As a wedding photographer with 10+ years of experience, I had to adapt more than a few times. I’m not embarrassed to say that I jumped into a few trends that didn’t go anywhere (fisheye lenses for a wedding reception? why?). But I also jumped into others that made me love photography even more (film colors, I still dig you).
Even though I’m not proud of myself when I tried a different preset for every photo of a wedding back in 2010, I am proud of a few of my choices. Sticking to prime lenses several years ago is one of them. Adapting my destination wedding photography business to offer live streaming is another one of those.
Looking for a non-existent solution to my live streaming needs
I’m sure you’re tired of reading about the pandemic, so let’s pretend (only for this story) that it never happened.
Back in 2016, a bride asked me if I could live stream her wedding ceremony because her grandma was ill and she couldn’t make it to the Dominican Republic, the island where she was getting married. That’s when my quest began.
I looked into every possible alternative. I visited the location 3 times using 2 different mobile carriers. I even thought about asking the wedding planner to move the ceremony location about 100 feet away because coverage was better closer to a restaurant.
All my streaming attempts failed miserably.
The video quality was awful, but that wasn’t the worst part. I couldn’t find a service that adapted the bitrate to my lousy internet connection. I hated Facebook with my gut, but it was my best alternative at the time. They weren’t blocking every live stream back then and I’m sure someone would help her grandma to watch it live, even if it meant creating an account for her.
I didn’t even know that internet bonding existed, and if you still don’t, don’t worry. You might not need it this year.
Just to clarify, this wasn’t about money. She already booked me and she loved my work. It was about making it happen for her.
Long story short, I failed. But like with everything else in my life, I learned a ton from it.
I researched live streaming cameras, wifi hotspots, internet connections, mobile carriers, streaming platforms, and even homemade antennas to boost the poor signal I was getting.
Live streaming here I come… or not
As someone smarter than me once said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate”.
And so I did.
A friend of mine suggested a setup that involved a streaming backpack that I couldn’t afford, and probably couldn’t carry around, since I was shooting the weddings by myself.
It took me just a few weeks of failed attempts to realize that my dream of streaming destination weddings on this little island wouldn’t be fulfilled. So I carried on.
During the following years, I discovered other alternatives.
I tried a GoPro for my live streaming needs, only to find out that it was absolute garbage -for this purpose. The streaming feature was there, but It didn’t work. I have the GoPro 10 today, and it still doesn’t. It overheats. It disconnects. And worst of all, you can’t even monitor what you’re streaming or tweak the settings within the camera. I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy.
Then I found alternatives like OBS, which I loved. I tried it at my office and OMG, I was immediately live. Just like it happened with the streaming-backpack thing, it wasn’t a viable solution for my photography business. Carrying a laptop to the beach, connecting cameras, and hoping that nothing would crash? Who would monitor the whole setup?!
This was years ago, when we didn’t have the M1 chips we have today and laptop batteries lasted 2 hours on average.
One day, that same friend sent me a link from B&H. I opened it and my mind was blown. There was the Mevo, promising to do-it-all for someone like me. A wedding photographer who wanted to live stream while working at the event.
I had to try it. I did and…
(I’m just pressing enter to add suspense to my story)
It was ok. Such a bummer. This perfect piece of gear that could solve all my problems wasn’t that great. Connectivity wasn’t good, and a few details weren’t there yet. I confirmed this when I met a guy who had the Mevo at one of my events. I loved the simplicity. The concept behind it was perfect. The camera? It was “almost there”.
So I kept learning, and shooting weddings.
A simple live streaming solution for my wedding business?
Back to reality.
I kept shooting anywhere between 60 to 85 weddings per year. My business was thriving, but I couldn’t find a simple solution to my live streaming problem.
Then, I met Mark.
This guy, who was working out at my CrossFit gym, started developing an app that was built specifically for this purpose. For MY needs.
“You can go live with your phone or any camera and people can watch it with a single click”, he said.
He mentioned that they were streaming 100+ weddings per weekend with no issues. As a wedding photographer, I knew I had to try it.
And… I didn’t. I downloaded the app, but I was crazy busy back then.
I was in the process of hiring photographers, an assistant, writers, and a social media manager. My brand was growing, and I needed help.
Then, the pandemic hit. Oh wait, we’re not talking about that today.
Magically, my schedule was free. No weddings to shoot, only sad clients sending emails postponing their wedding dates. Yikes.
I still had all my employees, bills to pay, and plenty of free time.
“Let’s play with that app, the EventLive app.”
It was a slap of reality. I realized that I didn’t have the time to keep researching things, but all of my problems were solved. Internet became faster, Mevo cameras were fantastic, GoPro’s are still sh*t for live streaming, but hey, now my phone can do it just fine.
I took my iPhone and a light stand to my first event with the EventLive app. I offered it for free… “what if something goes wrong?”, I thought to myself.
I don’t have to buy any gear, so why wouldn't I try it?
While I was photographing the event I verified the upload speed, it was decent. Tested the live stream, it worked. “Ok, let’s try this thing”.
My clients loved it. I didn’t promise that their grandma in another country would be able to watch back then, but I do now. It simply works.
My journey to find the simplest live streaming setup was yielding results
These days I’m not shooting many weddings myself as I hired photographers to do that. I’m still running my photography and videography business, but I now offer more services, which allowed me to grow exponentially.
I used to give my photographers a phone and a light stand to do the live stream, but I swapped to a better alternative. I now give them a Mevo Start camera (this isn’t a sponsored post, by the way) and live stream directly to the EventLive platform.
When I sell a bigger, multi-angle live streaming package, I send an assistant with 2 Mevo cameras and a phone that I bought just for that purpose.
The whole setup cost me about 1050 USD but I recovered that on the second event. I ended up buying wireless microphones as well, as it improved the audio quality a lot. I use the affordable Synco G1’s that cost less than 100 bucks and I can replace them if needed. The only problem with those is that the wind muff keeps falling off if you use them without a lavalier.
If I were shooting the weddings myself, I’d probably use the EventLive app with my iPhone and simply set it up in the middle of the aisle, next to the videographer’s camera (or even on top of it), where it bothers no one.
It took me years to find a simple setup that works, but I’m glad I did. The biggest change I saw is that some couples booked us because they saw the live stream as added value, which others weren’t offering.
Streaming weddings costs me about $85 per event (including the streaming platform and assistant), and it brings $400-700 in profits, depending on the coverage. If I was doing it myself, I’d be spending $25-35 per event and still bring the same profits.
If you've been following EventLive, you won't be surprised to read that I decided to join forces with them to help spread the word about their amazing platform. I am still using their service for my own weddings and that is not going to change anytime soon. The platform keeps improving and adding features for wedding photographers and videographers every month. Mark, the founder, is still behind the development of every tweak and Julia, the co-founder, is behind the best customer service I've ever seen.
Sometimes I say “I wish I started sooner”, but in this case, I feel like I'm just on time.
My live streaming journey had some ups and downs (mostly downs) along the way, but now everything seems to be going in the right direction.
Technology caught up to my needs and my clients’, and I’m happy to be able to offer a service that I can provide with a Smartphone and an app, or a Mevo camera using the same platform with a 99% success rate.
I say 99% because even when the internet connection crashes, I can upload the recording 5 minutes after the ceremony ends, and people can see it instantly. As a wedding photographer, happy clients means recurring business, and it’s something I appreciate.