Controling customers while they order wedding pictures

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by timberwolf|1, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. How do you control the wedding image ordering of your customers? How do you
    manipulate them? What are your results?
  2. Tasser Gun. Every time they reach for a crummy shot I zap them. Pavlov's Dog effect.
    Nothing else works as well.

    Seriously, far to many clients attended the Helen Keller school of photo selection. I figure
    that after all that schooling in design, winning awards in photography, and sorting
    through maybe half a million images... I just might be better at it then they are. Not to
    mention that I had something specific in mind when I shot certain shots.

    In fact, when I first got into wedding photography I thought it was pretty weird that the
    client was in charge of selecting the album photos. Soooo, I eliminated that step from the
    process and do it myself as part of my services. No complaints to date.
  3. Firstly, show only the shots you want in the album (albiet a good selection). This gives you control of what the ultimate result is result is. Second offer artistic 'suggestions' of what you really think tells the best 'story'. Third, if and when they choose a lesser shot, I will say "I had thought about that one myself" and smile. This third step will inspire their willingness to hear your other suggestions. These steps seem to shorten the process and improve client relations (AKA referrals).

    In all of the above, I always know, these are all shots I found acceptable. Can't really loose! (IMHO)
  4. Oh, I nearly forgot, if this isn't working you can resort to the tasser :)
  5. Michael, that works with many clients (not the tasser, your 1st suggestion).

    However, as of late, clients also seem to be desiring a lot of shots. Culling it down to only
    things you would put in the album is seen as to limiting in choice for some couples.
    Producing 100 to 200 keepers works out pretty good. But 300 or 400 gets to be a bit
    much in terms of consistently high quality imagery that up-holds your standards and
    maintains a reputation. Sorry, just thinking out loud.
  6. I have not shot any weddings to date so take this for what its worth...but, How about selling the customer a package with so many page sides, some are 8x10, some are smaller, along with mixed-image pages.

    You, the artist/craftsman, layout a mock album with the best selection within their purchased number of sides, then add maybe 30-100% more mixed-image size pages (provided that the quality/quantity is there). Present the client with a pdf or other electronic album or print a low res "proof" album and present it with the additional price per page (along with tiered discounts for larger numbers of pages). Then ask the couple to remove pages that they don't want (if they want to stay within the original budget) along with helpful hints from you for the least important pages. If they want to see more images, you could also print out low res proof pages of your "rejects" (not the images unworthy of the client seeing them to to technical mistakes, but those that just don't work as well as what you have included in the mock album).

    Seems to me that this approach would:
    1) Provide the chance for increased sales;
    2) Allow you most of the creative control over the album;
    3) Still give the client creative input;
    4) Allow the client to feel that are getting a lot of images to pick from;
    5) Speed up the final album production.

    What do you all think? I like Marc's approach to presenting the client a designed album, but must balance that approach with my area of the country which is one of the worst there is for pricing. A great many couples wouldn't accept a high initial price, but may have a hard time letting go of great images once they see them.
  7. Why control something somebody else is paying dearly for? If they haven't got the taste or sense to pick photographs, they probably can't pick photographers either.

    Or just tell them that with the 25% of the bad shots you culled, you took 25% off the fees.

    It's unlikely you can predict the full range of family and social dynamics driving the choices anyways so account for it in pricing flexibility.
  8. I'm not a professional photographer, so maybe my opinion doesn't count here. But I've spent my entire career in product development and marketing, and with that background, I'd like to offer the following thoughts:

    "Why control something somebody else is paying dearly for?"

    Because most people can't make intelligent decisions for themselves in areas in which they have no expertise. If you give them too many choices, many can't make any decisions at all. Too many choices create too much confusion. I think it's smart to whittle down the options you show to the customer.

    "If they haven't got the taste or sense to pick photographs, they probably can't pick photographers either."

    Maybe so, but since picking photographs logically comes after picking the photographer, it's academic; besides, how often do you know in advance enough about your prospective clients to know which ones to steer clear of?

    I'd be concerned about helping my clueless clients build a photo album with which they're happy and I am proud. You never know, they may actually have friends and relatives who DO have a clue; you wouldn't want to lose that business because those prospective clients saw what a crappy selection of photographs you sold to the clueless customer!
  9. Personally, I think this is an interesting subject.

