What I think of my Wedding Video Competitors in Southwest Virginia

Here in the Roanoke Valley we have about 7-9 wedding videographers and in the entire region, eh roughly 15-20 or so. Some, like myself, are long-time vets in the wedding industry and some are brand new. A few of us work full-time and some work on occasion. There are plenty of different styles, price ranges and technical abilities here in the area.

So, what do I think of my competition here in the region? Well….

First, let me say that for the most part, I love having them here. Sure, they are my competition and honestly some do amazing work, better than I could do, some on the other hand need a lot of work. Having competition is a great thing and since there are very few of us around, there is plenty of work to go around.

As I’ve stated before in previous blog posts, roughly 76% of the couples in our area will NOT get a wedding video or film. According to the vital records department of the Commonwealth of Virginia, roughly 55,000 couples get married in Virginia each year, broken down even further, about 16,000 are here in our region. Of that, only about 3,300 or so will have some wedding video. And if you break that down even more-so, 91% will use a professional level such as myself to make their wedding day video or film.

My first point, there is enough business to handle about 15 of us each year, which is just about in line with the numbers given.

Second, it’s nice to have others in the area to “talk shop”. In fact, I started a local Facebook Group called SWVA Wedding Videographers Group. It’s a way for us to connect with each other, chat, help provide information about the business and even help pass along leads and whatnot.

The way I look at it is simple, we’re all in this together and there are far less wedding videographers or filmmakers in our area than there are wedding photographers. I’d rather embrace my fellow competitors and what we collectively do.

What We do Is Very Hard

For those that don’t know, wedding video is a hard business to get into and make a profit as a business. The price of the gear alone is much more massive than our photography cousins. Then there is booking couples and let me be honest, that’s hard because of the stats above.

Then you have the prep work for each wedding, batteries, lens cleaning, memory card formatting, etc. From there you have the wedding itself and most of us have multiple cameras at the ceremony to take care of, keeping people out of the shots and making sure that the photographer and you don’t get in the way. Plus, there is audio which is a whole different thing. Oh, lighting or lack thereof at the reception.

Finally, we have the post-production that honestly eat the bulk of our time.

My point here, what we do is very hard, labor intensive and complex. It’s not for everyone and that’s one of the reasons why you don’t see many wedding photographers getting into it in the first place. We have far more move pieces during the day and we still must get it right the first time. So I commend my competition in the field.

Quality of Work

I can honestly say that we have a few in the region that are amazing at wedding films. We also have some in the area that don’t have a clue what they’re doing, and they just need to stop honestly. But that’s not for me to judge nor is it for me to call them out either.

From a video quality standpoint, just about all of us are using HD camera systems with a few of us using 4K. But, from a clear image standpoint, all of us are going to be able to bring you clear video, just don’t get that confused with good video. You shouldn’t have to worry about the video being clear, we’re all going to offer that.

Experience is going to help play a part in how the video shots play out at the ceremony.

Video vs Film vs Cinema

Wedding Films are by far the most popular line item in the industry. A wedding film, sometimes called a feature, cinematic trailer or feature film is a short, entertaining version of the days events and the time range can vary from 3-25 minutes in length. Think of it was a summary of the days events and they’re usually done by 1-2 people.

Wedding video can also be done by 1-2 people but it’s a long, video of the day. The entire ceremony and reception highlight sometimes wrapped around montages to tie them together. It’s easier to do since its more of a documentary style shoot. Wedding cinema on the other hand is very expensive wedding film and a complete team of people to make a film, more than 3 people usually, which the Roanoke Valley has no video production companies that offer that service.

Pricing it Out

From the very low end, you have $500 wedding video from a couple of others (that includes myself) then you have couple of competitors in the $3,500 to $4,000 range. That’s a pretty large spread when you start to look around. The happy medium tends to be right about $1,950 which is about the national average.

The price is going to depend on a few things including experience, gear costs, bells and whistles (like drones, gimbals, etc) and what they’re trying to do in the market place.

Desire

We all have a desire to film because we all simply love doing what we do and that comes across in the video or films we make. Some have a desire to charge large amounts of money to make wedding films and travel about, some in the nation do that and do it very well. Take Matt Johnson, a well-known wedding filmmaker in Texas. He charges a minimum of $5,000 for a wedding and that doesn’t include the travel which easily cost double the cost.

Some of us want to remain local and that’s fine too. For me, I want to remain in Virginia and the Carolina’s. I’m happy to travel a bit and for 2019 I will be doing some for weddings, but I’m not doing it for my livelihood, so I don’t have to charge as much as I once did.

Gear Costs

A portion of the overall cost comes in at what their gear costs. Most of us in the area are using Canon DSLR systems, followed by Panasonic (which is what I use) then Sony and Nikon. The average cost of a professional camera (not including the lens) is about $2,000 each. Then you have multiple cameras, batteries and memory cards, then a couple of great lenses at $1,000 each, it starts to add up.

Then all the fluid head tripods, wireless microphones, audio gear, lights, drone, sliders, gimbals and all the other tools we bring, oh and the high-end computer systems too. The list could go onward, but the point is we need to recoup some in the gear that we buy, which can range from a couple grand on the low end to $15,000 on the high end (for wedding video and films, wedding cinema is much higher in gear costs typically).  

Experience

Usually, the longer a person has been filming, the more they cost. That’s not always the case but in general, it tends to follow much like other industry, the more experience you have, the more your worth, so take that into mind when thinking about pricing.

Overall, I really enjoy seeing what the competition has to offer in our local area. Over time, I can see some of them going more national than local because they’re work is honestly amazing. Me, I want to stay within Virginia and the Carolina’s.

I’m happy to friend many of the wedding video professionals in the area and help provide them some insights as an old timer in the business myself.