Wedding price issues

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by guitarkid, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. guitarkid

    guitarkid TPF Noob!

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    Hey guys what's up? I started digital photo for weddings about 6 months ago. I was (and still am) doing video. Not many calls for video since there is not much money to market the biz so i decided to add photo since more people need that anyway. i do have about 8 weddings lined up for end of summer in photo which is cool. They are all small weddings, 3-4 hours. not much money to be made there but it's a start.

    i'm not exactly sure what to charge with pricing all over the map with so many studios. I'm a good photographer (been doing it for about 15 years but never for money in weddings.) Right now i'm charging $120 per hour and if they book 8 hours with me i'm giving them all photos on CD as a promo, which ends this month. i also have online pic viewing / ordering setup as well and my prints are lower in price than most places. i might want to raise that to $150 per hour and give the cd after 8 hours of booking minimum.

    last night i had a bride and her parents over. her dad was grilling me and asking, why so much for a photo album? they are from leathercraftsmen and made very well. (i have been told to charge 2X's - 3X's my cost on the album.) i told him depending on what album you choose it could be $900-$1500 for the album alone but i'm still in the process of setting up albums so i don't have an exact quote. do you guys have issues selling such nice albums that are pricey??

    then the father pulls out some paperwork from other studios and asks me "how come this guy only charges $1200 and he gives us an album and 10 hours of photography that is digital!?" i told him i don't know what the books look like and i don't know what his work looks like. i felt like i was on the witness stand for an hour with this guy. as he left he asked if i would be against doing just a photo montage on the big screen of his daughter and future husband (since i do that as well.) i told him i am fine with that. but after thinking about it i won't......after the slaps in the face.....i'll just happen to be booked that day. it isn't worth the $300 i will make. i'm not one to turn down money but it just isn't worth it.

    what is disturbing is that i have seen many photographers and their attitude is terrible at weddings and the couple is spending $2000 for mediocre work and that is WITHOUT an album or digital proofs on CD! not many studios want to offer that CD since it will affect their print sales. how are they charging so much for delivering nothing? and i'm the one who gets asked.....you mean we get nothing for the $960 we spend? you're getting me and my time and online proofing to order prints.

    for some reason i don't feel right charging $1000 with nothing to give them. maybe i will create 2 packages, one with an album, around $2500 or so, one with just proofs on CD for $1800, and then just the hourly.

    right now i'm just doing hourly and they can choose what they want as add-ons. i thought that would work. maybe not.

    thoughts?
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    I'm just starting out in this business and don't have my price structure in place yet...but I've got some thoughts on the subject (if you care to hear them ;) )

    I think you have to look at your market and what segment of the market you a) can & b)want to work in. You can cater to the higher end and offer expensive packages with lavish albums and all that. Landing high end clients may be harder than mid or low range clients though.

    You could focus more on the mid range (which will vary, depending on your location). Have a variety of packages but don't get too cheap.

    You could go with the bargain basement deals...but that doesn't sound like what you want to do.

    Back in the day, the rule was 'Never give up your negatives'...which meant that a lot of the income was from print sales. From what I've been reading, it seems that more and more couples want the 'Digital negatives' on CD...so that they can send/print or do whatever they want with them. But what do we charge for the files? It has to be a significant amount because that will probably means there are no print sales. It seems common to build the cost into the price of service and just give them the files. One problem I see with this, is that you have no control over the prints and therefore the final output. If you take great photos and give them the files...and they print them out on copier paper on their home printers...it makes your work look crappy. Sure you have the money...but still, you work is out there...and may not look it's best.

    I've never done an album but I like the idea. You have full control over the quality of album and prints you put into it. I think it makes sense to offer a range of quality/price on the album itself. And the mark-up should be be calculated while taking the original fee into consideration. $900-$1500 for an album...in addition to the main fee...seems high to me (unless you are going for the top end of the market).

    What I've been doing, is to scan the web sites of photographers in my area (or just anywhere) to see what they charge and what they offer. A lot of them seem to have a three or four stage base price. Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum etc. and then a list of other services/products that can be added etc. Some have a price list and the packages each have an amount of credit towards the menu items. For example; "Package A is $1500 and comes with $500 of print credit." The packages could be based on coverage hours and/or finished products.

    I think it really helps to have some sort of price structure, to give clients an initial idea of what you charge...but once you talk to them, flexibility can go a long way.

    I'm not sure I'm stringing my thoughts together very well or not... :roll:
     
  3. Xmetal

    Xmetal TPF Noob!

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    I've been asked to shoot a wedding in December, January and Febuary and the way i'm thinking of working out pricing is getting consultation from the Wedding photographer who just happens to own and run his own digital print lab (score!) and steal a few pages from his book of tricks. :)

    What i'm saying is: Get your 'labour' costs down and then work out your services costs (hourly rate, etc...)
     
  4. Jeepnut28

    Jeepnut28 TPF Noob!

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    you need to hone your sales skills some. the father gave you what is called an objection.....here are the five steps to handling an objection:

    1. Acknowledge the objection

    2. Restate the objection.

    3. Answer the objection.

    4. Seek agreement

    5. Close


    In short, sell them on the idea that your album has more benefits that less expensive ones......

    feature: lasts longer
    benefit: you wont have to worry about your precious day being ruined to age

    feature: looks better
    benefit: people who you share your day with will appreciate the beauty of the wedding

    and so on and so forth...........ya gotta be a bit of salesmen as well as a great photographer in my opinion.
     
