Wedding Photography Question (Yeah, Another "One of Those")

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by astrostu, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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    Hi Folks -

    I have the following situation: I will be doing my first wedding for a friend this coming September. Their budget for photos is zero (they decided this before I offered). So I am doing their photography for free as their present from me.

    I've been on this forum long enough and I've done enough basic people shoots to know that wedding photography is a pain in the arse and post-processing takes even longer (generally 5-10x as much time in pp as you spent shooting, right?). And I'd effectively be providing a ~$500+ service. Now it comes to the question of prints:

    I have not said anything about prints to them, just said that taking the photos would be their present. Plus it gets me experience and something to add to the portfolio. However, I would like to charge them for prints. I would charge them VERY close to cost, so if, say, an 8x10 costs me $1.50, I would charge them $1.75.

    And I got the impression they're okay with that (I briefly mentioned it to them, but I will be talking with one of them for awhile about the photos in 2 weeks). But now we come to the complicated part:

    I plan on giving them a CD with the final images on it, full-res, JPG, and of course, once I do that, they'll be physically able to make as many copies as they want and get the photos printed how every many times for however many people.

    But, what I would like to do, is have business cards at the wedding reception with my name on one side and a web address on the back where guests will be able to view the final pictures (web-sized images, likely 288x432 px (4x6 at 72 ppi)). What I also want to do is offer ordering ability for people from that site where I will print the pictures and then send them off to them. I would also want to charge a bit more (so if an 8x10 costs me $1.50, charge $2.00 or so on the website).

    My reasons for doing this are at least two-fold. First, I really would like to try to recoup SOME money for this work. I also have to fly in to the wedding and I'm investing an additional $600 in equipment for it (though of course I'll keep the equipment for later work). Second, as others on this board have mentioned before, I would like to have some control over the print quality. I don't want them to go to the local quick-n-print of their choice and then years later say that my pictures suck because their printer was sub-par.

    However, I have the issue of, why would they order from me if they can print on their own from a CD? A friend suggested that I make it clear on the site that there will be a CD eventually made available, but that they could go through me now (then) where I have a printer, can control color, quality, and will mail it to them, etc., at a very reasonable rate.

    The bottom-line is that whatever I do, I would first run it by the couple to make sure it's okay in terms of marketing to wedding guests. But otherwise, I'm uncertain of what to do here. I've given my reasons for wanting to do the prints myself, but I'm not sure if they're "valid," nor of the best way to articulate them to the couple.

    I'd appreciate advice on this matter!!
     
  2. FrankLamont

    FrankLamont TPF Noob!

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    I'd honestly say, if you have to fly in, that you charge them.

    Really, the least they can pay you is two hundred or so odd bucks, flat rate not inclusive of prints. That's nothing, really for all the equipment and time and work you have to do. And charge them at least a dollar more for each print. Don't offer a CD - or, if you do, charge a hundred or two hundred for the CD.
     
  3. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    I would have to ask if you were going to be attended the wedding had they not asked you to photograph for them. If you were then I would say you shouldn't charge for the plane ticket and hope to make some $ off prints to family members. You're prices are ridiculously low for those prints though! And I don't see a problem, especially since you'd be shooting for free, that you charge for the printing, but keep in mind your time for printing and adjusting the picture. I would charge more than $.25 extra, thats like nothing and then why would you even bother marking it up the .25. ;)

    As far as the CD that is a GREAT gift to give them, and I definitely would not charge them for it IMHO. Shoot for free because its your friends and they wouldn't have a photographer if you didn't shoot. Have fun, get some great shots and give them the cd. If they want nice high quality prints the least they could do is cover your hard costs. If you weren't originally going to the wedding, I feel they should pay for your plane ticket and lodging. Because they would have either had to pay a photog where the wedding is, or pay extra for one to travel.

    I think its gonna be a great opportunity for you to photograph, just when you sit down with them make sure they realize that you a still new to the whole wedding photography shooting under pressure and that some shots "may me missed." I hope this helps, again only my opinions of what I would do (and I hope i get this chance in the near future).
     
  4. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    What is troubling about this whole situation is that there seems to be an understanding between the couple and you that this is your wedding gift to them. Then you start considering ways you can turn this into a profitable enterprise for you.

    Put another way: "I'm giving them a gift, but I'm thinking about charging them for this and this and this..."

    Your photography of the event is either a gift, or it is not a gift. When you start trying to recoup some of the expense of your gift from the 'giftee', that could end up very ugly. It's also very bad form.

