How to avoid get scammed by a wedding videographer
The reason most couples are scammed and fail to achieve quality wedding video is simple: they've never hired one and don't know what they are getting into. Scammers KNOW how to play that to their advantage. They know that because we see video everyday… we naturally believe that it is straight forward, right? Here is what typically happens that leads to being setup by a scammer:
Let's say the happy couple have a combined budget for wedding photography and videography, say… 3500 dollars. For most people that is a LOT. They call the photographer first and to make sure they are a GOOD photographer they do the checks and verify references and so forth. After all, it's their memories and they don’t want it messed up. The professional photographer asks for 2500-3000.
What happens next is the first key to the setup: that leaves 500-1000 for the videographer. The couple, realizing that they don’t have much for video think: “Well, we will have to trim back. That should be enough for a simple wedding. We just need someone to stand there with a camera. After all, we don’t want a media circus.”
The couple then begin contacting companies seeking quotes for a video production company to film their wedding for 500-1000 dollars. This is actually an educational step... they are now learning a bit about video. The couple receives a wide variety of quotes from 3500 to 15,000. They are STUNNED and think to themselves, “Why? It’s just VIDEO!!! What the HECK! That’s ridiculous… I can find someone cheaper or ask Uncle Ben to videotape it.”
Then, the second stage happens in the setup: They then jump on one of the popular “wedding vendor quote sites” where you request a quote for vendors, or they jump on Craigslist to find a videographer who will shoot the wedding for 500 dollars. They receive a quote from a person who seems nice enough, has sample video, and is willing to do it for 800 dollars. They decide they can stretch a bit…. and agree to work with them.
At this point this there are two things that could happen:
1. They take the bid and write a check…. and the person disappears. They don’t answer the phone or emails… or worse, don’t show up to the wedding. You now realize you have been scammed. The scammer took advantage of the fact that so many people do not understand the economics of video. Why do they choose the 500 to 800 dollar range? Because they know it’s not worth chasing them down over 500 to 800 dollars. When lawyers charge 150 per HOUR… it’s easier and cheaper for your to just write it off.
As a result, the couple then have to ask Uncle Ben to do it because the budget is blown. The entire wedding is handheld and it looks like the Blair Witch project. Because Uncle Ben is not a professional videographer, he is then faced with what to do with 6 hours of wedding video footage. After all… he’s working a day job and simply cannot get to editing it. (The reason there is only 6 hours is because his consumer-level battery didn’t last the entire day and he had to plug in the camera during dinner to recharge. As a result, he missed the toasts at the reception.) Being overwhelmed with the amount of footage, he simply doesn’t know what to do so he hands the footage over directly - no edit.
2. ...or they actually find a videographer who really is willing to do it for 800 dollars. He shows up and stands in the back of the room with a consumer grade camera with no audio gear. He aims the camera down the aisle and misses the readers because he is texting the entire time trying to book his next gig because he is charging too little to survive. The couple receive their DVD’s, and they can barely hear what’s going on, and the editing is a matter of simply taking the footage and dumping it to DVD. (After all, at 800 dollars if he doesn’t get it done FAST he is working for less than minimum wage.)
As a result… they are less than impressed with their wedding video. NO ONE watches ANY video real-time. If all 8 hours are captured it’s almost as long as all three Lord of the Rings movies back to back. They justify the botched product by saying, “Well, that's wedding video for ya… isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?”
There is a better option
To avoid being scammed is simple: know the costs of video so you can make an informed decision so you know when someone is scamming you.
The scammer knows that we view video every day and the costs of video are hidden to most us. It's a fact, 90% of Americans are ignorant of what it takes to make video. It's not an insult, it simply is the way it is. Unless you are and individual in film production, it’s completely understandable how a couple can be completely uninformed when making decisions concerning a videographer. It makes you VULNERABLE. To most of us, 800 is enough to sound serious, but inexpensive enough to be a good deal. The scammer KNOWS HIS PRICE POINT. The instant you contact him about getting a video done for 800 dollars he knows he has someone who doesn't know what's going on. He is more educated than you are and he knows it.
