After having what I thought was a good meeting with a wedding planner and her client (and then hearing nothing but the sound of crickets afterward), I have started to question my pricing. I have heard you and other wedding pros talk how they started at $1,000 and worked up from there. I have seen other photographers charge quite a bit in my affluent area for work that is less than par. So, I came out of the gate charging $2,950 for a basic package including two photographers, 8 hours of coverage.
I shot my first wedding on my own this past summer and I have since booked a couple more and was a 2nd shooter for another photographer. I feel like I deliver great service and have had happy clients. Given these factors and the work I put out, I felt like what I charge is a good deal in this area.
That said, I also know I have my work cut out for me given the fact that my portfolio is so small. $1,000 just seemed too little for me to start at. I'm wondering if I may need to bite the bullet and drop my prices to get more action rolling out of the gate, but I also think you should charge what you feel you are worth.
Shooting For The Moon
Dear Shooting For The Moon,
Oh, the woes of pricing...it's pretty much the bane of every photographer's existence. Really. Almost seven years into my business and there are still moments I grapple with my pricing structure. You're not alone.
However, the thing I'm going to address is your perspective on pricing, not the pricing itself. I could get into the many layers of why I started my business charging $1,000 per wedding, but it'll miss the point (however, you can get the story here and more in depth in Exposed Magazine). I'm going to break your letter into three sections and explain why I think you need to recalibrate your perception of pricing.
"I have seen other photographers charge quite a bit in my affluent area for work that is less than par." Word to the wise, don't look to other photographers to measure your worth...you'll be misled. Sure, you can establish your work on an artistic totem pole (My work isn't as good as his, but definitely better than hers!), but there isn't an established standard. You might think someone else's work is subpar, but you're not the one purchasing it, so--truthfully--your opinion doesn't matter. If a plethora of brides find a photographer's work appealing and are willing to pay a stated price, then that photographer is spot on.
"Given these factors and the work I put out, I felt like what I charge is a good deal in this area." Here again, you're using yourself as a barometer to gauge what a "good deal" is, when the only person who can confirm this is a prospective bride. If in fact your services were a bonafide deal, you'd have inquiry after inquiry for your photography...that's simply how bargains work. The better the deal, the more it sells. If the coordinator and the bride you met with didn't respond, one might guess you're not as much as a deal as you hoped you were. And the key here isn't to necessarily be the best deal in town, it's to focus on a price that will allow you to run a profitable business, but at the same time grow a profitable business. You want brides talking about your amazing services, but first you need to book them.
"I also think you should charge what you feel you are worth." Sweet, Shooting For The Moon, I thought the same thing. And then I was struck with the realization that this just isn't how it works in the real world. At the end of the day, the client is the one dictating a photographer's worth. Let me explain: One might feel compelled to charge $10,000 for his services because he thinks he's worth it...if he doesn't book any clients, they've--essentially--said his work isn't worth that much. If on the other hand a photographer charges $1,000 and he books wedding after wedding, chances are he can charge a bit more because of the simple economic rule of Supply and Demand (the more the demand on a limited supply, the more one can charge).
You can say your work is great, you offer great service, and you're a great deal...but if brides aren't booking you, there's a good chance your pricing is amiss. Do I think you're worth every penny? Sure! Do you think you're worth every penny? Sure! But it doesn't matter what we think because the client is the one booking you.
Shooting For The Moon, you may or may not have to change your prices...only you can decide what's best for your business (like I aforementioned, my goal today was to recalibrate your pricing perspective). However, what I can tell you is getting busy the first year of business (having clients publicly endorse your work, building your portfolio, and meeting other industry professionals) is something that doesn't necessarily come with a price tag. Weigh these things carefully because they might be worth their weight in gold.
id I ever tell you about the time my sister made mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving? Sounds simple enough, right? Well, no, if you're a part of my family, it's not. Alexandria is into health and wellness and--after a soliloquy regarding the ill effects of mass market produce--she proceeded to make mashed potatoes from organic spud flakes and...wait for it...almond milk. Should I repeat that last part again? ALMOND MILK.
I'm pretty sure Pocahontas would have cried had she seen that culinary creation.
This year I volunteered to make the mashed potatoes (and by make I mean I ordered them from Honeybaked) because nothing screams THANKFULNESS like not having to lift a finger today.
On that note, I'd like to take a minute to say how thankful I am for my family, camera, real potatoes, books, friends, health, Polo, Tofurkey, fine-point pens, and JD. And you. I'm thankful for you and I hope your day surrounded by those you love the most and cherish life's most beautiful moments when surrounded by love.
ometimes the universe brings the perfect mix of people together, like puzzle pieces waiting to be made whole. There are moments when I feel the gravity of what I'm able to do and I realize I might be the luckiest person. Ever. Meeting and educating 20 photographers on their journey to becoming better at their art and businesses are things I'm honored to do...and I was happy this happened recently at one of my photography workshops.
