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Author Topic: General Client Advise Sought  (Read 1684 times)

DCM1024

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General Client Advise Sought
« on: August 07, 2012, 12:22:55 AM »
Sorry - I'm not sure where to post this. It is more of a business matter than technical.

I agreed (under pressure from my boyfriend, who spent a lot of money on gear to set me up) to do 10 Weddings for a very low fee of $399. to build my portfolio. I have exceeded that, and have had happy, appreciative brides who have referred me to their friends. A couple of questions:

1. I have been shooting as many as 2100 photos and delivering 1900  photos (copyright released) to the bride. Is this normal, or should I cut it down to the top 10-20% of photos?

2. I know I should be charging more - mother's of the bride have told me so. How does one go about setting pricing vs. quality?

I have been shooting and providing a copyright released disk, not involved with prints, albums, etc. I work 40 hours a week at my regular job and do photo shoots on the weekend.

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General Client Advise Sought
« on: August 07, 2012, 12:22:55 AM »

Wideopen

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2012, 06:22:05 PM »
$399 for weddings?! Is that flat rate? I hope you raise your prices signicantly once your profile and clientel has been established. Alot of wedding photographers i know dont charge less than $3000 per wedding.

DCM1024

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2012, 05:49:57 PM »
In my area, I have heard from $200. for 2 hours to $6,500. A couple of my brides have upgraded their services with me to the $750. - $800. range. Yes, I am wanting to raise my prices. At the recent bridal show I attended, low price was $750. for 3 hours, but even the sponsor of the show - a seasoned photographer - was advertising $999. and up. Thanks for not flaming me, btw. I am genuinely seeking advice, and do now have a port that (while I intend to improve it with time and experience) is good enough to book weddings on a regular basis. In fact, I'm pooped and hoping to have a weekned off soon.

Drizzt321

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2012, 07:27:10 PM »
In my area, I have heard from $200. for 2 hours to $6,500. A couple of my brides have upgraded their services with me to the $750. - $800. range. Yes, I am wanting to raise my prices. At the recent bridal show I attended, low price was $750. for 3 hours, but even the sponsor of the show - a seasoned photographer - was advertising $999. and up. Thanks for not flaming me, btw. I am genuinely seeking advice, and do now have a port that (while I intend to improve it with time and experience) is good enough to book weddings on a regular basis. In fact, I'm pooped and hoping to have a weekned off soon.

That's great you're so busy you are shooting nearly every weekend! Not being a wedding (heck, still haven't gotten paid for anything yet!) photographer, I'd say now is the time to start raising your prices. If friends of clients ask why the higher prices, it's simple. Just tell them you have more experience, you have a lot of weddings to shoot. Also, like anything in economics, supply and demand play a role. You're in demand, so you can make somewhat more.

That said, I wouldn't jump right up to $$$$, unless you feel a specific potential client can more than afford it. I've also heard, don't forget the photo books and prints and such. Upsell on those, as you can make quite a bit more money that way. Especially as a whole package. Do it "This is how much it would cost at my rates for each item, but as this package you save $$". Classic salesmanship, and if you have some great samples from other weddings for those items they'll probably jump on it.
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sb

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2012, 08:08:23 PM »
Wow you should have raised to around $1000 after your third wedding. It would still be a tempting dirt cheap price range for frugal clients, but at least you'd be reflecting the fact that you had a few weddings under your belt.

But my main point is with respect to the amount of pictures you give away - it is WAY too much. My partner and I combined shoot about 3000 frames during a 12 hour day and will only give clients 600-700. So that's basically 20%-25% of total images.

It comes down to setting a quality standard for your product. If you give away too much, you are diluting your quality. Let's face it - there is no way you have 1900 A+ images out of 2100. So if you show them to people, you are damaging the perception of your brand.

This is even more important for your blog posts. Out of 600-700 that we give away to our clients, only 30-50 will be posted on the blog. So that's only 1%-2% of all frames shot during the day!

And don't ever give away RAW files, even if people ask for them. Keep your artistic integrity.

Cheers

DCM1024

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2012, 08:22:16 PM »
Thanks you guys for the great advice. I knew I was giving out too many photos, so will reduce that number. On my website I only post about 1 - 6 photos per wedding, and I looked - I've got about 12 brides I haven't posted yet. I'll have to decide how much to raise my price. I think I should be getting closer to $1,000., but am afraid to make too big a jump at once. Any input is greatly appreciated. The money thus far has been great for equipment upgrades, but certainly not enough to make a living on.

preppyak

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2012, 08:31:15 PM »
1. I have been shooting as many as 2100 photos and delivering 1900  photos (copyright released) to the bride. Is this normal, or should I cut it down to the top 10-20% of photos?
3-400 might be "normal", especially for a budget wedding photographer, but 1900 is probably a bit excessive. Especially if you are processing them in anyway. The general process is to deliver every shot that is unique, but to leave out the ones that are obvious duplicates of other shots. Honestly, 1900 photos will overwhelm a client and they'll delete half of them anyway.