For price comparison, let’s do a side by side comparison of the photographer versus the videographer:
Hours on site: 8
Hours editing / photoshopping: 20
Equipment Allowance per year (based on 10,000 dollars in equipment with 30 weddings): 333 per wedding
Advertising: 150 per month.
Total Hours: 28 per wedding.
If the photographer charges 2500 per wedding: that’s 76 dollars per hour. That’s a pretty standard rate for freelance photography.
Hours on site: 8
Hours editing for highlight video: 20
Hours editing for documentary version: 80 (if you really care about it)
Hours sweeting audio: 2
Hours in DVD authoring: 2
Total hours invested: 112 per wedding.
Other out of pocket costs:
Cost for extra camera person for 8 hours: 150.00 (we NEVER shoot with only 1 camera as it's too dangerous because people jump in front of cameras.)
Equipment allowance for 20,000 in equipment for 10 weddings: 2,000 per wedding (if you want it paid off in a year)
Advertising: 150 per month (since video can only do one wedding per month is roughly the same cost per wedding)
If the videographer charges 2500 per wedding: Hourly wage is 1.51 per hour.
If the videographer gets the same hourly rate as the photographer, the price of the video needs to be: 10,700.
If the videographer drops the rate to 50 per hour, it's 7,900.
Drop it to 25 per hour and its 5,100.
Drop it to minimum wage it’s still 3,140.
So charging 3,140.00 per wedding, a videographer can STILL only process 10 weddings per year which comes out to a gross income of 31,000 per year. Factoring in the 20,000 per year to keep equipment up to date, that means the videographer only nets 11,000 per YEAR.
View the sample video to the right. A videographer charging 800 can not do this without losing his shirt.
So… you can see that anyone who is serious about staying in business as a videographer is not going to charge 800. It’s just not possible so a person charging 800 is a red flag they they have no intention of actually doing the work or staying in business. A 800 dollar bid is a “hook” to reel you in. They will provide complete junk or disappear.
So now that you’ve seen the numbers, you now know that even those who charge 3000 and less will not be around for long. They will not be able to back their products and recover footage if you lose the DVD’s. They will be gone in a year to two years because they are not putting money aside for training, equipment replacement, or even to eat. They are simply shooting to get their car registration paid.
The better way!
First, understand the costs before estabilishing a budget. Choose your videographer BEFORE the photographer - because - and here is a dirty little secret: you can get a really good photographer for 750. There are many who will shoot and deliver digitally for 500-750 dollars. Then, hire a good videographer for 3500-4000 because a videographer CAN'T do the job for 500. (many videographers will do the job for 3500 because they have other sources of income like commercials and promo videos.)
Once you book a videographer:
Remember… the cheaper a videographer is, the more jobs they must take on to survive. This can cause a work pile up and delivery times extend out. Because most of them work day jobs, they must edit on the weekends and at night. That means, that if they are shooting another wedding before yours is complete, they are NOT getting the editing done on your video. It’s very possible for some wedding video to not be transferred to the computer for MONTHS after a wedding because there are still weddings on the hard drive that are not finished. (A wedding can be 250 gig PER CAMERA, PER WEDDING in 422 editing format. )
To further slow things down, there is significant time lost in marketing. Social media is a blessing and curse…as marketing for a wedding vendor is not as simple as it used to be. 20 years ago… you advertised in the yellow pages and people just picked up the phone and called.
Now? Social media and marketing can consume over 4 hours a day…. yes, a DAY. If a videographer works 8 hours a day, and 4 is spent on social media marketing, the time lost is such that you will not have your video for over 56 working days. 56!!!! And that is if you are the only wedding on the plate. If a videographer takes on more work and must shoot another wedding before yours is complete, it’s very possible you will not see your video for 4 to 9 months. I’ve heard stories of brides not getting their weddings for a year. The only solution for a videographer to keep up is to work all day and all night… and let’s be honest, we’ve all seen the work of people who have been up working for 16 hours every day. It’s not great.
