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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Business Tips for Newbie Photog Friends :)

I recently received a message from a Facebook friend with some good questions about laying the foundation for a photography business. I don't have a business degree and I definitely don't have all the answers but I was able to share a little bit of how I do things in my own business. I thought I'd share these questions and answers on here in the hopes of helping a fellow photographer out who might be struggling with some of the same questions. Again- disclosure: my answers/methods are not reflective of the entire wedding photography industry. They are merely what has worked for me. :)

 Q: I decided to start my weddings out at $300 till i get more [experience] under my belt before I go higher, my question is when i get ready to do a shoot for some one whether it be a wedding or portrait, is it best to offer them a contract every time i perform my services?

A: A small note on your wedding package starting price: Makes sure the $300 amount covers all of your hard costs including gas, prints, Cd's etc. When I started my business I made the mistake of just coming up with a random amount that sounded good to start of my packages until I gained more experience. There's nothing more frustrating than working your tail off only to find out later that in the end you've only made a few measly dollars for your hard work and didn't get to keep your projected amount because you didn't factor in your hard costs. An awesome resource when building your photography packages is Lawrence Chan's Creative Pricing and Packaging For Photographers e-book. I always listen when this guy talks!

You also asked if you should have your client sign a contract for your services every time. My answer is yes 100% every time. As a business owner you need to protect your clients interests as well as your own especially with money involved and a contract not only does that but it also adds a perceived level of professionalism to your business. You can find several contract templates to start you off just by doing a simple Google search. :)

Q: I also know $300.00 is just a base price for the wedding, do you charge a booking fee as well or is that included in the $300?

A: As far as booking fees go, I assume this is the same as a deposit. If so, yes I personally do ask for a non-refundable deposit in order to reserve my services for a wedding date and that deposit amount is included in the final package price. Once the deposit is received it is then deducted from the package price and the balance is what is owed to me two weeks before the wedding date. Should a client change their minds or cancel their wedding date, the deposit is non-refundable but all monies paid after the deposit are returned to the client. I firmly believe booking fees are important, especially in wedding photography, because they strengthen a clients commitment to hiring you. After putting down a significant non-refundable amount as a down payment, a photographer can in turn be sure they are dealing with a serious client who has done their shopping around and is now ready to commit.

Q: When do you talk to the customer about how much the cost of the pics will cost to buy them ... after the wedding at a follow up meeting, or before they book you?

A: All of my packages are broken down so that a potential client knows exactly what they will receive for the amount they are going to pay. I believe that as photographers we should disclose all information up front so that there are no misunderstandings. In your case, if there are no physical prints included in your base price, disclose that information to your clients before a contract is signed and let them know what the price would be if they did choose to purchase physical prints.

Q: When i advertise for my services, like engagements , and portraits , should the price of the pics be included in the price i advertise or should that be a base price as well?

A: When advertising for portraits/engagements/weddings etc, it's completely the photographer's choice if they want to disclose every detail of each package. Some photographers opt to only display their base prices and will offer a more detailed price sheet documents to potential clients only when they inquire about information. Other photographers display their base prices along with the details on their website up front. The choice is completely up to the photographer but what I think is of most importance is that your pricing details are completely clear in the mind of your client before a contract is signed and any deposits are received.

I hope this helped. Now I feel all businessy and stuff I just might take it old school Avril Lavigne style and go buy myself a business tie!

Happy Wednesday!


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