Contract/pricing questions....HELP!

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Southerngal, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. Southerngal

    Southerngal TPF Noob!

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    I am trying to turn my hobby into at least a part time business. I recently did a wedding (my very first...FREE) for a friend of a friend (few pics are posted on my blog...address in signature), and since have been emailed about doing weddings. I didnt initially want to get into weddings, but I feel, that for the couple that doesnt want to shell out a couple grand I can offer them some great pics at a very reasonable price.

    My question is what sort of contract should I draft for up and coming weddings or even portrait shoots? If anyone has a link to an example or helpful material I would greatly appreciate it.

    And, what should I consider charging? If you dont mind looking at a few of my pics, what is my job/time worth?

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Southerngal

    Southerngal TPF Noob!

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    Anyone?:scratch:
     
  3. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Try looking here.

    Pete
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Try a Google search for 'wedding contract'. I searched out a bunch of them and asked a few friends for a peek at theirs. Then I printed them all out and just picked the best parts out of them to make mine. What's your E-mail? (PM me if you want) I'll send you mine as an example.


    Last year I took a course called 'Designing Wedding Photography'. It was all about how to start out in the Wedding photography business. One of, if not the most important points that the instructor tried to pass on to us...was not to undercharge or undervalue our services. He said that was one of the biggest reasons why beginners fail to make a go of it in this business.

    First of all, if you don't charge enough, you will find that it's not worth your time and hassle. Despite the 'high cost', most wedding photographers don't really get a huge profit once you figure in the time and expenses.

    Think about what you would do for a typical wedding. Maybe you talk on the phone or e-mail back and forth a few times. Then you go to meet the couple (mileage, use of your vehicle, maybe an hour of your time etc). You may meet with them more than once before the wedding...maybe you visit the Church to check it out, maybe you attend the rehearsal. (time, vehicle, mileage). Then you spend maybe an hour or more getting all your gear ready, batteries charged etc. Then the day comes, you fight to keep your breakfast down because you are nervous...then you spend anywhere from a couple hours to all day...on your feet; shooting, arranging, talking to, giving direction to....many people.

    Then you have a bunch of files (assuming digital). Maybe you have hundreds or even thousands of images. How long will it take you to cull, sort, edit these files? 10 to 40 hours seems to be average.

    Then you will probably meet with the couple again to deliver your prints or files etc. If you are selling prints...you may have several meetings with them.

    Add that all up...it's a lot of time. $400 isn't going to cover it.

    Now think about your overhead; the cost of your equipment (don't for get all the stuff you use, computer, vehicle etc). Business costs like taxes, fees, advertising etc.

    Now you can easily see why a typical 'professional' wedding photographer charges a couple thousand dollars.


    Now of course, many people do this on a part time basis and can afford to charge less...but aren't they then undervaluing themselves?
    You also need to decided what level of the market you wish to work in. As you said, many people can't (don't want to) afford the costs for a full time pro...so there is a low end to the market....but do you want to always be working in that range? Sure, there are many good hearted people who just can't afford anything better and are wonderful people...but just about any wedding photographer will tell you that there are also those people who will just be looking to get a deal. They hire you because of your low price...not because they like your style. They will then try to get every penny or bit of value out of you...because that's just how they are. These types of clients are not fun to work for. By charging more, you can hopefully find clients that come to you because they like your style and are happy with what you do.

    That's a lot of rambling...without any real suggestions for what to charge...sorry. I suggest checking your area photographers and seeing what they charge...then use that as a guide.
     
  5. pictureEVERYTHING

    pictureEVERYTHING TPF Noob!

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    As for my 2 cents... I haven't been a member of this site a long time and am far from a fulltime photographer... but I used to do weddings back in college for extra money.

    90% of the time this is a day that is planned out WAY in advance! Alot goes into this and most people always hope it's going to be the ONLY time they get married their entire lives! They read wedding magazines and are exposed to all the hippest new wedding photos by photographers in New York, LA, Sanfran... allover! Also, they know what the coolest and newest costs!
    Here's a few tips from a non-wedding photographer... take em or leave em.

    1) If you charge too little money people will start to wonder why your packages look the same as others, but you charge so much less.
    2) Don't make yourself the cheapest... make yourself the BEST!
    3) Call all the local photographers and pose as someone getting married, find out what their packages and costs are like.
    4) Read some of those wedding mags I mentioned so you're up on all the latest.
    5) word of mouth and the way these people are greeted (first impressions) are going to be what make your business. This day is very important to them and they want only the best... most of the time. A great photographer can lose customers if these points aren't exactly what someone expected.
    6) If you're going to turn this into a proffesion it can't hurt to make some friends in the local area as far as bakeries/tux rental/catering/entertainment etc. Not everyone is going to hire a wedding planner and if you can hook them up or give them tips on the better places... that can help your brownie points!
    Hope that helps and sorry that I too couldn't give you some numbers.
     
  6. Southerngal

    Southerngal TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone!!! You have given me alot to think about and consider. Im still stuck on what I should charge. Im very new at this, so based on experience I feel that my rate should be low. On the otherhand, given all the time and effort that I will be investing in the job I understand that I need to charge for that. :confused:
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You also don't want to get a reputation as being the 'cheap' photographer. As mentioned, word of mouth is how it happens in this business and if you charge $500 to one client...how are you going to justify charging $1000 to their cousin?

    Of course, you are just starting out...and you need to get clients. A lower starting price is a way to get clients...but there are other ways as well. It's up to you.
     
  8. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    I have been doing a lot of thinking about this as well, and wondering if I will ever take the plunge to do a paid gig. But I guess I would prefer to give them more value for what they pay, rather than undercharge. See what your competitors offer in their $1000 packages to clients. You may be able to throw in a few more prints or give them a free wedding album if your competitors dont include that. Be creative and maybe come up with a few choices to offer them that your competitors dont offer.
     

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