Hosted here in Orange County, California, we covered eight components of branding and dissected businesses together to find ways to strengthen along the way. This group of photographers was strong, driven and full of amazing questions which made for a perfect day.
Many thanks to an amazing team for allowing things to come together in ways I couldn't manage on my own...
Makeup and Hair: Angelina with All Made Up Dress and Accessories: Emily with Ferndales Florals: Jaclyne with Heavenly Blooms Models: Tiffany and Justin Jahangiri
All Around Awesomeness: JD
JD is the backbone for theWORKSHOP...he takes care of every last detail and plans the day so my focus can be solely on teaching. He also manages to be a wonderful host...my parents were right: I married up!
All of the behind-the-scenes photos were captured by JD...who makes fun of me for looking like a bunny when I talk. I can't say I disagree.
I was honored to work with Tiffany and Justin who traveled from Minnesota to model for theWORKSHOP...I couldn't be more thankful to work with such amazing couples who love each other...and make what we do as photographers effortlessly sweet.
We hosted a shoot and the goal was have each student photograph the models with specificity and intentionality, using the images to further the words they use to describe their brands.
The first 25 minutes of the shoot was a mixed demonstration and dissection of posing and lighting techniques...it was an overcast day, so we lucked out with perfect weather...
A portion of the shoot was open for students to take the reigns and pose the models in a way to further their brand via signature images.
Oh, Tiffany, GO ON!!!
Here's Arica getting down and WORKING IT OUT for a photo...rock it out, boo!
This is my favorite photo of the day. I can't wait to see what's in store for this amazing group! I was challenged in new ways and I'm happy to have encountered such a great collection of minds, hearts, and drive. I'm convinced this industry is made extra wonderful with people like them in it. Really.
If you'd like more information on future workshops and speaking events, be sure to sign up for the NEWSLETTER to be the first to know!
A FREE Business Makeover...and $1,000?!
appy Monday...and Happy Short Week Because It's Almost Thanksgiving! I'm excited to share three piece of good news! I'm using too many exclamation points for a Monday, right?!? THERE I GO AGAIN.
Good News Number One The amazing people at creativeLIVE have not only opened the doors for me to host a photography business makeover for three in-class students (and everyone online!), they want to make sure everyone has equal opportunity to actually be there. In light of this, people who find the extra travel costs a limitation, creativeLIVE is providing a $1,000 Travel Stipend to help (if located outside of the Seattle area). That's right...this photography course is FREE, cL is helping you get to Seattle, now all you have to do is apply...here's how...
Good News Number Two JD and I photographed our last wedding of the year on Saturday in Nebraska. Being in Omaha meant one thing to JD: steaks! He ordered what could be the largest piece of meat known to mankind...a steak so large it'd make Fred Flintstone jealous.
Good News Number Three I'm looking for a fun couple to model for the upcoming creativeLIVE course on January 9, 2013. This couple will be part of the first show in multiple capacities, so if if you're willing to participate, have a good time, and meet amazing photographers along the way, I'd be honored if you applied by November 28, 2012!
If you're interested, please send your availability, contact information, and a few photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you in person or online soon!
Friday Randomness : What's On My Mind
s a kid, I'd hide money in random places for a rainy day. In a band-aid box, in my pillow case (gross, I know), in my sock drawer. I didn't know when I'd need money, so I hid it to brighten a day that had yet to arrive (I was a strange kid). These tendencies have stuck around because I found a stash of hidden gift cards in my desk drawer. It felt like Christmas in November. Now, who wants to go to Chipotle?!
We're headed to Nebraska to photograph a wedding. I'm resisting the urge to picture myself running through fields of corn.
I've successfully kept a plant alive for four months. This is a personal record. It's a cactus, but still.
My goal is to do all my Christmas shopping online...this is partially because I want to stay organized, and partially because I can sneak in a few gifts for myself without feeling guilty. HOW ELSE WOULD I MEET THE FREE SHIPPING MINIMUM?
I cried yesterday while JD and I walked our dog. I was happily munching on an apple when JD said, You must really like that apple... And then I cried. Little did JD know that phrase (you must really like that ____) was what the mean boys said when they saw me eating. In sixth grade, I was picked on for being overweight and the boys would make loud scarfing sounds if I was seen eating or drinking in public. Decades later, my husband hugged and apologized for resurrecting awful memories (to his defense, he didn't know about the phrase) and swore he'd buy me a lifetime of apples.
We're celebrating Thanksgiving at my mom's house this year and we've divided up who's responsible to bring side dishes. I was asked to bring bread rolls. I suspect this is a not-so-secret diss on my cooking skills.
We spent a few days in Santa Barbara this week and a certain someone believed room service was all about him. Can you say DIVA?!