The Pricing Conversation


30 Days of Wedding Photography


Lesson Info

The Pricing Conversation

There does reach an inevitable point in the conversation where they say so what? I really know you told you about my plans, and I've told you what I want, and then I always ask them, you know, are there any? Let me know what kind of question's gonna answer for you. Is there anything I can answer for you? And then it usually segways into? Well, you know, we're just kind of wondering like what it costs. I know I have two options here because I have three collections, and I do have a lot of add ons. I could either sit with the client and read out all of those collections to them over the telephone and let them write them all down, or I could mail them to them, email them to them. I prefer to email them to them for one of multiple multiple reasons. First of all, it takes away that uncomfortable part of the phone conversation when you actually have to talk about money and I have no problems talking clients about money. But it's a very terrible thing when you say, well, my rates began at fiv...

e thousand dollars, and then there is dead silence or my rates begin it fifteen hundred dollars and there's dead silence. And you realize oh god they just spent thirty minutes talking to me and I'm above their budget or and now none of us know how to get out of this alive and were all uncomfortable and everyone's looking at their feet and I don't know what to do second of all I don't want them to have to write this down this is way too complicated and they're scribbling it all down and then they have to take this you know, chicken scratch scribbling home to their fiance and talk to them about it what I do at that point in time when the conversation naturally turns over to talking about rates as I say listen I could read you my collections in all of my rates and information over the telephone but you don't need to have to write all of that out I've got it in a pdf let me e mail that to you you and your fiance can sit down you can look over it you can share it with your parents if you need to and then you can get back to me with any questions that you have don't worry I'm gonna follow up with you I wouldn't leave you out there alone but it would probably be easier if I e mailed it over to you I'm emailing them an eight and a half by eleven priceless pdf that they can then download and print on their computer at home that's way more professional looking than their handwriting as they tried to scribble down all of these collections into a notebook. So that's, generally, first of all, how I get out of any awkward conversations about pricing and second of all, how I get another chance to reach out to the client, send them another email, connect one more time. It was great to talk to you, here's. The price list that I was talking about before. Please let me know if you have any questions. Get back to me whenever you'd like. Easy done. Now you will inevitably have the client who's like that's. Great. And I would love it if you e mailed it to me. But can you at least tell me what you're starting prices? You know, so I can just I have some idea. Of course. So let me tell you about collection. Three it's the base collection that I have it's basically just time and your digital files, you know, it's it's five thousand dollars or fifteen hundred dollars or whatever it is for you or whatever your based collection is. This is what it comes with. And then I get a chance to detail, you know, it's eight hours of photography by myself and my assistant. You get your high resolution fully edited digital files and when I say fully edited digital files I want to be very clear I'm not just going to come home and download the files and hand them over to you they go through a very extensive editing process there looked at one at a time their color corrected one at a time by hand they make sure that the exposure is perfect on every single image and the color balance is precise so whether you want to print a photograph of you and your new husband together or your third cousin breaking it down on the dance floor all of your files are handled with the same care and respect I'm going to send you the price list with everything else in it please let me know if you have any other questions very very easy so as we've mentioned what if they want to talk rates on the phone we're gonna talk rates on the phone if they really pushed me if they really want to get into that on the telephone but then I will always follow up that phone call by saying listen I know we went over all of the packages and I know that you wrote them all down but let me just go ahead and send this pdf over to you anyhow it's got it all listed out in case you missed anything in case you can't read your handwriting later it's also eight and a half by eleven it's really easy to print, and you can also forward the email to your fiance or your parents or anybody else who needs to take a look at it again. It gives you another point of contact with the perspective client, which I think is always helpful. So what if they can't afford you? And they ask for a discount? This is listen, I have no problems with negotiation. I have no problems with negotiation or clients who want to talk about things or customized things are changed things around, but I do have a problem with is a client who asks for money off just because I would never in a million years call up somebody and say, ok, listen, I mean, I know you started five thousand dollars, but our budget was really four thousand dollars. So can you do your five thousand dollar package for four thousand dollars? Well, no, that's not negotiating negotiating means I take something off and take something out of the package and then offer something different to you. I'm not just gonna give it to you for cheaper, just because you asked me to give it to you for cheaper now that's a little bit different from negotiating if you come to me and you're getting married on a thursday and january we can negotiate all day long that's fine with me, but if someone just blanket asks me for a discount, you don't just get a discount just because you want a discount. Life doesn't really work that way. No, you can't pay me in half and get money off. No, you can't pay me in cash and not pay sales tax like I don't do any of this shady under the table dealings. I don't do anything that gets you out of sales tax if a client asks, can I pay you in cash so that I don't have to pay sales tax? I say, of course you can pay me in cash, you can pay me in whatever method you want. However, I do have to collect sales tax for the state of new york and deliver it to them. This isn't money that I'm making. I'm basically taking it from you and handing it over. So unfortunately, no there's, no way to really get out of paying sales tax so negotiation may be negotiating labor day saturday no negotiating a sunday in march, maybe, but a flat discount just for the point of giving a flat discount for no reason whatsoever absolutely not no that's, no, what if they push you? What if you're on the phone with them and they push you or they're rude and I know that sounds ridiculous, but I have literally told my prices to people on the phone and had them laugh at me, and I've had them laugh at me when I charged fifteen hundred dollars for a wedding, and I've had them say, you know, what are your rates? Well, photography begins at eight hours with myself in an assistant for twenty five hundred dollars, and someone has said twenty five hundred dollars for pictures at which my response is yes, ma'am, absolutely. Would you like me to send you over my full price sheet? And if you're rude and if you're pushy and if you're nasty, I will continue to be polite to you all day long. I will continue to treat me, treat you with respect, no matter how you're treating me and in my early days of being in business, whenever something like this did happen whenever someone pushed me, whenever someone was rude to me on the phone, whenever someone pushed me for a discount, I crumpled in caved. But as I was in business for longer and longer, if I repeated the mantra to myself over and over again, this isn't personal it's just business. Then that removes all of my emotion from these dealings. I'm not saying that removes my emotion from my work. I am continually incredibly emotionally invested in my work and in taking care of my clients, but when it comes to money, it's not personal, it's, just business. If you're going to be rude to me on the phone, I'm going to wish you all the best and send you on your way. I'm not gonna be rude back to you at all, so don't let this phase you if you say your prices to someone on the phone and they choke or they say, oh my god, are they say for pictures? Yes, ma'am, absolutely it's been an absolute delight to talk to you. Please give me a call if you have any other questions whatsoever. I wish you all the best in your plans. It takes no effort whatsoever to be nice to somebody, even if they're being rude to you on our number one rule is my assistant and I always have in wedding photography is don't be a jerk even if they're being a jerk to you always take the high road always be polite.

