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Author Topic: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?  (Read 6824 times)

gbchriste

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #30 on: December 24, 2013, 08:14:43 AM »
While the reply letter is probably personally satisfying, it is irrelevant.  She is trying to equate cost with price.  While they are related, they are not the same thing.  Cost is the amount of money and and time it takes a vendor to create and deliver a product or service.  Price is the amount of money a customer must spend to acquire that product or service.  The only required relationship between those two is that over the long term course of business, prices must exceed cost if you want to stay in business.

But once that requirement is met, there is absolutely no obligation for price to be related to cost - i.e. just because it costs me $1.00 to build a widget, there is no obligation on my part to sell it for $1.10.  If my widget is something that revolutionizes the planet and the lives of the people on it, and everyone on planet Earth wants one, I'd be insane not to sell it for $100 if that's what people are willing to pay.

Because at the point of sale, the only real attribute that matters is the perceived value the customer places in your product or service.  When someone complains, "Why should I pay X when it only costs Y to build?", what they are really saying is, "I don't think that thing is worth X."

What the complaining bride is really saying is she just doesn't think wedding photography is worth $3,000.  In the same way, if you went to a car dealership and complained about the price of the model you wanted to buy, you wouldn't get a lecture from the salesman about how much it cost to build the car, ship the car, insure the car while it's on the lot, cover his commission, etc.  He's try to sell you on the "value" of the car - the smoothness and quietness of the ride, the collision safety, the reliability, maybe even the status associated with the driving that model.

At which point, one of two things will happen.  If he sells you on those values and you have the money, you'll buy the car.  But if he doesn't sell you on those values, you won't buy it, even if you have the money. Because you don't think those values are worth the price.  At which point he'll steer you over the corner of the lot with the clown cars on it.

If a prospective customer balks or complains about your prices, you have one of three choices:
1) Successfully sell them on the value of your product
2) Lower your price to match their value expectations
3) Redirect them somewhere else where they can buy at a price that matches their value expectations

Having said all that, I have a sneaking suspicion that the bride wasn't really complaining about supposedly overpriced $3,000 wedding photographers.  She claims she can find someone who will do the job for $400.  Fine.  Why then isn't she just shutting her trap and hiring the $400 photographer.  The answer seems obvious.  She's looked a the work of the $400 and $3000 photographers, respectively.  She realizes by any measure of evaluation that the $3000 photographer is infinitely better and will deliver a vastly superior product.  She WANTS the photos created by the $3000 photographer.  The $400 photographer?  Not so much.  So what she's really pissed about is the fact that the guy whose work is clearly superior but costs a lot more won't lower his prices to meet those of the guy she knows whose photos are going to suck but is charging what she is willing to pay.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2013, 10:13:55 AM by gbchriste »

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #30 on: December 24, 2013, 08:14:43 AM »

Don Haines

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #31 on: December 24, 2013, 08:50:19 AM »
What you are paying for is pictures. You do not have the option to go back and take them over again. It is the ability to get it right the first time that rises the price above Bubba and his iPhone....
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7enderbender

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #32 on: December 24, 2013, 09:01:38 AM »
I think at the core of the counter argument in that two-year old craigslist rant lies why few photographers make a decent living if they're trying to go full time. And why so many then do stuff that they probably never signed up for (I personally have no interests in shooting weddings).

What do I mean? It's really an economic argument. The photographer who responded to the cranky bride makes a classic mistake: argue with cost. The thing is, cost is completely irrelevant for the value you're selling. It's only relevant for your own book keeping and as a market entry barrier (or lack thereof really in photography).
Anyone, in any line of business who is calculating their prices as a function of their cost will not be doing well most likely. Not always a popular viewpoint where many folks still remember the good-old-cost-plus-markup.

I could go on and on about it and draw some parallels with the problems in my main line of work in the healthcare sector. But that usually gets me in trouble ;-)

Just some food for thought.
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danski0224

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #33 on: December 24, 2013, 09:25:24 AM »
USD 3,000 / per wedding price is too high. Clients are not interested in your experience, equipment, lighting equipment, insurance. They want to buy specific product - wedding photos. Nobody cares about your expenses. If someone is doing wedding photography during weekends, has a good equipment and required skills he  / she is able to make wedding photos much cheaper.

Not knowing a few key variables, but with a reasonable assumption and some easy math...

Lots of so-called "professionals" are near the $100.00/hr rate for their services. Some are considerably more.

So, $3,000.00 USD gets you 30 man-hours of time at the hypothetical $100.00/hr.

