In a recent survey we conducted with a cross section of Studio Photography readers (see Peer2Peer, March Studio Photography for survey details), 17 percent of some 1,300 respondents told us they offer videography services to their clients and 82 percent of those who offer video said it has been profitable. Impressive figures. Is video always so lucrative? Do photographers have an advantage or disadvantage offering video services to their clients? What do you need to know before you add this service to your product mix? We'll be addressing these and other aspects of videography throughout the year. For now, here's what some video explorers have learned about this potential profit booster.
MARK GOLDBERG (www.markgoldberg.com), of Spectrum Productions, Annapolis, Maryland, has done well with video, but has seen many others fail who thought that adding video services would be a simple matter.
"A background in photography does not guarantee success in video," Goldberg explains. "Photographers who have tried it without making a commitment to being fully competent in video have failed. It cost them and usually others considerably. Adding video is not like adding a line of frames or print finishes.
"I started a wedding video business in 1982, later adding photography because I enjoyed the medium and because I had video clients who were dissatisfied with the local photographers. They were looking for photography with the natural feel of my video work. Today, we offer HD video and digital photography. Many clients get a combo of the two, but I see HD eventually taking over part of the job photography now does.
"I have seen many event photographers add video to capture that part of the market with their existing clients and to have control at their events. Unfortunately, they often produce video of a much lower quality than their photography, for any number of reasons. Maybe they don't think video requires as a high standard as photography, or they don't want to compromise their print sales, or maybe video is more complex than they thought.
"The video produced by today's top videographers is amazing. There is no way a photographer will match it unless he puts forth the same dedication he does with his photography."
MARK COUTURIÉR, with contacts in Nashville, Williamsburg, and Chicago, has provided photography (www.photomc.com) and video (www.videomakersusa.com) for weddings worldwide for years. While he markets his photography and video services under two different company names, the two services share a critical element: quality.
"About 60 percent of our photography clients add video, so we often end up doing both," says Couturiér. "If it's a small photo job, my wife or I do the video and the other does the photography. On larger jobs, we'll use freelance shooters who have worked for us for years, then we'll do the editing ourselves.
"We price the services individually, but offer a slightly better deal on the video if it is combined with our photography services. Video is often an easy add-on to the photography services once they have been secured. We don't discuss video until the very end unless the original inquiry was for video. We receive many more calls for photography these days as opposed to 10 years ago, when the ratio was much closer.
"Both services have to be of high quality and one can't suffer for the other. The video has to be far superior to 'home video,' otherwise anyone could do it. Surprisingly, many prospective clients and budding videographers think that just about anyone can shoot a video, but that's not the case. We invested a lot of time and research in it before diving in, to ensure superior quality. We produce quality videos, including audio capture, and believe in a fast turnaround—days or weeks, not the typical six months."
ANDY MARCUS (www.fredmarcus.com) heads up his third-generation family wedding and portrait photography studio in New York City. Video has long been a favorite of his high-end clientele.
"We do a lot of video in our business," says Marcus. "We've seen well over $1 million a year in revenues producing DVDs ranging from simple to elaborate, as well as video montage presentations. I've been doing this for over 25 years and will continue to give our clients high-quality video coverage."
LAURA and STEVE MOSES, of Vantage Point Productions (www.vantagepointweddings.com) in Southern California, were recently named one of the Top 25 Hottest and Most Influential Videographers in the industry by Event DV magazine. A successful, full-time production company that has relied solely on their video income since 1988, they have learned that perceived value is the intangible factor that can make or break a business.
"It's all about image," says Laura Moses. "Is Tiffany jewelry really worth thousands of dollars more than other fine jewelry? I'm not sure, but everyone wants Tiffany. Why? Because the perceived value of Tiffany is very high. It has an image with which people want to be associated.