Losing customers because everyone wants the images

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by lisa_c|10, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. We have a quite a few local photographers and tons more of fly by night photographers using very stock equipment. Seems I am losing quite a bit of business to these people who really could care less about their work and just looking for the quick payout and here is your disc with your wedding pictures enjoy type of deal.

    My prices are descent for this area and it seems quite a few brides in my area don't think a photographer is that important to whole wedding ceremony and never budget properly for one. I mean just the other day I get an email of a brde who wanted to do a portrait session right after her wedding because it was cheaper. I turned it down.

    So back to problems, sorry if I got a little side tracked. So in the past couple months I have given out several quotes and met with several brides so my advertising is working and I am getting calls and I realize people will shop photographers and I am not against that. However usually you hear in a face to face meeting with a bride when they ask and lately they always do. "So you just give us the images and we print it ourselves right?" So then I go into my speech about the quality of the lab work of who does my photos and that its better than walmart. Then I tell them I don't give out my digital pictures and thats an extra fee of $60.00 per photo which you get a discount the more you order or the entire set for an extra $1000.00. Usually you hear the tone in the brides voice and at that point you lost them. I explain to them that the reason I do this is how I set up my business model and that I put a value on my photos I take and that I am not just going to give up my work like other fly by night photographers like off of craigslist who advertise weddings with all photos for $150 bucks. I have talked and seen some of these people out there and they don't even have the proper equipment to shoot a wedding. So I know the brides aren't getting phenomenal pictures. The biggest issue is there are so many around and the prices they offer are dirt cheap.

    Then the email quotes after I mention that I don't have a print your own package. I never hear from them again but no other pros in my area do print your own without having to paying extra and they are in a similiar boat as I am.

    I have talked to other friends of mine who live in other states who are photographers and they always tell me my prices are too low and people are getting a lot for what I offer in compared to my area. A friend in CA said I would be doing 2-3 wedding every weekend if I charged that price in California.

    I have considered doing a contract photographer approach and charge a flat fee and the pictures are yours for $350.00 a hour. I have also considered testing a digital portrait package which comes with 25 edited photos for $350.00 with a one hour session to try to drum up business. Those are my current considerations and other than that I would apprecaite other ideas or other ways to say to brides I don't give away my photos. All my packages include prints and they get quite a bit lab quality prints for the money they are spending.

    I do pride myself in my photography and my pictures and I put a value on these things and I was taught by another photographer to never under value your work because if you do other people will see that also. So any adivce out there on any of what I mention but in my mind I feel the deal killers with these weddings and ever some portrait sessions is that I don't include the digital cd and I make sure to mention that the proof cds are low quality and watermarked and the reason for this is I had a bride tell me a few years ago that she couldn't see the pictures properly with my watermarks, and they are really light and it was obvious to me she was going to try to print her own.
    Thanks in advance,
    Lisa
     
  2. The market is driving the business, the business is not driving the market. You have to adapt. Digital has radically changed the dimension of the business.
    Prior to digital it was necessary to have an expensive darkroom and significant skill in manipulating the images for the desired result. With film results were not known until the film was developed putting pressure on the person doing the exposure. Cameras were entirely manual with gradual adaption of some automation in exposure. But still significant skill was required. ISO 400 was high speed.
    Then digital arrived with incredible intelligence in the cameras. ISO 100 became the minimum with ISO 800 being very good. The intelligence within the cameras really helped with the exposure automation and in particular proper white balance.
    Now for less than $100.00 someone could have software on their computer to allow them to manipulate those images, remove flaws, adjust color, spot tweaks and even add fancy features. The world of the darkroom that would have cost hundreds of thousands (and sometimes be impossible) is now available to almost anyone.
    People want the ability to email the images, post them on Facebook and other social sites. They understand how to do that with digital images and loathe having to use scanners.
    These people are also used to cell phone images so anything that looks better than cell phone images look good to them. Any current digital SLR can exceed the cell phone image by a large margin and many P&S cameras are also capable of very good images.
    I used to not release any negatives for printing when I did film. People did not want to deal with film negatives anyway as cropping and modification was impossible. It was also a hassle to keep up with the files and preserve the negatives. When I went digital copyright hassles from scanners and other such issues were more trouble than it was worth.
    So I adapted. I no longer produce any prints, books or other such items from weddings. I provide a DVD with full resolution images (JPG) and be done with it. I price myself accordingly so that the net income is still the same as I received from film and reprints. But I have eliminated the hassles of keeping track of the images and fighting copyright issues.
    Digital has changed the photography world, forever. And that is my opinion.
     
  3. Lisa -
    Fortunately or un-fortunately - this are the times we live in...
    Digitial has really let the genie out of the bottle so to speak and there's no way to put it back in. Years ago - it was unheard of to even think about asking or demanding your images from your wedding or even from a studio portrait session. Now it is literally part of the expectations.
    Only you can decide which business model works for you - We can't make that choice for you. In the end it comes down to this:
    Are you keeping busy and able to get enough bookings to make ends meet with your current model? My take on it is that you're not - otherwise I don't know if you would have asked the question. If you're not as busy as you'd like to be and are sitting at home, without a wedding booked on a weekend you could have had booked - then you need to change the model to get the customer.
    Personally - I made the choice when I started to provide a DVD of the images and a print release to each couple, with a package purchase. Couples that did a pay be the hour did not get that option and the DVD was an add on. On average - I still get 4 - 5 decent print sales per wedding - because they either are too busy, don't want to be a burden on the bride / groom or because they just want to be nice - but whatever the reason - I still get print sales.
    Dave
     
  4. Please forgive me in advance for being a little harsh. I happen to disagree with alot of what you said.

    First of all, there is a whole world of different kinds of people out there that require different levels of photographic services at, and after, their wedding. For a growing number of people, that requirement is that you can work for under $1000 (or even less), and that you deliver an adequate set of digital images of a minimal quality level, and then you leave them alone. There are THOUSANDS of these people, and it is a HUGE portion of the market. The only photographers that will win their business are the ones that can offer a package that caters to their needs. In Idaho, remember, there's not alot of money, and some of these couples just can't budget any more money for photography. You can't blame these people for being young and poor and not having alot of monetary support from the Grandparents. These people don't always require a certain style, or even post production work...at all. They just want some competent photos they can share with their friends on Facebook when it's all said and done. I'm not saying you should do only this kind of work, but there is only so much business in the $3000+ range of customers. If you can't win enough of those clientelle to keep you afloat, then you might split the business into two segments. In one, you charge appropriately for full days of post processing and meticulous prints. In another segment, you charge for a half-day of shooting and a churn-and-burn CD of digitals. Finally, if you deliver a CD, don't watermark the photos. That just ruins everyone's day.
     
  5. You have identified the problem, only you don't like the solution. The marketplace has changed (with change being the only constant). I suppose my question would be is how much do you normally make on print sales after the wedding? Then add this to the price of your packages and include the disc. However you proceed, it is all about perceived value. Either include the disc or make yourself otherwise valuable. By that I mean that weddings, for the most part, are relatively the same event. It is your vision of the wedding day that matters: what you see, how you see it, how you capture it. Of course nothing says you can't do both. In the end, just remember, no margin, no mission. :)
     
  6. David,
    The main reason I asked this question was wondering if everyone else is getting the same question of the digital prints asked to them. I do have enough weddings and portraits sessions booked and I am keeping busy but I have had more than my share of the can I get digital images with my package questions in the last couple months.
    Let me ask you for say a wedding do you touch up every image for the client? Providing 200+ touched up photos is a lot of work. I usually only retouch the photos that the client actually buy for what they want printed. So on your model you give them a print release that allows them to print as many images as they want? I do provide clients with the options of low resolution photos for facebook and social networking sites and the price is really fair.
    To the person who said not to watermark the photos on the proof disc. I do not anymore I use flip album pro thats both mac and pc compatible and I create a nice digital photo album and I protect the images with the software from being copied.
     
  7. Lisa,
    I do have a few insights. I will give you a brief background on what I do so that you can hopefully understand where I'm coming from.
    I'm a Sales and Product Specialist at an Independent Auto Dealer, (Read: car salesman). I sell New Subarus and a variety of pre-owned vehicles. I deal with price shoppers every day. There's a dealership eight miles down the road that sells the exact same products that I do... or do they?
    When someone comes in and says, "give me the best price...I'm going down the road to get their price once I get yours," I tell them that I'd be happy to and then I work them into the sales process our dealership uses. Seven times out of ten the person leaves with a car, not a price.
    Here's why:
    Where the dealership down the road will probably give them a ridiculously low price and let them walk, I take the time to build value in myself, the dealership, and the car that person wants to drive.
    I don't put down the other dealership...in fact I'll tell the customer that if all that they're looking for is the best price that they should probably just buy down the road...the product they sell on the outside of the building is exactly the same, but what they get inside the building is probably not...
    In other words, what I will give you before, during, and after the sale is more than enough to justify paying more to buy the exactly the same product from me.
    Photography is the same... sort of...
    People think they're getting exactly the same thing from craigslist guy as they are from a seasoned pro. You need to justify what you charge for a wedding and why you charge it. If you can't do this, you are charging too much. Basically, you need to make people understand that you are the best value out there. If you can't, you need to figure out why...
    I don't know your business model, but if you rely on print sales to make a profit and your recent clientèle wants to print their own, perhaps you should consider this trend and build a package that includes digital files.
    The best businesses out there have the flexibility to change with the times. If you do the same thing you've been doing for years, you will not get the same results...you will get less. In todays marketplace the businesses that can accurately predict and adapt to the ever changing consumer landscape are the ones that will thrive.
    Hope there's something in this post that helps you out.
    RS
     
  8. Maybe you need to rethink your business plan. If you can offer better images than the rest in your market, give the customers what they want at a reasonable price, you should have plenty of business. Now if all they are looking for is the lowest price and don't care about the images, you most likely won't get those people because if someone comes along and says $50 is their price... you can't compete with that. You have got to learn to get to the heart of their most important needs, wants and desires. If lowest price is what they make their decision on, you will not win their business. If they like what you do, get what they want from you and at a price they feel is worth it, then you should get the client. It's common sense business.
     
  9. I do provide clients with the options of low resolution photos for facebook and social networking sites and the price is really fair.​
    Fair in who's opinion? If brides aren't booking because of your pricing and policies, then you might need to rethink that statement.
    The wedding photography world is changing just as the desktop publishing world once changed with the advent of graphic design software and the web-design world changed with the advent of WYSIWYG html editors. Sure, there will always be people who (either because of location, marketing, or skill) do not have to change. But you may or may not be one of those people. What flies in Big City, California might not fly in Little Town, Ohio.
    At the end of the day, you can't force the market to be what you want. You can refuse to work below a specific price point, but if the demand isn't there you are just going to end up with an empty booking calendar. If brides think that what you are offering isn't worth paying for, then they aren't going to pay for it if they have other options. You can try to find new markets and marketing techniques to reach a different level of customers who still value what you are offering or you can modify your pricing to get the customers you are now losing. But there a level of "this is the way the world is today" that you'll have to accept no matter what. High quality digital cameras are available to most everyone these days. As are powerful computers, image editing programs, and printing options. As was said, the genie is out of the bottle and you can't put it back.
     
  10. So those who offers digital images for your wedding packages. Do you re-touch every image? in say a 400+ picture wedding? Or do you tell them you will touch up a set amount of images and inlcude it in the package.
     
  11. So those who offers digital images for your wedding packages. Do you re-touch every image? in say a 400+ picture wedding? Or do you tell them you will touch up a set amount of images and inlcude it in the package.​
    Keeping in mind that I no longer do wedding photography, without a more specific description than the word "retouching", I'm not sure you are going to get many answers. What do you mean by retouching? Adjusting color balance? Adjusting exposure? Removing a zit from the brides nose? Removing drunk uncle fred from every photo?
     
  12. Re-touching as in making the bride look her best like removing acne or drunk unlce fred from the background.
    The color balance and exposure and is something I do anyways with all the photos when processing my raw images.
     
  13. Lisa,
    When you provide proofs, do you provide every shot you took and let the B&G pick the ones they want?
    If you do, then you will need to change your approach.
    I shoot for friends/family...they consider it their wedding gift. The weddings I've done have been literally $2500-$5000 TOTAL COST, and most had very little monetary help from family...families provided other things for the wedding to keep costs down.
    I provide 2 8x10 4 5x7 and a handful of 4x6... retouched and printed at a local shop. They have a profile for me that matches my system so I know exactly what I'm going to get.
    Everything else I provide is digital.
    Post for most of my shots usually is limited to:
    Good = crop/WB/color correct...all done in Lightroom.
    Bad = Backup, but don't import into lightroom.
    I then pick no more than 25-30 of the best shots and do some other post stuff in PS for effects, but I do that to improve my skills. It gives the B&G something to show their friends that's "cool". The Disc that the B&G gets usually has 300 images on it, it only takes me a few hours to get done, and the B&G can print up to 8x12 without an issue.
    I don't know what I would charge for such services... I don't have a photography business and have never built a business model to live off of my photography. Off the top of my head, in my area, this would be a $1500-$2000 package based on the quality I provide.
    RS
     
  14. it

    it

    With my kids photography packages I say retouching is basic "booger & bruise" removal. Anything more and you gotta pay extra. (Rarely happens though.)
    I would say that 75% of my customers go out of their way to complain about photographers who don't hand over files. The market has changed, people want their files, it's as simple as that. I have always given up the images, I charge a rate I'm happy with and hand them over for both kids shoots and weddings. They are happy and so am I. No dealing with them down the line, just a nice clean transaction.
    When all else fails, listen to your customers.
     
  15. I cut out any photos that (even unretouched) I wouldn't be willing to give a client. I'm pretty aggressive killing photos because I only want to give her what is fantastic. (I have clients comment--how did you get this many photos and how did you get them all to turn out perfect.) I usually provide around 100 images per hour of coverage to the client. (These 100 images are all well exposed and sharply in focus--images that even with no retouching look fantastic). The bride gets all of these in high resolution to keep forever. From these unretouched (but excellent quality) proofs, she can select a handful to have retouched. Depending on the price of the package, I will retouch anywhere from 30 to 150 photos. My most popular package gives the client 50 digital retouches. All of my packages include midsize professional albums, because they sit on coffee tables and help to sell packages.
    If you look at my previous posts, you'll recognize that I'm no friend to more experienced photographers who have trouble adjusting to market conditions, but this is a model that works for me and the young brides I work with. They keep recommending me, so I must be doing something right.
    Young people want their files. While it upsets those who are accustomed to selling prints, clients view it as "hey, I hired you to shoot my photos--you work for me, and you don't get to hold my photos hostage." We can debate whether they should feel that way or whether you should give in, but you can't argue with the fact that people view the photos you take as "theirs" not "yours."
     