Understand what is realistic to pay for a videographer. Any videographer who is not charging enough to survive is not in it for the long haul, or worse - will take your money and run.
Check to make sure they have liability insurance. No scammer carries insurance. :-)
Ask for references.
How many posts are they putting on Facebook and Twitter? Remember, if they are constantly posting to social media, they are not working on your video. Chances are very high they will be late in delivering if they are always on social media.
If the price is too good to be true it probably is. If you simply go with the bottom-line and bottom-dollar, you as a customer will not be happy with what you receive. Remember the Yogo? It was inexpensive and cheap. It was also one of the biggest jokes in Automotive history.
What a summer! We filmed over 10 weddings in 4 months... WHEW! What a whirlwind!
What do I remember? I remember the beautiful weddings... but we learned some valuable lessons. Once again... the difference between shooting in Kansas and Colorado.
The biggest problem we had was Colorado weather. It rained in three outdoor weddings... with the last one having to be moved inside. The Burke wedding was especially wet, but we pulled out the poncho's and shot anyways. They were FANTASTIC people to work with and would love to shoot for them again. However, the audio was a mess with the rain hitting our ponchos and microphones.
The Kraus wedding was flat-out rained out in it's original location. The wedding was out on the patio at Brittany Hill and, almost right on queue, the heavens opened and it started pouring. HARD. There was a panic to get inside.
Shooting in Denver? We discovered that shooting in metro area is a nightmare for wireless microphone receivers. Channel KRMT has presented interference on more than one occasion. We would then chose a new channel only to discover that the DJ is on the same channel so then we have to find another one. It was interesting trying to figure out that it was the tv station because our units are digital and will continue to try and communicate with each other.. but instead of actually receiving the signal from the tv station (which would make it obvious) it fights and attempts to do it's job... but with a lot of static.
Denver? I have to say that Denver has become very restrictive to good wedding videography. The venues are beautiful... but the traffic is maddening. MADDENING. We are willing to do the drive but to make the rehearsal on Friday afternoon we have to leave THREE HOURS early to make it from Colorado Springs to Thornton. There are also many crazy laws that prevent us from creating the footage that we can easily do elsewhere. For example: In Lyons we can use our camera drone for beautiful arial footage of the venue without any problem, but pulling out our drone to fly around the Denver Natural Museum of Nature and Science could actually have the police showing up to the wedding.
Parking is an issue in Denver. I can usually find a spot to park, sure... but who wants to walk out of a wedding reception in Downtown Denver at 1 am, then walk to your car with a 5000 dollar camera on your shoulder? Not ME! Literally... it can be dangerous for my crew and I to shoot video receptions in Denver, and let's be honest, dishonest people KNOW there is a wedding reception going on because they can HEAR IT. Receptions are loud... so they know there are many people there from out of town, photographers, DJ's, and a wedding couple coming out with gifts. They DO to prey on those people after the reception is over. I'm not being paranoid... I've had a couple of "incidents" walking to my car and was forced to learn hard lessons. Ask me off the web and I'll tell you about it. :-)
I actually recommend going outside Denver for your wedding. Unless your family lives in Denver so they can go straight home afterwards, it's just easier for everyone. There are MANY very nice places outside Denver that will take the stress off of everyone and you don't have to worry about the late night craziness of the big city.
The key to a relaxed, stress free wedding? Put it somewhere where people can relax, turn up the volume, and have fun. Think of your guests safety when they leave. Remember, many will drink and driving is not a good idea. Try to have the wedding at the same location... and if that isn't possible choose a reception location where there is plenty of parking that is WELL LIT. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people fall in the dark walking to their car after the reception.
Also, pick a place that has a well-lit dance floor. Many venues want the place dark so it's like a bar. That is NOT a good idea for a wedding because a wedding is not a night club... it's a family reunion. Bars don't have little kids running around in a dark venue and professional photographers people taking pictures. I've seen many accidents happen with running children because the venue wants the lights off. People are not at your wedding to meet someone to take home, you want the area lit up so you can see your friends and family laughing and having a good time.