Quote
2. I know I should be charging more - mother's of the bride have told me so. How does one go about setting pricing vs. quality?
I will strongly suggest doing a lot of reading and lurking here: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/board/48

Some things to consider. If you are in it for the long run, your pricing is critical. You get more bookings by getting referrals, and moving up in pricing is very, very difficult...especially when you start so low. If you shoot 10 weddings at $399, your next 50 bookings will come from that, and they aren't gonna want to pay $1000 when their friend paid $399. Which means you either become the $399 photographer, or you start from scratch again. It's ok to start cheap to get experience, but, recognize that the longer you shoot in the range, the more you lock yourself into it

Likewise, if you're getting into it for the long haul, don't quit your day job. Full time wedding photography is exceptionally hard to maintain, and there are plenty of photographers, like yourself, who will offer services dirt cheap and undercut you. Here is a great post on that aspect of it. But, you seem like you know its a side thing.

If you enjoy shooting weddings as a side gig, then my suggestion would be to sit down and think finances. If you are shooting 2000+ pictures a wedding, you'll wear out your camera fast, so budget for that. Likewise with lenses, of which you need multiple in case one fails. You need insurance, because if a bride sues you you are screwed...and that's not cheap. Also, you have to be able to store all those images so they are backed up...and have a back-up for that back-up if it fails. Do you have a contract that explains what you offer and controls your clients expectations? Also, you have to actually bring in a little cash for your time, so decide what is truly worth your time in terms of income. You might have all those things accounted for already, but, if not, they add up fast.

What you can charge will depend on your market (big city v small town) and what you are willing to offer. I'd start searching your area for what others are charging, what they offer, and decide from there which market you want to fit.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 08:35:31 PM by preppyak »

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2012, 08:31:15 PM »

distant.star

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2012, 08:35:56 PM »

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And your boyfriend is getting $600 under the table for each of these $399 jobs he's referring people to?
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DCM1024

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2012, 08:59:18 PM »

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And your boyfriend is getting $600 under the table for each of these $399 jobs he's referring people to?

I wish! He'd probably buy me a 1D X!

Hillsilly

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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2012, 10:26:00 PM »
FWIW, in Brisbane, Australia, most photographers seem to be around $2000 - $3000 (but of course, some are quoting $15k+).  Generally the price includes a few planning meetings, pictures of the bride and bridesmaids before the event, arriving early to get some pictures of the groom and groomsmen, the ceremony, after ceremony photos at a nice location, and early parts of the reception.  Then, I guess, there is all of the post production work.  When you think about the work involved, the price seems very reasonable.

How do I know about local pricing?  Well, my sister in law has just got engaged.  And she's a bit short of money.  She's asked if I'll DIFF.  Having never done anything like this before, I just know it will be a FWIGTEW! But, with about a year to plan, maybe I can do something that won't disappoint her too much and she'll still speak with me.  But I'm hoping to meet someone local who will do it for $399 as part of building a portfolio and that can be their wedding present!  Any volunteers?

Ok, back on topic.  Pricing anything is difficult.  If you don't "need" the extra income, I'd be tempted to put your pricing at the higher end of the average range.  What's the point of doing it if you're not getting a reasonable return on your time and investment in equipment?  Surely, you're not putting yourself through all of the stress just for fun?  Charging a higher amounts means that you can spend the time to plan things properly.  Rather than running around to two jobs every weekend, you could do one per fortnight and do it well.  You're clients will think you are awesome.

Competing with lower cost providers is never easy.  You just have to become good at sowing the seeds of doubt and uncertainty in people's mind.  Where are the cheaper people skimping?  What steps aren't they doing?  Are they using professional equipment?  Do they have assistants, backup cameras etc etc.  Are they just people looking for extra cash, or do they really care about wedding photography and take their role in the bride's most important day seriously?  Ultimately, you want people to conclude that if you are charging more than other people, you must be better.  And everyone knows that you get what you pay for.

Agree totally about not wanting to do printing.  But, I'd at least consider an "extra optional services" guide for your customers.  On this, you would offer prints and enlargements, canvas mounts, albums, labelled DVDs with slideshows for guests etc etc.  Because you don't want to do it, these would be priced with a significant profit margin.  And you'll make it clear that you'll be providing all of the photos for them to do it themselves anyway.  But done properly, you can get a reasonable return on your time.  If clients ask why they should pay more for you to do it, you just mention things like retouching for colour matching, consistency, supervised print quality, artistic flair, professional printing equipment etc etc.  If they're happy to pay for it, great!  If they choose to do it themselves, you're not really losing anything.     
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Re: General Client Advise Sought
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2012, 10:26:00 PM »