Q: Post budget wedding blues

NJMAN

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I remember your samples from the other post, and I think you did a fantastic job John. Also, you did great work on the composite of the mother and daughter. You have nothing to be ashamed of in regards to the job you did or the price you asked for. Even though I am speaking from the perspective of someone with a total lack of experience in the field of wedding photography, I feel that you were very accommodating to the bride, given the unfortunate circumstances of the "pro" ditching them at the last minute. In my opinion, it seems she wanted to get her frustrations out on someone, and you just happened to be a convenient target.
 

The_Traveler

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Management of expectations

There is an unfortunate life lesson in this. People don't make a good connection between price and expectation. They may want a low price but their expectation is that low price represents little less fancy or fewer 'things.'
As far as most people are concerned, the pictures just appear and there is little training, talent or other effort involved. They are generally ignorant of the behind the scenes stuff necessary to make everything happen.

The clients should be made to understand exactly what you will do, what you will use, how much time it takes out of their sight and exactly what they get for the money up front.

There can/should be some flexibility but if that flexibility requires more work on your part, they need to understand that, in writing, up front.
 

RMThompson

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Interesting thread. I just got done with my first wedding, see the post in this thread, and it certainly was an adventure.

I took pictures from 5pm - 11 pm, with a few 5 minute breaks for eating/drinking/etc... I took a total of 1300 pictures, give or take 75.

Sunday my family went to Busch Gardens Tampa, and I stayed home and edited the first 800 pictures over the course of 4/5 hours, preparing them for the Bride and Groom's usage. I will finish the rest sometime this week, and will provide to them around 200 - 250 pictures ready for printing on CD(s).

I also bought them a Bridal Frame, a card, and wrapped it all with a certificate for one free 8x10 from me, so they get at least 1 8x10 and I might even consider giving them 20 4x6's.... because the cost is so low for me (.19 cents each).

When they get the CD they will also recieve a certificate of permission from me that states they can copy/duplicate the photographs for their own private usage... so they can make copies, blow them up, etc etc, but they cannot sell prints or blow one up for a marketing campaign without my permission.

I charged a total of $500.00

OK - so it was low... but I am of the mind like several people here that many many couples would NEVER had a photographer if they have to pay more than $1000... Also I don't like the arrogance of the idea of me retaining pictures of their special day and charging through the nose for prints of them 3 years from now when they want to redo them.

I charge for my time and give them all the rights to do what they want... they pay for their own prints... or if they want, I can charge per print and get them professionally done through a local company, or a book or a poster sized print, which I DO CHARGE extra for my time for.

My next wedding will I charge only $500 ??? No way.... it's at least 20 hours worth of work, plus equipment cost/overhead, hiring an asisstant if needed, etc etc etc...

HOWEVER - IF a bride came to me with $500 dollars, or even less, and asked what I could do... I'd probably help them out.

Which brings me to a question me and a friend I met at the wedding talked about... Is it ethically wrong to charge LESS based on the beauty of the couple? If someone offered me a job in a beautiful hotel shooting a gorgeous couple, you know the type that would look great on my portfolio, should I be inclined to charge "LESS" to win the job?

Perhaps.... perhaps....
 

bowronfam3

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Well, I don't have any advice for you about the situation posted here, but I wanted to let you know that I looked at the other photos from this wedding that you have posted and I must say that I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. Your wedding photos look very professional in my opinion. Now, granted I only saw about 10 shots from this particular wedding, but I didn't see anything that didn't look "professional". I think that if you don't see yourself as a professional, then that may be how you're coming off to this bride. Therefore, she is seeing the opportunity to jack you around about these photos. Keep your head up and stand firm!! Remember, that in ANY business you're always going to come across some greedy, rude people!
 

JIP

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Interesting thread. I just got done with my first wedding, see the post in this thread, and it certainly was an adventure.

I took pictures from 5pm - 11 pm, with a few 5 minute breaks for eating/drinking/etc... I took a total of 1300 pictures, give or take 75.

Sunday my family went to Busch Gardens Tampa, and I stayed home and edited the first 800 pictures over the course of 4/5 hours, preparing them for the Bride and Groom's usage. I will finish the rest sometime this week, and will provide to them around 200 - 250 pictures ready for printing on CD(s).

I also bought them a Bridal Frame, a card, and wrapped it all with a certificate for one free 8x10 from me, so they get at least 1 8x10 and I might even consider giving them 20 4x6's.... because the cost is so low for me (.19 cents each).

When they get the CD they will also recieve a certificate of permission from me that states they can copy/duplicate the photographs for their own private usage... so they can make copies, blow them up, etc etc, but they cannot sell prints or blow one up for a marketing campaign without my permission.

I charged a total of $500.00

OK - so it was low... but I am of the mind like several people here that many many couples would NEVER had a photographer if they have to pay more than $1000... Also I don't like the arrogance of the idea of me retaining pictures of their special day and charging through the nose for prints of them 3 years from now when they want to redo them.

I charge for my time and give them all the rights to do what they want... they pay for their own prints... or if they want, I can charge per print and get them professionally done through a local company, or a book or a poster sized print, which I DO CHARGE extra for my time for.

My next wedding will I charge only $500 ??? No way.... it's at least 20 hours worth of work, plus equipment cost/overhead, hiring an asisstant if needed, etc etc etc...

HOWEVER - IF a bride came to me with $500 dollars, or even less, and asked what I could do... I'd probably help them out.

