Good Morning Everybody,
Today is the day! I’m on Friday Photo School at 1:00 EDT this afternoon. We arrived at the studios yesterday at 10:00 a.m. and worked on the program till about 8:00 p.m. – a long time for a 90 minute program! You would not believe what goes into the show – the FPS team had 3 cameras, 2 laptops, many, many computers and who knows what else connected to the broadcast mixing board and a gazillion monitors. I’ll tell ya’, the place looks like CNN.
This will be the first broadcast from the new Montgomery, Illinois studio – what an honor for me! What a kick. Everything is super organized and rehearsed to be sure the final presentation comes off smoothly. We even tried something completely new yesterday for the show and it worked like a charm. You’ll have to catch the show to see what I’m talking about ;~)
There is just so much effort and time that goes into a program that costs photographers only $10 to watch LIVE – that’s a steal of a deal. Not only that, if you’re registered to watch it LIVE, you can then download the show for only $5! Again, a super deal. Anyway, I hope you get a chance to check out Friday Photo School right here.
Hey, even if you can’t be there today at 1:00 EDT and miss the show, you can still pick up the 90 minute download for only $15! Lots of other great downloads available right here. Just hit the DOWNLOAD tab to see the list.
Above is a photo of me with the entire team. From left to right: Dave, camera 3 and production; Saj, director; Brandie, our model; Don, production manager; Yours truly; and Will, the mastermind and driving force behind Friday Photo School.
My thanks to the entire team who made my job look pretty easy on camera. It was great to work with each and every one of you. Thanks again!
Food For Thought Friday: Are Wedding Albums Dead?
Today’s topic was the result of a few conversations I’ve had with some top photographers over the last few weeks. Let me begin by saying that I am not singing the death knell to wedding photography and wedding albums. But, at the speed at which things are moving in our digital world and as fast as the current trends are changing we owe it to ourselves and our success to keep our heads out of the sand as it applies to today’s wedding market.
One thing is pretty clear to me. The wedding business is not what it used to be just 5 years ago. With the proliferation of inexpensive digital cameras, Facebook, Craig's List, and so many digital alternatives for image delivery, one has to wonder if the wedding album, as we have known it over the years, is heading towards extinction.
I've even heard one well known wedding photographer remark recently, "Wedding photography is broke!". Well, I don't think it is broke. But I do think what the current client is seeking has certainly changed and we need to ask ourselves if the profession of wedding photography needs to change to accommodate these changing tastes.
Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.
It's A Brand New Wedding Game
I do believe the digital revolution has changed, not just the wedding photography playing field considerably, but the client expectations as well. And, it's all changed in the span of only a few years. I opened my studio doors over 25 years ago and the business of wedding photography remained pretty constant for most of those years.
I’ve said it many times at DPT, the "cost of membership" into the profession of wedding photographer back in the film days was about $10,000 worth of gear and a outlay of at least a few hundred dollars for film and processing. Those monetary commitments has nearly disappeared in our brave new digital world.
Albums At Costco
Consider the fact that Costco offers album design software and album printing for next to nothing. Check out all their photo services right here. You will be amazed. In fact there are several such album printing solutions available for we as professions but also available for the consumers. Granted, these are press printed products printed on an HP Indigo press or a Kodak Nextpress, but the results still look pretty good.
Do these press printed books hold up as well as a beautiful set of photographic prints bound in a gorgeous Zookbinders leather album? The answer is clear - NO, they will not. I think a lot of clients don't even consider the quality of the final album these days. For many, it's beyond their budget, or maybe, not even that important to them.
How About No album At All!
Also consider the fact that about 1/3 or more photographers deliver their images on a DVD. I’m not just referring to the lower priced photographers either. I'm talking all price ranges. Just check out the select group of photographers listed at BestOfWeddingPhotography.com. I was amazed at the number of the "best of the best" wedding photographers delivering their images on a DVD.
Is It Market Dependent?
We must keep in mind something else. I think a wedding album is market dependent. Those couples planning a bigger budget event are more apt to opt for the beautiful wedding album. But still, even in this market segment, there has been a significant drop in wedding album sales.
I was just talking with a well known photographer in the southeast who tells me his albums sales have dropped considerably in the last few years. He had to modify how he offers his wedding services to his clients to offset the loss of revenue. We discussed a few ideas along those lines which I'll discuss later.
Maybe Albums Are Old Fashioned
I believe part of the motivation some of the new brides are opting out of a wedding album purchase is the perception that albums are "old fashioned". Their mom and grandmother had one. But this is the age of Facebook, iPods, and camera phones, I don't do anything with those pictures either. There in lies part of the issue - nobody ever does anything with their plethora of newly exposed digital images.
Back in the day, it might take a month or two to shoot an entire roll of film with you little point and shoot camera. Getting that film processed was an event, and almost a celebration when you showed then around.
That just doesn't happen anymore. Sure we have Flickr and pics on Facebook but this less than tangible image exchange just lacks the sense of intimacy and closeness sharing a stack of snapshots with friends and family used to bring to an occasion. I think this loss of tangible sharing of photographs in just the last few years has certainly contributed to the decline in wedding album sales.
Can You Match Wal-Mart's Price?
All photography wedding photography, photo collages, canvass stretched prints, and yes, wedding albums too, have become "commoditized". You can buy any of the above from any number of Costco's, Wal-Marts, and On-line stores worldwide. It's hard for a studio to sell a beautiful canvass stretched print for hundreds of dollars when regular retail photo centers are selling what appears to be the exact same thing for under $50 diluting the value of the pros product dramatically.
Times Are A Changing
Does This mean that the photography business is going to the dogs? Does it mean we've got to change jobs? No, I don't believe that for a moment. There are TONS of successful wedding photographers out there. Again, just check out BestOfWeddings.com.
But I do believe we need to be aware of these fast moving trends and not be "in denial" of those trends as so many "out of business" studios have discovered in recent years. We need to be fast on our feet with our marketing, customer service, and product development.
So Are There Any Easy Solutions?
There are never any EASY solutions and instead of me pretending to give you a solution for the current state of wedding affairs, let me suggest to you a different pricing strategy. Ponder this question for a few moments - What is it your client can't get from Wal-Mart or Costco? What is it that YOU offer that no one can de-value? The answer is YOU and that's whom you need to be selling.
These days I think it is best to sell yourself - not photographs and albums. I suggesting that you sell your coverages as a fee based service. Your client selects a level of coverage and you deliver a number of images however they want them - in an album, on a disc, or heck, even on an iPad. Offer everything else, albums, prints, whatever as an ala carte price you are comfortable with.
OK, don't jump the gun here and say that's a crazy idea. What it is, is an idea that side-steps the entire package pricing idea. I mean, if the clients are telling photographers that they don't want albums and now just want images, then this IS the only logical way to set your wedding prices.
Hey gang, that's where I'm going to leave it for this week. Next week, I'm going to a brand new way of thinking when it comes to putting wedding coverages together. Next week's suggestions do not "kill" the wedding album but, rather make it one of the many options for image delivery.
I think it would be kind of fun getting the conversation going on this topic. Please feel feel free to add your thoughts in the COMMENTS section below. To be continued... ;~)
Be sure to tune in to Friday Photo School today. It's going to be a kick, hope to see you at 1:00 p.m EDT. If I miss you today, let's plan on hooking up next week, same time, same station.
Have a great weekend everybody! -David