this via website if your employees have printed albums and samples, and are willing to meet brides at public places like coffee shops.
    "4) Since I don't have much experience (IT background), what all should I know before getting into this business. Where should I get this knowledge and how much is required (since I will not be doing the actual shoot)" - You don't really need to know a lot if you are planning on hiring a business manager who knows the business. If you are planning on managing the business, it might take a few years to learn the business. You can learn it by taking some photography/ videography classes at a local college, then take some business calsses, then assist some wedding photographers and videographers for a few seasons. Then in about 2-3 years you MIGHT be able to manage it your self.

    "5) What are absolute essentials to be successful in this business?" - Good business skills, good photography skills or video skills, good people skills, and a healthy body.

    "6) Pros and cons of this business. pitfalls?" - Pros: action packed and adrenaline rush, the sentimental part of sharing in someones wedding day, good food, Cons: Aching back, sore feet, broken and abused equipment, rude people, pressure, working weekends, not much money, Bridezilla, inlaws, family dynamics, church in uglyvlille USA... (and much more)

    "I want to put online on my website all the content captured in the wedding, is that a valuable addition? How much extra are clients willing to pay for this?" - Yes this is a valuable addition, and brides expect it now with their package. It gets your name out to all her family and friends, and if you carge for it, she might go somewhere else to get it free, or use someone else.

    "8) What software to use to create digital slideshows of albums?" - Proshow gold or Showit


    "9) I want to offer business in multiple states, is that a viable option? What all do I need to build such a network? How to hire and control professionals? Does someone has an example of a business already running in several states without any physical outlet (running via website)?" - Any business is possible with a dream and the right people behind it, so it is possible. The problem with this is that it tends to have an impersonal feel. Most brides want a photographer that they have chosen on their ablilty to relate to themselves. They want to like the personality of the photographer. They want it to be personal. I think you loose the personal feel, and turn this into a picture factory. There are other businesses out there that do this sort of thing, but they have the reputation of hiring "wedding photographer wanna be's" and don't have a high quality standard. They don't have too good of a reputation.

    "10) What are the main aspects that clients are looking for when hiring this service?" Excellent quallity, good business skills and great personality at a competitive price.

    You have to ask yourself why you want to do this. Are you looking just to start a money making business? What is you motive behind this? Aparently you are not a photographer or videographer, so you don't have the passion of the art of it. That is what makes a photographer. The passion behind the camera. Someone who loves the art of it, someone who wants to share in the most special day of this bride and grooms lives, someone who cares about documenting that day. Someone who is willing to suffer an aching back, and sore feet, willing to work their tail off for 12 hours straight, just to get the satisfaction of presenting the bride and groom a beautiful story of their day. The must not be in it for the money, because only a few make more than a decent living... and some don't even make that. So what is your purpose?
     
  7. Talk to Todd Frederick....he has a lot of advice he could give you i'm sure.
     
  8. Thanks! Kari. Really appreciate the time you spent answering my question.
     
  9. ddf

    ddf

    I am in the process of setting up a similar business. While I am not trying to go multi-state, I am trying to bring photography and video in under one roof. My bread and butter right now is video. But after playing 2nd fiddle to the photographers and having to poach shots all the time, I think the two disciples will work more cohesively together.

    I am still learning the photography side, so I can only really speak about the video end of things. I would say the biggest problem you are going to have is finding and keeping professionals you can trust in the field. You will need to pay your main people well because everyone eventually wants to go off on their own and make more money. I would start with freelancers and find who you like before I considered hiring any employees. If you haven't ever done a wedding (photo or video) you are at a disadvantage. Although they are similar industries, each discipline has it's own caveats. You should really get out there in the trenches and shoot some unless you really trust your people. I would avoid getting to big too fast by shooting events in multiple states, etc. Concentrate on your own local area until you get your methods down. Just trying to run one crew is hard enough. Gearing up for 2 industries can be expensive, at least on my budget. At a minimum you need 2 of almost everything - cameras, wireless mics, lenses, tripods, etc.

    For what it's worth that's my 2 cents. Good luck. Love to hear how it goes.
     
  10. Nice going Kari, now we'll never be able to post multiple photos at random.
     
  11. Michael:

    You will want to "hire and control" photographers who have some experience shooting weddings professionally.

    My first question is: What do you have to offer such photographers? Why should a photographer work for you instead of running his or her own independent business?

    You don;t know wedding photoraphy but you would like to open a multistate franchise in that field. Okay, but why wedding photography? The clients are under stress, the employees you would hire also are under stress, everybody has artistic temperaments in full flower... it's inherently untidy.

