When I arrived in the U.S.A. in 1963 with my Leica—I was born in Hungary and spent my early years in Chile—I never imagined I would have my own photography studio shortly after arriving here and that digital photography and event video would become such a vital part of that business.
I started my own studio in 1968 in the Bronx. When the neighborhood began deteriorating, I packed up and moved the business to Connecticut and developed a home-based studio on a private beach in Milford.
In the early '80s, my wedding business started to grow. I was shooting formals with Hasselblad and candids with Nikon. To my surprise, when the photo packages were sold, some brides began requesting recommendations for event videographers.
In 1990, I purchased a couple of SVHS cameras and decided to offer video and photography. I advertised the two services separately, yet brides began asking for a package that would offer both at a discounted rate. Of course.
Finally, I ran an ad in the newspaper for a video professional. With a number of good applicants to choose from, I hired and started training two or three people in my photography and video style.
Eventually, I began offering photography and video as a combined package at a discounted rate. By 1998, I purchased a 3-chip digital mini DV camera and kept my SVHSs for backup. That first year, about 25 percent of my wedding clients purchased a photo-video combo. Today, my video business is about 40 percent of the total sale.
Although it is not overly profitable after the cost of new equipment and a constant upgrade of computers, more brides sign on with us for photography because they can buy the video-photo combination. Also to entice wedding clients, I purchased a Luxury Roadster (above) to use in photos and video, which has done well.
In the photography end of the business, by late 2001, we started developing our negatives and digitized them on CDs using Adobe Photoshop on most of our albums. In 2002, I began shooting digital with a Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro. We were very cautious, taking 50 percent film, 50 percent digital until we were sure about digital quality.
Today, our studio shoots all digital, with the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro, unless film is requested by the customer. Album photos are digitally corrected and imperfections removed. Other touchups, such as eliminating double chins, are priced reasonably.
Our latest equipment is a new high-definition video camera by Sony, the HVR-Z1U; we use our Sony DSR-PD170 and TRV-900 as backup. For lighting, when necessary, we use 600-watt quartz lights, tripods, and a Glidecam.
This year, we expect a 50 percent sale on videos with the photo combination, partly due to the hi-definition video, wide-screen format. Having two photographers and a videographer from the same place working together is also helpful, especially during guest interviews.
If you want to differentiate your studio from others, increase individual sales, and satisfy your wedding clients, videography may be a wise business decision.
Tibor Tamas (www.TreasuredMemories.com) owns Treasured Memories Photography and Video, in Milford, CT, a subsidiary of Lord Charles Enterprises L.L.C.