  16. I gurantee a certain amount of photos and do let them choose them from the proofs. I mean there have been several pictures I have taken that I loved and the bride never picked them and I do give the brides prints of my favorites when I send them the proof cd on on 5 x 7's that I touch up.
    I think its wrong to pick out the best 30 pictures and say here you go I think these are best and your stuck with them. People all have different tastes and I like to give people a choice but I am not going to pick their pictures for them or re-tocuh (smooth skin, remove acne, etc) 200+ digital images.
     
  17. I don't provide paper proofs. I do provide high resolution files with every gig. In the past, especially when I was film based, I could spend as much if not more time with re-print orders from each wedding as I did with doing another wedding. And my bottom line profit from re-prints is much lower than doing a wedding.
    For an 8 hr. wedding I may spend, at most, 2 hrs. processing them on my computer. I work hard at getting it done correctly in-camera. Plus I've done a few weddings.
    Now, I can either opt getting more weddings or enjoy the time off. At my stage of life I enjoy the time off.
     
  18. Lisa,
    You’re looking at this entirely backwards.
    Figure out what your customers want. Give it to them. Set your prices in such a way that you make your money from selling the customers what they want, not by low-balling them on a few things they need (like your time) and making up for it in others they don’t want but you’re going to strong-arm them into buying anyway (like prints).
    If your clients want you to retouch 200+ images, do so with a smile — and charge them $10 / image, $100 / image, whatever it takes for you to put that smile on your face. Be sure to let them know exactly what they get for their $10, and why it’s worth that much to them. Also consider partnering with somebody to do the retouching, and either subcontract the work or refer your clients directly.
    And don’t hesitate to use your experience and a bit of salesmanship to steer them in the direction you’d go if it were your wedding. If they decide to not get any prints from you, for example, include a complimentary 8″ × 10″ with the disc. When they get their prints back from the local print-it-yourself kiosk and compare, they’ll either realize they really should have had you do the prints, or they really won’t care about the quality and will be happy to have saved all that money. If they then get prints from you, great; that’s an extra job for you, and an easy one at that. If not, fine; you’ve already made your desired profit from everything else you’ve sold them.
    There’s also a bit of a balancing act. Choice is good, but too much choice is bad. Offer a few package deals, and have your price list handy to customize everything from there. But be sure to give your customers a starting point and to make it easy to get exactly what they want (not what you want them to want).
    Cheers,
    b&
     
  19. Your business model doesn't work for the people you are attracting.
     
  20. clients view it as "hey, I hired you to shoot my photos--you work for me, and you don't get to hold my photos hostage." We can debate whether they should feel that way or whether you should give in, but you can't argue with the fact that people view the photos you take as "theirs" not "yours."​
    I agreee with this. You are being hired to document the day, not creating art for yourself. I think the business needs to change so that you charge a realistic amount for your time in the same way that a plumber, carpenter or mechanic would then hand over all rights to the images to the customer.
    I know this isn't a popular view but hard luck. The market is changing and you can either adapt to it and make money supplying what the customer wants or go out of business.
     
  21. Lisa -
    All of the image files I give to the client at the end are exposure and color corrected. Most are cropped to an appropriate size / composition.
    On average I do some retouching on maybe 40-50 of the images - mostly the formals - but occassionally to remove Uncle Fred from the photo or something similar.
    As others have stated - I try to get as much right in camera as possible - I haven't done as many wedding as Bill C has, but my goal is to the point where 95% of the retouch / adjustments are handled in camera.
    Only once have I been asked by a bride to produce paper proofs for the couple.
    Dave
     
  22. As far as retouching goes, I do several cycles.
    • First run through cut out the junk photos that you wouldn't want anyone seeing, too soft a focus, etc, things light room and photoshop will not save you from.
    • Then depending on the consistency of the shoot do an overall whitebalance setting in light room, or just put it on auto during the import if there was a great deal of variablility in the shoot.
    • After that, run through them, and pick out your star images, that will make the bride and groom and anyone else who looks at them say WOW! This shouldn't be much more than 50 images.
    • Now really scrutinize them. Any blemish, a wrinkle of the skin on the back, a hair or two out of place (literally only a single hair), make sure the WB and exposure is exactly perfect, possibly provide them with a few color options BW, sepia, etc. Put these in a highlights folder on the disc.
    • Provide them the rest of the photos as well (aside from the junk you took out at first)
    • Say that at a price (per photo or by hour, I suggest by hour because if they want a pimple removed vs an exit sign or drunk uncle bob removed, makes a hell of a difference worth of editing time on your part), you can work on any of those other shots that they choose.
     
  23. Well I wanted to thank you for everyone's input and I will be discussing my business model with my business partner and see in redesigning things and make some digital freindly packages to adapt what the customers are looking for.
     
  24. Let me ask you for say a wedding do you touch up every image for the client? Providing 200+ touched up photos is a lot of work. I usually only retouch the photos that the client actually buy for what they want printed.​
    yes, for every wedding i touch up each of the 500+ images that i give to my clients. it is a lot of work, but no one said wedding photography was easy...ok..some people think it is but usually they suck at it.
     
  25. It seems to me that hiring a photographer for a wedding is much like buying a car. As a client, you have very little experience doing it and you may only do it once. The photographer, like the used car salesman has a lot of experience, but do you trust them? You can't count on a client learning to be an intelligent buyer because he won't do it enough unless he or she is on their 5th spouse or something. So you have to somehow educate the client enough to cause them to make a good decision, which hopefully involves hiring you.
    If you can't do that, they may use that $200 photographer on Craig's list. They may be ultimately unsatisfied, but that's not very much consolation to you. So the question is how can you demonstrate in maybe a short introduction meeting (or on your website) that they should spend a whole bunch more money to hire YOU to document their wedding?
    I don't really know the answer to that -- presumably you "successful" wedding photographers do. For myself, I would be motivated by the quality of picture you showed me and the pictures on your website, and the chance to talk to previous customers. Even though I am an amateur photographer, I wouldn't be motivated to pay a great artist for their work (I can't afford to hire Leonardo DaVinci to do my ceilings) but I would want someone with a good eye that could document the event and do all the traditional shots. So I would want someone who demonstrated competence in doing this, demonstrated technical competence, had adequate equipment, and charged a fee that was didn't show them getting way more money than I make an hour.
    So the first step I think would be to show the client your portfolio. The second would be to go through how much time you spend preparing for the wedding, how much time you spend shooting the wedding, how much time you typically spend in post processing, equipment costs, assistant costs, etc. and what you're making an hour once those costs are accounted for. The higher the fee, the more transparent I'd want him to be. This may be totally unrealistic, but if I'm going to pay thousands of dollars, I'd like to know I'm getting my moneys worth. A presentation that shows the client just what he or she gets from a professional rather than a craig's list photographer might go a long way to demonstrate that it is indeed worth it. And I'll echo the "give them what they want" such that if they want the digital pictures, find a way to include those for a reasonable fee.
    Just my humble, uninformed, opinion. Good luck.
     
  26. I may take heat for this, but oh well. Let's face it, this is 2010. The whole line wedding photogs give about "I want to sell you prints that I have made because of the quality . . . " is seen as saying, "I want to make lots of money off large markups." Honestly, for the people who are budgeting $250-$1250 for wedding photos will not care that the print from the photographer is so much more stunning than the ones they can print themselves at reputable places like Shutterfly. Actually, the difference between high gloss prints that are matted and framed from Shutterfly vs. what is given and paid for from a wedding photographer today probably doesn't justify the marked difference in price -- at least for the budget conscious. Just because you can marke up the price of prints to make money doesn't mean that budget conscience brides need to pay those types of charges in 2010 . . .
     
  27. Yes I agree Toby.
    Plus there are many ways to view photographs besides looking at them on paper. Like the new i pad, i phone to mention two. There are many others.
     
  28. You forget that when you do business "The customer is always right".
     
  29. Welcome to the new digital revolution where everyone, including your grandma, is a professional photographer, web designer, and copywriter. I work in the design industry and we are seeing the same thing happen. I miss the days when work actually meant spending time to deliver a quality product. Today people want things now, or yesterday, which is why photographer's are just delivering a disc or outsourcing their albums. I know retouching and such do take time on the computer, but honestly when I was shooting weddings before the advent of photoshop, retouching was a skill that took a lot more than just clicking a mouse, sometimes days would be spent on just one image. Anyone else remember that? I think that prices came down and photographer's are still charging for what film and darkroom chemicals would cost ... which by far was a lot more expensive than purchasing the latest Mac Pro and software. Anyone else remember those days? Ever had a processor go out and you pay for servicing it to get fixed? That alone would cost you more than a camera. I think there needs to be a balance. Fair is fair and when you educate your client as to why you are charging your fees they will be more likely to spend on your services. I see a lot of people trying to justify $3000 weddings and yet they are only one-man shops running the business from their home.
     
  30. Lisa,
    while I do understand your POV, it is a changing world. One in which you have to adapt a business or bear the consequences.
    I give a high res DVD with all packages. I charge a base rate for an event, then an hourly rate in addition to cover what each hour of shooting will take to make a "normal" profit. I don't give my images away, rather I build it into the price of shooting. For me its the only way to survive and to thrive in this market.
    You may consider that by sharing the high res images with your clients, you diminish the risk of completely loosing wedding pictures at your end of things.
    Best of luck.
     
  31. Folks,

    Please keep your comments on the business end of things. The OP did not request a portfolio critique.

    -president of photonetkistan
     
  32. So then I go into my speech about the quality of the lab work of who does my photos and that its better than walmart.
    I doubt that. Walmarts typically use Fuji Frontiers. If you provide them a digital file, and tell them no adjustments, the output will be excellent for color. Admittedly I prefer other sources for B&W, but even B&W output from a Frontier is decent. Many "pro" labs use the exact same equipment. As I recall Costco uses Noritsu (SP?), and there are even profiles available online for many of their stores.
    I think Epson printers do a better job, but most of the images from a wedding don't require Epson output. Maybe for the big prints.
    If you're shooting film and having optical prints made, then the lab matters. Otherwise, not so much.
    If I were to jump into wedding photography full time today, I would offer packages with the images included, along with instructions on how to get optimal prints from Walmart, Costco, or online services like Adorama's, etc. I would offer the option of prints with minimal markup. But on that side of things I would focus primarily on well designed wedding books (your typical couple will not include a graphic designer, and high quality books cannot be printed at Walmart) and specialty items (i.e. aluminum prints).
    This is what couples demand and if I were getting married it is what I would demand. It's not the film days where the print is half the work and justifies high prices. Today the work is in the camera and in post processing, and after that perfect prints can be made at low cost from just about any where. Refuse to provide printable files and you risk losing the job, or perhaps worse, having the couple scan proofs and print those. (Do you really want fuzzy enlargements from cheap flatbeds to be associated with your work?)
    I should note that while I would provide printable image files, the contract would only license them to the couple to print for personal use. I would retain all copyrights and legal ownership to the images. What's the difference if they can print at will? It acknowledges that I was the creator and artist behind the images, and insures that I could use them in portfolios, etc. It also means if the couple ever pursues commercial use that I must be compensated. (Advertising gets into model releases. I would probably offer discounts to some couples in exchange for such a release.)
    One gray area is post processing by the client. I wouldn't want their nephew's Photoshop creation to be associated with my work. Not sure how to prevent that, but it's most likely not a big deal.
    BTW, if I were to ever get married, this is how I would want to be treated as a client. (Being a photographer I might also negotiate for RAW files, but I would accept a higher cost for that.) I own professional Epson ink jets, and can get consistent, high quality results even from a Walmart Frontier. Why should I pay $20 or $30 for an 8x10? If you're trying to pull that on me you're telling me that scamming me is perfectly OK with you. I know what prints cost. Make your profit on the service (shooting and post processing) and don't try to screw people on printing.
     
  33. I don't retain professional people to give me what their business model and feelings of self-worth dictate. I hire people to do a job. Welcome to the new reality. Accept the fact that for a lot of people, their wedding is more important than your photography and either cut them from your business model or adapt and welcome them.
     
  34. Customers are a great source of information on what customers will pay for.
     
  35. My dental insurance pays for 1 x-ray per year. I took an x-ray with one dentist, and then, for one reason or another, decided to go to another dentist to have services done. The new dentist requested a diagnostic x-ray, which my insurance wasn't going to pay for. So I called my old dentist, and told them to please transfer my x-rays to the new dentist. He said he would charge me $100 for it. It would cost me $250 just to have new x-rays done.
    I'm sorry, but they are my x-rays. The dentist was paid $250 to have my x-rays done. He already profited. Now he wants to profit another $100 for the simple act of mailing them.
    I pay a photographer for their ability to compose pictures. I pay a painter for their ability to paint, and I expect to own the painting after.
     
  36. so did u get ur xray when u asked the dentist?
     
  37. I don't think the x-ray example is pertinent. In the past, wedding photographers owned the negatives and the copyright to their images, and did not turn the negatives over to the client. The client went along with this, for the most part. The product being sold and paid for was the act of photographing and resulting prints and albums. This model stood for a long time, and is still being used by some photographers.
     
  38. they are not customers until they have purchased something. until that happens they are potential customers. Lisa is not losing customers. She is apparently confused and upset that the potential customers are not buying what she wants to sell. Maybe at one time she had more success with what she wanted to sell. But time moves on. Things change. Styles. Economics. Technology. All progressing all the time.
    Unless you are very unique and can survive on only your reputation, us work-a-day mere mortals would benefit from learning to go with the flow. The alternative is to be left upstream.
     
  39. Welcome to the world of professional photography. Our society has become accustomed to wanting professional quality prices for K-Mart prices. The two are mutually exclusive.
    There will always be lousy, half-assed GWC photographers who will try to fill this market. The problem is their work is K-Mart quality as well. People nowadays have come to accept mediocrity and there will always be someone to live down to their expectations.
     
  40. A craigslist photographer's perspective - I began after digital had already become a mainstay, and I found extremely quickly that 95% of local clients in my price range (lower end) were interested in a disc of the photos. A few were interested in albums or prints, but for most this was not the main selling point.
    The photos are still distinguished by the quality of the photographer's eye and darkroom skills, but the darkroom has changed to Lightroom (or Aperture, and/or Photoshop, etc.). There are many people who just don't know how to use the new digital editing system and their photos look much worse than those who do. I was fortunate enough to be a computer-holic with graphic and photographic interest since my early teens, and the level of retouching/processing that I performed on photos set me apart from others in my price range. My use of light has gradually become a distinguishing factor (I like and often use many angles of light besides front lighting), but I am still struggling to learn good posing and composition and what makes a shot "work."
    No question, photos on disc is going to be a very persistent medium for wedding photography since digital has made it convenient for all parties. It's good to hear that you plan to adapt, because adaptation works much better than being set in old business approaches when they are no longer effective in the current market.
     