Class Description

Success as a wedding photographer requires more than just raw talent and the desire to be a professional photographer. To survive in this highly competitive industry, you need strong business skills and a deep understanding of your craft. In this documentary wedding photography experience, Susan Stripling will teach you how to launch and sustain a successful wedding photography business.

During 30 days of step-by-step instruction, Susan will show you how to:

  • Develop your business — everything from honing your creative vision to marketing tactics to studio management
  • Fundamental shooting techniques for every possible wedding scenario by inviting you along to an engagement session and wedding day and with real-life clients — not models! 
  • Post production workflow
  • Marketing and sales
  • Album design
During the start-to-finish documentary coverage of the wedding day, Susan will teach you how she handles each part of the experience, from photographic technique to client care, all with zero re-takes or re-shoots. Susan will wrap up the 30 days with detailed instruction on post-production workflow, post-wedding marketing, album design, post-wedding sales, and much, much more.

By the end of this course, you will have accompanied Susan through every step of a wedding and will have the skills, mindset, and tools needed to make a living — and a name for yourself — as a wedding photographer.


1Introduction 2Evolution of Susan's Style 3Branding and Identity 4Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned 1Introduction to Gear & Equipment 2Lenses Part 1 3Lenses Part 2 4Lighting 1Seeing the Scene 2Seeing the Scene Q&A 3Rhythm and Repetition 4Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds 5Rule of Odds and Double Exposures 1Intro to Business 1Financing Your Business 1Q&A Days 1-4 1Pricing Calculator 1Package Pricing 1Marketing 1Vendor Relationships & Referrals 1Marketing w Social Media 1Booking the Client 1The Pricing Conversation 1Turn A Call Into a Meeting 1In Person Meeting 1Wedding Planning 1Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down 1Engagement Session Details 1Engagement Session On Location 1Wedding Details & Tips 1Detail Photos Reviewed 1Bridal Preparation 1Bridal Preparation Photo Review 1Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios 1Q&A Days 5-11 1First Look Demo 1First Look Examples 1Portraits of the Bride 1Portraits of the Bride and Groom 2Family Portraits Demo 3Family Formal Examples 4Wedding Ceremony Demo 1Wedding Ceremony Examples 2Different Traditions and Faiths 3Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo 4Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples 5Wedding Introductions 6First Dance 7Wedding Toasts 8Parent Dances 9Wedding Party 10Reception Events 11Nighttime Portraits 12Nighttime Portraits with Found Light 13Post Wedding Session Demo 14Post Wedding Session Critique 15Wedding Day Difficulties 16Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure 17Post Workflow - Culling Shots 18Post Workflow - Outsourcing 19Q&A Days 12-23 20Post Workflow - Gear 21Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing 22Managing Your Studio 23Post Wedding Marketing 24Client Care 25Pricing for Add-Ons 26The Album Process 27Balancing Your Business with Life 28Post Wedding Problems 29Parent Complaints 30Unhappy Customers 31Working with an Assistant 32Assistant Q&A 33Lighting with an Assistant 34Q&A Days 24-30



All the positive reviews say it all. When Susan took on the challenge of teaching this course it must of looked like attempting to climb Mount Everest...and she accomplished just that. Susan is a detailed, well-organized photographer and this clearly comes out in her teaching. Using repetition, clear instructions, a logical and well laid out presentation, she answers most any question you might have when it comes to wedding photography. I felt like I was having a private consultation when watching the course. She is real, honest, tactful, funny, and a gift to the photography community. Finally, her photography is professional and inspiring. Thank you Susan for the tremendous amount of work that you put into making this an outstanding Creative Live course for us all.

Tammy Hoherz

I am actually a HS science teacher, but also have a small wedding photography business. I bought this class because I looked at her work. I won't buy a class on CL unless the instructor has beautiful work. Of course that doesn't mean a person is a good instructor. Well IMO, Susan is a very good instructor. She doesn't get off on too many tangents and sticks pretty much to the point. As a student, that is key. I also have Roberto Valenzuela's course, and his approach is different. Both of these photographers are great. But Susan's approach to business and shooting and work flow is a nice contrast. I appreciate her information about outsourcing work. This was very helpful to me. Kudos to Susan and her teaching abilities.