Seems to me, from the outside looking in, that it would be fairly easy to rack up 30 man-hours of time on a wedding job. Easier (faster) if you have paid assistants (8 hour day can equal 12-16 man-hours for 2 people, depending on the billing rate). Remember, you have to track and account for all time spent for that one job: Initial consultation, site preview, the event itself, proofs, more client conversations, delivery (those are just off the top of my head).

Depending on what you really want or need to make per hour, there is some latitude. It always comes down to some sort of hourly rate.

Then the other stuff like mileage and equipment depreciation, supplies and so forth comes out of that hypothetical hourly rate.

So, just from a business perspective, there is justification for the price. Value and selling those services to paying clients are completely separate entities.

I bet if the $500.00/event photographers figured out what they were making per hour after lugging several thousand dollars of equipment around, many would be very disappointed.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2013, 09:30:12 AM by danski0224 »
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dilbert

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #34 on: December 24, 2013, 10:48:38 AM »
...
When I was initially learning photography my rate of creating truly stunning photos was maybe 1:5,000. After years of effort I was able to move that to 1:500 and then 1:250. When I switched to shallow depth of field lenses things got even harder, and I moved to 1:500 again. Then with more practice I got to 1:150. Adding in more and more complexity and more challenging and expensive equipment moved the rate at which I created good results down further and more practice brought it up. Finally after years and years of even more effort I can make a stunning photo about 1 out of ever 40 times I push the shutter button.
...

That's an amazing stunner rate. Almost down to the 1-a-roll with 36 exposure rolls.

emag

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #35 on: December 24, 2013, 11:57:47 AM »
I checked out her website.  I was underwhelmed.

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #36 on: December 24, 2013, 01:42:09 PM »
I cannot speak for markets in other countries, as I don't shoot there and have not run a business there.  But as for the US, it is apparent many of you really don't have much business background.  You don't figure out how much you charge for weddings based on what you think of your product, or even what you think others are willing to pay.  If you are actually in the business, whether part time or full time, you simply do the math to figure out how much it takes for you to do business, including what you expect to be personally compensated annually, and charge per number of weddings/portrait session/other shoot mix.  When someone does the math, they'll quickly figure out that charging less than about $3k (Charleston, SC local market) average per wedding is a losing business proposition in the long run.  And that's for a wedding without assistants or second photographers.   

Only when you know that break even amount will you be able to answer the question of whether you can or should charge what your services should cost.  Hopefully, the "worth" of your product in the marketplace meets or exceeds the amount you need to charge to be a sustainable business.  If that answer is no, then you should not be in business.  The correct answer is NOT to lower your rates to what you think you can get away with.  If you've done the math, you'll know why and won't sabotage your dream without good reason and a solid plan to mitigate the shortfalls. 

As a businessman and program manager in my regular job, I am very familiar with the actual costs of doing business.  When I take that knowledge to my full-time photographer friends and look at what they are doing, I'm amazed they manage to stay in business.  Many don't.  They don't charge enough, and are always robbing peter to pay paul in their personal finances. 

It's a worn out argument, but the trajectory of this thread demonstrates why so many photography businesses fail. 
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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #36 on: December 24, 2013, 01:42:09 PM »

colvinatch

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #37 on: December 24, 2013, 02:27:14 PM »
The title should read "Why GOOD Wedding Photographers' Prices are Wack"  I book about a dozen or so weddings a year and my portfolio is as good as anyone else's out there (been shooting for 40 years, so if I can't take a good wedding pict by now I'm never going to!).  If a perspective client doesn't like my prices I encourage them to shop around, they usually come back after a week or two and book my services, if they don't then they can shoot their own wedding with an iPhone and hope that they get decent results!  The market (for really good photos) drives the price.  Like everything else, you get what you pay for.
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Normalnorm

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #38 on: December 24, 2013, 03:18:56 PM »
I see a number of good responses here and many mention thoughts that have crossed my mind over the years.

I am curious as to why so many people seem to feel qualified to decide what a person in ANY trade should earn.

I have been fortunate to make a full time income that is at the upper end for our industry. I avoid weddings like the plague specifically because the clientele are emotional, delusional (at times) and believe that I should earn 10% less than a gardener.
I choose clients who will not freak out by my pricing thus I do not do retail photography. Everyone has scissors yet few cut their own hair. Those that do, look the part and would never go to a professional.

The attraction for so many to do wedding photography is that it appears easy, fun and lucrative. Anyone who has shot one ( I shot many as a younger man) knows that it is demanding, time sensitive, and long with lots of off event work. Digital has made even the most casual snapper somewhat unimpressed with those who make a living doing it.

My nephew asked me the other day why anyone would pay me to take pictures and my answer was " I take pictures for people who will get fired if they don't show their boss a good photo". "If you knew you would lose your job for bad pictures would you hire someone who had always made your boss happy or would you use your phone?".

