Good Morning Everybody,
Whew! This has been one BIG blogging week with each post running about 1,500 words or more. I hope you’ve enjoyed the reads, because here’s another one coming at you today. Like I said, I don’t mind writing as long as you enjoy reading ;~)
Hey, just a quick reminder before we get started today – the special pricing on my Success Collection expires Sunday at midnight. That gives you only 3 days to save yourself $20 off the original price of $89. Once again, here is the link to order.
OK, on with today’s post, fasten your seatbelts, here we go…
Are Wedding Albums Dead? - Part 2
As I said yesterday, last Friday's post, “Are Wedding Albums Dead?” [link] caused a little stir among DPT followers. My thanks to everyone that posted a comment and enriched the piece with your perspectives.
But if a lot more of the wedding market is not seeing the value in a wedding album, what can we do about it? Last week I suggested we re-structure our wedding pricing as a fee/image based service to our clients. Now let’s discuss that concept in depth.
Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.
Back In The Day
Back in the day, as recently as 4 years ago, most photographers booked a wedding package for their clients which included time to cover the wedding, and album, and maybe an engagement session thrown in. Every wedding photographer has his/her strategy for pricing.
All of us knew if we did a good job photographically, that the client would always order additional photographs thus substantially increasing the package price. That's how it has always worked in my studio for years. The client would select, say our Level 2 coverage and we could expect the sale to double with family albums and additional gift prints.
Today’s Reality – Perceived Value
The reality these days is the fact that today's client sees the Wal-Marts, Costco's, and Sam's Clubs offering wedding sized prints (8x10's) for only a few dollars. The reaction is, "Why in the world would I spend $30 with Joe Photographer when his cost in producing the image is only a dollar or two?” The couple tells the photographer to just burn them on a DVD and they'll make up the prints and album themselves.
In reality most of those images never see the "light of day". The images just languish on the DVD. Unfortunately, this a large part of today’s “wedding market reality”.
Sure we wedding photographers bring energy, effort, talent, and creativity to our art and craft. Where the rug is being pulled out from under so many photographers operating under the old pricing system – selling prints instead of image itself, is the fact that the 8x10 pieces of paper they deliver to the customer have a perceived value of 2 dollars.
Are We, The Photographer, Worth Anything These Days?
Another part of the problems lies in the fact that many of today's customers don't see the added value a talented photographer brings to the the final photographic result - a keen eye, the ability to capture the moment, and their creativity. Is the professional photographer worth $20 -$30 more dollars additional cost to purchase the 8x10 print from that wedding photographer?
As recently as two days ago, I heard of a customer who hired a professional for their daughter’s wedding a few years ago and loved the images, but just recently, when their son got married, the event was photographed by a FRIEND of the bride – I was told that the photographic result was severely compromised this time around. Was that bride hiring her friend or a pro photographer – I believe it was the former. I feel bad for the couple because there are no “do-over's” when it comes to wedding photography. I always wonder why a couple would make that choice.
This is a tough one to fix because of the HUGE numbers of aspiring photographers who want to shoot weddings. The best we can do is to continue to build our BRAND through our blog, Facebook, website, and networking with our vendor buddies.
We Also Need A Paradigm Change
Most importantly though let's rethink our pricing structure and price OURSELVES and our IMAGES, not the pieces of paper called prints. I did a post a few weeks ago on how we've set up our pricing at David A. Ziser Photography. Here is the link right here if you missed it. Our "Levels of Coverage" has worked well for us these many years and to be honest still works for the clients we book today. I'm lucky and honored to have loyal clients continue to support me in the metro Cincinnati, Ohio area.
That is not the case for lots of photographers that are out there trying to grow their wedding business. That's why I'm taking the time to share my thoughts with you today. Too many photographers are just trying to be the cheapest game in town. The reality is that they will never be able to run a successful business with that approach and will soon lose interest and be out of business.
That still doesn't change the fact that cheap photographers and cheap pricing severely affect the thinking of potential clients toward established professional photographers. I've heard it all too often in my travels around the country. It’s not just in your neighborhood and community, it’s everywhere!
