Final Product and Delivery
Okay here's the second question that I get asked all the time. How much should I charge? I just don't know how much to charge. I don't know what to charge either people. I don't know. I can tell you what works for me right now, and I can tell you where I started, but I can tell you right now that you're not gonna be able to make the money that I'm making right now, and I'm not gonna be able to make the money that some of my friends are making right now until you get to that place professionally, artistically, where technically, you're there. When I first started out doing day in a lifes, when I was charging, I was doing about eight hour shoots. I wasn't sleeping over at that point, 'cause I was working at the beach, so I would just come and spend the whole day with the family. And I think that's more applicable to most people's lives is to do like six hours, eight hours, right. So I was charging 750, this is when I first started, 750 for the shoot, and that's it. The thing is with long...
er sessions, it's not like a wedding where you can charge a lot up front, right. Because they've been saving their whole lives, like they already know that's in the budget, they have to spend a lot of money on photographer. But for families, it's an investment, and it's a luxury. And we're gonna talk a little bit more about that in my last segment. We need them to fall in love with the product, the final photos, and then spend more money. This is my personal opinion, this is what I've found. I can't ask for everything up front because I have nothing to show or offer them, unlike a wedding where they know that they have to get the wedding photos. So I would do 750 for the shoot. And like I still do, they always got a slideshow online, they didn't get a fiscal, that's not the right word, tangible slide show, like not, they couldn't hold it in their hands and put it in, but they always had it online to share with their friends and family. Why do I do that? Because it's advertising for me. At the end of the day, people feel more connected to the music attached to a slide show, and at the end of the day, we're trying to do a story, we're trying to make a story, so now it's a story accompanied with music. It's the same idea as film, cinema, music helps. I do it for them 'cause they think I'm doing it for them. Sorry Kelly. (laughs) I do it for me 'cause I love seeing the story come together, but I really do it for my business because I want them to share the slideshow. People are gonna ask me about the slideshow. What music, where do you get your music? So I get my music from Soundslides, no not Soundslides, I'm sorry, Song Freedom, Song Freedom is where I get my music. The reason why I like Song Freedom is because it's the most affordable I've found, and it's the most flexible. So I don't like words in my music. I feel like it distracts. I also don't like using famous music because then I think that also, someone could have some sort of personal attachment or hate for a certain song. So I always just go with unknown musicians, usually singer/songwriter, bluegrassy, fun, upbeat. You can search on Song Freedom for all acoustic, or no vocals. You can search for the tempo that you want. And you can search for your price point, which I love. So I get my music for 9.99. They have 9.99, 29.99, I think, and 49.99, depending on like how famous the song is. But 9.99 per song, per shoot is nothing, that's cheap. And then I can use Vimeo, which is what I use, for all my slideshows. I had switched, I used to use a program, but I found that the quality of my slideshow wasn't good and they couldn't look at it big. I realized I just should just make the slideshows out of Lightroom. If you don't know, Lightroom makes slideshows. Just export the slideshow with the $10 music you bought and put it on Vimeo because, and you have to have licensed music on Vimeo, that's, it took me this long to want to use licensed music. (laughs) I'm being honest. So now it's on Vimeo and it's high quality, they can watch it in HD and I love it. And Vimeo now is a public site so it can bring traffic if you tag your slideshows. For me, every slideshow is password-protected until the client asks me to take that off because I have naked kids in there sometimes, I don't show full frontal in a slideshow, but I have butts in some of them, don't want that public. So I just leave it with a password, and then they can decide to share it the password. But sometimes people are like, "Can you just make this public "'cause I wanna share it with everybody?" And that's fine. Where are we at. So it always came with a slideshow. And then I always include, even back then, the Facebook-ready files. So 750 in the beginning included the slideshow and the Facebook-ready files, why? It's more advertising for me. I don't want them picking photos that I don't like. So it makes it much easier if it's