  41. les

    les

    Lisa – I am not a wedding photographer, but just couldn’t resist putting in my $0.02. Reading your post made me cringe.
    First of all – you are providing a service. In other words – you do what the market wants. Or…do you ?
    “…who wanted to do a portrait session right after her wedding because it was cheaper. I turned it down.” - and you still complain ?!
    So, all of a sudden people have no right to buy what they want and they have to buy what you want to sell, when you want it and according to your business model ? I think that you need a serious reality check if you want to stay in business.
    Now – regarding the ownership of “your digital pictures” (I know that I may get flamed for this…).
    The pictures you took have been paid for and there is no reason NOT to give A COPY of digital files to the customer – if this is what they want. If they are decent shots straight out of the camera – where is the problem ? If the customer wants you to spend time on editing/retouching etc. – of course, they should be charged for this. But it is no surprise to me that people turn you down after you tell them that you want to be paid for taking pictures a THEIR wedding in order to produce images that are YOURS, and then they have to pay you MORE in order to get something which has already been paid for.
    I had my daughter’s wedding couple of years ago – and a number of wedding photographers had been turned down – precisely because of their views on who owns what and what I am allowed/permitted to do.
    Fortunately – one of the better wedding photographers in Sydney has a business model which fits what I (and I suspect most customers) expect – and he is not cheap by any means. Basically – the customer tells him what is needed, and he comes up with a price (not cheap, but reasonable). In my case – he spent 12 hours shooting about 1,000 images, did portrait session, took the newlyweds to some nice locations around, provided DVDs with his unedited shots (very printable, may I add), also printed an album with wedding pictures (on request - and why not, the quality of the prints was really outstanding). Everyone was happy. His business is thriving, and you need to book him at least couple of months in advance. I will repeat this again – he is not cheap, but he sells what people want – and he does not think that the images he shot are “his” to the extent that the customer is refused a DVD.
    The market drives the business model – not the other way around.
     
  42. Welcome to the world of professional photography. Our society has become accustomed to wanting professional quality prices for K-Mart prices. The two are mutually exclusive.
    What you fail to appreciate is that Walmart, Kmart, etc. can provide high quality prints at low prices thanks to modern, digital, laser photo printers. Producing a good print, in terms of the mechanics of exposing and developing paper, is not a skill any more. It's a calibrated, automated, digital process.
    The skill is in the photography and post processing. If you're one of the best when it comes to crafting beautiful wedding photos, then charge accordingly. But charge for the service. Don't try to screw clients on the mechanics of putting an image on paper. They know the score, they know new processes have made this high quality and cheap.
     
  43. I wonder if the big names will "give" their files away. I doubt it.
     
  44. Trying to "screw clients on the mechanics of putting an image on paper" was never one of the goals for a business model that was based on consideration for the talent that went into making the image on that piece of paper. No one using that model was trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. The client knew full well that they could take that same negative or file to the local drug store lab and get a print for cheap. Most also knew full well that the photographer was making their profit off print sales, and using the model to draw in clients for what seemed like a smaller or more manageable amount, in hopes of selling way beyond that initial amount.
     
  45. I don't think the x-ray example is pertinent. In the past, wedding photographers owned the negatives and the copyright to their images, and did not turn the negatives over to the client. The client went along with this, for the most part. The product being sold and paid for was the act of photographing and resulting prints and albums. This model stood for a long time, and is still being used by some photographers.​
    Well, let's put it this way. The model stood because photographers could get away with it. What they 'sold' was the prints, not the service. Maybe the charged a session fee, but most of the time we knew we were being hammed on the prints, it's just that we simply had no choice if we want to have a skilled photographer taking photos for us.
    I'm glad that digital photography is giving this business model some competition/food for thought. I don't want to sound callous, but customers generally know what's happening. You're not holding onto the negatives to enjoy them yourself. You're holding onto them to make us come to you so you can charge us more money. I've had photographers charge me for the proofs. In other words, they already incurred the cost of printing them, to show us and talk about prints. Then they milk us out of money in order to simply hand them over, when in all likelihood they're just going to toss it in some dusty drawer or throw them away.
    Thus, I perfectly like this statement:
    The skill is in the photography and post processing. If you're one of the best when it comes to crafting beautiful wedding photos, then charge accordingly. But charge for the service. Don't try to screw clients on the mechanics of putting an image on paper. They know the score, they know new processes have made this high quality and cheap.​
    All things being equal, if a photographer offers a dvd with digital prints to me, and another held onto negatives and only sold the prints, I'm taking my business to the person who offers dvd's. I want you to earn a living, profit, and I will pay you accordingly for your time, your skill, and for the partial cost of being in your profession. I don't appreciate people using angles to gouge my wallet. It was refreshingly simple and honest. Our wedding coordinator signed us on with a wardrobe package, including a veil, and then charged us $500 extra to upgrade to a slightly nicer veil.
    Thankfully, we found a wedding photographer who was flexible and willing to work with us. He provided us a DVD with the unretouched images at a reasonable cost. We had him retouch some pictures because we were impressed with some of the samples we gave him. I also retouched some myself.
     
  46. Philip, exactly. I didn't say the model should still be used. But the x-ray example was not similar enough to make your the point. And yes, as I said, customers know the score. It isn't as if photographers were trying to dupe them. I never kept negatives, even starting out almost 30 years ago. I always charged for my time and talent and left it at that. Still do.
     
  47. All things being equal, if a photographer offers a dvd with digital prints to me, and another held onto negatives and only sold the prints, I'm taking my business to the person who offers dvd's​
    And there's the rub: all things are never equal! For the most part, those that don't give away the images are the ones that ARE concerned with their art. To be clear (and many seem to think otherwise), you are hiring a photographer because of their vision, their style, their composition, their knowledge of lighting, and so on. It may be your wedding, but it's my vision, my work that captured it. That doesn't automatically entitle someone to the images.
    And in an earlier post someone said $20 for an 8x10 was "screwing " the customer. I can assure you my cost on an 8x10 is more than $20. And if anyone doesn't think so, join PPA and hire their Studio Management Service. But lets set aside cost of software, hardware, lets skip post-processing, soft-proofing and so on. Lets just say I am uploading an 8x10 to my lab. Heck, I will even use MPIX. So, I find the image, I upload the image, and place the order. $2.75 for an 8x10 plus shipping ($6.00?). So now I am at $8.75. In the meantime I create an invoice. I received the print (don't need to worry about a re-print since we didn't even soft-proof the image anyway). Now I need to deliver the print. This means putting it in something, even if it's a cheap envelope (tacky); schedule time for the client to pick up the print (or hire a clerk), collect payment, process payment (accepting CC means transaction expense as well as a % of sale, or cash and check need to be deposited), complete the bookkeeping (mark invoice as paid, set aside sales tax etc). All of this is going to take me at LEAST 1/2 an hour. All for $11.25. Sorry, my time is FAR more valuable than that. And we haven't even covered all of the "other" costs involved. And that is one reason we give a disc with our weddings- I don't want to mess around with cheap reprints. If you want to pay me for my time, I will be happy to deliver a print that you won't get from Wal-Mart. In some cases it might not be a big difference, other times and the difference may be huge.
     
  48. Trying to "screw clients on the mechanics of putting an image on paper" was never one of the goals for a business model that was based on consideration for the talent that went into making the image on that piece of paper.
    Fair enough. I agree completely. But it no longer requires any talent to get the image on paper. Tremendous talent is still required in capturing and shaping the image. But it goes on paper with a click. That's my point, not that photographers in the film days didn't deserve the price for their work in the darkroom. (Or the labs they contracted.) They did.
     
  49. To be clear (and many seem to think otherwise), you are hiring a photographer because of their vision, their style, their composition, their knowledge of lighting, and so on. It may be your wedding, but it's my vision, my work that captured it. That doesn't automatically entitle someone to the images.​
    This is a fine view to hold, but to be frank, people hire me to get the job done. Lectures about art and vision don't impress my clients. Consistently in-focus, properly exposed, and well-composed images do. I sell a product. A damn good product. I don't pretend that wedding photography is some kind of high art form, though. It's a skilled trade (at least for those who are skilled.)
    For the most part, those that don't give away their images are older, and still aren't ready to adjust to new business models. Don't try to sell this to me as art. It's a business decision, and a fine one to make--provided your clients will tolerate it. And don't call it "giving away" images. Call it selling the images up-front instead of holding the images of their special day hostage (that sounds pejorative--right?)
    I've found that many (and not necessarily you) photographers who claim that Wal Mart can't print right simply aren't getting their exposures and colors right. They don't color correct for you, so if you send a mediocre image, you'll get back a mediocre image. If you send a good image, it will look as good as your mom-and-pop shop.
    Lastly, instead of focusing on whether or not $20 is a rip-off, why don't you let the clients print themselves. I tell them about labs that color correct (I don't keep this a secret from clients or lie) and explain that they'll be get superior results because the colors on an unretouched image might not be great without some correction. They can get the prints on their own time. I don't have time to sell prints. That's why I charge enough that I can make all of the money I need by the end of their wedding day. It's a business model that works for me.
     
  50. They can get the prints on their own time. I don't have time to sell prints. That's why I charge enough that I can make all of the money I need by the end of their wedding day. It's a business model that works for me.​
    Exactly, that's essentially what I said in this article series when asked about pricing structure (lots of good info from other wedding photographers in there as well):
    http://www.photo.net/learn/wedding/photography-business/
    I structure (well, used to structure) my prices so that I was paid what I needed to be paid. I didn't screw around and waste my time hawking prints and albums. Now, to other photographers, that time is not a waste. But to me it was just more time I was stuck doing the boring parts of a photography business and less time I was spending fishing, playing with my kids, or enjoying the summer.
     
  51. And there's the rub: all things are never equal! For the most part, those that don't give away the images are the ones that ARE concerned with their art. To be clear (and many seem to think otherwise), you are hiring a photographer because of their vision, their style, their composition, their knowledge of lighting, and so on. It may be your wedding, but it's my vision, my work that captured it. That doesn't automatically entitle someone to the images.​
    This is partially my point. I want to pay you for your vision, your work, your composition, etc. I don't want to pay you for the monkey work of ordering prints. But, when you hold on the negatives/original files, you position yourself as the middleman between me and the lab, and you mark up the true cost several fold. That cost is not paying for your vision, your creativity, your style. It's paying for your clerical time.
    I will happily take your suggestions for a lab. I will entertain your advice on whether or not you want to do some of the retouching work or leave it up to me. I will let you sift out and selectively delete pictures that you don't want to show me, provided that you give me sufficient volume for your time. I will happily sign a contract which: (1) dictates that I can freely use the pictures for non-commercial purposes and show/transfer them to friends, and (2) provides you with the right to use my captured likeness at my event for limited promotional purposes so long as no additional profits are involved.
    In other words, I would rather pay $8.75 for me to order the print, than to pay you $20 to do it. That is greater than a 2 fold markup. In my line of work, my customers would *laugh* at me for anything greater than a 15% markup, and our work is completely transparent since customers demand price breakdowns. A twofold markup likely means you are not the most efficient vehicle to get that part of the work done.
    I understand that it may be the case that some photographers with better skills are more protective of their originals. Sure... I fully understand that you would want to control the output before you stamp your name on it. But please, just out of ethics, do not control the format in which you hand over your product to position yourself as the middleman. The format has no bearing on your skills.
    I'm really trying not to be overly cynical here, since I really do appreciate a good photographer and I at least have a little grasp of the grind of the graphic arts business. But simultaneously, I've filt the sting of being jipped as a customer too. Pay for the proofs? Not just some token fee mind you, a thick bill. Come on... You're going to trash them when this is done.
     
  52. I don't think the x-ray example is pertinent. In the past, wedding photographers owned the negatives and the copyright to their images, and did not turn the negatives over to the client.​
    That's putting it mildly; the X-ray example is completely irrelevant. We're talking about images that, in the United States, are owned by the creator of those images. That's U.S. copyright law. Said creator can choose to license or release those rights in a contract, but by default the photographer owns those rights unless specified otherwise. That much hasn't changed.
    You may "own" a painting that you buy or commission, but the second you start making copies of it, for sale or otherwise, and the artist hasn't released those rights to you in writing, you may be in for a nasty surprise.
     
  53. Unless you are in a work for hire situation, which is what wedding photography amounts to.
    Esp when your contact specifies supplying a photographer and/or an assistant for x hours to document a wedding service and reception.
     
  54. Unless you are in a work for hire situation, which is what wedding photography amounts to.​
    Unless you have some sort of legal precedence to back that up, you are just making things up and giving out bad information.
    Wedding photographers work in whatever way that their contract specifies. I know of zero professional photographers who give up copyright of their images as one does in a 'work for hire' situation.
     
  55. To be clear (and many seem to think otherwise), you are hiring a photographer because of their vision, their style, their composition, their knowledge of lighting, and so on. It may be your wedding, but it's my vision, my work that captured it. That doesn't automatically entitle someone to the images.​
    This is a fine view to hold, but to be frank, people hire me to get the job done. Lectures about art and vision don't impress my clients. Consistently in-focus, properly exposed, and well-composed images do. I sell a product. A damn good product. I don't pretend that wedding photography is some kind of high art form, though. It's a skilled trade (at least for those who are skilled.)
    For the most part, those that don't give away their images are older, and still aren't ready to adjust to new business models. Don't try to sell this to me as art. It's a business decision, and a fine one to make--provided your clients will tolerate it. And don't call it "giving away" images. Call it selling the images up-front instead of holding the images of their special day hostage (that sounds pejorative--right?)
    I've found that many (and not necessarily you) photographers who claim that Wal Mart can't print right simply aren't getting their exposures and colors right. They don't color correct for you, so if you send a mediocre image, you'll get back a mediocre image. If you send a good image, it will look as good as your mom-and-pop shop.
    Lastly, instead of focusing on whether or not $20 is a rip-off, why don't you let the clients print themselves. I tell them about labs that color correct (I don't keep this a secret from clients or lie) and explain that they'll be get superior results because the colors on an unretouched image might not be great without some correction. They can get the prints on their own time. I don't have time to sell prints. That's why I charge enough that I can make all of the money I need by the end of their wedding day. It's a business model that works for me.
     