Time To Think Differently About What We Sell
But let's get back to pricing ourselves and our images – our intellectual property if you will, not a $2 piece of paper on which the images appear. This is an important concept to understand. Why, because if we are selling our energy, efforts, and creativity and selling the images – again, our intellectual property, then the whole concept of a "hard" photographic product completely evaporates.
Now we can deliver our artistically produced images in what ever form the client desires - in an album, on a DVD, and heck, why not even an iPad. Change your thinking that a photograph needs to be delivered on a piece of paper. It doesn’t anymore! Today a photograph is a collection of 0's and 1's captured on a digital camera, stored on a computer, and can be delivered via the analogue method of prints, or digitally on a disk, iPad, or any other convenient method of digital conveyance.
What About The Reorders?
So how does this help or hurt our re-orders? That's a good question, because if we deliver the digital image, the re-print possibilities are severely limited. Yes, this fact will affect our overall average. My first thought is that I think the difference has to be made up by raising the original booking price.
Let's think this through. Let's say hypothetically I book a wedding for a $1,000. I could always expect the add-on sales to equal the booked amount. That would be a $2,000 grand total. If we sell the digital images to the client, there is the real possibility that the customer will re-print additional copies of that image thereby impacting those add-on sales we photographers could always count on in the past.
Does this mean I need to double my prices to cover the loss of the add-on sales? My quick response is that we certainly need to increase the booking prices to offset the missed add-on sales. How much depends on what you are comfortable with and what your market will bear.
Also keep in mind that we can make up for these lost sales by continuing to create innovative products that compliment our photography.
What We Used To Offer Then – What We Could Offer Now
As I stated earlier, I did a post on how we've structured our Levels of Coverage. Our descriptions always included a leather bound album. If I chose to restructure my price list to reflect the suggestions here, I may drop the album descriptions altogether and simply state the number of images included in each coverage.
I would then offer as an add-on several digital conveyance options.
For instance, I might say,
"Once we've decided which level of coverage best meets the photographic needs of your event, we have several options in which you can showcase your wedding images. Here are a few examples
1- A beautiful handmade leather album has been a favorite with our clients for years. Our album pricing begins at $200.
2- We can also deliver each professionally enhanced image to you on a brand new iPad. The charge is an additional $500 (the cost of the iPad). If you decide to opt for the album above we will be happy to include and iPhone/iPad digital version of your album for you at a very reasonable additional cost.
3- A few of our clients have been asking for their wedding images on a DVD. Yes, we can do that too at no extra charge. We use only the highest quality media which test out to a 100 year archive life stored properly.
This would not be our top recommendation because, industry wide, it has been found that clients who take delivery of a disk of images never do anything with them. I kind of feel sorry for them because I still hear from several of out past clients how much they still enjoy their album, especially on their anniversaries, family gatherings…... That just doesn’t happen when the images are delivered on a disk.”
Those are a few of my suggestions. Remember too that the client is certainly welcome to purchase additional images. The cost of those images can be set to what ever price you feel comfortable.
Once again they can take delivery of those images electronically or on paper – make the price the same for a digitally delivered image and a paper delivered image up to 8x10 size.
I may say to the client, "All of our images are enhanced by our digital artists to make each image and everyone in that image look their best. Our wedding images, delivered electronically or as prints and albums reflect the the artistry, craftsmanship, and pride we take with each event we photograph."
What Do You Think?
There you have it, a completely different way to think about how to sell yourself and your photography. What we create has value, lots of value. It has value because of the time and talent we invest in ourselves in being able to create these wonderful images for our clients.
Our digital images are the result of our passion, energy, skill, and creativity we bring to each photographic assignment. And, because of that, they have value too, value that goes beyond what a piece of paper costs.
Forget the Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Costco prices. Sell yourself, sell your images – your intellectual property, not pieces of paper, and deliver them anyway the client desires.
Hey gang, that's it for me today. I've got to wrap up my presentation for our "Captured By The Light 2010" tour because we go to press with out tour handbooks on Tuesday. Yes, everyone that attends the program will receive a Tour Handbook jammed packed with a road map of my program, several of my business building tips, and some unbelievable specials from our sponsors!
Remember, when you register, be sure to use the PROMO CODE CBLDPT10 to save yourself $20 when registering.
Everybody have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday, all the pixels willing.
Stay cool and have a good one everybody, David