already ready, the Facebook files are ready and it has my logo on it and then I'm not worried about what they're sharing. And people are lazy, so they're like, oh it's right there, I'll just share those. Okay, I charged 750 for a year and a half. Then I went up to a thousand, woo big 250 jump. And I shot at a thousand for a year, same deal. And then I decided, because of getting a lot of out of town clients, rather than them paying for everything and dealing with all the arrangements, my rate now is 1750, which is very reasonable considering, and it includes traffic to the, travel to the continental United States. But as I tell all my students, you have to figure out how much money you want to make to make it worth it to leave your family, to take that time out of your day, to put that energy in. You have to decide what's right for you. So what I say is pay yourself your hourly, so for me my hourly is, it's usually 1500, 'cause I can get a flight for about 250, and so 1500 for basically my time and talent, but then I price the products according to the minimum I wanna make afterwards. Does this make sense? Okay. My files are $2000 for the artisan edit and the extended, no, yeah, and the extended gallery. So that means they can get all the files that they want and it's 2000. So do the math, so then I make 3750 total. To me, that was a minimum and what was worth it to me. I love what I do, I can live off of that money, and I'm fine with it, and I'm getting clients at that price point. But you have to decide what works for you. And also what works in your market. I always say find out what the average is for your market and do a little bit higher than that. Don't go crazy about out-pricing your market in the beginning, once you're really good, then go ahead and do it. But generally shoppers say want something that, you know, isn't the $2. Like I was looking for air mattresses for a wedding, and that sounded really weird (laughs) we had a destination wedding, we had people coming, and we were just cramming people in a house so I got a bunch of air mattresses. So there was the like $5 air mattress, am I gonna buy that? Hell no, like you're gonna be sleeping on concrete within three minutes, right. And I wasn't gonna buy the $200 air mattress, because Greg's friends, I love them, but they are not worth that much. But I went with like $70 air mattresses, right, because I was like that's probably good quality, it's more than I would normally spend on an air mattress, but it's less than I would spend to put them in a hotel. So that's usually like the consumer's thought process is they're gonna go, middle to a middle better, and then people that have the money will spend more, but most people don't go for the cheapest, so don't price yourself there. For me, I don't worry about my market because I don't have a market, but for you guys, you do have to put that into consideration about your market. And then I have additional products. Now here's the other thing I can tell you about products, 'cause it might be coming up. I now only offer two products and that's it. Because I have learned I am a horrible salesperson about products I don't care about. So I found two products that I love and that's all I'm selling, because then it doesn't become selling. It's really passionate about I think you should have these. If you're selling lockets and you think they're horrible, why would you sell them? You're not gonna be able to sell them, first of all. I hate canvases. I think canvases are for paint. I think canvases are dated. I think canvases 20 years down the road are going to remind people that this is from the early 2000s. That's just my personal opinion. I also hate canvases for photography because then you really do have to think about the area that you have around the photo in order to wrap the canvas. I freaking hate them. You might love them, and if you love them, then you can sell them because you're gonna feel passionate about it. You'll have them in your home. You'll have them in your studio. But if you don't love them, why are you selling them? Why do you want your work to be displayed like that if you don't like how that looks? I have been talking to Jenna and Tristan our really good friends for, now I teach with Jenna and you're gonna meet her this afternoon. And I love what they do, so I stole their idea, but I'm crediting them for it. But it's true, like all my photos in my house are matted and framed because that's how I believe a photo is meant to be looked at, matted and framed on the walls. That's how photos have been looked at for like a century. And I think that's what's timeless. I think they should be on the wall, matted and framed. So I sell fine art prints that they can't get anywhere else with 8-ply mats that I order online. And here's the lovely thing about that I free myself of versus the portrait photographer that's always worried