  56. Look at Canadian copyright law. The paying customer owns the work by default.
     
  57. Sorry, didn't type a correction fast enough...
    A bit off the current thread, but one of the main reasons we went with a photographer that did give us the images is that, to be blunt, I don't know how long the photographer (any photographer) will be in business. Like most of my friends, we got married in the city that we lived in at the time, but we've lived in a few cities since and if something happened to the photographer we wouldn't know, and I have no idea how they could get a hold of us if they wanted to (haven't updated our address with them, I guess). What would happen to the images? We didn't want to take that chance.
     
  58. les

    les

    “It may be your wedding, but it's my vision, my work that captured it. That doesn't automatically entitle someone to the images.”
    Am I reading what I am reading ?!
    If what you wrote is true – then what exactly am I entitled to, and what exactly am I paying for ? For you to be able to do you work and/or fulfill your vision ? Or am I paying for your presence at MY wedding? Why should I pay for that ? Why should I care about your work and what you do in your time ? Why, for that matter, should I even allow you to enter the premises ?
    If it really is “your” work and “your” vision – then you should attend the wedding for free – heck, you should ask for permission and pay ME for the privilege of taking photos at MY wedding. In that case – yes, whatever you shoot with YOUR gear and YOUR vision – is your undisputable property to do with as you wish. You may even sell it to ME at any mutually agreed price.
    But – if you charge me $200+ an hour BEFORE you even produce anything – then you work for me. I am paying for the PRODUCT, not for your PRESENCE. And if I am not entitled to the images – then what is your product and what exactly is this that you are selling ?
    I think that Nadine (and the guy who took pics at my daughter’s wedding ) got it right, and I suspect that they are both successful because they sell SOMETHING.
    I am not trying to convince you (after all, you are giving away the discs) or anyone else – the customers will vote with their wallets, which I suppose is good enough to convince anyone – and pretty damn quick at that. And – those who remain unconvinced, will be out of business.
     
  59. So much acrimony. It seems to me that it my job to convince the BG that what I am doing is worth the money. That is first. I have not seen the OPs portfolio but I know in mine I have a considerable number of photos and effects that make it easy to show the customer exxactly what value I add to the process. I show them inexpensive prints from unretouched pictures and I show them the same picture after I have worked it up beautifully, professionally printed it and even put it into a frame. That establishes value.
    Somebody said:
    You are being hired to document the day, not creating art for yourself.​
    I disagree completely with the sentiment behind this comment. My expertise is all I have to sell. Uncle Charlie can "document the day" but he can't take photos like I can. I find this comment not only naive but outright rude. Having said that....We are in a retail business. If we don't sell what the customer wants we may loose that customer. So I sell prints AND I offer the disk. Very frequently they buy both. I offer a package of 10 - 8 X 10's along with the disk. I show the B&G some great examples and say "Now you will want some really special photos prepared for the most important people of the day.....Let's see, you will ned one for your mom and dad....and one for the best man........" You get the point. Once I have my list of people who are getting 'special photos' (remember this is in advance) I always finish with...."well there are a ton of people who will want a shot or two but you can get them done at Walmart and save a ton of money." Often my "close" is to get them to allow me to work with them on the 'list' of special photos for them. Once they start naming people who get special prints the deal in done.
    Of course there is another way to look at this. Before the 'craigslist' photographer was around people with less money to spend simply did not hire professional photographers. They coundn't afford it. So they got a friend or relative to do it. Many a wedding has been shot with an Argus C3 and pocket full of flash bulbs.
    My point is that things have really not changed that much at all. If you want to be a 'high end' wedding professional who can demand top dollar and retain the rights to all of your photos then it is your responsibility to go out and market to the group of people who are customers for that sort of experience. And that is some tough marketing. It ALWAYS has been. Can't we all be honest here? How many of us, who charge a minimum of $2500.00 for a wedding are loosing that business to craigslist? Not many I suspect. Going out and looking for customers is called prospecting. If you are banging off of the craigslist guys and gals you are prospecting where you should not be. Town and Country customers are still wanting their files but they are buying a boatload of product along with it.
    For the record; I am happy to give the B&G the files. I give them only the ones I stand behind, that have been propperly prepared and that I want to be my portfolio in the future. Why? Because giving out 'raw' photos is like putting them in your portfolio. The B&G will share them with your potential customers. Check it out. A bunch of my business comes from referrals. I am not going to get as many referrals if the B&G are showing their friends what should hit the cutting room floor.
    I am going to take a final shot at the guy who said we are being hired to document a day. I am not. Though my background is photojournalism that is not my approach to doing a wedding. So if the B&G want someone to "document the day" I tell them frankly that I would be a waste of money. And I offer to refer them to a less expensive photographer. I have often said to a client who I knew could afford my rates but is telling me the competition is cheaper: "Look Bill, I don't argue with what my competitors charge...for they must know what their work is worth".
     
  60. I think you should show your potential customer the difference between one of your out of the camera images and a post processing image. Perhaps then they would understand the cost of post processing.
     
  61. Every market has a pricing sweet spot whether it's wedding photography or fine art landscapes/nature. One local photographer in my market, with an ego as big as the outdoors, tries to sell lithograph 'limited edition' posters for a $1000 and he wonders why no one is buying. It sounds as if Lisa has a similar problem and is simply trying to extract too much out of her market. As others have said, with digital, it's an entirely new ball game. At least Lisa recognizes she has a problem to solve.
     
  62. Bob Sunley , Apr 07, 2010; 10:07 p.m.
    Look at Canadian copyright law. The paying customer owns the work by default.​
    Incorrect Bob. That only applies if there is no contract. Read Section 13(2) of the Canadian Copyright act:
    Where, in the case of an engraving, photograph or portrait, the plate or other original was ordered by some other person and was made for valuable consideration, and the consideration was paid, in pursuance of that order, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, the person by whom the plate or other original was ordered shall be the first owner of the copyright.​
    http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-42/
     
  63. les

    les

    "I am going to take a final shot at the guy who said we are being hired to document a day. I am not. Though my background is photojournalism that is not my approach to doing a wedding."
    Well - I suspect that the boundary is more than just a little bit blurred here. The bottom line is - the customer pays and has a right to get something for his money - so maybe "your approach" is not that terribly important.
    Having said that - I fully agree that you may follow your line of reasoning, select your customers based on their "compliance" and ability to pay, and be very successful. No one forces anyone to do anything - and if the customer agrees, you may do whatever you want. As far as I am concerned - a DVD with images is the minimum I would expect to get from the photographer.
    If the customer signs a contract where the rules are spelled out (and doesn't like it afterwards) - they only have themselves to blame.
    Strangely enough - when a photographer complains that they lose (OK, potential) customers because they are unwilling to part with a product of their PAID work - well, they only have themselves to blame too.
     
  64. I've always provided all the files ... and before that the negs. I got into shooting weddings as a photographer, not as a book binder or photo lab. Now there are literally hundreds of e-places to get an album done. I simply recommend one. I'll offer, print and make a traditional album for those who really want one ... not many do these days, which is fine with me.
    I correct any file that the client gets to print level quality. Some files are obviously better than others and they get special attention. If we are slow at processing it's not the client's fault, it's ours.
    I do completely disagree with the "commodity" mentality that this is just a service. There is still a magic about photography ... which I will continue to call "art". As clients get more and more savvy about the technical aspects, the art becomes more and more important. If you relegate your photography to just giving the client what they want, then what they get can be no greater than their expectations.
    So, I do present the art of wedding photography, and sync it with the clients dreams of their wedding day. They come for a business meeting and leave excited to have me document their wedding with style, grace, humor, and pathos. It is what a wedding is about ... and if you don't get that ... then you really don't know your target audience ...wether they have a pot of money or not.
    As a final note to the commodity thinkers ... I do all this and I am old, so the stereo type doesn't fit. To those younger folk I'll say this ... if all there is is filling orders and service craft there is little to renew you like there is with art, which is ever living in you, and the chance of burn out increases exponentially ... unless you are a photo robot.
    -Marc
     
  65. My expertise is all I have to sell. Uncle Charlie can "document the day" but he can't take photos like I can.​
    Exactly. The minute you start trying to sell a "product" you are doomed. Of course there is going to be a balancing act between goods and services but the bottom line is you are selling what you bring to the table. Otherwise anybody with a camera will do.
    then what exactly am I entitled to, and what exactly am I paying for ?​
    Whatever is in the contract! But at one end of the fulcrum you have Dennis Reggie, Jeff Ascough, Joe Buissink and so on and at the other end you have your Craiglist shooters. Do you think Dennis Reggie is going to show up at your wedding and shoot it for free just for his portfolio? Of course not. You are hiring him for his work. By contrast, a CL shooter will won't be able to capture what a truly talented professional can. It behooves the professional photographer to create images that clients want to buy so that clients hire them! But as a professional, I am selling me. Here is another way to look at it: Photographer A charges "X" and Photographer B charges "2X". Each creates the same exact image (same lens, same post-processing, same everything). However, Photographer B is just a joy to work with. You day runs smoothly, the photographer keeps everyone entertained (posing some of those family shots can try the patience of some!), the photographer actually contributes to the "success" of your wedding day. Whereas photographer A was difficult to work with, unprofessional, and just generally didn't "contribute" to the day... I mean they were only there to create a product that was sold to you. Now some people would rather save "X" dollars and there is nothing wrong with that. But others are willing to pay more for something better.
     
  66. Lee Richards wrote:
    Somebody said:
    "You are being hired to document the day, not creating art for yourself."​
    That was Steve Smith, way back at 2:14pm. Steve is right, no wedding photographer is being hired to create art for him/herself, they are being hired to document the day and hopefully creating art for the paying customer.
    When I hire a programmer to create a program to accomplish a specific task, I am paying for a product, and I expect to own it free and clear of all encumbrances. I am not inclined to pay ongoing license fees to use something when I have already paid for it's creation. I do expect to have to pay for any modifications to modify the functionality in the future, and to be able to chose whomever I want to make the required changes.
    Is wedding photography really any different, no it's not. I pick a programmer based on his past performance and references, just as a client picks a photographer. I'll have to pay a lot more for a senior software engineer than I will for a recent university or college graduate, but I'll also expect a much more polished and better documented product from the much higher priced person.
    Josh, there can be a contract, but it would have to specifically name the photographer, or any other person as the holder of the copyright for work done under the contract for the copyright not to reside with the person who paid for the work.
     
  67. I just went to a website to a photographer (who shall remain unnamed) that I once used. Here's the pricing for a single portrait:
    Sitting Fee: $70, includes production of 70 proofs (but no transfer of proofs)
    Package A: (two poses)
    1-11x14
    4 Portrait Units
    48 Wallets
    Package Only: $320
    So, what is this telling me? This person's photography (their style/creativity/skill/etc.) is worth $70. The retouching is worth a part of that $320 for two out of those 70 pictures. The printing/clerical duties is worth the rest. These people are unwilling to sell negatives/digitals. I go back for another Package A, and I am again charged $320. I do not know what part of the photographer's style/creativity/skill is involved in a reprint order.

    Incidentally, this photographer charges $2,200 for wedding coverage, and does provide a DVD with digital files for weddings, but not portraits.

    I simply don't understand why a photographer would refuse to give up negatives/digital prints. What reason would you have to keep them, other than to charge me for reprints? Are you seriously going to claim that you want to hold onto them to look at?
     
  68. The people that say wedding photography is art and the people who say it is a product/commodity are each pulling their statement to the extremes. In reality, IMHO, wedding photography is somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. Sure, if it were purely a product, anyone with a camera will do. By the same token, if it were purely an artform, producing something usable to the person paying (and valuable to the person paying), would be hit or miss. I think most clients would be upset if the "artist", because he or she is following his own vision, omits documenting the wedding ceremony because she got side tracked photographing from the flower girl's perspective, for instance.
    Getting back to reality, if you, the wedding photographer, want to use a business model that does not include the files, then don't. By trying it, you will soon find out if it is feasible for you, with your style and place in your community. If you find it is difficult and getting more difficult, try a different package, offer 'some' files--whatever--to see if you can still continue. Otherwise, give in. It's pretty simple. The market (customers) will tell you.
     
  69. les

    les

    Marc:
    "I do completely disagree with the "commodity" mentality that this is just a service. There is still a magic about photography ... which I will continue to call "art". "
    No argument here - and this should be reflected in the price of your service. But you do not expect me to pay for the "magic" (no sarcasm here) - if I do not get the files ?
    John:
    "...but the bottom line is you are selling what you bring to the table. Otherwise anybody with a camera will do."
    and
    "You are hiring him for his work. "
    No, not just anybody with a camera will do. Yes, you are selling your skills, expertise, time - but not DIRECTLY. In other words - I am not paying for your PRESENCE, your skills, expertise and time - I couldn't care less how much time you spend at the wedding - for all I care you could sit on the Moon with a BIG lens (like 25,000km focal length :) - and you may not know the camera from a hammer. This is YOUR business to know all about wedding photography and be able to do it.
    I am paying for the PRODUCT of your skill, expertise, knowledge, artistic vision etc. (add whatever you want here). And I expect to get this product.
    Similarly - I am not paying a plumber to come and sit at my building site, and pay him just because he is very good at what he does. I will gladly pay, however, for the product of his work (be it hot water system or the sewage). And - sure as hell I will refuse to pay ongoing royalties for the use of the abovementioned amenities - a have already paid for them.
    I hope that you see my point.
     
  70. Philip--one big reason is because, like selling cars, the final price can be influenced by the way the deal is structured and by the people involved. A wedding photographer can say it will cost $2,500 to cover the wedding, which includes x products, and the files. So after shooting the wedding, he gets $2,500 (plus tax, of course) and is supposedly happy. The photographer who charges a coverage fee of $1,000 (x products included), and then sells files or prints or album upgrades, separately, can possibly end up with more than $2,500 plus tax. You may not agree with the tactics, but some people, both the seller, and the client, actually prefer this type of selling scenario--they are the same people who enjoy bargaining.
     
  71. Heck, I will even use MPIX. So, I find the image, I upload the image, and place the order. $2.75 for an 8x10 plus shipping ($6.00?). So now I am at $8.75. In the meantime I create an invoice. I received the print (don't need to worry about a re-print since we didn't even soft-proof the image anyway). Now I need to deliver the print. This means putting it in something, even if it's a cheap envelope (tacky); schedule time for the client to pick up the print (or hire a clerk), collect payment, process payment (accepting CC means transaction expense as well as a % of sale, or cash and check need to be deposited), complete the bookkeeping (mark invoice as paid, set aside sales tax etc). All of this is going to take me at LEAST 1/2 an hour. All for $11.25. Sorry, my time is FAR more valuable than that.

