Thursday, July 15, 2010

Business Day Thursday; I've Got To Get Home To See The Love Boat

Good Morning, Ehhh... Good Afternoon Everybody,

Sorry for the later than usual post today. I had it nearly ready to go this morning and planned to get it up on the scenic drive back to Boston. Let's just say Verizon technical difficulties prevented that from happening. But, now we're back in Boston with solid internet connectivity so here goes.

Yesterday we got totally fogged in. It was raining in the morning when we woke up and it looked like we were going to stay in and get caught up on some work. Fortunately the rain stopped and the fog lifted and the yesterday turned out great.

We got to do the hike around Jordan Pond - what a cool, easy hike to grab some great images.

Jordan Pond

It was late in the afternoon, nearly evening, when we finished up so we headed into town and planned an early dinner. We finished dinner with 30 minutes left till sunset.

We decided to see if we could catch the sunset at Cadillac Mountain. We made it with 5 minutes to spare, jumped out of the car and started shooting. What a great shoot it was! That turned out to be the high note of the day.

Today we pack our bags and head back to Boston catching up with friends along the way. We jump the plane early Friday and it’s back to home-sweet-home. We’ve really enjoyed our stay in New England!

But how about this week's episode of Business Day Thursday? It's coming at you right now. Here we go...

I've Got To Get Home To See The Love Boat

OK, right away I know the title of this post really dates me but I don't care because I think it speaks to something that has been going on for years in wedding photography and needs to be discussed.

Its about leaving the job early. Let me explain....

Mistakes (bad judgments) A Few Photographers Make

For years, even back in the Love Boat Days, I've been encouraging photographers to not leave the job early. I mean, what else have they got to do on a Saturday night - go home and watch the Love Boat?

Time to stop LR - Fotolia_16302819_Subscription_XL Over the years, my jibe changed to Fear Factor or what ever other show was on at 10:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. I can't tell you how many stories I heard from brides telling me how a photographer missed some great photographs at her friend’s wedding because he/she cut out early. Shots like the groom grabbing the microphone and serenading his bride at quarter till midnight. Or, that last great group shot of the bride and groom and all their college buddies. The list goes on and on.

I've seen it myself. I'm working with a videographer who tells me their time is up at 10:00 p.m. At the stroke of 10:00 p.m. they are packing their gear and heading out the door. Invariably, from the time they leave till the end of the event, sometime will happen that should have been covered - like the couple leaving in the horse drawn carriage at the end of the evening. I know, I've seen it happen way too often and hear the numerous complaints from the brides.

Just to be clear, we NEVER leave till the event in over - NEVER!!! There is just too big a chance something will happen after we have left and I personally don't ever want to miss spontaneous important memories for my client.

We Ain't Selling Hamburger By The Pound

Hamburger LR - Fotolia_10444265_Subscription_XL Some photographers will say that they sell their wedding packages with certain time increments included based on the level of the coverage. Folks, photographers selling photography by the hour is like the butcher selling hamburger by the pound. Why would anybody sell their services by the pound. SELL BY THE LENGTH OF EVENT - never by the pound!

Never Negotiate On The Dance Floor

The quick answer photographers selling by the pound give is that if the client wants more time, the bridal couple can simply let him/her know at the wedding that they want more time and the photographer will bill them later.

Asking For Money LR - Fotolia_23341571_Subscription_XXL It's never been the way I've conducted my business. The dance floor is NO PLACE to negotiate for more photo time at a wedding. Think about it. Consider the emotions of the entire day and evening - the love, excitement, spontaneity, and celebration. Why would anyone ever want to change the course of these emotions and talk about money? The dance floor is definitely not the time or place to "up the sale" - no exceptions!

Sell A Coverage Consistent With The Length Of The Event

Just Right LR - Fotolia_18066852_Subscription_XXL The bottom line is this. Don't sell yourself or your photographic coverages short. When you are discussing your services with your client, let them know that they will be booking you for the entire event. Make it your studio policy and do not diverge from it.

Here's why. This policy protects your reputation. I have been in two situations recently where after showing up for an event, I was told by the planner that my services would only be needed for 3 hours even though the event was booked for 5 hours previously - WRONG!

I know the party was really going to get going in those last two hours - which it did. We stayed the entire time and captured some of the best party shots AFTER the 3 hour time limit had expired. Had I left earlier, how might the client have reacted? How about feeling that the guy they hired for the shoot cut out early and missed so many great shots! My reputation could have suffered severely and I probably would not be shooting any future events for that client. Conceivably, if the word got out about how I left early could easily hamper booking for future events for their friends and acquaintances.

This whole "leaving early" mentality only leads to a negative domino effect for your business success. When my client questioned the billing for the entire 5 hours instead of 3 hours as the planner as requested that evening, I simply pointed out that the last 200 or so images would not have been part of the selection had I left early. They saw what would have been missed, conceded my point, and paid the bill.