about the enlargements and having to have the edges, you can get the inside of the mat cut any size you want, and you can get the outside of the mat cut to a standard size. And so what I tell my clients is, "I want you to invest "in what you should be investing in, "which is the beautiful print which is a piece of art, "I consider my photo a piece of art, "and a gorgeous mat that encloses it, "and I'm gonna give you a standard size outside "so you can go to Ikea and just get a basic black frame. "You don't need anything fancy." And as Jenna says, they don't deal with the framing because they don't want to assume the aesthetic of somebody else's house, they'll let them do that and pick out their own. Because even if you have like 20 different options, it might still not be applicable to their home or their taste or their preference, so let them do that, but also give them the option that you can go get $20 frame. And that's what Greg and I have and they're decent frames. I don't care about the frame, the frames can be replaceable. What I care about is that it's beautifully preserved and shown in that mat, the 8-ply mat. And they can't just buy 8-ply mats anywhere. And that's why all my prints now come with an 8-ply mat. And I stole that from Jenna and Tristan, it's the best idea ever, and now they're gonna kill me 'cause I've told everybody live about it. They're all gonna do it. That's what I'm passionate about. So now when I talk about it, it's not like I'm trying to sell it, I'm like, "I really think this is how you should show your work. "Come look at my house, this is what's, "how we have all of our photos presented, right." And the other thing I do is albums. So the last time I was on, I worked with ProDPI and Renaissance, Renaissance for the higher albums, ProDPI for the less, like the less expensive albums. ProDPI has sold their business and my heart is broken because I loved them so much. But with good reason, and I will share that later, why they sold their business. So now I'm strictly with Renaissance. And we didn't have enough time, I just found their new, I just saw their new albums, and this is what I'm gonna be using now, but it's called the Bowery Album and I think you should all look at it. It is the most gorgeous album I have ever seen. And here's the thing, I hate flush-mount albums. And the older I get and the longer into the business that I am I realize how much I hate the mat board albums because I think they're also gonna be dated. And now I'm addicted to photo books. As Greg said, we're going to have to build more furniture just to house all the photo books in my house. But the more and more I'm really embracing being a photojournalist, the more I'm like obsessed with all these photo books that I'm learning from and thinking that's how I want people to see their families, like a piece of art, like a photo book. So the Bowery is a really nice option for that. It's a little thicker page, just a tiny bit thicker than like a basic photo album, and it's super affordable. I believe for 70 sides, it's like $200, and it's gorgeous. And that works better for storytelling sessions, in my opinion, and it's more affordable for them. 'Cause then I can charge 'em like 600 or and they get 70 photos in their album. So they really can get like a nice collection of the day that I spent with them. So that's all I'm selling, Bowery albums and the matted prints, and that's it. And then I, like I said, I don't feel like I'm a salesperson anymore, I feel like I'm just someone who really loves these products and this is how I think that you should preserve this investment that you've made. I think that the books are great because they really can be coffee table books now, and when your friends and family come over they'll want to page through it, they'll want to look at it. I think also with flush mount, people are like worried to get it dirty or whatever, but with the Bowery books, that's not the case, they won't feel that way. And you want your stuff on the walls, big, enlarged, on the walls, why? It's advertising space for you. But as the consumer, why are they gonna invest all this money for photos they never look at on a hard drive. You want them to have them on their walls so they appreciate it everyday. Everyday they wake up, they can appreciate a photo, and that's what I tell them. If you don't do anything with these pictures, you've wasted your investment. You want to appreciate it. And you want your friends and family to be like, "Oh my god this is the most wonderful photo of your family," where it resonates to them as well. Does that make sense? Yes.
So do you ever have clients who will pay for their session and then not order prints or an album and just do the digitals? Because I feel the same way, I don't want them to just do the digitals because, if they're anything like me, they die on a hard drive, and that doesn't matter.