    That is a silly, straw-man argument. You don't do each print one at a time. You send a batch. You pay one shipping charge for all of them. You don't invoice them separately, but bundle everything into one invoice (or perhaps two invoices, initial package and post-wedding extras). Indeed, you don't need to do any of this part--you can get part-time clerical help to do this stuff. If you are spending your time on ordering single prints, then either you are wasting a ton of time or you have way too much time on your hands.

    I'm not a professional photographer, but I have done the 'here's your CD of pictures' routine to dozens (maybe hundreds) of people, mostly the parents of kids who are on my kids' rec-league sports teams or my kids' schoolmates. I do this for free, as a favor, because I have more photographic skill than 90+% of them and better equipment than 80% of them. The CD contains straight-from-the-camera JPEG's and a file with several alternative suggestions on how to get prints made. Some parents are thrilled and some don't care. But in several years of doing this basic routine, I've had exactly one parent ask more questions about manipulating files or getting prints. People can deal with a CD (or DVD) of JPEG's. They don't expect any digital darkroom work (and usually they don't need it). As a thank-you for the coaches, I will really work over a few pictures of their kids and get them some prints. Is there a quality improvement? Definitely. Would most people know or care, if not shown a side-by-side comparison? No. How many would be willing to pay anything significant for the extra quality of the digital-post picture? Few!
    Sure, a wedding is not a little-league baseball game. But if someone already stretching a budget can get good-enough for $300 or equisite for $3000, it ain't too hard to figure out which choice the vast majority of them will make. And whatever the (obviously self-interested) photographers think, that is usually the rational choice.
     
  72. Is wedding photography really any different, no it's not. I pick a programmer based on his past performance and references, just as a client picks a photographer.​
    And that past performance is as an artist. That is very different from what a programmer does. If you were a wedding photographer you would know that. The fact that you don't is proof of the special talents a good photographer brings to any project.
    When I hire a programmer to create a program to accomplish a specific task...​
    And you know what that task is in advance. Not so with a wedding photographer. It is my job to bring my vision to the process: My ideas about color and light, my ideas about composition, my notion of posing, mood and expression. My asthetic in In other words pretty much the opposite of what a contract programmer does.
    Is wedding photography really any different, no it's not.​
    Yes it is. I am surprised you can't see what everone else posting here clearly sees.
    This forum is for wedding and event photographers to share ideas and solve problems. It does not help when people who do not understand or have open contempt for what we do offer opinions based upon that contempt or lack of knowledge.
     
  73. Josh, there can be a contract, but it would have to specifically name the photographer, or any other person as the holder of the copyright for work done under the contract for the copyright not to reside with the person who paid for the work.​
    NO WAY!
    Seriously, have you ever looked at a professional wedding photography contract? What exactly do you think is in there? Bible quotes and Irish limericks?
     
  74. les

    les

    "This forum is for wedding and event photographers ..."
    Wrong again, Lee...
    This is a forum ABOUT Wedding and Social Event Photography, not FOR Wedding and Event photographers.
    Quite obviously the horse and the cart switched their places, so, to avoid possible misunderstanding - I will spell it out in short and simple words: wedding photographers exist to serve the customers, not the other way around.
    I can see now why and how this thread originated (no ill feelings toward the OP, though).
     
  75. I have considered doing a contract photographer approach and charge a flat fee and the pictures are yours for $350.00 a hour.
    Is this just to hand over the images on a disc, without processing? Because, if it is, I'm shocked. Are people really willing to pay someone $350 an hour just to take photos? I think it's time to close down the ol' internal medicine practice, if that's the case.
     
  76. Lee Richards has always rubbed me the wrong way, but I can't help but get extremely frustrated when wedding photographers who obstinately insist they are fantastic artists all day long. I can accept that we are craftsmen, or even skilled professionals. We each have a slightly unique style, and often clients will book us for our style, but I don't see this as a high art. The fine art photos I take are on a different plane than wedding photos. That isn't to say they are better or worse, but they are art created by me for no one but me. That is art.
    What I do for clients in wedding photography isn't a pure "product" (thanks Nadine for pointing that out) it is IMHO a lower form of pure art than some of my other photographic pursuits. I love the trade. It lets me do something I enjoy and experience beautiful days with my clients, but I view it as more of a trade than an art. While we bring our vision to the process we are generally hired to create a product that is quite similar to what I created last wedding. Indeed, if I were to deviate from my artistic "formula" (let's not lie we all have them) my clients would be upset that I didn't deliver a product in line with their expectations.
    In the end, I shouldn't be upset if wedding photographers want to call themselves creators of high-art and use that as their "angle" to sell to customers. If people think that hours in Photoshop creating a fake-looking scene helps them to sell packages, then more power to them. I tend to level with my clients a little more about what they get, and what others deliver and they seem to really appreciate my honesty.
     
  77. And you know what that task is in advance. Not so with a wedding photographer. It is my job to bring my vision to the process: My ideas about color and light, my ideas about composition, my notion of posing, mood and expression. My asthetic in In other words pretty much the opposite of what a contract programmer does.​
    When the Vatican hired Michaelangelo to do paint murals on the Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo brought his vision, his ideas, his composition, etc. to the table. Michaelangelo does not own the murals on the sistine chapel.
    When I hire a consultant for engineering services, he brings to the table his vision about an engineering solution, his knowledge about structural mechanics, his experience with design for durability and manufacturability. *We* own the final product of his labor, including the design drawings that would be analogous to film negatives.
    This is however, negotiated and placed in the contract. I'm not saying that in each and every case, a photographer must forfeit their copyright over the images, I'm complaining about the way Photographers used to refuse to give that up, and use it as a means to keep themselves as the middleman for print orders. You can do that, and you're perfectly entitled to use that as a business model. But don't be surprised if your customers find the tactic somewhat shrewd, and take their business elsewhere.
    I'm glad that the digital age has emphasized that there is little logical reason not to handover the source medium, and thus have prompted photographers to provide the DVD's. I had a lot of fun retouching many of my wedding photos myself.
    Philip--one big reason is because, like selling cars, the final price can be influenced by the way the deal is structured and by the people involved. A wedding photographer can say it will cost $2,500 to cover the wedding, which includes x products, and the files. So after shooting the wedding, he gets $2,500 (plus tax, of course) and is supposedly happy. The photographer who charges a coverage fee of $1,000 (x products included), and then sells files or prints or album upgrades, separately, can possibly end up with more than $2,500 plus tax. You may not agree with the tactics, but some people, both the seller, and the client, actually prefer this type of selling scenario--they are the same people who enjoy bargaining.​
    Yeah, I realize that, which is why I generally just ride with the motions. Whichever way the photographer structures the pricing, the ultimately hope to rake in X dollars which gets them fed and sends their kids to college.
     
  78. Lee, I used to do wedding, portrait and commercial work decades ago when I worked for a studio and after. I went into the IT field because it was new and more profitable. Yes there is artistry in photography, and a similar "vision" in designing and creating software. There are software designers, and there are coders. There are gifted artistic photographers, highly skilled technical/commercial photographers and there are the "despised Uncle Bob gear heads" plus everything in between.
    There are wedding pros who shouldn't be allowed to use a camera now, the same as there were back in the 1960s. There are programmer/coders to whom you have to spell out the work in detail, exactly like burning and dodging notes on a proof print. There are software specialists who can take a back of a napkin design spec for a peripheral handler and produce a functional system with no further guidance.
    When I am asked to create a custom billing system for an advertising agency, law firm, etc, I have to create a vision of the final product, spend hours studying the customers processes, put it all on paper in great detail that has to be understood by the customer, estimate the number of hours it will take to write it and then give the customer a firm price on the product. After all the design work, then I can spec the detail work to be written.
    There are more similarities than you believe, but then I have worked in both fields, and I do understand some of the problems photographers currently face.
     
  79. Josh, no I haven't read any current USA based wedding photography contracts, but then I live in a different country. Besides, software development proposals and contracts are worse. Reread that paragraph you quoted. In Canada, the copyright belongs to the person who placed and paid for the order, " in the absence of any agreement to the contrary". Yes the legalese is a pain to read.
     
  80. Lisa, interesting that you would turn down that portrait package request, that was the base wedding package at the studio I worked at. Three studio poses, 4x5 black and white negatives and three framed 8x10 prints of one of the poses.
     
  81. Lee Richards wrote:
    Somebody said:
    "You are being hired to document the day, not creating art for yourself."
    That was Steve Smith, way back at 2:14pm. Steve is right, no wedding photographer is being hired to create art for him/herself, they are being hired to document the day and hopefully creating art for the paying customer.​
    Yes, that was me and I stand by that statement. I don't want to play down the role of wedding photographer (my father was one for forty years) but what is wanted at a wedding is a very competent craftsman who can provide what the customer wants.
    The images are being created for the benefit of the paying customer, not for the photographer.
     
  82. I give up bob. You are obviously an expert on wedding photography and copyright law. A shame your reading comprehension seems to suffer a bit however.
     
  83. Leszek, read my first line . "I've always provided the files, and the negs before that." So, my clients pay me for the magic, skill and knowledge, not a kidnap ransom.
    Nadine, I said nothing about art as an extreme. Art in the service of commerce is always for a stated purpose. My advertising clients have a very clear communication purpose, but they hire me for creative ideas in expressing it ... it's why the visual people in advertising agencies are called "Art Directors" ... even the business types that hire us call us "art types" or "creatives".
    Juanita, no one used the term "High Art" which is an extreme suggesting abandonment of the stated commercial purpose. Like I said above, wedding photography is art in the service of commerce, which is obvious and need not be spelled out... or so I thought.
    While the wedding structure itself can be a "formula", each of us has the right to approach it as we see fit. Mine is to bring artistic creativity to the party which is based on each client's unique personality ... much as one would do with a portrait. Because of that, many of my complete weddings do not look like one another. I sell on that basis and many of my clients DO call it art and me an "artist" ... so why wouldn't I? It's why my clients hire me, and say so when doing it. People interested in rote coverage don't hire me ... and when they try to, I don't "hire" them.
    If that creative integrity puts me out of business, so be it. So far it hasn't even in a bad economy.
    As partial proof of the creative intent, I have NEVER let clients pick which images I give them, which images I put in an album if they ask me to do one, or which prints I may print IF I include prints in a package. All of which is stated in my contract, and my paying clients gladly accept. When doing so, I do not abandon the purpose of wedding photography, I work to creatively tell a story of unique personalities and their wedding day.
    Without being able to exercise my artistic or creative drive, I would have stopped shooting weddings a long time ago. Creativity is what gets me out of bed each day. Life is to short for living it as a provider of a commodity like soy beans. Art, and our own unique personal chemistry are what separates us from the techno-wonder machines we now use.
    Anyway, a lively and insightful thread no matter which POV each of us has!
     
  84. Adapt. Just raise your prices to include the digital files as part of the shooting fee and then pull out a scrap book and show them 'local drug store print' vs your print and tell them you would love to print for them at a very reasonable price. Include all your profit, income in the shooting fee. Give them the digital files (spend a little bit of time adjusting them) and then make 30% margin on prints and 70% margins on albums.
    My contract also says they can not sell the pictures, but they can print as much as they want and give the prints to whomever. Why, because I made all my money by showing up.
    Just a suggestion.
     
  85. My contract also says they can not sell the pictures, but they can print as much as they want and give the prints to whomever.​
    Do people actually want to sell pictures of their wedding?
     
  86. As someone who just did a lot of shopping around for a wedding photographer, I wouldn't even consider hiring someone unless they gave me the rights to my own pictures. All of the photographers that we looked at were doing shared rights, meaning the pictures are theirs but we can do whatever we want with them as well.
    These were all talented people with reasonable prices for my area (say $2000 and up for a nice package).
    Photographers that charged extra for those printing rights were considered, but eventually lost out. I'm not even remotely interested in paying an extra $750 or more to get something most others are offering for free.
    I know it sucks, but that's just the way it is now. I want the initial pictures from you, but I don't want to have to go through you for everything else that I need further down the road. What if you're no longer in business when I need a new 8X10?
     
  87. It's called "give the customer what they want!"
    Personally I never liked the "pay for prints" business model. It just seemed too shady to me. It reminds me of walking into an electronics store to buy a piece of electronics and the sales guy hounds me relentlessly to buy every add-on and warranty he can come up with. I just can in to buy one thing so stop trying to milk me for everything I got! Just like if I pay a photographer to take pictures of my wedding, I just want you to take picture and give me the pictures of MY WEDDING and I don't want to be milked dry (and held hostage) to buy prints after the fact!
     
  88. Just one more point to add to everything else being discussed: When pros used to shoot on film, there was exactly 1 negative in existence for each shot from the wedding. Prints had to be made from that negative, meaning that only 1 party could possess the ability to create prints. Now, with digital technology, the digital negative is easily replicable. This means there is no particular reason why only one party should retain the rights to print, especially when the most interested party is the client, not the photographer. Both parties can easier possess their own copy of the negative, and this is now abundantly clear, given that every single person in the world has their own digital camera, and is very familiar with the concept of file sharing.

    The antiquated idea of, "There's only 1 copy of the negative, and I'm the photographer, so I'll keep the negative. I'll always keep it in a fire-proof and water-proof safe, so you can always come to me for professional prints in the future." is far behind us. In the new world, that argument doesn't fly. The new view is, "All it takes is 3 minutes for an unattended computer to create a permament archival copy of everything related to the job. At the very least, as the client, I expect a copy of that disc."

    Pro photographers who are trying to withhold digital copies had better come up with really sound reasons why the client shouldn't be able to replicate their photographs years down the road, after the contract is long expired.
     
  89. Marc--I didn't claim you were saying anything about the art end of things in the extreme. What I said was that people on both sides of the art/product debate were 'pulling' their arguments toward the extreme ends of the debate. In other words, the middle was being ignored, and IMHO, wedding photography is in the middle somewhere. As you said, art in the service of commerce. I don't see that phrase in your first post though. What you said in that first post seemed to go along with the 'wedding photography as art' camp, without a nod to the commerce part. I don't think it goes without saying, based on some of the comments we've gotten so far. Plus, you aren't the only one emphasizing the art part, so some of the counter statements have been about some of the other, perhaps more extreme statements about the art content in wedding photography.
    As far as I'm concerned, one has to pay attention to what the customer wants, but one has to make what the customer wants, sing--one puts one's stamp on it The exact proportion of one to the other is something that may vary from photographer to photographer, as it should, so clients have choices when choosing a photographer.
     
