Weddings - Set or Unlimited Hours

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Lyncca, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. Lyncca

    Lyncca TPF Noob!

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    When you shoot a wedding, do you offer "unlimited" hours or do you set a range and then charge for over and beyond? Such as 10 hours and anything over is X an hour.

    The reason I am asking is that as second shooter, I have been going to weddings and they are lasting 14+ hours, starting early in the morning with the bride getting ready. I can barely stand by the end of the night, and that isn't counting the typical hour+ drive on each end either. I'm completely greatful for the experience, and I have a blast and all, but $150 for that length of time is starting to not be as worth it as I get better and better myself and want to start doing lead shooting. Also, to be away from my family for a day+ (if I must stay over night) needs to be worth it financially.

    I'm just curious how everyone else charges. Maybe if I was a 5K photographer I would feel more greatful, but a 16 hour day for $1500 and all the processing time? I'm thinking of adding $150 each additional hour or so, but I don't want to lose clients because of it either.

    The extra time always ends up being from following the bride around all morning, so they don't seem to count that in when they are thinking of how many hours they need to hire a photographer for and by then the contract is signed and you can't just walk out in the middle of the reception.
     
  2. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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    I think the typical idea is that folks will have a set number of hours they'll work that go with any wedding package. Additional time is at an hourly rate. I think this is a good idea, personally, since it forces the couple to figure out what they really want you for rather than saying, "be there all day and shoot everything!"
     
  3. Lyncca

    Lyncca TPF Noob!

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    Seriously! I agree. We were at the salon for 4 hours watching them get their hair and makeup done at the last one. I think that some "getting ready" pics of her putting her dress on and maybe reapplying lipstick would have been sufficient instead of several hundred (trashed) shots we took out of boredom at the salon and trying to look like we were "working".
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    I have been basing my packages on either hours of coverage, or 'events' covered....and yes, extra hours are charged. I think my top package is unlimited hours...or up to 12, I forget.

    What I'd like to do, is just have one rate. It covers 12 or 14 hours (additional time cost extra). If they only want coverage for the ceremony & formals...it's still the same price. Of course, to pull that off, you need to have people coming to you because they really like your style and don't care about the price....at which point, your prices should be nice and high anyway.

    I think that price is too low for that much coverage. If you are going to be spending that much time shooting a wedding (not to mention all the shots you take in that time), then you had better make it worth your while.
     
  5. ScottsdaleImages

    ScottsdaleImages TPF Noob!

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    I think set times are best, unless you are extremely high end and they come to you for your style and are paying for it. Something like 5-7-9 hours, lets you cover the small, med, and larger weddings. It also allows you to discuss the starting time, and when exactly you will be done. So that if they are running late, they will either add time, or know they will be missing some images. Then tell them about your hourly rate.
     
  6. FrankLamont

    FrankLamont TPF Noob!

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    I do packages, but then I also have a base fee (just to make sure I get something).

    It covers 6 hours coverage, post processing, etc. then any additional hours... more money.
     
  7. athomasimage

    athomasimage TPF Noob!

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    The 1st question out of a Bride is "How much do you charge?". I generally respond with "I don't know - but if we talk about your wedding and what you need, I can put a package together for you". To me there are several factors that effect the cost. Length of day, size of wedding party, flower girl, ring bearer, length of wedding dress. All this has an impact on the length of the day, is an assistant needed? and this all adds up to a final amount.

    I have a price sheet (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full day, with or without assistant). I can send it to the bride, so she can see that range of prices. In my mind it boils down to what the bride wants and what resources are needed to supply a quality product. Then at that point if the price is too high, we can drop price by pulling out services or deliverable. I don't drop the hourly rate, I drop delivery/deliverable.

    Oh, by the way, I have a prominent statement on my wedding web page in effect stating "I do not shoot and burn", explaining why. If they want what I offer fine, if not go find some one who will give them what they want (a CD of full file images).

