What are the biggest mistakes wedding photographers make when they price wedding photography packages?
Price Does Not Cover the Costs
This mistake is prevalent among new photographers. The new entrant does not have any idea on the costs of operating a business and quotes ridiculously low wedding photography prices that only covers direct costs related to that wedding: photography time, second shooter, gas, parking, etc.. However, the rent, phone, internet, equipment, software and other overhead expenses are not factored in when building the photography packages.
Prices are Too High
While initially a low price strategy can help a new wedding photographer build a portfolio and accumulate experience, in the long time it hurts his business. When everyone charges $3-4000/10 hours of shooting and you charge $700, you are leaving money on the table and in the process, hurt the fellow photographers. You contribute to making this beautiful art – wedding photography a commodity. Also, your clients will think you are affordable because you lack experience and will not book you.
The Photographer is Not Committed to a Price
When you build your wedding packages, you need to consider your costs. If you want to offer a discount, you will know your limits. What is the lowest price you will accept? What are your target price and the most probable price you will be offered?
Offering Deep Discounts on a Regular Basis
This pricing mistake can lead quickly to bankruptcy. Once you become addicted to price discounts, your clients will come to you only for great deals. You are positioned as a low cost wedding photographer and you will never charge the market price again. If you try, will loose the referrals because you are no longer offering great deals. The way to avoid it? Stop discounting your work…NOW. Look at high end brands, …when is the last time you saw a Tiffany wedding ring on sale?
Not Listing Prices and Packages
I hear this complaint from brides every day. If brides cannot find your prices online, they assume you are too expensive and contact another photographer. No bride has time to contact 20 photographers who show amazing imagery but are probably too expensive.
Listing a Deceivingly Low Starting Price
Listing a low starting price that includes 3 hours of photography is not fair to the bride, yet I talk with tens of photographers who think that is acceptable business practice. It is unfair for the client to waste time meeting you only to learn that you are completely out of their price range. It is also unproductive for you. Why waste two hours in an initial meeting when the prospect is not qualified/can not afford you? The cheap prices also distort bride’s perception about the market prices thus hurting other photographers.
Competing on Price
If the client cannot see a difference between your wedding pictures and the next photographer’s then you are a commodity and your only lever is price. That leads to declining prices and you will be out of business soon.
Outrageously High Prices
Charging unfair prices is bad for your brand and will hurt in the long run. Even if you book a few brides at those price points, they will never refer you new business and never give you great reviews. Even when they love their wedding photos, they will be unhappy with your price, which is bad for your brand.
Focusing Only on Price
If you want to enter a new lucrative market, or you want to shoot at a location because it will bring you more business, you might want to offer a 10% discount to the first client who is getting married there. Wedding in Paris, sure, here is 10% off.
Offering Discounts Too Easy
Most wedding blogs advise the brides to ask for discounts, so in the industry there is this cult of getting a deal. When the bride asks that question, the photographer panics and offers a deep 30% discount. That shows to the bride a few things. First, the photographer needs business; second there is more room for negotiation.
Offering Discounts Instead of Good Value
When the bride is asking for a discount, ask yourself if you are providing good value for the bride. If you are better than the local wedding photographers and charge similar prices, your will deliver excellent value. There is no need to discount your work. Also, if you are average and charge the average market price, offer more time, not a discount. That way you are providing a better value to the bride while not cheapening your wedding photography packages.
Lacking Price Policies
Having pricing policies in place instills discipline in the marketplace. No discipline leads to arbitrary prices, discounts and so on. Not sure how to implement them? Ask your spouse to become the pricing police!
Not Believing You Are Worth Your Prices and Pacakges
When you list a price, you need to believe you can deliver that value. If you are not worth that money, you need to rethink your pricing and packaging.
Assuming Your Clients Cannot Afford Your Prices
I made this mistake very often, only to realize that I was the only vendor losing money on that $70,000 wedding. If you have pricing policies and pricing discipline you will refer to the pricing list and turn a small profit. Do not worry if you can not afford your services; don’t ask yourself if YOU can afford your packages, but if your CLIENTS can. As long as your clients love your work and can afford you, they will book you.
Positioning Yourself as Affordable Instead of Amazing
I see this mistake in advertising all the time. Instead on advertising the quality of the wedding pictures, you emphasize the discount. When you deliver amazing wedding photos, you do not need to be the cheapest wedding photographer. You are a great photographer! Focus on quality and value instead of price.
Packages are Not Reviewed Periodically
In the dynamic New York wedding photography market, you need to review your prices to ensure they are competitive, adjusted for inflation and fair for the clients and the wedding photographer.
As wedding photographers we all, including myself, make pricing mistakes and the most common one is to quote a price too low. That hurts our businesses, our clients, and the industry in general.
This article was contributed by the award winning photographer Calin (www.bycalin.com)