So, it only makes good business sense to sell your services by the length of event not by the pound. Stay till the end of the event and give your client your best efforts and the service they deserve. It's the only way to do business - in my humble opinion.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. If you've been following the news, you'll see that President Obama is visiting Bar Harbor this weekend staying just two hotels down the road from where we stayed. It would be fun to stick around but we've got to get back to work.

We are flying across the highways and byways of rural Maine as I write this post. My keys are all over the keyboard and it's really tough to write with LaDawn’s speedy driving - if you get my drift ;~) So I'm wrapping it up right noowww, whoops, right now.

Just a quick "head's up - tomorrow's post will go up in the afternoon since we have an early flight to catch in the morning. Just plan to catch up with it over the weekend. I'll plan to see everybody back here bright and early on Monday.

Have a safe and enjoyable weekend, and I'll see you Monday, -David


  1. I totally disagree. With today's dime a dozen photographers and worse, the "I expect to only pay a dime" brides, If they don't buy the package that keeps me there the entire time then I don't stay the entire time. Should future potential clients ever ask about it I'll simply say, don't be like Cheap Betty, buy the full coverage if that's what you want, but don't expect it because Bob's Photography offers it to you. My response would be, I don't give a dime! ;c )

  2. To time the event or not? :)

    David, usually I'd agree with you on your topics, but this will be one of those times where I'll be opposite. Recently I decided to give 'unlimited time' package to a client. Both my self and my second crew, were on our feet for 18hrs w/ maybe 1hr brake overall. The brake consisted of siting in the limo and riding from point A to point B. Other times, NON-STOP shooting. Yes, the couple got a lot of stuff, but 18hrs of work = 3 days of recuperating. Getting "everything" is important but my health and well being is equally important if not so much for my-self but for my family and future B&Gs.
    It was a trial unlimited run that we did and won't do again. From years of experience we know what 4hr coverage will look like and know what 15hr coverage looks like. These numbers aren't random and are there for reasons of allowing me to faster recover from non-stop running around and get to processing and/or shooting another job next day.

  3. I totally agree with full event coverage concept. I refuse to work for people that call and say they need anything less. I just let them know it's all or nothing. ~Sheri

  4. Anon: David's technique of staying until the end regardless of wish, and then showing the client the photos they need to pay extra for is probably a better way of doing business - you are much more likely to up the sale post event (not on the dance floor). Its not like you have another event to rush to.

    Also the fact that at that point you are not "officially" working means you can really relax into the role and get some extra cool shots to top up the album.

    Alternatively, direct the couple to Bob's and wish them luck.

  5. I have left early once, but there was a very good reason. The wedding was held on an island, the last ferry left about 1/4 of the way through the reception and being a work mate, I'd quoted low so could not extend to resort accommodation prices for myself and my assistant to spend the night. The clients were well aware of this and were very ok with it.

  6. In response to the above poster...I have never understood why photographers are married to the subject of "Packages". Is it because that's what everyone else does?? It only limits your clients. We don't sell packages, rather we sell "freedom of pricing". We have the client create whatever they want. No boundaries (except for a minimum $ amt). And anything the client purchases, we are there for the entire event. I think photographers need to rid themselves of "Limits".

  7. I agree with booking the entire time. When I book a client I let them know that they are booking for 'The Wedding', 'The Wedding and The Reception', or for the full day. I am there for however long the events that they are booked for lasts.

  8. So, if your client hadn't conceded the point for the cost of the extra two hours, what would you have done? Give them the 200 frames as good will? Hold back the 200 frames?

  9. Yeah, you have to get all those photos of everyone being drunk and acting like an a$$. They may not "sell" their way into an album, but are great for blackmail.

  10. Just great ideas. Some would think it is apples and oranges, but it is really about serving your client. Well put!

  11. Hey David,

    Interesting post! I'm a little unclear about how your wedding or event pricing works... Are you suggesting a flat rate for any event length, or is the client paying for an indeterminate amount of time that is just assessed after the event?

    I'm probably being a little dense about it... :)


  12. I'm more than a little surprised at how some of us feel about serving our clients. A few seem to feel it's us against them. This reminds me of a recent article I read in one of our photography magazines, where a studio owner was asked how he reacted to the dissatisfied client. He stated that he would thank his client for bringing the concern to his attention and then he would go out of his way to remedy the problem. I have a strong feeling that good success follows those who take such an approach. Brian F.

  13. Many photographers in my area book by the hour or by the package. Many of these are the people looking for the cheapest prices, some even spending more on a photo booth rather than their own photos. Many people are getting photo's only. If you charge more you don't get the business and some cannot stay in business because of all the newbies that are cutting the prices.

    I truly believe that David is right but..... he's also an established photographer and photographs the more well to do brides and grooms. I'll bet with all that I have read over the last couple years on this fantastic site that with the people that he has at an event and the number of exposures he takes, he's charging over $4000/wedding. I'd stay and shoot their departure on the honeymoon for that price.

    The bigger well established photographers around here are complaining too. They say they are not booking as many as they did just a couple years ago. Many couples are hunting online and picking the cheapest photographers that look half-way decent.... and that means nothing like David's photos.