Wedding photography shoots are fast paced, they’re long days; there’s a high level of expectation – people are under a lot of pressure and things will inevitably go wrong – everyone is also aware of the Bridezilla stories – the nightmare client.
A professional photographer will seek to minimise risks, be adapt to change and at the end of the day deliver results. As the photographer you’re shooting photos your clients will treasure for a lifetime so it’s fundamentally important to get it more than just right – you want perfect.
The question then comes down to bang for buck, both from the photographers and the clients point of view. From a photographers point of view unless you’re James Packer or a charity then there’s very little point spending thousands of dollars on equipment; putting yourself under pressure and putting in tens of hours of post production energy if you and the client are not getting value and results.
This blog entry aims to capture some of the initial thoughts and considerations going into wedding photography from an initial photography equipment and skills element to wedding photography marketing, pricing models and quoting through to the day – production and post production – to final delivery (CD. web, prints).
Where to begin?
In business 101 we learn that for every business there are only three basic fundamental parameters that influence customer purchasing behaviour – your service, your product, and your price. Pick 1 or 2 of the 3 but you can’t deliver all three – ie the premium product and best service for the cheapest price (unless you’re trying to eliminate every competitor or have very deep pockets).
Customer Centric Social Marketing
It’s amazing how many businesses forget that the customer is the reason they are in business – ie no customers no business.
From a business marketing perspective – in today’s highly connected digital age the key objective with every job must be trying to create a customer who will advocate your services – what’s called customer centric social marketing or digital word of mouth.
Customers have lot’s of options – why you?
Now that we’ve got the customer firmly at the centre of the objective let’s look at the shoot and other elements.
Determining Interest – Background.
I’ve been asked to give a wedding photography quote for a friends Aunt – she’s getting married in about six months time. I don’t usually or I should say shoot weddings, my focus has been on portrait and fashion photography but I’m interested in at least quoting on the job for a number of reasons.
- As a photographer that’s primarily interested in people, ie “capturing the human experience” a wedding should be one of the happiest day of most peoples lives and provide great content potential.
- Wedding photography is a potential revenue stream and like all business activities I’m interested to see the return on investment (time/ money/ results etc).
- It’s a highly competitive segment and where there is good competition you usually find good quality products and services.
- It should be new and challenging project on a number of fronts – technically, client management – setting and delivering on expectation etc.
- and finally, but not the least, it’s helping someone.
The Wedding Photographer – The Shoot and Other Elements
The key takeaways from this article being the need for a standard Wedding Shot List and the benefits of both a second camera and assistant to help out. My initial gut cost estimate has just increased immediately!
Like all projects – preparation and planning helps considerable – attending the wedding rehearsal will give you an idea of the shots before hand (also more time involved) and then there’s the time location scouting in the area.
So, your pricing has now got to include options.
Equipment – Camera – Lens – Lights – Accessories
Like all shoots wedding photography equipment requirements will be dependant on location –
- Pre wedding (house(s)/ car);
- Wedding (church);
- Wedding shots (somewhere close & pretty);
Like a film script the shot list starts to come together – the pre-wedding personal black and white shots as the bride prepares for the day. Across to the grooms pad where the lads are also preparing. An hour later we’re at the Church, bride getting out of car; walking down the isle; etc etc.
Another search on Google gives me a standard wedding photography shot list. A look at list – there’s a lot to cover.
Back at Equipment
Second camera – I’m not ready to upgrade my current Canon 7D camera (it would be a 5D MkII) so it would be beg, borrow or steal. The idea of the second camera is that 1. helps if something fails with your first camera; 2. reduces time/ energy in swapping lens and 3. Via remote trigger gives the ability to be in two places at once. I could hire another 7D for the weekend (cost $160) – a 5D Mkii ($260) or hire an assistant who is already kitted up.
Lens – every photographer know’s this is where you can spend lots of your hard earned cash. Again the shot list helps determine what you’ll need for each location. Indoors (homes; church) you’ll want a fast prime lens to shoot in low or natural light; you’ll want a high quality portrait lens; maybe another good wide angle lens. Quality Canon lens range for $1.5-2K up.
Strobes – the key element here is that the day is fast moving and you don’t have an hour to setup (and pack down) per location. Do I need to hire or will my current kit do?
Accessories – batteries; extra memory cards; reflectors; umbrellas; tripods; stands; camera bag; lens filters. More on all that later.
Post Production – for every hour shooting there’s 4-5 hours post production editing and retouching.
How Much Should I Charge?
The day I’m writing this blog a Youtube video upload notification comes through from Snapfactory on pricing – it’s a funny thing the Universe.
A key element in any pricing is supply and demand – no matter what business you’re in you need to know what your competitive landscape looks like – nothing lives in a vacuum.
Any introductory marketing course will tell you that your business plan should tell you the size of the market opportunity? ie How many Sydney weddings per year? How many use a professional wedding photographer? What’s the average amount and how many photographers are there in Sydney (or your market?). What are also the factors that influence decisions? Friends, websites, other providers.
Your reputation is everything (see Word Of Mouth Marketing above).
Another Google search “Wedding Photography Sydney” I get some web page visits to find out prices. It’s only the top 5 or so results that are most important.
http://www.weddingphotographysydney.com.au/ – is the #1 search engine result – it’s what’s called a doorway page or directory – search engine optimised for the “wedding photography sydney” term.
This wedding is in the St George/ Sutherland Shire area so I immediately look for the local photographer on the list – http://www.grantemerson.com – the portfolio looks good and a rate card is simple to understand. http://www.grantemerson.com/pricing.html – this guy is just focused on weddings – I like it – I’m not being sold everything from portraits to product shots.
I personally put a lot of time into planning, organisng, photographing and editing every Wedding I shoot. My Pricing options are based on time photographing along with post production extras.
Before we even get the to big day, I include the following in all my coverage options:
Another Shire Photographer is http://www.danlukephotography.com.au/ – the website is pure Flash – it takes way too long to load – I’m gone. A minute or two later it loads in the background – the automatic music playing scaring the bullocks out of me! Sorry bud – closed. BTW – Google can’t index flash sites.
I’m back at Grant’s page and notice the Links menu – Celebrants; Make Up Artists; Dresses; Cars; Bands; Video. From a photographer marketing perspective very interesting – the network of cross referrals – the up, down and cross stream connections. This bloke should be pretty busy.
Back at Google