    Why not build a business hiring and marketing attorneys or gynecologists or bicycle mechanics?

    Be well,
     
  12. Sorry Marc! I started typing this before I knew there was a PN benifit coming out of the question! Next time we'll have to do a mass email warning everyong not to answer until the poster pays up! I did have to laugh after I posted then saw your response!
     
  13. So that $10,000 ($11,000) wasn't the investment in video/audio/photography equipment??

    Hmm, do any videographers shoot film still? I think I've got an old super 8 somewhere collecting dust.

    Okay, seriously. The Sony FX1 runs about what, $7k? Or go for the $25k XD! Of course you'll need two of them.

    A nice Sennheizer sound system for $5k. PLEASE get a good stabilization system!

    Steadycam runs about $5k and up, but there are "cheaper" versions too.

    An AV studio is incredibly affordable compared to the days of BETA and S-VHS. you can get that done for just over $10k. Minumum two monitors of course. Go with Black Magic.

    Lights, stands, and a good pedestal, maybe another $10k, that is if you want a decent portable pedestal.

    Mics accessories, maybe another $2-3k, like batteries, media, etc.

    Makes the still photography seem easy now!

    A couple 1DS MK IIs for $14k.

    Lenses: $4-7K, depending on your preferences.

    Editing: Easily $3-5k.

    Misc lighting, stands, tripods, batteries, media: Perhaps $2-3k.

    Marketing: depends what you want to gross after your first year. I'd say invest no less than $6-10k.

    Just under $120,000. Seems like a reasonable start up cost. Costs more for a McDonalds or Subway. This is fun -- spending other people's money! I wonder what it costs to start up a bakery? I hear there's easy money in wedding cakes!
     
  14. Michael, if you open in S.E. Michigan, we'll band together and crush you.

    BTW, what are you paying? What's the benefits package? Will you send the draw checks to
    the Caribbean Jan. through March?

    Just kidding : -)

    Seriously,

    1) do you have experience in establishing a Franchise network? That's more important
    than the questions you're asking. Production is the last step, not the first.

    2) you don't need to buy the photographer's equipment. Most experienced wedding
    shooters have their own gear.

    Super high end gear is over-kill in this business. Suggestions of employing medium
    format digital backs are impractical. None of them can shoot much above ISO 200 and
    cost $20,000. to $30,000. A midrange Canon D5 or Nikon D200 are plenty.

    3) How do you plan on getting business? Do you have any expertise in marketing or
    advertising? You can go belly up faster in that area of expense than anywhere else.
    Keep the gear money for that. because you'll need it.

    4) If you don't have any established business, how do you expect to attract the talent
    needed to shoot? Larger studios are usually started by a photographer and expand from
    there.

    5) The bottom/middle end of this business is under attack price-wise. Digital has seen to
    that. High end shooters are doing fine, are booked solid and making a profit. Why would
    they share that profit with you?
     
  15. Mac - please please please please help me makes you sounds a bit juvenile.

    Help yourself by reading every post on this forum for a year. This will be enormously helpful - like have 15 mentors all at once.

    That said - why are you interested in starting this business? If you want to make money, this isn't the place. Photography requires technical skill and aesthetic vision, and there's a steep learning curve in developing either of these.

    I doubt that you are going to get a lot of support here b/c, IMHO, the people who start their interest in photography as a business are usually bad photographers. The people who start their interest in photography as a hobby are usually much better.

    I'm not particularly supportive of your interest b/c it sounds like you are approaching this as a business, and hence, your questions should really be about management and the business side of things. Most people who take your path, in my experience, end up doing a poor job. Might I suggest to find a good photographer to handle the photography side of things, finance him or her, you do the marketing and legal stuff and make the money.

    BUT - you might be the exception! If you decide that you want to learn photography yourself instead of just runa business, then your questions are more relevant.

    To become a great photographer:

    1) Buy an Olympus OM-1 with a 50mm Zuiko 1.8 lens and ten rolls of Kodak Portra 400NC.

    2) Buy the national geographic field guide to photography. Learn about exposure.

    3) Try out the tens rolls, have them developed and get them processed. Buy 10 more rolls of film and repeat 12 times.

    Most of the questions that you are asking are WAY above your level, but I'll answer them.

    1) Equipment (digital) to buy for photography and videography (No compromise on quality, so I want to buy the best in the market)

    Buy everything that Marc Williams has and you should be fine. Budget around $25-$30 thousand if you want enough gear that can handle several weddings in a weekend. Also keep in mind that if most of hte photographers you hire will have their own equipment :)

    2) What to look for when hiring photographers/videographers?