The DIY mentality rampant in the digital world means that if you do get hired, many clients believe that the fee should be roughly the amount to offset the inconvenience in your day.



bigmag13

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #39 on: December 24, 2013, 04:35:57 PM »
first, I want to say that I am happy so many ppl replied to this topic. It gives balance to my idea of what I should charge. I am VERY new to selling wedding photography and all the ideas about what to charge clients helps me to delivery what should be a fair price at the sit down. I remember seeing the VERY article the OP used to spark this lil hootin'nanny. I actually wrote a similar post that had way less ranting to my photo bizs' FB page ( something inside told me not to post to my actual website such an article).

A lot goes into this art we all love so much... time, money, sweat and pain to name a few. Even though I agree with most of the opinions that disagree with the articles rantiness I disagree way more with the posters who think 3000 US is too much.

 For my own wedding my wife and I had a chance to hire Ken Sklute of AZ ( the Canon explorer of light Ken Sklute) as he was going to be in town to do my wife's colleagues wedding. The price he gave us then was 3500 US. I learned that this was discounted from his usual fee because I think
1. He was going to be in NY anyway and
2. He knew how much of an avid Photography student I was, how I knew of him and how much I admired his body of work( I like to think this anyway, lol).

We had already budgeted to have him shoot our wedding when my wife all of a sudden wanted video as well as photos. The event company mention to her a studio that did both video and photos. She asked that we at least take a look and we did. they were charging the same for stills and 1000US for video. We went over to their studio and my Wife and I were BLOWN AWAY by the images they had on their website and hanging all over their walls. they seemed like a very capable and fun company to hire. Further thinking I should put the cork on my wallet at this point I asked this studio if they would just give me the Images so that I could create my own album and save some money. I asked for the RAW files, they said NO PROBLEM. after all was said and done we found out the hard way that they F@*king Sucked!!!! 
first off the photog tells me the day of that he only shoots jpegs. Then I saw that they shot the most grainy high iso no WB photos I have seen in a long time! We were lucky to salvage two family group shots and 3 B&G pics to hang on the wall. they took 9 months to return video and that was decent to their credit.

Bottom line is that, who is anyone to say how much is TOO MUCH? If a persons work is worth it it's worth it. There are plenty of $500 wedding photographers out there. " Good luck with that" is what I say to potential clients who bring it up. for all of the time I spend making sure the job is top notch I have to charge accordingly.
This is something that sticks with me because my wife and I got had by a looser who probably used someone Else's  images to display. So I will NEVER for the life of me give back bad work to a client, and that just costs what it costs.



   
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gfoulk

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #40 on: December 24, 2013, 05:29:55 PM »
Not sure if I read the article correctly, but it seems she wrote that she pays taxes then lists all these business expenses coming out of her take home net pay.  Really should be the other way around.

Yeah, that bothered me too. Shows that despite couching her entire argument on cost (which, as an aside, I think is a mistake) she doesn't understand how costs actually work.

JohnDizzo15

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #41 on: December 24, 2013, 05:31:12 PM »
While I would never subject myself to a fate of wedding photography, I do recognize the value in a good wedding photographer. I have several friends that do it as their primary source of income and I know that it is no easy task. It is quite involved and painful to say the least.

However, while many wedding photographers that charge in the 3k and up range do great work, there are just as many (if not more) that do not. I suppose my point is that on the other end of it, merely paying that much doesn't always get you what that amount of money rates either.

The two most experienced wedding photogs I know make roughly 4-6k/wedding here in California and they seldom have issues with people being unwilling to cough that up. The reason for that? The work that they do is consistently great and they produce many images that don't look like ones you see all the time. So IMO, if you truly have a portfolio that is amazing, you will be separated from the ocean of mediocre-average photogs and easily earn your stated price. And if you are not able to separate yourself in that way, then I don't know what to tell you. But crying about how $500 wedding photographers are making things hard for you is not going to fix your problems.

As a sidenote, Lightroom and other similar software has certainly made post production much more streamlined. Generally speaking, my buddies are going through a couple thousand images per wedding and finishing up with no more than 8-12 hours processing time thanks to LR and things like VSCO. Not that I do weddings, but recent events I've done have yielded anywhere between 150-300 keepers each. PP on those jobs were around 3-4 hours max per. So IMO, as far as the post processing portion of post production goes, it doesn't have to be as time consuming or laborious as some make it out to be.

