Introductory Pricing Model

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by swoop_ds, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. swoop_ds

    swoop_ds TPF Noob!

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    I've recently begun developing my photography side business. Previously, I've done one wedding, and a handful of portrait sessions.

    I've got 2-3 "free" weddings planned for summer 2010, I say 2-3 because people tend to be flaky when they don't have any money on the table. By free I mean they are free but they have mentioned that they will likely "give me a little something" if they like my work. I'm not counting on any kind of donation from these people and look at it simply as a way to bolster my portfolio.

    Anyways, I'm in the process of figuring out which website solution I want to use (photobiz, smugmug, etc) and then I need to decide on pricing, marketing, etc.

    I'm thinking of using the following (as it seems to fall into line with beginner photography pricing in my area):
    March/April/May: 600$ for all day wedding
    June: 700$
    July: 800$
    August: 900$
    September and beyond: 1000$

    These prices would be altered depending on demand and customer feedback/review of competetion.

    The reason for the laddered pricing structure is to try and drum up business to build my portfolio. The 600$ price tag really only barely pays for my time as all day wedding photography is 6am-11pm ish and I still have to do editting.

    Anyways, what do you think?

    Also, I've looked at the competition in my area and believe that my work is competitive at this pricing level.

    Thanks,
    -Dave
     
  2. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    First off let's see some of your work. Your work is your best selling tool and should always be up for scrutiny.

    Secondly;Tell us how you arrived at $600.00 a day for a wedding.

    Keep in mind that being known as the cheap photographer is rarely a good thing. Once targeted as the cheap photographer it will be hard to get out of that rut. Better to keep your pricing high and offer new client discounts.

    Love & Bass
     
  3. swoop_ds

    swoop_ds TPF Noob!

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    Here are some quick photos from previous wedding:
    Bouquet Toss on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Getting Ready on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Smiley Megan on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Shoulder on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    And link to mini flickr site:
    Flickr: David Schimmers' Photostream

    I only used the above flickr site to show the bride/groom some of the pictures as I was working on them. My pictures aren't available to me right now as I'm away from home so that's the best that I could do at the moment.

    As for the 600$, this seemed reasonable given the competition, as well as what I felt would be a price point where I would atleast be getting somewhat reimbursed for my time (all day shoot + editting). Also, this would simply be the rebate level during this years spring season and would progressively get higher (1000+, I haven't decided on a price point yet)

    How would one get around being the "cheap photo guy" if you really don't have a whole lot in your portfolio yet? It seems pretentious to just start out expensive with little to show upfront. Ideas are appreciated in this area!

    -Dave
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    I mentioned in another thread of yours, about a wedding photography course I took. The biggest, most important point of the course was that we shouldn't set our prices too low. One assignement had us list things that should NOT affect the price we charge. We all wrote down things like; the number of people in the wedding party, the attractiveness of the couple etc. But what he wanted us to say way 'Experience'. In other words, experience should not play a factor in the price. Of course, if you are going to charge a lot, you had better be good enough to back that up.

    There is a bit of a catch 22 in that it takes practice & experience to get good and it may be hard to get clients with a higher price. However, there are other ways to get clients than just offering a lower price. Think marketing and networking etc.
    I'd say that it's at least better if you say/show that you have higher prices, but offer creative discounts in order to drum up business.
     
  5. LBPhotog

    LBPhotog TPF Noob!

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    I like Mike's idea of "creative discounts" ... it always makes your client feel good knowing that they got a "deal", and if you give them a great "deal" and a quality product you'll have a happy bride. A happy brides usually has a lot of girl-friends and she'll tell them all about the awesome pictures she had done at her wedding and she'll show them to everyone ... you see where this is going?

    I think the easiest way to figure out what to charge is to figure out how much you value your time. Don't just factor shooting into the mix, factor the hours of PP that you'll have to do and come to a reasonable hourly rate for yourself. Then, figure how long they are going to need your services and give a percentage off your hourly rate and factor in the cost of any proofs you are going to include in that "package" ... Don't sell yourself short - the best piece of advice I have ever gotten (aside from, "make sure you keep your overhead as low as possible for as long as possible") was that, "The time you spend away from home should make you enough money so that your time AT HOME is more comfortable." Now that I have my wife and my daughter these words have a whole new meaning to me.

    Also, why would you want to try to shoot for more than 12 hours, boy, you'll burn yourself out quickly - weddings are EXHAUSTING, why would you want to start shooting at 6 am? Hair dressers usually don't open until at least 9 or so (at least around here) I would say cut back on the early mornings if you can and gear up to be going strong later in the night when the reception is rockin' (last wedding my wife and I shot was a Latino couple ... wanna talk about a rockin' party ... OI I think we left the reception around 1:30 am when it started at like 4 after a 2 o'clock ceremony)!

    These are just my thoughts on the issue, and also has some of my mentality when it comes to setting my pricing every year ... sometimes I change it, sometimes I don't but I never underestimate the value of my time.
     
  6. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    The work is good, but I would like to see a lot more of it. That is a whole other topic.

    As far as pricing goes it is important to come up with what it cost YOU to shoot a wedding. Everything from pressing the shutter to editing to wear and tear on on your flash must be included. Since you are uncomfortable about your book you may want to reconsider getting into weddings at this point.

    Love & Bass
     
  7. swoop_ds

    swoop_ds TPF Noob!

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    Yeah I agree with the don't sell yourself short thing. I was especially surprised by how long the PP takes during the last wedding, and I still feel that there is lots more that I could do to the pictures!

    I think my plan for now will be to try and build my portfolio with the "free" weddings, and using models to do fake weddings(see other thread) and put my name out there online to see if I get any bites.

    I'm not in a huge hurry to get started as I have another job that keeps bread on the table, not to mention the slower I move into this, the more ill have time to develope.

    Ill have to think about the "discounts" idea. So my website would say the full price, but how would I introduce the discount? Mention it on the website? Or when someone contacts me?

    Thanks for all the help,
    -Dave
     
  8. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    The discount possibilities are limitless. Mass email, click here on your website is also a good idea.

    Free weddings is arguably a bad idea. You do not want to kill a market that you will soon be entering. Plus it is just bad business. Rule #1 never work for free.

    Love & Bass
     
  9. bennielou

    bennielou TPF Noob!

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    Wow. Ok, a couple of things:

    If you undervalue your work, so will the bride. My biggest pains in the a$$es were low priced brides. The people that pay the most, are the ones that trust your judgement and value your work.

    But that's besides the point right now.
    What you need to do is major research into photographers in your immediate area and take a realistic view about how your work stacks up against those you think are your competition. Remember, these guys already have a reputation, so you will have to come in under that.

    Where I see people mess up, time and again, is in pricing. You can only charge what the market will bare, but you also need to charge enough for your time and expenditures. You need to figure out how much time it will take to do the work, including processing. You need to figure out the pricing of your expenditures, time with meetings, phone calls, e-mails, proofs, etc.

    And still keep in mind, that the less you charge, the more discontent you will have. You won't do your best job, because you are not invested. The b&g won't appreciate the work because THEY aren't invested.

    I do a charity wedding once a year. I've never been thanked. Not once. Not ever. But the people who spend thousands of dollars totally appreciate our work.

    And that is from the trenches.....:)
     

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