    Strong technical skills (sharp, clear images), good gear, friendly people skills, etc, etc. You need to learn about lighting so that you can recognize it. Again, I would recommend that you hire a photographer to take care of this.

    3) Do I need a studio or can I run it via a website?

    As an independnet photographer, I can run around town and meet with clients without having a studio space. wclients and showing them? Just

    4) Since I don't have much experience (IT background), what all should I know before getting into this business. Where should I get this knowledge and how much is required (since I will not be doing the actual shoot)

    5) What are absolute essentials to be successful in this business?

    First, to do research for yourself, and not ask general questions. Second, have very strong images. Third, be a good marketer.

    6) Pros and cons of this business. pitfalls?

    Pro: you can make money if you know what you are doing and spend 5-10 years perfecting your skills. Con: It's very competitive. People who think that they can just 'get into' the photography business by putting the business first and photography second. Pro: Great forums like photo.net. Con: Skeptical photographers like me who are suspicious of the new business upstarts and tend to be a bit caustic. Pro: you get to work with friendly people. Con: you sometimes get sued.

    7) I want to put online on my website all the content captured in the wedding, is that a valuable addition? How much extra are clients willing to pay for this?

    Clients don't pay extra - it's pretty common now. By the way - we use the word 'images' or 'shots' or 'frames' instead of 'content'.

    8) What software to use to create digital slideshows of albums?

    You are WAAAAY ahead of yourself. Think about workflow software first.

    9) I want to offer business in multiple states, is that a viable option? What all do I need to build such a network? How to hire and control professionals? Does someone has an example of a business already running in several states without any physical outlet (running via website)?

    Do some more research and get a lawyer. Your plans are very, very ambitious.

    10) What are the main aspects that clients are looking for when hiring this service?

    My clients look for strong images, friendly personality. Someone who takes the time to listen to their needs. They pay more for this.

    Unless you are absolutely on top of your game as a photography company, I imagine that the only people who are interested in a multistate company that farms out their work to local photographers would be budget couples.

    I'm not supportive of this approach until you learn more about photography, and I'm not going to apologize for not being supportive. Maybe you are the exception, but I think that your kind of thinking is part of the reason why a lot of people (rightfully so, IMHO) don't like people in the wedding industry.

    But good luck - maybe you are better than the rest. Keep doing the work and research by yourself.
     
  16. I should add that Jim has a great point - most photography studios are successful b/c hte photographers are part owners.

    I used to photograph weddings for someone who paid me $250 for six hours of work. I found out that if I did a little bit of marketing myself and met the clients myself, I could a) charm the clients into liking me a whole lot more and get great referrals, b) charge what my skills were worth, c) get to know the client a lot better and tailor their photography to them and d) have a lot more control over quality of the final product and have predictability of my schedule.

    Any good wedding photographer can usually make quite a bit more working for themselves, so unless you can offer your shooters a great deal, the only people left to take your gigs are people who aren't as experienced and don't produce top quality work.
     
  17. Open an "ice cream stand", there is a lot more profit, and a lot less headaches.
     
  18. This is a joke, right?
     
  19. Michael - I didn't mean to say.

    Yes, you can make $$ by being a multistate wedding company, but you need to find
    REALLY good shooters. Here's why, IMHO.

    Most people who are willing to pay big bucks ($3500+ or more) for their photography will
    expect a) extremely strong images and don't care who the actual photographer is or b)
    strong images, and a good personal touch by meeting with the photographer a few month
    before the wedding.

    It sounds like you are interested in this for the money (which makes me feel that you are
    less likely to 'make it'), so I'm going to guess that you are going for the mid to high end
    couple - high enough so that after you pay all your expenses, there's enough left over for
    you to support yourself on. Since a multistate company will probably not offer option b),
    you will have to go with option a).

    Option A photographers tend to be expensive. Why? Because they have - or are good
    enough to have - their own business. My experience is that 80% of the photographers who
    are good enough to shoot for a studio actually go alone b/c they can make a lot more
    money this way and control the process start to finish. These people need to be
    compensated quite a bit in order to shoot for you, so that diminishes .

    In fact, option A photographers who have good personalities (ie. will work with your clients
    even if they are a PITA) are even more expensive - reducing your bottom line. People like
    Marc Williams or Michael Mowery are the kind of guy who you want to shoot your
    weddings - that's the quality that you will need to produce in order to convince people to
    sign on with your company.

    If you want my advice, read this forum a lot and proceed slowly. Unless you have some
    earlier inclination toward photography, I think that there are plenty of businesses out there
    where you can make a much faster and easier buck.
     
  20. Running a photo bussiness is harder then it looks. If there's an easy way of expanding a photo bussiness nationally i am all ears.
     

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