  90. You know, this all goes back to original sin. The only reason a photographer kept wedding negatives was because he wanted to make more money. If photographers gave the negatives to the bride, and that was the established standard practice, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Same for any type of photography, really. I sure wish I had the negatives from my wedding. Everybody always wanted the negatives. Because they belonged to them. Their wedding, their pictures, their negatives.
    The only reason wedding photographers kept them was greed. The only reason to keep digital files is the same. Nobody wanted to let the photographer keep the negatives. Nobody wants the photographer to keep the digital files either. Raise your prices to cover your "lost" reprint sales - which by the way, you got fewer of because of the lingering resentment over keeping their files/negatives -and move on.
     
  91. Listen to Raymond Thompson, above. He is correct. You can't be in fear of giving photos away on a CD/DVD. You will just have to make a package that includes that. Think of it as an easy way to make money but still be a good photographer. You have no hassle of printing but when the bride and groom see the quality of photos on the CD they will refer you like crazy!
     
  92. Well, I did say I give them the files up front in my first post ... and correct all files to print level quality ... which is the "commerce" part Nadine.
    Plus, I clearly noted that the art of wedding photography is sync'ed to the client's dreams of their wedding day, which is meshing art with client desires ... my way of listening to them.
    I'll say it again, if you only do what they say they want, you erode the ability to provide them more ... they set the expectations rather than you setting them ... which is poor salesmanship IMO.
    Coverage can go beyond all the usual surface wedding things that are expected when a client first walks through the door ... what Ken Luallen calls the invisible moments. It's human insight, and seeking the deeper meaning of what is happening in front of you. That aspect is closer to what I call "art" then what I'd call "commerce." Not for everyone, nor can everyone necessarily pull it off. All approaches are valid if they work for you, and this isn't the only one that works. But it works for me and keeps me fresh, and it works for my clients.
    Take a peek at Ken's video in you get a minute ... www.kenluallen.com
     
  93. Wolfeye--greed is not the only reason photographers used to keep their negatives. Perhaps a reason, but not the only one. Someone above said that many clients, particularly with medium format negatives, didn't know what to do with them, and didn't want to deal with getting prints. What they wanted was to have the prints, and an album. Does it not make sense that a photographer would provide these as the final product? I think so. It doesn't mean it makes sense today, though, or even 20 years ago, when 135mm film started to be used for weddings. More consumers were familiar with 135mm film.
    As for greed causing the 'profit from prints' model, it is a model that took the above into account, and provided a way for a photographer to make money. I don't think wedding photographers are into this purely for the joy, or else they wouldn't be charging any money. We all gotta make some money--so this model vs. just charging time and talent? More or less the same to me, when judged by the sin/greed ruler.
     
  94. I'm just going to ditto a number of posts here, and I'm afraid it isn't good news for wedding photo pros.
    I'm a middle class teacher in Washington state, with similar friends and family. Most of the weddings I've attended (and my own) were pretty small budget affairs (my wife and I paid for our own ~$5000 20 yrs ago - my brother shot the pictures). Photography was far down the list of importance. Most people want to focus their limited budget on the day, and realize that they'll rarely look back at the pictures, so they don't have to be perfect or profuse. I can't think of any of my friends who has a big wedding print out on the wall.
    I've been asked to shoot a few weddings over the years and don't feel comfortable doing so by myself since I'm not a pro with good lighting and back-up gear (I'm a sports/landscape specialist). I have been happy to second shoot though (at times with other amateur friends) and been told (and agreed myself) that my shots were better than the hired pro (the most recent wasn't cheap).
    Digital has changed every aspect of photography for ever, especially the business end of it. I'm glad I don't make my living from it because I love the power and creativity it puts in my hands at an almost affordable price point (I still spend too much on it).
     
  95. That's life in the digital age. i shoot weddings and have adapted..i use digital, get paid by the hour. i set a fixed fee.Should the wedding and reception run longer, my problem. Get into the swing and enjoy. Often great pix at these times..i do a main album, two smaller albums, the CD's and if there was film used, the negatives.i also incude about 5 to 10 8x10/12ins prints. The usage of digital has made life sweeter, Photoshop, used very sparingly.i don't think though the results of digital compare to film..seeing a wedding album recently shot on Hasselblad 500 series all film, was breath-taking.The album was also a biggie!You get what you pay for sometimes..
    The fact is most couples, almost anywhere in the world, cannot pay huge fees. My daughter and son-in-law were wed in South Africa and she hired the top photographer. The cost was sheer envy on my part! Being part of the retinue i was not able( or rather not permitted) to shoot the event. i am sure my ex-wife and i would have done a way better job.. The photographer had changed to "Digital".My few snaps done whenever i could, on an old Leica M3, 50mm Summicron(series1) and a 35mm Summaron f2.8, tiny Vivitar strobe.The next day in went the films!i had arranged with a 1-hour Kodak lab to process my 8 or 10 rolls, scan, print 3 of everything!. A few hours later i had my prints,CD's and albums ready to fill. Pam, my ex, sat on the floor and filled the books. One small for Her, the other for the other family and the big and main album for my daughter. We handed the shoot over at the gift opening, the next afternoon,after the wedding. The "pro" only had Her album, CD's ready almost 6 weeks later...i had told the pro, what i needed to do, having, to fly back to Canada, two days later!My portraits are simply streets ahead in quality..The digital shot was so contrasty. It was an overcast day,plus mostly well lit interiors.
    So as a wedding photographer, one should adapt with the best. Do NOT expect extra prints, it hasn't happened to me in years. i will always deliver the albums. Get and set a fair price. If you cannot come out do something else..
     
  96. and I'm afraid it isn't good news for wedding photo pros....
    Photography was far down the list of importance. Most people want to focus their limited budget...​
    I am not sure this is bad news? Limited budgets and people who don't consider photography important are simply people a photographer shouldn't be trying to market too! No offense intended with that statement. We seem to have a classic two sided discussion going on here: consumers who want the working pro to lower their prices and working pros who want to increase their value. The pro is going to market to consumers who value what they offer. The consumer will gravitate to what they feel is the best value. Considering portrait studios, why doesn't everyone just use the chain portrait studio... the one with $9.99 gets you all sorts of prints and a free sitting? There are those that do and that's fine. I am certainly not going to run a business marketing to that customer.
     
  97. I still use film for weddings, which eliminates this problem. Iv only ever had one client show any interest in the equipment I used (and that was quite a while back) and iv never had any complaints. Having said that I only do wedding work P/T and dont rely on it for my living.
     
  98. Alot of responses for this, it looks like there are two clear sides to the story. I happen to be on Steve Smith's side:
    The images are being created for the benefit of the paying customer, not for the photographer.​
    I would probably be classified as the photographer who doesn't have the right gear, and advertises on Craigslist. We have to start somewhere right? I personally don't feel like I own the images I take, like they are my property, I fee like the quote above, I was hired to take the pictures and provide them to the paying customer. I DO however stipulate that I have the right to use the pictures for my business in the means of Advertising. In a day an age where law is so "Grey' and everyone is looking to cover their assets, you have to sign your life away to be on TV, because they "OWN" that image of you. I don't think a wedding Photographer should take a picture of someone, and turn it around and sell it as a Stock Photo, because the the subject of the Photo has rights. When we got married, we hired a photojournalist, it was a new unheard of trend at the time, and everyone said where is the traditional photographer? He did exactly what your issue was, he took pictures, 2,600 of them to be exact, between him and another partner, and two cameras each. We have all 2,600 pictures, in Tiff format. We own them, and are free to print them. But I did see my wife on the front page of his website for many years after-wards. I as a customer have NO problem with that, he benefited, we did too. He did offer printing services as well, but we didn't have the money to do that.
    I gleaned alot from him, I don't think that it's fair to judge someone by the equipment they have, or lack of. Each person is an artist, and while yes, I don't have a D3, D700, or a D300 I do have an artistic eye that customers like, and while I don't make my living off of wedding photography (not by a long shot) I love to do it, and when the time comes to up my prices, and get better equipment I will.
    If everyone looked down at the guy with the used stuff, we wouldn't have revolutionary artists. People who picked up their dad's cameras, or used an old one, vs the New top of the line equipment. Like what a lot of people said before, times change, you have a choice, change with them, or don't. But I think that any business that doesn't adapt to the market around them will not be successful at all.
     
  99. One reason why I think having a relatively low "time and talent" price and then make most of the money selling prints is a good idea is that it offers the clients to focus their money on the images that they like. If the photographer makes a lot of good images from that particular wedding, they sell a lot of prints and make money. If they only do a moderately good job, they end up with fewer print sales. Thus they're paid more for quality work. This is the way things should be from the customer's point of view also. You cannot completely deduce the quality of the pictures that you'll get from your wedding based on online examples of the photographer's work since the quality has a lot to do with the people being photographed and how they interact. And the photographer only has to do significant post-processing on those images which the customer has indicated that they want. Thus it reduces the amount of pointless work on the photographer's part trying to make every image look its best even if in many cases the client loves different images than the photographer. I do think there should be an option to purchase the full-resolution files on DVD, but the price should be set so that it allows the photographer to get a good compensation for the editing time spent. If the photographer just does a routine job, sure, editing will be minimal, but if they strive to create something new every time, and take the images to a higher level, especially in available light, editing time is a substantial part of the work.
     
  100. Lisa,
    I do have enough weddings and portraits sessions booked and I am keeping busy.​
    I think that if this were truly the case, you wouldn't be taking the time to post the question and respond to the replies. You're clearly looking for a solution. Use the files as a hook and sell them at a reasonable price or include them with your higher end packages. You might also consider some other business strategies. I'm in the process of reading Dan Sanders' "Fast Track Photographer". It's at least worth the read....-Aimee
     
  101. This is ridiculous, in no way do you have to give all your files; no matter how much the client as paid or shall be served. As a graphic designer I'm not giving away all my original design data/drafts/sketches/pictures/ etc...only the finished best, then the client chooses from the best.
    Wedding photography is being dragged into the mud by of you who believe the client is king and we should listen to everything they say. The base client is "stupid" we must make it seem like their are smart!
     
  102. I can understand where Ilkka Nissila is coming from, but I respectfully disagree with the premise that 1)you can't give a client images that haven't been heavily edited in post production and 2)that clients are going to be satisfied with the pay a little up front, pay more if you like what you got model.
    1. I guess I'm different than most wedding photographers, but my images (the keepers anyway) look good enough out of the camera that I'm not uncomfortable giving them a full-resolution copy of an unedited image or an image with only very basic Lightroom adjustments. Even if I provide an edited version of an image, I still include the unedited version of the DNG or JPG (depending on their request) for them to keep for archival purposes. Especially in an era where post-production work can make your photos look "trendy" today, and therefore "dated" tomorrow, I think I owe it to my clients to give them an image that captures the day as it actually was so that they can keep it for posterity.
    2. While the low up-front cost model has its merits and will work for some people, I still think it's not the right model for most. It's my wedding day. I am not going to repeat my wedding day. I want to count on the fact that you can deliver great images for every client--especially me. So while you have an incentive to produce great images so that I buy more, I am going to be extremely frustrated if you underperform. What if you only captured 3 images that are actually worth printing out? My wedding is worse for having hired you, in that case. Not having to spend as much money on mediocre prints doesn't make me happy. I'm just upset that you couldn't even produce prints good enough for me to buy. My only solace is that at least Uncle Bob was around with his D5000 and kit lens and caught a few moments (albeit poorly exposed and slightly out of focus) to let me remember the day by. And he doesn't care where I post my pictures or what I do with them. At least I have all of the files from Uncle Bob.
    Lastly, I understand you at some level. I do believe that a pro doesn't show the client all of his work. I am borderline ruthless when it comes to cutting out images that don't make the cut technically, but I also believe that we do clients a disservice when they hire us to document their wedding and we only give them a handful of overproduced shots to remember the day by. I say give them a copy of the unedited, properly exposed, and in-focus photos from the day. Let them choose a reasonable number of images and edit those to be perfect. They will know you are great from the "wow" shots that you edited for them, but they also get to keep other (perhaps less important, but still relevant) moments you captured for them.
    And Iwao, I think that graphic design is not exactly on the level. I don't care what your preliminary draft looks like, but I do care that you captured the moment of our first married kiss. Frankly, even if the focus is irreparably soft and the exposure is a little dark I want that photo. Because it fails technically, I may not want it on my wall, but I want it for posterity, nonetheless. Let me have the image. It's my wedding day. And while I'm sure this "lecture the client about what they really want" resonates with the old-school "used-car salesman" photographer, it doesn't resonate with my clients, and it doesn't resonate with me personally. As such, I don't do it. Anyone is free to avoid listening to what the client wants. I have a pretty successful business picking up those clients who the old-school togs can't satisfy.
     
