Why It Makes No Sense To Do Wedding Videography Professionally Over Photography

This is a business-related monologue on the values of services for the customer in relation to the value of the service for the provider. There is no person, company, or single entity related to this post in any way. It’s merely an observation within half a decade of doing this stuff.

For reasons that I think will become clear with this read, which regards this industry on the business end of the “art” of things in my area, as opposed to just “doing what you love” regardless of income, I’m going to try and spell out my case as to why it’s better for me to no longer offer wedding videography services in the future, and instead offer only photography services instead.

I’m seriously thinking I should get into the photography industry, and not just video production and web publishing. It’s still strange to me that photography nets far more money than video does per event. Given how much more is involved in video, and how much greater of an effect video has over photography, these values should be flipped from what it is. It’s a more difficult medium, is more expensive to practice and produce, requires more people to get involved, more equipment for the quality, requires far more pre-production, and way more post-production. Not to mention, the software and processing power needed in post is so much higher that an entirely different mindset has to be used to purchase a computer for the job.

Yet… video nets very little money in relation to photography still. Videographers can expect little more than 1/3 of the money that photographers get, despite the HUGE gap in the amount of time and effort (and skill) it takes to produce photos in comparison to quality video.

Therefore, I am no longer available to do wedding videography. You can look to me for photos if you’d like, but I will not be offering wedding video services anymore. The wedding I’m editing now will be my last. I enjoy being on site, and witnessing two people share their love and commit their lives to each other, but it’s no longer economical for me to consider keeping this as part of my service arsenal. I make more for a 5 minute tutorial video than I do for the post-production of a wedding.

This isn’t to say the clients are cheating videographers. In reality, the pricing structures in the industry are old, and as a result, flawed. Customers value photography more traditionally, even though almost every modern bride and groom will admit to you consistently that they enjoy watching the video more than looking at the pictures. It’s almost unanumous, if the videography service is done even half-way decently. But, they pay like the value of video was back in the days of VHS tapes… when videos were boring, and required very little editing at all. They were often poor quality SD, and contained very little ’emotional’ data compared to the photographs. Plus, video was much harder to share.

Today, it’s exactly the opposite. Video captures emotions better than photography ever can. It tells stories, and shows movements filled with dynamically changing scenes, lights, and SOUND. It fills our hearts, and brings us into an environment that we can live in with the people, rather than forcing us to observe the still environment from the outside, often heavily edited and filtered with effects to be the artistic expression of the photographer themselves, and not the actual couple in the wedding. It’s an easy-to-see comparison that has one GIANT advantage for video, but one HUGE gap in what people are willing to pay for video.

Competition drives the market… but there are more photographers than there are video guys and gals. Video is priced low, and we’ve managed to find ourselves profitable with lower prices as a result of being able to produce on cheaper DVDs and the world wide web. Photography, on the other hand, has only to zip everything up in a nice little file and send a link when finished.

Some even charge customers for prints… individual prints. Why? Because depending on who you’ve paid for photography, they actually own the rights to the photos. Not the customer. On top of that, lots of photographers (most of them) have huge watermarks on all the images, a constant and consistent advertisement for their services all over your day. Upon request, they’ll almost always refuse to remove the watermark as well. You are required to advertise for them.

This is not always the case, but it’s common trends. While there is an undeniable advantage in video over photography, the pay scale shows the exact opposite. As a result, it only makes sense for me to switch from doing wedding video, to doing photography instead. So… that’s what I’ll change to for the time being. I have great equipment already, given that I’ve opted for a DSLR camera for my video production arsenal, and have invested over $1500 in just three different lenses covering focal lengths between 17mm and to 200mm, with none of them exceeding F2.4. I have a great eye for composition, and have learned to quickly adjust settings on the fly using built-in presets in my Canon 60D for various lighting conditions. I can focus quickly, and don’t even mind dark conditions (a 50mm F1.4 is excellent for this usually. If you know what you’re doing, people won’t even know it’s dark in the room). Most importantly, I’m a professional that cares, above all else, about making clients happy with the work. Because I know that people who are happy, bring more people that are happy. That’s the reputation I have now, and I’ll have no issue keeping it that way.

To all of those that may have considered me for a video in the future (probably not many of you, but I really don’t know), I’m sorry about this, and would be happy to recommend others in my industry that would do equally as quality work, if not better than myself. As far as photography goes, I have lots of photography experience with my gear, have a film and video degree that put emphasis on image composition in the training, and have a firm understanding of all of the tools needed to perform the job.

However, wedding photography isn’t the same as landscapes or cultural travel photography. It’s a different animal, and just because you’re great with images doesn’t mean you’re great at meeting the requirements for wedding photography. And since I have zero experience in doing wedding photography, you’ll be sure to get a fairly cheap rate from me if you decide you’d like to give me a shot for your event. While I don’t place a value on “cheap rates for photography”, because you most certainly will get what you pay for when consulting professionals around the world, I cannot charge market rate without experience.

So… If you are interested, contact me. I don’t have a portfolio for you to sample images with, because I don’t have previous weddings done before. However, you can see my skills with my camera from any Cuba article shared here, seeing as though that’s where a large number of my travel photography comes from. I also have several albums on my Facebook profile, but I don’t flaunt those as being an example of “my work,” and instead see them as just “something I decided to take a picture of.”

Charlie Pryor

Charlie is a media producer, writer, and a traveler. He grew up in Michigan, all of his life and attended Grand Valley State University for a B.S. in Film and Video Production. He's married to a wonderful woman named Hang, and simply hopes to one day turn himself into a man that many will remember long after he's gone.

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