Is a good practice bargain with your prices?

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HI there! A business post today. Is just my point of view and my way to work, so all the comments are welcome. This is my opinion, based on my experience and how I want to run my business.

tl;dr (Short answer)
No

Now let me explain my opinion, the exceptions and the reasons why I don't think bargain for your couple or wedding photography is not a good idea.
I review my prices every year. My rates are based on a lot of factors:

1.- Number of weddings and sessions that I planned to do in the season.
Working as a wedding photographer is not limited to shoot in the wedding day. In my daily I need to talk with my couples, manage my webpage and my social networks, spend a lot of hours learning new techniques and even more time culling, editing and processing thousands of pictures.
With the time I learned how much time I need to dedicate to each couple to give the best of myself. My style of photography is based in capture real moments and this means that I need to know well the couple and their background. I need the couple is comfortable with me and don't see me as the service the hired to make pictures but as their photographer that will share a very important moment with them.
I decided to limit the number of weddings I made by year then this means that I need to charge according to the time I dedicate to each wedding. Some photographers prefer to have a lot of weddings per season and then have the chance to give lower prices. This is absolutely ok, but in my personal case if I want to make the best of my pictures I need to choose quality vs quantity.

2.- Costs around my business.
A good camera, the needed skills and the artistic point of view should be enough to make stunning pictures but if you are serious about your business there are a lot of yearly costs that you need to take in mind.
You need a powerful computer to process your sessions, a strong backup system to keep safe your images, a beautiful webpage where show your style and a lot of extra lenses, camera bodies and other gear. This is just the minimum. In my case, I need to pay a gallery system to deliver the pictures to my customers. A CRM software to make communications with them a fluid and great experience. Some subscriptions on learning sites and several licences to the software you use. Depends on the quality you want to deliver and more critical the experience you wish to your customers have, you will have some must expenses that you need to add to your prices.

3.- Your income.
Looks obvious but is a crucial point to take in mind. Of course, everybody wants a good income, and this will be the point that will make a difference in your final price and the way to offer or not discounts to your customers.
I love my job, and I feel that I am fortunate to work as a full-time photographer. I want to be fair with my customers and with myself and charge the right amount for my services. I calculate this with the info I got from the point one and two. If I know the number of weddings I want to be comfortable and all the yearly costs that this implies I can calculate how much cost for me a wedding.
This is just an example. A full wedding here in Hong Kong is around 15 hours of shooting. I need about 30 hours to edit these long weddings and at least 40 if I have a second photographer. To this, I need to add other small costs on time and money as is the transportation, hours to talk with the couple to plan the pictures before the wedding and the management of the client portal with the gallery, etc.… This gives me a number. Each hour "cost" me XX$. This amount is before any profit. Then, you need to think about your benefit. You can do in two ways. Think what is your desired monthly income and divide with the hours you work monthly or rate your working hour and calculate how will looks your monthly income. I know that is not the same one hour on Sunday at 23:00 or an edit hour in your home on Tuesday in the morning but I calculate the average cost to don't go crazy with the numbers.

With these 3 points, if you are fair, the cost will be adjusted and will not be room to bargain. If you lower the price you are losing money of your realistic estimation so is not fair accept the bargain. Maybe you think you can get less money and cover the wedding, but this will impact your business and your credibility. I don't recommend it if you are fair about your costs.

Exceptions
Of course, like all in life, there are some exceptions. This is very personal, and you need to decide if you want to make it or not.
My exceptions are limited to a few cases. I told you that I look for a very personal touch with my couples. I try to know how they are and why they want I will be their photographer. I listed the base prices on my webpage to avoid couples just looking for a cheap photographer. The couple's approach to me knows the budget they need and contact with me because they like my photography. Sometimes beautiful couples contact me to tell me that loves my photography but can't afford the investment. Each case is different, but in some cases, I try to adjust the price. Other times the couples tell me their love story and how they are planning the wedding and why they want me to capture the day. This is about feelings so in a few cases I really don't care "lose" money if I love the story and the couple.
The last exception is a destination and overseas weddings. I cover a few overseas wedding each year. Is a great way to do something different, know new places and add another kind of images to my portfolio. If I want to be fair with the couple and competitive with the local photographers I need to think if I want to capture this wedding and if I am able to give a better price. Usually, I prefer to keep the costs and pay some expenses by myself that affect directly to the income. I can tell you that I made very profitable overseas weddings, some with small profit per hour and even some that I didn't get any money. All depends if you want to cover this location, the story behind the couple and your availability.

What do you think? Do you accept a bargain with your customers? Leave a comment to know how you work. 

 

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Saturday, 20 July 2019