  103. les

    les

    Quite clearly there are two opposing interests at work here: the customers who want to get the most for their money, and the photographers who want to maximize their profits.
    And no - not all customers are idi%ots who do not know bad image from a good one, and not all the photographers are greedy or insufficiently qualified (to put it mildly). In most cases the opposite is true.
    Let me tell you why I got one guy and not the other - maybe there is some value in reading this.
    We visited two photogs, both quite established. The third one got the job.
    The first two visits have been generally pretty similiar - although not all the points below are applicable to both. It should be noted that all three have been polite and courteous etc.
    - "please have a look at some of the beautiful pictures we make" - OK, we already did have a look at the websites, but it can't hurt to have another look ? Wrong: the album was worn to the point it should have been replaced, and its location (on a low coffee table, with the overhead lamps creating heaps of reflection from the images) made it very difficult to concentrate on the images.
    -"here are the packages we are offering and the pricing" - well, good to know that - but how do you know that I need any of this? I do not want to discuss what YOU have to sell, I want to tell you what I need.
    -"we can be booked for a minimum of X hours and the minimum number of prints is Y, and we charge Z amount for transport if further than...from..., and we charge additionally if we are required to stay past XY hour" - uh uh..no comment here - except that XY hour specified was rather early.
    -"we do not provide high resolution files on DVD, because...blah blah blah..." - well, that's no good, because what I primarily want is a DVD with files "sorry, we do not do that, but if you reeally want it we would have to charge you" - insert here some 4-digit number.
    -"why so much for the prints ?" - "oh, we use professional equipment, and then editing of the images is difficult and time consuming, and...and..." - well, I have some idea regarding both, and I still think this is a bit over the top.
    Half an hour wasted in both cases (not including getting there and back).
    The third one - who landed the job (he was recommended by one of my daughter's friends, who attended one of "his" weddings):
    - "have you looked at my website ?" - yes - "good, you know then what I do and how I do it. If you want to have a look at a typical wedding album - couple of examples are on the table" - so, we did have a look, and at this point we decided that if all else is OK - then we will get one of these - they just looked soooo nice...
    -"where is the venue and what can I do for you ? You have seen some examples of what people typically take - but feel free to put together your own package" - sounds good - and the package examples on the website have been EXAMPLES - not firmly priced packages (in fact, no prices were quoted there).
    -"do I provide DVD with hi-res files? - Sure, JPEGs straight out of the camera, if you want editing on some of them - let me know - there would be additional cost involved" - well, getting closer and closer :)
    -"the prints ? Sure, whatever you want, they are basically at a cost" - sounds too good to be true... but let's wait and see
    -"what do I charge? - my pricing is between $XX and $YY. Depends on what you want" - sounds good, although the lower price is quite a lot more than I would expect, and the higher is way above what I would be willing (and able) to pay. But - the guy is flexible, and does not make difficulties, so it sounds promising.
    -"how long do I stay ? As long as required to get the job done - within reason. But weddings do not end in 3 or 4 hours" - sounds good...kind of...
    So - we decided what we are going to take (some prints, a nice album, DVDs) - now, what is the price ?
    I must say that at this point I was already sold on a) quality of images b)nice presentation c) flexibility, so I was ready to pay whatever I had to. Which means that I haven't flinched (much) when hearing the price - higher than both previous ones. But - it was a done deal.
    Now - how it worked in practice:
    -the guy turned up at the house EARLY, with two big bags full of high quality (and well worn) Nikon gear
    -took some photos and then drove of to the venue (about 1.5 hrs drive) and was waiting for us there. As it turned out - he had time to talk things over with the celebrant at the church, and also look around the village (it paid off later)
    -he was dressed in dark pants and white shirt - not too different from most of the guests when the jackets were off
    -he was totally unobtrusive - in fact I was wondering when and how he managed to take all these pics - but he did, and they were very good - straight from the camera
    -he managed to discover some nice locations in the village and around (where he then took B&G) to shoot some VERY pretty pics
    -he worked about 10 hours straight and disappeared when he was not needed any more (late at night, after informing us that he has what is required - and do we need his services any longer ? - no we did not, thank you).
    -The album was beautiful, the DVDs full of very nice high quality JPEGs (some duds have been deleted, of course - and possibly some PS action applied - maybe ?) - and really, not much editing was required if any. We printed whatever we wanted (although the quality of his prints was better, no question about that).
    Since then - we recommended this guy to a number of people, who ended up as happy as us with the work he did. All of us paid a pretty penny (but all of us got exactly what we wanted, to a very high standard) - and there was no ill feelings about the price. This guy knew what he was doing and did a good job w/o making big fuss about ownership of the images etc. etc.).
    As far as I am concerned (and several of other people who used him since) - his business model works a charm.
    And - this is not a fairy tale about an ideal wedding photographer who does not exist. This has happened, and I have a lot of images to prove it. I also have the bill...well, let bygones be bygones :) It was worth it.
     
  104. People do want the image files these days, so they can print it themselves and as many as they like, so they are getting alot more value for thier money. Like everyone is saying the times have changed with the digital age. Buisiness's have to accomadate this change and offer this type of thing, other wise the customer is just going to find someone who does offer the files, ie the craiglist.
     
  105. I too have faced this dillema. I am a freelance photographer and changed to digital for one reason like the rest of us - less overhead expenditure on film & film processing and more profit from providing our product simply as a digital medium.

    I tend to quote on an estimated but accurate block of time the client needs me for and how long I beleive in reality it will take and hours expended on post processing (administration) with a small amount of consumables.
    I tend to produce the following for my clients;
    Images on DVD (x 2 copies) with simple file breakdowns of the images; All Photos, All Photos_Email Size, Choice Photos, Editors Choice and Contact Sheets. Post processing (sharpening, USM, touchups etc etc) take a significant amount of time and I place emphasis on this in the beginning so they dont expect the price just to be for the photographer "at the event". There is more too it than that.
    I stay almost completely away from prints due to the hassles and explicitly mention to clients prints are not included and they can be printed from my DVD / CD's by both consumer and professional labs at a fee that will vary depending on size & finish etc. Once the pictures are completed, I upload to a site so they can see the product before delivery and broadcast it to firends and family. That sometimes drums up more business.
    If you want to protect all of your images, digital metadata and a set of terms and conditions are the only mechanisms the mainstream photographer has in his possession unless you are a truly well established photographer that demands certain terms and control over images for good reason.
    My work is basically a side-job so until it becomes my mainstream income and I need to protect it, my aim is to get my name into the fishbowl and see what tackle I can muster.
    Things in the horizon for me if things get more mainstream for photography is the legal aspect (terms and conditions of the contract), copyright issues as mentioned in this forum, tax breaks for photographers and insurances such as indemnity. Imagine committing to a wedding and you break your leg..........., even a verbal committment to someone is still a legally binding contract - yes I will do it. That could be a very bad day for the bride and your reputation.
     
  106. After reading all the newest comments, I went back and reread the title of the thread. I think it is particularly fitting and hilarious: "Losing customers because everyone wants the images." Ha! What else would your customers want? It's like a retaurant owner complaining: "Losing customers because everyone wants hot food."

    Seriously, I liked Leszek Scholz's recent post with real-world examples. It reminded me of picking a photographer. One of the biggest things that turns me off, as a customer, is package deals. "For $XXXX price you get so many hours, so many 8x10's, 5x7's, and 32 wallet prints." Who wants wallet prints? I see that as money totally wasted. So what would I want with a package deal? Screw that. Also, additional fees for things that are obviously going to be required, like staying for the duration of the event, or correcting photos. Duh! Or, in the most pertinent point of the day, getting the stupid DVD. "That'll be an extra $1000". Whatever. A DVD costs about 20¢. Don't try to hike prices based on print sales. We all know that's bull-oney. We hire a photographer to be a photographer, and take and produce photographs. We shouldn't have to pay extra money to the photographer to make profit off the prints. The printer is already doing that. I know full well that a good printer charges $50-$100 for an enlargement. The printer is covering all his costs + profit. What am I supposed to think when the photographer tells me that each 11x14" print will be an extra $150? Prints should always be at cost, because it's cost to the photographer, not cost to the printer. Photographer's cost means profit to the printer. I'm also not fool enough to believe that every pro photographer is also an accomplished printer, and I know you're not all making your own prints. Maybe a couple of you are, but by-and-large pro photographers are not doing their own printing.
     
  107. Craig, I don't think you're getting the point. If the DVD is given away at a low cost, the images will likely be unedited or minimally edited, thus the assumption that the photography is just about being there and clicking away. This is the equivalent of eating at McDonald's. Fast pictures, low cost. It amounts to the equivalent of buying a 1st draft of scribblings for a novel plot instead of a published book or unedited reels of film for a feature film. If that's what you want - fine, if you can find a photographer who will do it, but I'd never consider it an acceptable final product. The compensation for that would have to be enormous since everyone would see me as a produced of draft-quality work. Since almost all weddings are on Saturdays, it would be impossible to live from shooting weddings and just giving out the in-camera JPGs. I am sure that doesn't concern you but nevertheless if you want there to exist such a thing as a professional wedding photographer who spends all their working time specializing in this field, there has to be a way they can live off it. Providing a disk of unedited JPGs once a week doesn't do it. There has to be additional refinements and products. Think about the production of wood and pulp vs. reading the final product which is e.g. a newspaper on your breakfast table. Which stage do you want to be the producer in? I find that the most interesting part of wedding photography and people photography in general is telling the story, producing a coherent set of images that is greater than the sum of its constituents. This involves selecting the images which express the emotions of the main characters as well as guests, their personality, the course of the events of the day, all in a way where all the images fit seamlessly both visually and content-wise next to each other presented as in an album, or a coffee table book. Some tension and drama, piece and calm, all the elements of a rich life. In my opinion the story is the product and the unedited pictures are the raw material, not quite the paper and ink, but still content at a draft level only.
    The cost of prints isn't about the print itself. An Epson makes a 11x14" archival print for 3€. But to make the print so that it sings feeling and emotion and is as expressive as a photograph can be takes time and to make the local adjustments on the level of individual pixels takes a considerable amount of care and time compared to making the same adjustments for an image to be viewed on the web or a 4x6" print. If the photographer used decent glass and technique, all imperfections show very clearly at those print sizes unless corrected manually. (No, I'm not talking about smoothing the skin which results in unnatural looking images but to fixing the contrast of certain details in such a way that they don't catch the eye as well as correcting variations in available light, choosing optimal black and white conversion settings etc.) Very slight changes to the tonality of the image can make a large difference in the emotional perception of the final print. Add to this editing work the cost of handling a large print, packaging it individually and shipping it (a customer isn't likely to purchase many such prints so it has to be priced as a single image), all of which takes time and is extremely boring work. This is why the photographer charges $150 or whatever (I think that's expensive but maybe, if they're good). Also, it may include some compensation for keeping around a medium format system (i.e. 10000 USD + lenses) for the group shot that will be blown out to a wall size print - this equipment isn't used for most of the images but nevertheless its use/presence involves additional logistics and costs that may not be possible to cover otherwise. It is natural that these extra costs should be paid by that customer who demands such a print rather than putting it into the base fee for everyone to pay.
    Because the level of refinement needed for a small print is comparatively small, and if a large print is not likely, then it would make sense that the photographer perform rudimentary editing suitable for making the album but not the large print and provide jpgs of size that is suitable for reproduction of similar results if required. But if you're going to have a third party make a large print of one of the files, the photographer should have the right to prepare the file to their standard of refinement. This is why pay-by-print ordering makes sense. It saves unnecesary time and effort on the part of images that will not be printed or printed at large sizes, and since unnecessary effort is avoided, it saves the customer's money also.
    Leszek, if I'm reading correctly, you were ticked off by the idea of pre-priced packages so much that you'd rather pay more to a photographer who listens to you and then quotes a price off the hat? I would hope that the quality of the product would play a decisive role rather than pricing structure especially if you are going to select the more expensive product in the end. If it was better, fine, but why then bring up the issue of pricing at all in conjunction with the story since you chose the photographer based on the quality of the photography. All the photographers offered the DVD, but the price level differed. Yet you chose the most expensive option. I have to wonder what we're supposed to learn from this. "As long as you provide a custom product, you can charge whatever you want." Or was it that the third photographer offered the DVD + album at a price higher than the album alone from the other photographers, but for less than the DVD + album from the other two? What does charging extra for late hours matter if the total price is going to be lower anyway? This would seem to me that it's customer friendly. Notice that a busy wedding photographer never has a Saturday with the family. If the spouse works during the week, they only have one day per week together. I think it's perfectly understandable that the photographer charges more for late night coverage since that's the time what most people in the western world consider the best quality time they have. Also, the later the night, the darker the existing lighting becomes and therefore there is extra work needed in form of lighting equipment etc. that might not be needed on a wedding where the photographer can leave after it gets dark. In my opinion the late night part of the wedding is the hardest to work with while preserving the atmosphere of the location. Obviously if the couple doesn't care about these night shots it makes sense they'd not have to pay for it. I think it's much better that the photographer charges based on time and offers the option of limited coverage but edits the images properly rather than asking the same amount of money for staying late and delivering unedited snapshots.
     
  108. On thing I find interesting is the number of supposedly professional photographers who constantly gripe about how their work is being undercut by "craigslist" newbies.
    What they fail to remember is that when they started, they had to scramble and do things for free as well. And if craigslist was available 20-30 years ago, they would have used it too to grab some business.
     
  109. The pay per print only works when people order a large number of prints it kind of leaves the photographer rather short when they get a bit of a bad run where customers don't order many prints because their financial situation changed a few weeks before the wedding. Personaly myself I have done too many jobs that just relied on print sales and it is not something I would do again. Photographers need charge enough up front to at least pay for their time and cover expenses. With weddings at least there is a good chance that the couple will order prints because they searched for a photographer in the first place. With many other social type events the event organiser will often try to book a photographer with out any up front payment and allow the photographer to sell prints later in the evening, sometimes those events can be really good but there is nothing worse than working late into the night only to find that most are not interested in purchasing the photos even worse is when you count up at the end of the night only to discover that some picture have been stolen.
     
  110. The thing is--there were and are good reasons for using the 'profit from prints' model. Photographers using the model then and now were and are not greedy sharks duping poor customers out of their hard earned cash. Customers are not dim witted lemmings. They also have different needs, and there are different models to accommodate those needs.
    I was reading a Rangefinder article the other day, about a photographer who is successfully using a model that does not give out files. The article said she employs a staff of about 30 and has 5 full teams available on any given Saturday. I assume no one is holding a gun to her customer's heads to force them to buy from her.
    As with most things, there is also no need to go totally one way or the other. There is room for different models. As long as you can continue to get clients using your model, why not? There is also no need to be righteous about one method or the other. If it works for you, swell. If it works for the other guy, swell, whatever model it is.
     
  111. Howdy!
    One detail: When delivering images, make sure you batch rename them so the customer doesn't know that the crappy ones you deleted are missing. Otherwise, they will think they have been cheated, and ask for the "missing" images.
    I always rename mine YYMMDD_HHMMSS_S, where S is a sequence number for resolving conflicts with my second shooter.
    Later,
    Paulsky
     
  112. This is ridiculous, in no way do you have to give all your files; no matter how much the client as paid or shall be served. As a graphic designer I'm not giving away all my original design data/drafts/sketches/pictures/ etc...only the finished best, then the client chooses from the best.​
    This isn't an apt comparison though. Would you give out the digital file of the final markup? The scraps are useless to your customer, but the digital markup is, much like the digital files produced from a photography session (even after the photographer has sifted through and picked out the best ones).
    When we work with graphic artists, we get the digital file. This way, we can go to various printers. Also... it's the 21st century. We email brochures to our clients far more than we mail them or hand them out.
    One reason why I think having a relatively low "time and talent" price and then make most of the money selling prints is a good idea is that it offers the clients to focus their money on the images that they like. If the photographer makes a lot of good images from that particular wedding, they sell a lot of prints and make money.​
    I think this is a valid justification. If the customer doesn't like the proofs, he/she can just walk away without buying prints, and will not have spent a lot of money. At the same time though, when we bought a package of prints, we picked 2 poses and bought a slew of prints for a fixed price. If we went back and bought it again, we were stuck with that fixed price again, even though there was probably much less work involved with simply reordering the prints. Regardless, it would be nice if photographers offered both systems, and really were more transparent with the costs involved.
     