    So, I would suggest that you decide if you want to be their hired (at whatever price) wedding photographer, or if you really do want this to be your wedding present to them. There should be no gray area.

    If it's the former, then feel free to charge them for your services, to charge them for CDs, prints, albums, to provide these (at a price) to guests, and to use the event to advertise your skills and availability. And don't forget to give them a gift.

    If it's the latter, then you should stop looking around for ways you can profit from the event. That is not what the spirit of gift-giving is about. Some might even call it sleazy.

    Just my opinion, of course.

    Good luck.

    Jon
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2009
  5. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I kinda agree with Jon here. If it's a gift, it should be entirely free.

    ...But - Are the prints part of the gift? It seems like that's what you're really asking.
    A CD full of hi-res photos seems like a pretty good gift to me.

    Here's how I would handle it: Give (as in, free) them a small print package in addition to the CD, and if they want more prints let them handle it.
     
  6. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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    Yep, I was going to go to the wedding anyway. Which is why I wasn't thinking of charging them for all that travel/hotel stuff.



    What about this kind of thinking: The gift to them is the photography services. I think perhaps a less "sleazy" way (as Jon put it) may be to do what Kennedy suggested: Clarify that the gift includes the photographing service of the wedding and a CD of the final photos. That's the gift, prints not included 'cause we're in the digital age anyway. Then, as a friend, if they would like me to get photos printed up for them at a place that I like and think is of high-quality, I'll do that for around my cost. I arrived ad the mark-up for them based on ~15-20% to cover shipping and gas.

    Then, by the same token, I can tell the guests that there WILL be a CD made available to the couple for distribution, there WILL be web-suitable images made available for free to anyone who wants, but that if they would also like prints done without the "hassle" of doing it themselves and getting the CD from the couple, I can also provide that for a (slightly larger, ~25%) markup. That higher markup is justified by the likely pain of having people "trickle in" orders over several months, if they actually do, so making multiple trips, etc. And, seriously, I think $0.25 for a 4x6" print or $2.00 for an 8x10" is ridiculously reasonable given normal prices photographers charge for wedding photos. After all, the gift is to the couple, not others.

    Does that sound more reasonable / less sleazy?
     
  7. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    First of all, I regret that I used the word 'sleazy'; that would imply that your intentions are solely revolved around your self-interest, and I don't believe that is the case. I do think you want to do something nice for your friends. So, sorry about that.

    That said, my opinion remains the same. When you start talking about charging friends for shipping charges and gas mileage - whatever the favor you do for them - I can't relate to that. I would never charge a friend 'mileage' for doing them a favor. Maybe that's just me, but it just doesn't seem right.

    As for making the images available to other guests for a reasonable price, that makes a bit more sense. If it were me, though, I would stay away from that as well.

    This situation can end badly in many different ways. Not saying it will, but there is a decent chance it could.

    Best of luck,

    Jon
     
  8. singer1

    singer1 TPF Noob!

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    My two cents: Do the photography for free as your gift. You are going to be there anyway and have an opportunity to gain great experience. Give them a cd. or post them online.

    But, definitley charge for the prints, and enough to make it owrth your time! Printing costs extra money, & time, and people know that. If the couple or guests don't want to go through the hassle of printing photos themselves, now they have an opportunity to have you do it for them, but charge for it, it's an extra, and don't feel bad. If they end up spending to print the photos I am sure they will still be grateful because in the end you are saving them a ton on $$$. Good luck!
     
  9. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    Were you planning on going to the wedding to begin with, before you offered to shoot their pictures as a present? If so, I don't think asking them to pay for your airfare is appropriate as another poster suggested. Heck, even if you weren't planning on attending to begin with, if you offered it as a present to them for their wedding, I would be reluctant to ask for money from them.

    As for buying new equipment, I have to assume you knew this going into it. You made the offer for free pictures knowing you wanted some other gear. You can't really expect them to cover this expense either.

    If you don't want to pay for their prints, you can give them a CD with instructions on where they should consider buying prints. That, or you can setup a SmugMug account and have them view and purchase their pictures through them. SmugMug has the best prints available in my opinion.
     
  10. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    I'm doing a free wedding for some friends of my wife this Saturday. The way I am setting it up is that I"m shooting the wedding for free. When I am done, I will post them to my zenfolio website and they can order directly off the site for themselves. I am doing a small markup on the prints, but not a lot. 1.99 8x10 will be 2.99 for them. They don't know what it costs me, so they have no clue whether I'm making money off the prints or not.

    Of course, I never said I was doing it as a gift either. I'm only doing it because they are on a really tight budget and couldn't afford a photographer otherwise.
     

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