    At what point do other professionals release control of the decision making process to
    laymen? My Doctor doesn't send me a bunch of different solutions and await my decision.
    Either does my lawyer, mechanic or even my barber. They discuss what's up with me and
    then do it. The only multiple choice profession I deal with is in advertising ... but that's
    because ad executives are gutless, and afraid of not kissing tush and loosing the
    business... which they eventually do anyway for being nothing but yes men ; -)

    I may well be dead wrong in this, but I pick the album photos and matted enlargements, or
    I don't shoot the wedding. A majority of clients breath a sigh of relief when I tell them this.
    Either you can listen up front and then shoot and print with that info in mind, or you turn
    over your reputation to an unqualified amateur to art direct. This is skilled work involving
    talent and passion, but it ain't brain surgery.
  10. "Why control something somebody else is paying dearly for?"

    Because they are paying dearly for it and they don't know what they are doing in album design. You hopefully do and have studied album design, studied juried albums submitted to competition, etc. They are not paying you to just rent your equipment and right index finger. They are paying you to give them a great album that brings tears of joy when they look at it. If you have any photographic talent, you should also have more artistic-design skills than most of your customers. If you have no interest in the final product, I'd say just adopt the "hand over the film at the end" approach and move on to the next job. Much easier that way. If you do care about the finished product, it seems that Marc's approach, that is controlling the album to the end, makes good sense.

    "If they haven't got the taste or sense to pick photographs, they probably can't pick photographers either."

    I'm not sure what you mean by the above comment. A great many clients likely do NOT know how to pick a photographer. Likely choice is a combination of price, word-of-mouth recommendations, and gut reaction to seeing albums. I'd guess that many if not most are clueless as to really comparing the style, image quality, artistic ability, etc. of photographers. I agree, they likely can't really pick either one very well. So what is your point and does it matter?

    "Or just tell them that with the 25% of the bad shots you culled, you took 25% off the fees."

    Ummmm, that supposed to be a snide comment of some sort. Do you really show them ALL the photos that you shoot, including your out of focus, little Johnny picking his nose, Bride scratching her ass, lighting gone wrong shots? Or are you going to tell me that every picture you shoot is technically perfect and artistically perfect? Again, if you really don't care about the client, the photos, the album - then it is just a job to you and you might as well just hand over the film and suggest that Wally World has the best pricing for developing your K-Mart brand film. And why spend much on equipment. A point and shoot with built-in flash shooting no-name brand 800 ASA film will do just fine. Even better, just shoot with disposables that way you don't have to carry anything away from the shoot.

    Ok, I got a bit carried away with the last few sentences. But that is the extreme end of the spectrum. Total control over the finished product at one end and don't give a rat's ass at the other end. So decide just where you are on that spectrum then structure your service level accordingly.

    To Marc,

    If you are still reading this thread, what to you think about my approach in presenting a larger album than the client contracted for, designed by me, then asking the client to work with me in trimming it down (or better yet, paying more to keep all the images)? It seems to me that is much better than the traditional approach of having the client build the album up. Instead of trying to "sell up" more pictures to the client, it seems to be a psychologically shift in the photographers advantage to ask the client to take away great images. They may decide that it is easier to come up with more money than to do without those pages.
  11. What's the point of laying out anything before the customer that is less than desireable? There would be a lot at stake in doing so, mainly, your reputation. My packages states an approx quantity of proofs, generally anwhere between 200-300. I may shoot 400 and end up with only 200 that i feel, represents my work, which will be presented before them as my final work. They pay you for your service, which should be upheld to the highest possible standards; anything else would be a disservice to them.
  12. "far to many clients attended the Helen Keller school of photo selection."

    The client may need guidance but certainly not disrespect. Since the client is contracting for a particular service, it seems the primary goal is to meet that need. The reputation, etc., will follow. If your goal is to build or to protect your reputation first, then you aren't working for your client.
  13. Craig, I guess I should have inserted a smiley face into my "Helen Keller" line as a humor
    alert. But if you have to explain a joke...

    Perhaps the question should be "how much do you surrender the decision making process
    to someone else?" The wedding tradition has been to provide select proofs and leave it up
    to the B&G and their family to edit it down to album selects (with some preference and/or
    guidance provided by the photographer). I don't disrespect that, but I do question it.

    This an interesting enough subject to me that I'm going to start a separate thread.
  14. I don't sell prints if I can help it or I get $150.00 for an 11x14 archival inkjet print. I give all my reprint business to another photographer. It's not a revenue stream I'm interested in... too labor intensive. I want to make photographs, not talk to technicians, drive to labs and have meetings with everybody. <p>A wedding client called today, and wants me to help her get the images on the internet with a local lab. This gives me the option to sell prints without ever taking an order, and her relatives can order prints without driving her nuts, either. Anyone can order prints from the lab's website. They take their cut and send me a check for mine. Cool... t

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