  113. The problem comes when the photographer has spent many hours photographing on the wedding day and then put in more time making the proofs ready. They should be compensated for that time at least if they have done a decent job even if the couple decides at that time to only order small number of prints.
    The graphic artist may hand over a finished file for printing but they will have been compensated for the time they spent doing the job. If a wedding photographer were to charge for the time they spent shooting the wedding and working to produce the proofs many people would be quite supprised at what that up front cost would be and many would not be happy having to order the prints they want on top of that price.
    If the photographer were to shoot and hope to make that money from print sales the prints would end up to be very expensive to cover the cost of the photography and many would not like the idea. Many photographers like to do packages that include the shooting, processing fee and also an album or a number of prints.
    When people have their car repaired they don't expect just to pay the cost of the parts they have to pay the labour as well. If you have a new kitchen fitted you don't just pay for the cabinets there are labour costs even if you are quoted an all inclusive price.
     
  114. If you charge insufficiently for your time, and plan to make up profit on prints, there is a solid reason why this is an inherently dishonest system. It is designed to persuade clients on the basis of low cost up front, while downplaying the other costs on the back end. But when it comes down to it, it will cost the customer more money before it's all said and done. They will have to shell out more money to get the complete package that they want. It is the GOAL of this type of marketing to get people to commit because the charge is only $500, when the competition wants $2000, but then you charge an extra $1500 for all the little extras, like the album which wasn't included, the family portrait, the B&G portrait, the night-shooting charge, etc. That's what it's about. It's about showing the customer a lower price up front. It's about confusing and dazzling the customer with a lot of math and fees and additional costs. It's about convincing a customer through numbers alone that they owe you every penny that you are asking. It is deceit at the very core. When it comes down to it, if the client decides to purchase no extras whatsoever, they are only obligated $500. You say that's ok, but if it really goes down like that, you are losing money. You know this. The client knows this. So in a way, the client is not really obligated to purchase extras, but really they are. Remember, the client is afraid (to a degree) of suffering your wrath, the same way you are afraid of theirs. They will feel like being nice and buying some extras, because they know that's how you plan to make your money. This may work for your marketing, especially when dealing with low-budget-minded people, but it's not a high-class, professional way to present your business. The classy pro knows that they customer wants to know the total cost up front, and is willing to accept the price. And they understand that once the deal is made, you never address money again. It ceases to be an issue. The job just gets done at that point.

    Finally, and this is to Ilkka Nissila, I don't think anyone here (I hope) is really talking about a DVD of unedited photos as the sole product. That's the low-level churn-and-burn that we've all heard so much about, and dreaded in our nightmares. I'm talking about a complete package where the client gets a photo album at the very least, and probably an extensive set of proofs or some large prints. In this case, it would be the last step to put the archives on a disc and hand it over to the client, with final versions of all pictures from the proofs and album on the disc. Basically, it's a record of all the work you've done, and it preserves that work for the client's future use, at their option. I'm not even talking about RAW's here, just the final JPGs. The thing is, many people just want to be able to put some pictures on their blog, or Facebook, or email them to their friends, or put a slideshow up on the computer. They might even print a bunch of 4x6's and pass them around to their friends. Probably not, but maybe. None of these activities are perceived (by the customer) to have any monetary value. You should make sure you cover all your costs and make a buck with all your services leading up to this point, and let the digital files go.
     
  115. It's not really dishonest if the customer is made aware of the additional costs up front. The customer can usually request a price list up front and add up for themselves if it is cost effective or not. It is no different than buying a basic PC and later deciding to do the upgrades rather than purchasing a better PC in the first place. You could order a base model car and later decide to have the AC, electric seats, luxury trim and alloy wheels fitted afterwards but it could end up costing more. On the other hand a couple could go for a luxury photography package because that is all that is available and not really want the expensive photo album and two parent albums because all they really want is a few 11x14s for the wall. Its really the same with any product a farmer may not want a fully decked out landrover discovery because s/he is going to use it for work and will likely spoil any luxury trim.
     
  116. Here's a random question for the wedding photographers: do you ever get sick of it? Art, as it may be, is fun when you have a bit of creative freedom. When it gets down to business however, you're following someone else's schedule, being summoned to be creative on someone else's schedule, taking pictures of a subject that you didn't really determine or choose. You have a laundry list of must haves: the kiss, the walk down the aisle, the bridge getting dressed, etc.
    I'll tell you about another perspective: the wedding DJ. On the spectrum of DJ work, weddings are amongst the most lucrative gigs you can pull. It's nice steady work. However, the bridge/groom gives you a list of songs to play, and when to play them. It is guaranteed to be music that you don't enjoy, or worse, utterly loathe. As a skilled DJ, you could mix, scratch, juggle tracks, backpeddle, you could dazzle an appreciative crowd.... but this is not an appreciative crowd. So you just hang back and throw the tracks on that the bride listed. It pays well, it's fun to be a part of a happy occasion, but often, it can be a *grind*.
     
  117. Philip--not really. While some parts of photographing a wedding are not fun, the overall effort, I find, is still fun. It is enough to still keep me awake at times, the night before I shoot a wedding. I like the challenge of coming up with good images in the face of repetition, short time schedules, etc. I generally don't enjoy bad behavior from anyone, though.
     
  118. Philip, my older son is DJing a wedding tommorrow. I asked him if he was going to give the B&G all the music files in case they want to listen to their music again in 10 years. He told me something I can't write on here. Glad I still shoot film and use a Hasselblad and only sub for two studios, so no afterwork for me. I don't care what files they give to who, just pay me for the job. I just did a digi job for a small Christening. I shot the job and made them a CD toward the end of the job while I was still there, 15 minutes, 2 CDs, got paid bye-bye, I don't care what they do with them either.
     
  119. Phillip, if one is simply "cookie cutter documenting" a set of rituals that are similar one wedding to the next, then it could suck the fun out of it.
    If one concentrates on the hidden human things I mentioned above while documenting what's happening, then each wedding is unique. That is a lot of fun IMO.
    Also, creativity isn't just what you shoot, it's how you shoot it. That is up to the photographer.
    I think there are some photographers that get into a rut because they repeat what worked before to be safe. Yet, once you master your tools and raise your level
    of self-confidence, you can reach out often, and do the unexpected successfully every time.
    Set high expectations, and then strive to exceed them. It keeps you on your toes.
     
  120. " do you ever get sick of it? "
    Never.
    I help the couple with the schedule. Usually they ask for my advice since I've been doing this for awhile. It's second nature to me to get the "money" shots. I get along with the people at each wedding. How could I not get along on a happy day for all involved, at least it is with clients that hire me.
    No, it's not a grind for me. Especially now because I don't need to do many weddings each year anymore.
    This is my retirement occupation. I'm back at my roots using B&W film along with digital. I'm going to do it until I leave this earth.
     
  121. Philip, my older son is DJing a wedding tommorrow. I asked him if he was going to give the B&G all the music files in case they want to listen to their music again in 10 years. He told me something I can't write on here.​
    Heh. For a wedding? Why? Is he afraid the world will learn his secret obscure track: "I do it for you" by Bryan Adams?
    I tease... but I tend to find that many DJ's are quite willing to share tracklists. It isn't the tracklist that makes the DJ anyways.
     
  122. Nadine, this is a fantastic post! This surely got photogs juices flowing. Very informative at the same time. Lisa, I bet you didn't expect this much fervor from you post.
    Just sayin'
    Herma
     
  123. Can anyone blame anyone else for trying to make the most from their time working? I don't think anyone is being taken advantage of. I also don't think that photographers are getting paid like rock stars, which is the impression you get from some posts here. I think people don't appreciate very well the amount of work involved, or the costs of running a business which are invisible to you if you're a salaried employee with full health and benefits. I also really feel that talented photographers have something quite special to offer.
    It may be that customers end up spending more with a low up front price, no-dvd, pay for prints business model. Take a look around, nearly every where you look businesses try to get you in the door with low up front prices, and there's nothing wrong with it. I'm not a pro photographer, but have done some wedding and portrait work on the side. I was surprised actually at how much people were willing to spend above the entry level package price for which they signed a contract. The thing is though, I never did any arm twisting. Actually my experience is that people are so happy with the pictures that the cost is much less an issue than it was before.
    That said, I'm not for or against giving or selling digital files. It's simply a business decision that needs to be worked into your model for generating the income you need to.
     
  124. There are a great many armchair posters in this thread who (as Rob has just pointed out) have no notion of what it actually costs to run a photography business. I'm sitting at my desk on a Saturday morning (normal - because I mostly work seven days a week, like the other photographers I know) looking at March's accounts and I'm wondering how many tens of thousands of pounds my overheads will be this year, given my fixed costs and the price I pay for the beautiful products my clients expect and demand. Once I've considered that I can of course work out how much I have to bring in to offset that, and leave some profit, which must of course be enough to live on. Shock, horror!! How dare I expect to work my a*s off and earn enough to pay my bills! There are valid arguments for and against supplying clients with a DVD of images, and I agree that there are times when we must bend to the market - but not by selling our time, experience, and creativity at a price which panders to the inclinations of an often poorly-informed public. Thankfully my clients don't fall into this category, but I do make every effort to educate them as to the cost and time taken to provide what they ask for, be it a disc or a bespoke wall product. There are many kinds of photographers out there, and there are almost as many business models, each have their own positives and negatives, but I can tell you that none of them bring us 'easy money'. The hours we work and the sacrifices many of us make are unmatched in most other professions and a better point for some posters to consider is 'why do we do it'? It sure as hell isn't 'for the money'.
     
  125. I think the last two posts are just preaching to the choir. I believe photographers already understand that photography is a quality product, and doesn't come cheap. I never met a photographer that was eager to lower the value on his or her service.
     
  126. Craig, there are photographers who are doing just that, which to the greater extent has ignited this discussion. Read Lisa's opening paragraph. Many photographers feel pressured to deliver the goods for an unrealistically low price, others think photography is a means to a quick buck and a CD is the route of least resistence. That in itself creates a mindset in the eyes of the client. There are countless threads on that very subject. For those of us who do value our product, we often have an uphill battle getting that message through to our customers. That's what Rob and I were alluding to.
     
  127. Back in 2004 I began offering clients flush mounted albums. I used an internet based service company that scanned my medium format film & 35mm as well, and had a feature of being able to build a flush mounted album on line. I found a firm who would mount the prints made from the internet provider.
    At the same time, when I would attend a bridal show maybe 4-6 photographers would exhibit and I was the only one who had a flush mounted album sample in my booth back then. I would usually sign up 25 to 30 clients after each show.

    Now there are a gadzillion places to get flush mounted albums. There are a gazillion photographers who are now pros. And there are a gazillion places marketing on the internet to brides, wanting vendors to advertise including photographers. Check out some of those sites and count the number of photographers listed. The last bridal show I worked had 27 photographers and I booked 2 weddings. Not worth the expense from money & time anymore.

    Back then people still wanted "formal" group photographs as well as some photojournalism. Now photojournalism is popular and I have a sneaking suspicion that potential clients are questioning why hire a photographer if I can now see it on the back of the camera. This is a topic for debate, however, if that attitude is in the market with potential clients is it becoming like trying to push water uphill?

    I remember taking a 5 day class with Eddie Tapp in 2005 and he said that Adobe and others are making improvements so as the masses will be able to use their products. Same with computers, internet connections and using digital cameras.

    That's progress. You can't stop it. You have to adapt or get a day job or get out of the field. Things are changing, for sure.
     
  128. Shock, horror!! Howdare I expect to work my a*s off and earn enough to pay my bills!​

    The hours we work and the sacrifices many of us make are unmatched in most other professions and a better point for some posters to consider is 'why do we do it'? It sure as hell isn't 'for the money'.​
    Sounds like that's exactly why you do it.
     
  129. Art is the creation of the artist.Whatever the circumstances were under which it was made.... or are you telling me that Michael Angelo was not an artist when he created the chapel ceilings, etc.?
    Conversely, my 5 year old just presented me with her impressionist version of a fox. That was completely unsolicited or commissioned, but does that qualify it as pure art?
    You can argue for either, but in the end art is art and we all can call it what we like.
    Where Wedding photography is concerned, I would not do it for free as it entails a substantial commitment to both the craft and in providing the needed kit and time. OTOH, if it were purely a dollar thing, I can make more per hour elsewhere by a fair margin. So, its not merely for the dollar, nor completely for the art.
    Wedding photography has its draw for those who celebrate the idea of marriage I dare say, and/or for those who love to create imagery of the human condition at one if its more significant crossroads/junctions. If I were to find myself shooting a wedding with the view of "that's it, times up, I'm gone", I think it would be time for me to quit. I love this particular genre, and love the idea that my clients cherish their images. I search each wedding for more creative ways to showcase my clients distinctness in personality and love.
    Giving a copy of the files is a natural progression to me.
     
  130. Steve Smith - I'll overlook your sarcasm because you've entirely missed my point, which is that most photographers work very hard and don't make anything like the living you imagine, just being able to meet our day to day expenses is an achievement - yet we're often condemned for trying to make any profit at all.
     
  131. Steve Smith - I'll overlook your sarcasm because you've entirely missed my point​
    Sorry. I'm English. Sarcasm is something we excel in!
     
  132. Well said David.
     
  133. """Then I tell them I don't give out my digital pictures and thats an extra fee of $60.00 per photo """" ?? ouch,,,
     
  134. No worries Steve, I'm English too, perhaps why I excel at sounding sternly school-marmish at times.
    When I was concentrating on weddings one of my packages gave the option of a fine-quality album OR the disc of images. I wouldn't consider 'giving' the disc to clients just because they expected it - that amounts to grossly undervaluing what you do, as Lisa mentioned. I've found that my automotive clients prefer to buy the high res files (I have a minimum order of 5 images) but portrait clients much prefer bespoke wall-art products - they don't want the hassle of sorting out everything themselves. However I do offer a cost-effective 'web optimized' set of low-rez images, which are watermarked, and these are very popular (usually ending up on Facebook and such-like) as well as being great advertising for my business. These same files are a complimentary add-on to any purchase of full-resolution images.
    Lisa, what you offer must be of benefit to both sides, not just handed out to appease a demanding (and understandably inexperienced) client base - if you feel the situation is one-sided then it's time to change things so that it's equitable to both parties. I've not run into any problems with clients demanding something I don't want to provide - what I do and don't do is clear at the outset and simply explaining why things are how they are is always helpful to the client. If there is an impasse then the prospect is welcome to go elsewhere, but that should rarely happen if you get your sales model right.
     
  135. I have a shop selling widgets and all my friends tell me I should put my prices up but there is a shop down the street selling them for half of what I now charge.
    People keep asking me to drop my prices and throw in a free umbrella like they get down the street. Don't people realise how hard I work? I blame that other shop for all my misfortune. I hate change.
     
  136. Then both of you can merrily go out of the widget business together Andrew ... which will make the umbrella maker very sad ... LOL!
     
  137. Nobody uses widgets any more. Doohickeys are the future.
     

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