And heaven sakes if you DO bring your kids to the wedding make sure they are behaved. BE THE PARENT. Now some people will argue with me to relax and that kids are kids, but I would counter that many families do not get an opportunity very often to teach their kids how to behave at formal events. Take advantage of it! I saw one boy who was actually pushing his toy car across the dance floor DURING the fathers toast. It would be acceptable if there were only 5 people there... but with 200 guests in a semi-formal event that has professional photographers and videographers it is NOT acceptable. One family member finally walked across the dance floor and grabbed his arm and told him to stop... and he looked up and asked "Why?" He wasn't being a brat... he honestly did not realize that what he was doing was wrong. His parents did him a disservice by not getting up and instructing him. Hat's off to the family member who DID do something.
Now... I will call out one venue in particular, but not by name. The venue is a large event center that "does it all", ceremony location, reception, food catering, DJ services, etc. I'll be blunt: the owner is a jerk. All night he just kept doing little "painful" things to the people. Not sure what his issue was... but he was doing it in a way that people couldn't really put their finger on him. He turned off the A/C during the dancing to try to get people out earlier, closed the bar early, made snide comments from the DJ booth during the bouquet toss, turned off the dance floor lights after the photographers asked him not to because of red eye issues (and he did it after they finished packing up their gear!), made rude comments to HIS staff, and took all our business cards and threw them out (even making a point of telling us he did so). It really was a very bad experience as a videographer to be forced to work with someone so angry and bitter. Geez, dude...if you don't like your job, can you please find another? We love what we do but dealing with someone who is out to cause other people pain is just discouraging.
Shooting in Colorado vs. Kansas
Written by Robert Berndt
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 19:27
WE ARE BACK!!!!
What a crazy last year!!! We've been busy enough that we have fallen behind on our blogging! We've filmed some really crazy stuff that was SOOOO much to edit.
was a second shooter for a Sci Fi channel shoot (they own the footage so I can't show it).
Shoot... we even filmed an NRA Banquet with Peggy Littleton and Sheriff Terry Maketa!? How did THAT happen? LOLRH!!!
So... Since we have moved to Colorado, we have experienced SO many differences between Kansas City and Colorado
The first being ALTITUDE. I grew up in Durango, CO... but if you move away for 20 years your body will let you know when you come back. The first month I was here I was going to sleep at 8:30 because I was so tired. WATER!!! Keep drinking WATER!!!! BREATHE!!!!!
FIRE. Fire is to Colorado as Tornadoes are to Kansas. The main difference is that a tornado will leave SOMETHING... even if it's miles and miles away. Fire? It consumes. CONSUMES. I live only 5 miles from Black Forest, CO... so you can imagine what the fire of 2013 did to my life. I watched my friends lose not just their homes... but everything. They returned after the evacuation to see a pile of ash where their home once stood. Despite living so close to it, I didn't film anything (and didn't lose anything either... and thankfully). I felt it was disrespectful to do so. I am not a videographer who will walk up to someone who has just lost everything and ask "So... how do you feel right now?" That's asking to get punched.
LIGHTING. Believe it or not, the light here is different! One would think that sunlight is simply sunlight, but it IS different in the altitude. The air is thinner, so more UV comes through, and the atmosphere is much clearer up in the mountains. A videographer must compensate for the color shift when shooting long distances. Mountains will also appear bluer over distance so white balance on the cameras should be dialed in accordingly.
Shooting long distances is something you rarely have to think about in Kansas. Your subject matter just isn't over a mile away... EVER. The only thing you usually shoot that has any distance is the occasional airplane, skyscrapers, clouds, or down a river. But mountains? They can be MILES away and when shooting such distances a videographer will experience "air filtering" of the image.