Which brings me to a question me and a friend I met at the wedding talked about... Is it ethically wrong to charge LESS based on the beauty of the couple? If someone offered me a job in a beautiful hotel shooting a gorgeous couple, you know the type that would look great on my portfolio, should I be inclined to charge "LESS" to win the job?

Perhaps.... perhaps....
$500... Wow and I thought his $600 was low. Remember these are the kind of prices you will have to compete against later in your career as a wedding photographer. Sometimes this kind of a situation shows why people should start working for someone else for a while so they can let someone else wory abut pricing over or under and let you worry about hoing your skills.
 
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Johnboy2978

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Hi all. Thought I'd check back in. I learned how to batch process this weekend thanks to other members here on the forum (you guys are great...I learn so much) and I gave them a disk today of all the pics unedited except for auto adjustments and converted to 600x800 with a big copyright stamp across the middle. I also showed her the composite above and she was really thrilled with this.

I gave it some thought, and I guess it would've been nice when I got married 13 years ago to have been able to pick which pics we wanted. I think our pro charged us about $1000 then and we got something like 36 pics some 5x7 and some 8x10. I think this one will come out okay soon. I have also been considering raising my prices. I don't have people beating down my door to shoot their weddings and what I have done so far has pretty much paid for all my toys. Still, as many of you are aware, it is a lot of pressure and editing is so time consuming.

I was thinking of raising my price on future weddings to $800 as well as increasing my price of prints. I am also toying w/ the idea of a per hour option where the B/G could pay like $200/hr and then their prints would be extra. Anyone here do that? I've seen it offered on some photog's sites.
Thoughts?
 
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Johnboy2978

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$500... Wow and I thought his $600 was low. Remember these are the kind of prices you will have to compete against later in your career as a wedding photographer. Sometimes this kind of a situation shows why people should start working for someone else for a while so they can let someone else wory abut pricing over or under and let you worry about hoing your skills.


In my area, there are established photogs charging 1500-3000+ for a wedding. These guys are booked well in advance. There are several newer photographers though who are new to the scene charging in the $800 -1000 range though and seem to be getting a pretty good following. I'm not sure I would pay that for what I've seen from them, but there's many people like me out there who do it as a side job on the cheap to compete against. I think had I been doing this a few years ago, before my child was born and dependable income was a necessity, I would probably quit my real job and really make a name for myself. I think I have enough marketing ideas and strategies that I could capture my share of the business in my area if I could live off beans for a year or so.
 

Big Mike

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I took at 'designing wedding photography' course a while back. One of of the main points that the instructor (a long time pro) hammered into us...was that we should not charge too little. He said that many of the people who have tried and failed to make it as wedding photographers...did so, because they didn't charge enough.

One exercise we did, he had us make a list of things that shouldn't influence the price we charge. We came up with things like; number of people in the bridal party, age of the couple, attractiveness of the couple, etc. The answer that we was looking for was experience. If you can produce good results, you should charge for it...it shouldn't matter if it's your first or 1000th wedding.

That being said, there is a market for people who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford a typical wedding photographer...but keep in mind, quite often, the people who don't want to pay the average price, will want more than average. I've heard many times, that someone raised their prices...then found that they actually booked more weddings and had better clients.
 

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I have heard that myth as well.... Could it be urban legend or photographers trying to get rid of the lower price competitors. I have no idea. What I know is that photography, like any other free market business, follows the supply and demand curve.

Getting photographers out of the "we are special" mind set is hard to do. If you can create more demand for YOUR particular services, then you can charge higher prices. If you can't create your own demand but have to get into the market place and struggle, then you have to do what you have to do.

Most photographers who fail are

a. poor businessmen and can't get enough work at any price. or b. have such high overhead expenses they can't make a profit no matter how much income they have. Nothing guarentee to fail like a new business with huge debt.

That is my opinion based only on watching the yellow page ads and talking to people who dont make it. No scientific facts at all.

The high priced spread in our town has as much turn over as the low price. My little operation ran continually for twenty years here and ten in a neighboring town.

Two brick and mortar downtown ones also stayed in and they charged big prices. So it wasn't the charged price it was the profit. Truth is that it is hard to keep demand for you product steady no matter what you charge.

Wedding photography is no different from other photography forms. It just isn't as well organized. School pictures make a hell of a lot more pictures than I ever did. Their prices were compatable with mine.

you can alter the supply and demand curve but that is an economics course not a photography course. Hey its just my opinion.

The secret to curbing unreasonable demands isnt in the price, its in a clear understanding IN WRITING before you start the job. If she has a special desire you should get it out up front and deal with it in the contract then make sure she understand you are going to do exactly what is written down. no more on less. Then do a little more as a surprise.

The more people charge the more likely they are to have learned the above and the less likely they are to have problems in either case.
 
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Johnboy2978

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Hey Big Mike, I just changed my prices as a result of this thread and my recent experience. I increased it to a minimum of $800. My plan in the beginning was to increase it with each wedding until it eventually reached around $1200 where it would remain.

I agree with your prof that you should charge what you can deliver. I've seen the work of others who have done many weddings and their quality is still rather meager. On the other hand, I've seen those who are just starting out, have only shot a few weddings and their quality is phenominal. Still, others tend to look at you like you're crazy when they see you are charging as much as the full time pro, and you've only shot a couple. In the end, you are probably better off if they do become someone else's problem anyway. I really dislike my day job, but it does pay the bills and for now at least, I don't "have" to take any photo job I don't want. It's hard to pass some up though when you are looking to expand the portfolio.
 

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