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Thread: How do YOU cost your fees?

  1. #1

    Default How do YOU cost your fees?


    I'm just starting out and have seen a couple of threads on weddings, etc. But how do you calculate the costs of your fees to clients?

    I'll assume we've all spent time learning the software, plus use and purchase of camera, etc.

    If there's some kind of rules-of-thumb or guidelines, it would be very useful for me. I'm happy to detail my own circumstances, but don't want to sidetrack the thread.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries


    Okay, there are a whole range of prices depending on a vast array of variables.

    The bottom line is that you, and your staff have to earn a decent wage as well as covering all your costs and expenses. You should never end up working for nothing but...

    When starting out, you'll need to gain experience. The tempatation is to have lower prices because:
    (a) you think lower prices will attract customers
    (b) you think that lower prices mean lower expectations.

    WRONG on both counts.

    (a) Price actually plays a small part in attracting customers. Recommendations, reputation and the quality offered are far, far more important. The average wedding cost between 5,000 and 20,000 so saving a couple of hundred on the video isn't a major consideration.

    (b) The couple (and, more importantly the bride's parents, who are footing the bill) will expect top quality video, even if they're paying next to nothing. No matter how often you say "I'm starting out, so you're getting a good price" they will moan, bitch and loudly ruin your reputation if the video is anything less than perfect.

    Now, you know it makes sense but you'll ignore the above truths, offer a low price and never get a successful business off the ground. Sorry but that's the way most start-ups fail.

    There is an EXCELLENT article at:

    But I digress... Want to know my answer...? A minimum of 2,500 if you do it my way.

    Well, I reckon that for a producer/director 25 an hour is a reasonable rate for my time, and 250 a day is a rate which I'm willing to get out of bed for (don't forget we're talking weddings here, anything else and you can double those figures) so let's see:
    A day preparation, interviewing the clients, recce at the church, speaking to the vicar, organising crew, collecting rental gear and prepping kit. Then, at the wedding, two camera operators (just for the service, they'll be happy with 150 each, you can do the reception yourself), a soundie (and yourself, as camera/director) and we're already up to 1,000.

    I reckon that you can add on 500 for equipment rental (even if you own your own gear, it still has to be paid for)

    Now, we can reckon on a couple of days for editing and the use of the edit suite (same as camera gear, it still has to be paid for) and returning rental gear (cheaper if you do it yourself, otherwise include the costs of a courier) with a few quid for consumables we're looking at adding 800.

    Don't forget that you'll have to add on costs for videoing in the church and for the use of any music in the final DVD, these are best presented as seperate to your costs, so that the client realises that these are costs from "others" ie: not from you. Then add the costs of producing the DVDs... two hundred squids without any problem.

    This makes a grand total of 2,500.

    But, when you break down the figures, and look at how much you end up with in your pocket, you can see that the director/producer's hourly rate actually falls well below 25 an hour. This is because you have to stay "real", it's very rare that a couple can break through this psychological financial barrier when it comes to paying a few grand for "just" a wedding video.

    My conditions of payment are 50% before the wedding, and the remaining 50% before the final DVDs are handed over. You might have to be a bit flexible on the final 50% at first.

    Edit: Now, I'm not a wedding videographer, I make my money from broadcast but I still reckon to "do" a wedding a year, without a website, advertising, or actively looking for the work. So, if you can deliver the goods, you can make the money. Just make sure that quality is your goal. My particular style is to offer a multi-camera "songs of praise" type production with a few interviews, vox pops and with a "documentary" feel at the top and tail of the show. There are others who work differently but this is the only way I'd "do" a wedding, you'll have to find your own way.
    Many videographers offer single camera shoots. This may seem like a cheap option but is often much more difficult, the single camera(wo)man working like a one -armed wallpaper hanger.
    More to the point, however you "do" weddings, it's hard-earned money when you consider how much training, learning, practicing, assisting and reading you've put in over the years to get to the point where you can offer this sort of service.
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 12-26-2006 at 02:48 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Bristol uk
    Blog Entries


    As said above - you must do good work, many wedding vids are just awfull, that gets us all a bad name.

    Do good work, get a web site with examples of good work, charge the earth. I know threre is a chicken and egg bit there but you see what I mean.

    As said above, think about what people spend, christ 2000 for a stupid dress ! There is money to be had there if you can assure people you are professional and produce a decent product.

    Personally I think weddings is one of the hardest way to make cash from cameras.

  4. #4

    Default Thanks guys

    Thank you for the great replies to this.