Another thing? It's dryer. That means one thing... MORE DUST. Dust will settle on lens and if you aren't careful, will sink into the camera mechanisms. It's not so much a concern with cheaper consumer grade cameras where everything is controlled with a joy stick or a touch screen, but with a professional camera where you have switches and can change out the lens... the dust can cause issues.
There are also cultural differences in Colorado. Generally, Coloradans seem much more self-sufficient to me. Back in Kansas Brides and their Mom's would me at Panera Bread, we'd chat, they'd ask a few questions and a contract was signed. Coloradans are not so quick to sign a contract... they ask a LOT of questions and undoubtedly because of the Rocky Mountain wage factor, are MUCH more concerned about the price. I've actually had one bride ask for an itemized breakdown of what she was getting! After shooting almost 70 weddings that NEVER happened in Kansas (for the record, she realized that Integrity Event Video is very reasonable after seeing the breakdown).
Coloradans are more down to earth. This is an interesting thing. After growing up in Durango and moving to Kansas... I was constantly surprised at how many people in Kansas simply do not know how to change a tire or anything that you'd learn from a more "outdoors" type of life. Coloradans HAVE to be more self-sufficient because some of them live so far out!! What does that mean for video work? Don't be surprised if you see people all pitch in at a wedding and get something done. If they see something that needs doing... they do it.
Coloradans are used to wildlife and their independence. This took some getting used to. The farther you go out from the major cities in Colorado, the more you will see people walking around with guns in holsters. Coming from the suburbs in Kansas City, that seemed really strange to me and very "old west". However, after being here a while, I started to understand why. There are freaking BEARS and mountain lions out here... and they DO move about the cities and 'burbs... as evidenced here. I also noticed that in Kansas City, people would stop and ask "Is that legal? I don't think I can do that." In Colorado, I noticed more of an attitude like: "Who are they to tell me what I can and can't do? Freaking politicians don't live out here!"
Bug populations... I can't tell you how many times back in Kansas, while "holding a shot", that I would be filming and be forced to allow the mosquitto chow down on my arm. It's the plight of any videographer. Still photographers can fire the shot, swat the bug, then fire the next shot. Videographers can't do that. The action is happening in front of you and sometimes you literally have to hold your breathe to get a really good 10-20 second clip. When a bug lands on your arm... sometimes you are forced to just let them eat or else you risk missing the shot. Colorado has less bugs up in the higher elevations. I can go hiking in Black Forest and MAYBE see a mosquitto once every two weeks.
So... this weekend I'll be shooting in Lyons, CO at Peaceful Valley Ranch. I am SOOOOOOO excited to be shooting this wedding specifically because of the VIEWS. Just you all wait!!!!!
Until next time...
Damon and Mollie Rutherford
Written by Robert Berndt
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:34
Damon and Mollie Rutherford - April 23rd, 2011
Oh my gosh! What a day! The weather was GREAT... the company was GREAT... the wedding was GREAT.... the venue was GREAT.
This is our first wedding where we did some filming of Damon and Mollie's last dance lesson at Arthur Murray's dance studio in Lenexa, KS. The studio is what we would call "video friendly" and they allowed us to do sweeping shots around the couple during their lesson. … and for the record, us being there also helped THEM in that they could get used to having a big camera lens and camera light aimed at them while they were dancing.
If you want your videographers to do a great job, simply give them Jack Stack Bar-B-Que at the rehearsal dinner. MMMMmmmm….
Osawatomie, KS is such the "small-town". Very quant. Lemonade stands, people selling BBQ on the sidewalk, etc. Loved it.
The venue, the "Grand Loft" is fairly new to the Kansas City area. From what I heard, it used to be a Sears and Roebuck and has recently been converted into an event space. … and what a beautiful event space they made it! Lots of antiques, beautiful lights, floral arrangements, and plenty of room make this a GREAT place to have a wedding, anniversary event or reunion. Even the brides chambers are beautiful.
Okay… Mollie. She laughs. A LOT. She was so happy and full of joy. She was tearing up when Damon saw her for the first time. OH! And their family are just FULL OF LIFE AND JOKES. There was plenty of kidding around at this wedding.