WPJ

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #42 on: December 24, 2013, 07:56:02 PM »
While the reply letter is probably personally satisfying, it is irrelevant.  She is trying to equate cost with price.  While they are related, they are not the same thing.  Cost is the amount of money and and time it takes a vendor to create and deliver a product or service.  Price is the amount of money a customer must spend to acquire that product or service.  The only required relationship between those two is that over the long term course of business, prices must exceed cost if you want to stay in business.

But once that requirement is met, there is absolutely no obligation for price to be related to cost - i.e. just because it costs me $1.00 to build a widget, there is no obligation on my part to sell it for $1.10.  If my widget is something that revolutionizes the planet and the lives of the people on it, and everyone on planet Earth wants one, I'd be insane not to sell it for $100 if that's what people are willing to pay.

Because at the point of sale, the only real attribute that matters is the perceived value the customer places in your product or service.  When someone complains, "Why should I pay X when it only costs Y to build?", what they are really saying is, "I don't think that thing is worth X."

What the complaining bride is really saying is she just doesn't think wedding photography is worth $3,000.  In the same way, if you went to a car dealership and complained about the price of the model you wanted to buy, you wouldn't get a lecture from the salesman about how much it cost to build the car, ship the car, insure the car while it's on the lot, cover his commission, etc.  He's try to sell you on the "value" of the car - the smoothness and quietness of the ride, the collision safety, the reliability, maybe even the status associated with the driving that model.

At which point, one of two things will happen.  If he sells you on those values and you have the money, you'll buy the car.  But if he doesn't sell you on those values, you won't buy it, even if you have the money. Because you don't think those values are worth the price.  At which point he'll steer you over the corner of the lot with the clown cars on it.

If a prospective customer balks or complains about your prices, you have one of three choices:
1) Successfully sell them on the value of your product
2) Lower your price to match their value expectations
3) Redirect them somewhere else where they can buy at a price that matches their value expectations

Having said all that, I have a sneaking suspicion that the bride wasn't really complaining about supposedly overpriced $3,000 wedding photographers.  She claims she can find someone who will do the job for $400.  Fine.  Why then isn't she just shutting her trap and hiring the $400 photographer.  The answer seems obvious.  She's looked a the work of the $400 and $3000 photographers, respectively.  She realizes by any measure of evaluation that the $3000 photographer is infinitely better and will deliver a vastly superior product.  She WANTS the photos created by the $3000 photographer.  The $400 photographer?  Not so much.  So what she's really pissed about is the fact that the guy whose work is clearly superior but costs a lot more won't lower his prices to meet those of the guy she knows whose photos are going to suck but is charging what she is willing to pay.

I think you hit the head if the nail on that one

.hahaha

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #42 on: December 24, 2013, 07:56:02 PM »

9VIII

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #43 on: December 24, 2013, 09:32:48 PM »
Photography is a cottage industry, and a popular one at that (it wouldn't be one of my hobbies if it weren't). Anyone with enough spare money can pick it up and the best career a person can hope for is to become a small time celebrity. I think $3,000 is too much given how specialized the job actually is. If people are willing to pay the prices though, who am I to argue. Having someone you can be confident isn't going to seriously screw up the critical moments does sound like it would be worth extra, but after reading this thread it sounds like I would have to see how the guy works at every step to figure out if he actually walks the talk.
I have enough relatives with experience in this kind of thing that I will probably just put the money into a few nice lenses and hand the cameras over. Honestly at this point I'd rather edit the photos myself anyway.
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Don Haines

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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #44 on: December 24, 2013, 09:45:24 PM »
Photography is a cottage industry, and a popular one at that (it wouldn't be one of my hobbies if it weren't). Anyone with enough spare money can pick it up and the best career a person can hope for is to become a small time celebrity. I think $3,000 is too much given how specialized the job actually is. If people are willing to pay the prices though, who am I to argue. Having someone you can be confident isn't going to seriously screw up the critical moments does sound like it would be worth extra, but after reading this thread it sounds like I would have to see how the guy works at every step to figure out if he actually walks the talk.
I have enough relatives with experience in this kind of thing that I will probably just put the money into a few nice lenses and hand the cameras over. Honestly at this point I'd rather edit the photos myself anyway.

It must also be said that we, the forum members, are not very representative of the general public. A glance at the image forums or at the technical forums will show a degree of skill and technical knowledge that is beyond the scope of the average consumer. Many of us have shot weddings and many more have the skill to do so, so for us, we might be better off doing it ourselves, but for the average Joe this path leads to disaster.

We know that you can spend more time processing a picture than taking it.... We know to watch out for what is in the background.... After a while it becomes automatic.... But the average Joe does not.... and if they don't know something exists how can you expect them to understand why they have to pay for it....
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Re: Why Wedding Photographers’ Prices are “Wack”?
« Reply #44 on: December 24, 2013, 09:45:24 PM »