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Thread: Overhead

  1. #1
    JohnRichard's Avatar
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    Overhead

    So I am having some arguments about overhead in my wedding business.

    This is going to be an Analogue vs. Digital debate, I hate that, but it is what it is.

    I shoot only film. I am trying to get very much more serious about my studio work. I have done a cost analysis on what my over head would be on par with someone shooting digital.

    The going rate for images is about 700-1000. This is for the big expensive packages above about $2500. Using that model I did up some costs for 18 rolls. 8 rolls of 120, and 12 rolls of 35mm, all color. That's 532 images. Just to get a good mix.

    My cost using the lab of my choice is $0.80/per image. That includes film cost, processing, High-rez Digital scan on CD, and 4x5 proof.

    Now the argument comes in. Is the cost of shooting film equal to that of the useful lifetime of a professional digital camera? I'm not talking about a 'blad with a $50,000 digital back here... more like a Canon 5d, which is what most of the professionals in my area use.

    I think that it can be done cheaper using a $500 camera that I have to buy once, than using a $2500 camera I have to buy every 3 or 4 years. Do digital cameras last that long in the professional world?


    Thoughts?

    Please note that if Digital wins in the cost/benefit, I will be ok with that, but I will whine about it all the way to the bank.
    - J. Richard
    4x5 Speed Graphic, Looking for another 8x10.

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    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    I think the way you have it digital is cheaper. I'm not saying better, but cheaper. If you processed all of your own film I think it would be closer in cost. I would stick with film
    Last edited by Ektagraphic; 09-15-2009 at 05:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

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    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    Okay, I am wading in on this one even though we are on really thin ice regarding appropriateness for APUG.

    I do think it is folly to try to compete with digital using film in terms of quantity. I think that the massive numbers of images being taken today have a lot to do with the digital process, and that the film process is going to be so much more cumbersome and expensive if you try to imitate what the digital shooters are doing. I do wonder if there isn't another way. Perhaps finding out how to compete as a high end photographer who provides high quality film images rather than high quantity digital. I am making some of these kinds of calculations as well right now, and am really not sure how well that market will work, but I really do doubt that there is a way to try to keep up with digital on a quantity basis.

    Pictage charges $0.30 for a 4X5 digital proof. That means $250 savings per wedding, if it is based on 500 images. You also don't necessarily need to have proofs printed, if your clients like the idea of on line proofs. If you can give them color corrected files, you are down to 20 cents per, saving another $50. If you do 20 weddings a year, you are at $5,000 - $10,000 per year, which is multiple 5Ds. Per year.

    Now, I am not advocating for digital here, I am just stating that there are things that digital is better for, and certainly "spray and pray" is one of them. If your clients are demanding 500 plus images, you are going to pay a lot to use film. I guess you might save some effort on managing the files, but since you are using a digital process anyway, I am not convinced.

    However, I have really come to believe that there is a lot of momentum in the "film = art" area that can be used to differentiate yourself from the marketplace. I have really been looking at this myself, as I am planning on starting to do weddings and really believe that one needs to have a marketing position, something to differentiate one's self from the competition. If you wish to use film, and I really understand that, I believe that is the direction to go.
    Last edited by Paul Sorensen; 09-15-2009 at 05:19 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typo

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    JohnRichard's Avatar
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    I apologize for bringing the D-word in on this one.

    I totally agree that there is no way I can compete with Digital in quantity.
    I think half the problem I am having is that I don't know that the people in my area will want anything else than the standard trip everyone is pushing right now...
    "Art" isn't real big around here... If I had my way, It would be all High-key, Low-key black and whites, and Color with loads of contrast. I'm sure someone will like it (read: buy),
    but the masses don't seem to care about anything but what they are told to care about.

    I think brides would look particularly awesomely beautiful in a full portrait with the "blowing out the sun" technique. Just my 5 cents.
    - J. Richard
    4x5 Speed Graphic, Looking for another 8x10.

  5. #5
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    One great thing is that the pictures you take in black and white; and process archivally on fiber-base paper, they shall be able to show to their great grand children. We all know; because the technology is that old. Ask the bride to be if that makes any difference to her.

    AND---have you checked the solenoid adjust to ensure the bulbs will be synching?
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

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    JohnRichard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anscojohn View Post
    One great thing is that the pictures you take in black and white; and process archivally on fiber-base paper, they shall be able to show to their great grand children. We all know; because the technology is that old. Ask the bride to be if that makes any difference to her.

    AND---have you checked the solenoid adjust to ensure the bulbs will be synching?
    Agreed. That may make a difference.

    AND--Sorry, I have been chasing you around different threads. I don't have a solenoid on my lens.
    - J. Richard
    4x5 Speed Graphic, Looking for another 8x10.

  7. #7
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    John,

    I'm doing weddings on film and what I have found is that I make more money per hour.

    I made the decision that my job is to shoot and keep the shot count much lower then you suggest, <250; I'm truly after just keepers, then the lab does the rest.

    I get paid nicely for my time there, the client pays all processing costs on top of my fee, $50 per roll including proofs and scans.

    Simple quick and done.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #8
    JohnRichard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    John,

    I'm doing weddings on film and what I have found is that I make more money per hour.

    I made the decision that my job is to shoot and keep the shot count much lower then you suggest, <250; I'm truly after just keepers, then the lab does the rest.

    I get paid nicely for my time there, the client pays all processing costs on top of my fee, $50 per roll including proofs and scans.

    Simple quick and done.
    I have decided to do just that. Forget all the 5000 proof and digi files junk. I'm going to shoot 5-10 rolls, and call it done.

    I have decided to shoot all the formal stuff on 120, and the reception in 135.
    I'll offer prints of the formals and digi the 35mm...

    It seems the best route.
    - J. Richard
    4x5 Speed Graphic, Looking for another 8x10.

  9. #9

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    One thing to keep in mind with switching from film to "D" is your back end. Right now you shoot a wedding, throw film in a box and bring (ship?) it out out to your lab. Then you sit down, drink a beer, watch TV, and a few days later you get your images back. Throw some proofs online from the CD so the family can place orders and start sorting proofs and arranging an album.

    With "D" you are your own lab in most cases. Shoot a wedding, unload some cards, make backups of those cards, make backups of the backups, import them all into Photoshop/Lightroom/NX/CameraRAW or what have you, edit, adjust, fix, etc, etc. Then either pull your hair out for two days making prints on an expensive inkjet, or send them to a lab for printing. Also, post proofs online for the family to order from and arrange and album. Maybe sneak in a beer while the cards unload.

    You can't forget the backend expense (computer, software, upgrades, drives, etc). Not to mention the time, expect to double your time behind the scenes from what you spent at the wedding. If you figure what your time is worth, that can be a lot of expense. Time you could be out shooting something and making money behind a camera not in front of a monitor playing photo lab.

    I guess the question to ask is are you saving money by doing more of the work yourself. The answer to that is probably yes. But is it worth it.

  10. #10
    jnanian's Avatar
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    that is all great, if you have a lab near you that can process your work
    i am up here in rhodeisland where there used to be 3 or 4 pro labs for the whole state,
    and now maybe there is one prolab left that still processes film ...


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