  5. guitarkid

    guitarkid TPF Noob!

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    you are right. i need to work on the sales part a little more. i did handle it well however, he still only wants me for the photo montage. he called me tonight asking me to call him back since he only wants me for the photo montage. haven't called him but i will tomorrow. i decided i will be booked that day. they should have signed when they were here last night and good luck to you sir finding a studio that will sell you the digital proofs on CD. i was going to just give it to them as a perk. i do feel a little bad but it's a slap in the face. not to mention i forsee this being a nightmare based on how the father conducts himself and constantly asks me questions. his daughter / bride / had to keep telling him last night....dad, steve already told you that. so i think it's best i pass on this.

    steve
     
  6. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi, Steve.

    I think Jeepnut gave some good advice. Maybe the most important part of his advice is not to take it personal. $150/hour can sound like a bunch of money to some people, especially since everyone can "take pictures." If you think about it, it's only fair that you justify the cost when you expect folks to spend $1200/day. This experience is all part of the learning process. I bet you'll be better prepared to answer then next time you come across a guy like this.

    I suspect if you do chose to take the job, he will "rise to the occasion" on the wedding day, having resigned to the whole arrangement. Maybe not.

    Good luck with this one.

    Pete
     
  7. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mike, this has been a real struggle for me. I haven't decided how to handle it yet. And... it's not just weddings. I've had the same request for senior and family portraits.

    Lately, I've been thinking this is not unlike my commercial clients. I've always had to turn over my transparencies to my clients. And, a commercial client would never pay $85 for an 8x10. Portait clients, on the other hand, will pay the $ for the "big" print, but couldn't swallow the idea of paying me $120/hr for a session. I think these days they will.

    One hang up for me is retouching and color balance. In the past (film), I of course would retouch only the images that were printed. I can't imagine preparing ALL the images (30 or more) on every session just in case someone will make a print. This was not a problem with commercial clients since I'm usually shooting to a layout.... specific view, format, ect., and not making countless exposures of the same product with different treatments, aiming to find one they like. That part is usually decided before shooting.

    Do you have any thoughts on this?

    Thanks.
    Pete
     
  8. guitarkid

    guitarkid TPF Noob!

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    so if anyone can answer, when YOU shoot a wedding, what do you give them for the package? or maybe you just have packages that include an album OR the CD. i think that is what i'm going to do. if they want a smaller wedding i will charge hourly with the option to buy extras; album or CD. it's a tough call. for example, with video, you film, edit, and commit to DVD. in the end they GET A DVD. with photography, a lot of photographers don't supply anything except the option to buy the prints, which are extra. if any of you charge hourly, what is included with that?

    thanks,
    steve
     
  9. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Up to now.... my packages start at $1830. You get 24 5x7 OR 16 8x10, mounted in Art Leather album. No proofs. No negs/files. I sell the proofs as an add-on. I show about 200 views to choose from. I start about 2 hours before the ceremony and finish about one and a half hours into the reception.

    But, like you, I'm struggling between the two aproaches. Digital has changed the marketplace. I'm feeling like I have to make some changes too.

    Pete

    BTW... I'm not far from you, but things are a bit different down here.
     
  10. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    We charge $150 and hour for one photographer or $250 for two. That includes all images shown online and the option to buy a set of proofs for $300 extra or get all images on a DVD for $300. Albums are extra and priced per page. We hand edit every picture that is shown to the clients so they are all ready for printing if they decide to get the DVD. We used to offer packages but everyone wanted to modify them so we decided to just break out each piece. I do explain to clients that the time they see us on the wedding day is only a fraction of the time we actually work on their images. We probably put in a good 20 hours of post editing/processing work into the longer weddings.

    We also have a four hour minimum for coverage, but average sized weddings typically go 6-8 hour of coverage.
     
  11. govnamac

    govnamac TPF Noob!

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    Just to expand on this, I'm getting married in Oct, and we were insisting on having all our negatives on a CD, full size images with no stamps on them. Some places refused, some offered reduced sized proofs, or images with the company name stamped on them so we couldn't print them out. The photographer we went with had no problem giving us the DVD with all our negatives for free. We didn't get the most expensive package, but it was in the mid-higher range.

    BTW - This is in addition to all the 4x6 proofs we get to keep
     
  12. wxnut

    wxnut TPF Noob!

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    Ill chime in with this...

    I have one package. $1200 gets me for the day. Bride getting ready until 9pm. I take around 800 pictures and I decide which 200 are the best. I then retouch all 200 pictures. (Mostly its just adjusting contrast or maybe white balance in some oddly lit churches.) They get all 200 pictures as 4x6s in a wedding style photo album. They also get a disc of all the edited pictures. They are free to get their own reprints or enlargements but I recomend they do it through me. I say "Dont spend $1200 on a professional photographer and get the prints done at walmart". I also make the price of reprints and enlargements too hard to pass up. $1 for 4x6... $10 for 8x10... $20 for 11x14. I already made my money on them. I send my pictures to the lab through the computer, and they get mailed to me, so its no cost for me to resend a couple of files. Just a couple minutes of time. I do make some money on the reprints and most times they order enough to give me a couple hundred dollars more profit.

    I know $1200 is less than average for my work but its plenty of profit for me. The wedding album I give is only $10, and the cost of prints is about $78. The rest is time at the computer.

    Hope I could give you some pointers.

    Doug Raflik
    http://www.dougraflikphotography.com
    wxnut@charter.net
     

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