So for, again, remember my business model is a little bit different, I have about 70% of my clients are photographers. So I do not push the product on them because I trust that they'll do it themselves. However, I've had about 10 or 12 order an album through me anyways, because they're like, man I don't wanna deal with it, right. But I don't push it on them. For the people that are not photographers, they almost always buy an album from me, almost always. We just had to ship out four right before Christmas. It's about 50/50, but I've never had clients not buy anything, except one time. And I've done like now over 50 day in life sessions, full day in life sessions. They always at least buy the files. And so remember I said, what's my minimum, what's the lowest amount of money I wanna make, I price it that way. So the lowest amount of money that I make is 3750 for a full day. My average these days is about 4500 for a shoot. As you all get much better, and you increase your rates, I will have to go up so that I have more value, right, but for right now, I am happy with where I am. Yes, honey.
Can they just buy the album and not buy digitals?
But that lowers your price point, yes, so you're making a lot less?
Yes, but that never happens really. It actually never happens. And the thing that I do offer is, well the Bowery is gonna be different 'cause this is new now. Now it's like they get 70 images in there. So I'm gonna change it, it used to be like if you, it used to be a 30 page album was a starter at $1000, and then, but no one can just get 30 pictures in there, 'cause I only do one image per page. They were always adding at least 20 or 30 photos and the incentive was you'll at least get those files of those photos in your album. Because I know I can make money on that. But with the Bowery book it's gonna be different, right. And I've also thought about eventually, why don't I just include the Bowery book in every session. And so I increase the price point, 'cause I'm almost at the point where I think I can do it, and that way I'm sure that everyone gets this beautiful album, right, included, and then they can opt to buy the files, and they'll probably still buy the files is my feeling. But again it's dividing that price up. If you just say, so my shoot is $4500, I'm gonna get no clients. But by breaking it up, it helps them budget-wise, and also fall in love with their images that they want to have. Do you have a question Kathy?
Yeah let's do a couple of questions before we bring up a couple of our students. So with the shoots, do you promise them a certain number of images that are gonna come at that price point? And what is your average number that you are delivering?
Okay, so that's a good question. Is this for full day in the life? Is that the question? I can do both.
Let's do both.
So for one hour sessions, I'm shooting about 2000 pictures in a one hour session. I narrow that down to, and what I promise is in the extended gallery they'll get at least 50, under promise, over deliver, it's always around that I end up showing them in the extended gallery. The artisan edit for a one hour session is usually about 25 to 40 pictures, but I always tell them you'll get 20, you know, a rough estimate of 20, but it's always more than that, and that makes them happy. For day in the life sessions, I'm shooting, okay day in the life sessions I'm only shooting, only, I'm shooting between 6000 and 10000 photos. My number has come down a little as I've gotten better and I've learned that there's just sometimes no moment so I don't bother shooting. Of that, I promise 80 in the extended gallery, but I always deliver at least 100. Oh I'm sorry, extended gallery I promise 300, but it's always around between 500 and 800, depending on, it's just like a wedding for me, so it just depends on how much activity there is. For the artisan edit for a day in the life session, I'm promising about 75, 80, and I always deliver at least 100 in that artisan edit. So under promise, over deliver.
Can you just describe for people what your artisan edit is versus the extended?
So an extended gallery is the larger cull, so it's usually two passes through. And this is an important thing, so I edit in not edit out, meaning when I look at all my raw, everything is a no. Does that make sense? Everything is trash. And then I go through and anytime there's a good one, I say yes, yes, yes, if you do it the other way, you're gonna throw out a lot less and you're gonna end up with a lot more crap. I edit in, and so it's usually the second pass is the extended gallery, it's the larger collection. Not all of my favorites are in there, and some are just maybe the mom might like this picture a little bit better, what she looks like in this one, so I'm gonna include it. But then the artisan edit is my favorites, it's the ones that I work on, it's the ones that I use in my slideshow, that I will pick from for the blog, that I will pick from for Facebook, that I want to represent me, that's what the artisan edit is. So you don't have to do it that way with two galleries, it's my choice to do that with two galleries.