If there was ANYTHING that could be changed to make things better at "The Grand Loft"…. the lighting is pretty orange. The string lights they have running all over the place isn't the problem… it's the lights hanging from the ceiling. The glass globes around the ceiling lights are putting off an orange light. It creates an interesting lighting situation. Also, turning down the lights makes the light more "orange". I know that the owners are trying to create a "mood", but just a hair more light would be great.
Also, the trellis lining the aisle blocks the rear camera from seeing the entire wedding party. This is EASILY fixed. Simply mount unmanned cameras on the trellis down the aisle. Right now there aren't mounting spots, but if they wanted to make it very video friendly - could be fixed in 30 minutes. Then videographers could mount remote unmanned cameras (hidden from view from the congregation by the plants) and capture all the footage without any problem at all!!
Damon and Mollie had FOUR photographic sessions. They are getting their moneys worth. Between our two cameras, we shot 8 hours worth of footage. Good thing I have 3 weeks until the next wedding! They shot pictures in the chapel, at the Osawatomie Mental Hospital, then in an alley, then pictures afterwards in the foyer.
The reception was a lot of fun! Family actually got out there and DANCED! Lot's of crazy footage from this one!
Congratulations Damon and Mollie!
James and Sally Bange
Written by Robert Berndt
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 17:38
James and Sally Bange - April 9th, 2011
One of the things that amazes me about shooting weddings is the uniqueness of every ceremony. James and Sally had their wedding at the first tee at Brookridge Golf and Fitness in Overland Park, KS. Yes…. they actually had their wedding on the golf course. I'm not sure how they pulled of shutting down a golf course, but they did.
Now, whenever a wedding is held outside, there are concerns and unique challenges. Kansas and Missouri can be unpredictable, so there ALWAYS needs to be a backup plan in case of rain. Wind is another factor to be concerned about - as microphones don't really do well with direct wind. That being said, when everything comes together - an outdoor wedding is gorgeous and liberating.
James and Sally's wedding had WONDERFUL weather. The temp was right, the sun was out, and the wind was… well… that was the only thing that could have been better. It was a bit blustery. Fortunately, it wasn't so bad that you couldn't understand the vows and what the officiant was saying, but we did have to engage the "low-cut" on our microphones to reduce the low-end.
The first shoot was at Sally's house where she was getting ready. James was waiting at the bottom of the stairs as she descended "as his bride" for the first time. It's an awesome thing to see people truly in love. It sounds crazy, but both of them were glowing they were so happy. There are times when we shoot weddings when you can see how much the groom is in love with his bride - when she is no longer the girlfriend, or the fiance - when she crosses over to being his BRIDE…. when she is his number one priority.... when he truly ADORES her. That was the case with James and Sally.
As the videographer - I'll admit it - I almost cried a couple of times. After being married to a wonderful woman for 22 years, I understand. It really is something to cry about.
The reception was held at J. Gilberts wood-fired steaks. It was a very private reception. Personal and intimate in comparison to some we have shot. They even had a private cake cutting - no big "to-do" over it. It seemed that everyone had a GREAT TIME. ... and because it was family on the dance floor… everyone was pretty relaxed.
Concerning J. Gilberts: I have never had a steak so good. Upon taking a bite of the filet mignon, the room went black and time stopped. Oh my GOSH. It was euphoric. It was one of those steaks that DON'T JUST EAT - you chew slowly and savor. It's one of those places you must eat at least once in your life or you are missing out.
Shooting at J. Gilberts? OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO DARK. When we showed up, I put down my black camera bag - turned around to film something, then turned back and I lost my bag in the blackness. I had to run with the camera light ALL NIGHT.
Note about the photographer: Paul McMillian with VanDeusen Photography. He is the first photographer that I'm calling out BY NAME as being one of the best in Kansas City. When picking a photographer, it's not just the prints that make them good… it's how they interact with you and your guests. Paul was phenomenal.