    Oh, I also list a rate for extra time. This way if the clients decides they want me to extend the day at their request, they will know what anount they will be billed.

    I refer them to a couple posts on my blog that discuss some of these issues and list my philosophy. You are welcome to read them - linked below.

    Copyrights, CD’S and Discount Printing – OH MY! « Athomasimage's Blog

    You’ve got a CD with 1000 images, Now what? « Athomasimage's Blog
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2009
  8. Lyncca

    Lyncca TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Thomas. I just want to add that I am not and refuse to be a "shoot and burn" photographer. I go through all of my images and edit them fully and the client only receives the top images. I don't just burn a bunch of files and walk away. Of course, the two things I lose are control of the printing lab, which I talk to my clients about and possibly additional prints.

    I didn't offer CDs initially, but everyone around here does it including the very top professionals. When I didn't offer it, every single person walked away even after telling all the arguments you list. The top photographers seem to focus their after sales on those products that can't be purchased at Walmart such as nice canvases, albums and specialty products.

    I guess different methods work for different people and locations :)
     
  9. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ummm.... old guy here...

    When I shot film, along with the rest of the world, I would tell couples they get four hours coverage and plan on giving them six. I would start about an hour before the ceremony and shoot about an hour into the reception. I tried to have everything done by time they sat down for dinner. I did all the shooting. Typically, I made around 150 exposures with a goal of showing about 120. This really wasn't all that long ago... less than 10 years.

    These days, I start about 3 hours before the ceremony and work until the bouquet toss... more like 7–8 hours. I like to have at least 350 images to show, and I do have a second shooter for all but the formals. I will sit for dinner now. I never used to fearing if I missed a shot, they'd remember me sitting, stuffing my face and use that to complain.

    What it comes down to for me (and I do explain this to the couple when booking), they don't have to worry about me leaving without getting everything they want.

    I do, however, remind them that it's a long day for us. I'm willing to wait a REASONABLE amount of time, but will not sit idle for an hour or more waiting for one more photo because someone is missing or something memorable might happen. Some part of this is the reasoning that we, my helper and myself, are professionals. We will not be on "stand by," waiting for someone to tell us to "jump."

    I go to them and their mothers at the end of the night, thank them, tell them we made all the photos on their check list and ask if they can think of anything else they want.

    -Pete
     
  10. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I charge a straight per-hour rate.
     
  11. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    When I was shooting weddings, I never did packages but, as you say yourself, you have to take into consideration your area, etc.

    The only fees listed on my contract was the shooting fee (at the end, $1000 for a day, and the extra time at $125/hr) Although a lot of photogs consider (or did anyway) a photo day to be 7 hrs, for weddings I made it 8 hrs so as to not have to deal with explaining. I charged the same hourly fee for travel time with one hour free. If I had to spend the night in a hotel, which happened a few time, they picked up the tab.

    This was quite a while back so those fees are only an example for you. Also, in a previous post on this subject, I mentioned that I charged this way because it seemed cheaper as the amount of money they had to come up with by the day of the wedding was lower. But I want to add that my clients always saw samples of finished albums and had a pretty good idea of what they would spend later. One more thing to consider about my fees is that I always worked alone.

    Clients may have changed but I never did more pre-wedding photos than the putting on of the dress, rings and bouquet shots and no one ever asked me to do more. But if they want to pay you for watching them put on the make-up and nail polish, why not?

    athomas made me laugh with his "shoot and burn." I used to call photographers who did more than 1 wedding in a day, "shoot and run" photogs. lol.
     
  12. Peanuts

    Peanuts TPF Noob!

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    Yes.. I threw the unlimited package away after having an 18 hour wedding. That was bad news bears. So my preset packages start at 8 hours (that is my minimum time) and goes to 12 hours in the giant cheeseburger package that has everything and its mom.

    Generally people will choose one of the middle packages (with 10 hours) and tweak it a bit, whether it be taking an hour off or on. Hope that helps :)
     

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