    Maybe I should've expanded my question in the first place: I've been filming a young band on and off for a year. I've taken about 30 hours of film, and I'll be honest had some good nights! This was always, for me, a means to get a grip of camerawork, film editing, etc. At the end of each gig, I've supplied a vcd to the band gratis, with mutual understanding that a DVD would be forthcoming in the future.

    Nothing is on paper. No obligation either way. Nor have I any signed permission on paper to use the material, at this stage. (They did play a side stage at the Leeds festival last year and I believe they're going somewhere. But more of that later..)

    Okay, the rub: I explained that editing a full documentary onto a DVD format, with menus, to a standard I'm happy to put my name to, that they could sell, would take some considerable time. I met the "Oh, but it's just a hobby for you!" From the bloke who expected me to pay the going rate for the work he did for me. (Band members Dad.) Hence my ire..!

    Okay, that's my vent out the way. To practicalities....

    Now: I know I should've hammered out all the rules before I began. So tell me what they should be, for next time. Agree "a package" before anything begins? But then what about payment?

    I'm happy to do the work this time and get payment on the back end - when the DVDs sell, so what do I need to do to make that work? Where can I get permission forms for them to sign, so there's no arguments?

    Any other advice how I can move this forward whilst preserving what could be a mutually profitable and enjoyable relationship?

    Last edited by rick_uk; 01-06-2007 at 09:50 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries


    I'm not sure I understand what's happened, I can only tell you how I work.

    On the few occasions when I do a commissioned projects (as opposed to "just" lighting camera) I always have a contract, even with friends. It doesn't have to be a twenty page legal document, a paragraph will do. With friends I usually use the excuse that it's to cover me insurance-wise if anything gets broken as my gear is only covered when I'm working "professionally".

    The way I understand your position is that the band "allowed" you to film them in return for a dvd. Seems like they got the better deal, especially if they're unknowns. If that's the case then there's a bit of a Mexican Standoff. Neither of you can use the others' material without consent.

    I suggest that you write up a simple document for the manager to sign, basically laying out what you expect them to do and what you will do in return. Keep it simple, documents don't have to be written in legalese to be valid.

    For the future though, you've fallen into the semi-pro trap. All projects should either fall into the "amateur" camp or the "professional" bracket, half-baked schemes rarely work.

  6. #6


    Thanks very much Guru. You've hit the nail on the head about me falling between two positions. A common beginner's mistake, no doubt. I think I'll use the New Year as a watershed: produce them a DVD of what's been filmed up to now; but renegotiate, under a contract, for any future work. I really like your suggestion of needing a contract for insurance purposes, to get past any awkwardness.

    BTW, I was blown away by your film that you did for the site competition. Very inspirational.

    Thanks again

  7. #7


    Just picked up on this thread after joining recently. I am a pro photographer that has taken up video (not weddings though)...I have a contract for all my work, especially weddings to cover my backside and insurance. If anyone wants a copy that they can edit in Microsoft Publisher drop me an email and I will forward one on to you.

    With pricing I am fortunate to be in the top end of the wedding photography arena and charges start at 2750 for 5 hours coverage and album etc. A wedding for me is about 30-35 hours work with post production on images, album design, album build etc etc. If someone says that we are expensive, I ask them to take their car in for 30-35 hours work at the garage and see how much that would cost them.

    Pictures and videos of their wedding are not expensive, they are priceless....they can never re-create that day, and they want us to take the responsibility of documenting it, the least they can do is pay a fair price. Your best asset is you, dont under price yourself.


  8. #8


    In my experience brides won't pay over the odds for a wedding video - no matter how good it is.

    A bride's top 3 to book up for her wedding is as follows, in order.

    A Reception venue
    A church/civil service venue

    I would say, for the majority of brides, a wedding video falls a good way down their list of essential wedding needs. This being the case, you'll usually find, if they want a videographer, they won't have thousands left over to spend.

    I think you should bear that in mind when looking at your pricing structure....

  9. #9


    When I started wedding photography the average price for a photographer was 795. I started to market myself at 1295 and got more bookings than the 795 guy. Prior to being a photographer I spent 15 years in Sales & Marketing at Director level. If you think that a bride will not pay more than a 1000 for a wedding video, then your brides won't

    I am going to put it to the test late this year early next with a combined price of Photography and Video for the day at 4995.

    I have had some wedding clients pay 3500 for a videographer, it all depends where you place your self in teh market. And remember always have a package on your price list that you think no one will book. I have one its 9995 and icludes a pre wedding shoot weekend anywhere in Mainland Europe. I have had two enquiries, but no bookings.....but the interest is trhere...

    Take a leaf from Nike.........just do bold and proud of your work

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