Laura is a wedding photographer. Her bottom package, and bestseller, is a $2,000 coverage. She set her prices at $2,000 because she feels this is her bottom line. Anything less, and she won’t be making a profit, won’t make enough to cover her expenses, and would be working “for nothing”. Yet she routinely has people walk away saying they love her work and style, but simply can’t afford her. She’s had more than one person this year ask her for the same package at $1,000. So many in fact that she’s beginning to wonder if she should move her bottom package to $1,000. At least it will bring in $1,000, which is better than nothing.

I found a video put out by Pictage that also showcases a variety of “Laura’s” that are feeling the same things. And I know they are not alone.


So the question becomes, “Should I take $1,000 for this photograph session?”

My answer is no. And here’s why.

Lets return to Laura for a moment.

Let’s say for $2,000, she spends 6 hours on average at the wedding, photographs unlimited coverage, provides an album layout, and a variety of prints included in the package. Add in meeting and production time as well.

Now she decides to keep the same package, except lower the price to $1,000.

If she normally photographs 25 weddings per year, her $50,000 business was just sliced in half to $25,000.

Ah, but you say she wouldn’t have booked the 25 weddings this year anyway at $2,000, isn’t $25,000 better than nothing? (Providing she could book 25 at $1,000.)

Nothing other than price has changed. Meaning nothing other than profit has changed as well.

Laura will now look at those clients differently, approach photography differently, and have a completely different mindset as she’s shooting. It’s a negative place to be, and it will reflect in her work. If she is constantly grumbling to herself that she should have been paid more, she’s not giving it all. And isn’t that why you went into photography in the first place?

What should happen instead? One of three things.

1. Instead of giving the same package at half price, reduce the package to match the price.

Create an entry package for people on a budget. You realize times are tough, and you’re willing to give people 100 percent attention – just in a different package.

How about a love portrait series, or a ceremony only package? Lighten up the number of hours to 2 to 3, and shoot in one location – no movement. You can capture the ceremony and include portraits and family images within a 2 to 3 hour window. Or meet for a love portrait, trash the dress, or other fun portrait session, creating incredible portraits for the bride and groom, leaving “Uncle Charlie” to photograph the wedding.

If you are a great photographer, they will love this option, and be thrilled they can have amazing portraits for their wall, yet still maintain their budget.

2. Change your target market.

If you had a chance to read yesterday’s post on why people are still willing to spend a lot of money on things they love, you know priorities rule a person’s wallet. $20 for a bag of chips? Not a problem if you love them.

Maybe you are simply targeting the wrong type of client.

A bride who is willing to buy her dress from David’s Bridal is not of the same mindset as a bride who purchases a Vera Wang. Different ends of the spectrum. Where do the majority of your brides shop for bridal gowns? If you don’t know, ask them.

You can also tell by the reception site. A tent in the park is a clear indication of a budget conscious bride. A mountain retreat going for a base of $25,000 is a whole different spectrum.

Look back at your weddings. What are the demographics? Maybe its time to change them.

3. Get out of the business.

If you are tired of dealing with clients who want more at half the cost, you’re tired of doing more work for the few clients you have, and you just aren’t happy with the situation any more, maybe its time for a change.

There’s nothing wrong with getting another job or starting another business. Pursuing something new may be just what you need to build passion around an idea again.

Any more thoughts or ideas?