How to Price Your Work
How do we price? The general reasoning that we've applied over the years is are we booking too much? Are we not booking enough? How many weddings do we want to do? What do we want to accomplish with weddings? And that is what has determined how we price our coverage.
So you've seen by now how much work we put into every wedding. You know there's scouting involved. There's research, we're meeting clients ahead of time. We can afford, time wise, to dedicate that time and give our clients that experience because of what we're charging. And we're charging an amount that we feel is fair for the amount of time and the service that we're giving them. That's really all it is. There's no number that says, oh this is when it's worth it. It's really what is your time worth to you, right?
When we started photographing weddings in Montreal in 2007, 2008, our price was low and we just took every wedding that came our way and we didn't give it much business thought. And we just let ourselves shoo...
t 40, 50, 80 weddings in and it led to us being really, really tired, to have a burn-out and to just feel like we're doing too much. So okay, well we're doing 80 weddings a year, that's obviously not good for our health. Let's raise our-
For our relationship.
For our relationship. Let's raise our prices and do less weddings. So gradually for the next year we raised our prices. Went down to doing 40 weddings, still too much, let's go up a little bit more, the number of weddings came down a little bit further. Then we give ourselves the goal to only travel for weddings. Okay, let's include travel so the price went up, the number of weddings went down but we start traveling more for weddings. So every year it's sort of this path that we navigate to make sure that our pricing and our presentation and our portfolio, all of those business elements fulfill what our goal is. Having that goal, knowing exactly where you want to take your business is really crucial to making those tough decisions.
And your life will change that, right? Like the year that when it was just the two of us, we had no kids, we could travel as much as we wanted. We could spend our entire week processing five weddings and deliver it by the following week and shoot 80 weddings a year. I mean it wasn't ideal but you know, we did do that. Having kids, it made us want to travel a little bit less and still travel, 'cause we still do value that but you know, start taking weddings at home a little bit more. So actually this year is the first year, or last year was the first year we started doing Montreal weddings again. And that's really just in line with our goals for this point in our lives.
And so as much as you could be booking a lot of weddings and gradually raise your prices to bring down the number of weddings that you're doing, it can go the other way and for us it did in when for whatever reason that we couldn't explain at the beginning of the year, we just weren't booking any weddings. We ended up that year with one booked wedding. But it happened to be the year when my dad passed away. A month later our daughter was born and a month later we were moving into a new house that we had built. And we were basically homeless with a newborn, living at our parents' house. That year was chaotic.
It was really fun.
I had a burnout just from the stress in our life and not from you know, shooting weddings. If we had had weddings on top of that, I just don't know how we would have survived. But in that whole year, we realized maybe our prices are too high. Maybe we're charging too much. The industry has changed. There's a lot of talent out there. Maybe we can't justify it. So we brought our prices down because we did want to keep shooting weddings. We realized how much we did love them, through the few weddings that we did shoot that year. So we brought our prices back down, slowly started booking again and now we're at a price point that might not be as high as it was in the past years, but we're booking 15 weddings a year and we're extremely happy with that.
Wasn't a significant, like difference, you know it was what, like a $1,500 difference maybe? $2,000 difference? But it was enough to fill our year the way that we wanted it filled. Now we're back to doing like 15 weddings a year which is, we're good (laughing). That's a good number for us.
Yeah, what's most important is that we love what we do and we're committed to every single wedding. We go into it really motivated to do the best job possible, regardless of what our clients are paying us. And I think that's really what matters the most.
Alright, well let's do a little bit of Q&A, if you guys have questions as well, bout that business section. Can you tell us, I know you told us earlier in the class but remind us approximately how many photos it is that you are delivering to the clients in the end?
Yeah, so we have sort of this like, 10%, I don't want to say rule because it's definitely not a rule but in the it adds up being about 10% of what we deliver, I'm sorry, what we shoot. So if we take 15,000 photos between the two of us, we'll deliver somewhere around 1,500 photos, so about 10% and then about 10% of that will be our rough selection for the slide shows. It's always goes in 10% increments.
Sort of, yeah.
Sort of, vaguely.
I try to limit it to about 1,500, I prefer to be around 1,000. 'Cause I find with 1,500, it often just ends up that our sequences are a little too long and it can be narrowed down a little bit more. But again, the important thing's that we don't feel like we're withholding anything from our clients. And I kind of see it like, if we shot 1,500 great photos that they're gonna really love and appreciate, then that's what they need to get, so--
And what is the expectation that you've set with them? With the number?
Oh, low expectations.
Very important, yes good point.
So on the price list and in the contract says 600 to 900 photos. I can't remember the last time we delivered less than 1,200 images. It's really just, and we tell them, you know when they sign the contract, this is there purely as a guide so you know this is where it could end up but we're not withholding anything in everything that we photograph, we're gonna deliver it to you guys.
For the collections that you have, that included high resolution files in albums, do you include all high resolution files or only the high resolution files for the images you were using in the albums?
Good question, no it's all of the high resolution files.
All of them?
Same if they buy them on their own, it's really all photos that we're delivering in high resolution.
And is that just one option of collection or you have more than one collection?
We have four different options so--
Four different collections.
Four different collections--
Yeah but how many of those collections included the high resolution?
All of them.
All of them, perfect.
That's basically what like our starting point is to build on with the collections. So the idea is that most of our clients, pretty much all of our clients will want high res files. It's pretty much a given, right? So we've put that value on the individual, on the high res files alone. And then the collections, you if you're spending $2, on the high res files, you might as well get a collection because they all include high res files and more for, you know--
Just a little bit.
Not that much more. It's really a way of enticing them to get albums because I really want them to get albums.
I guess just to clarify, so when they're booking you, their getting all those things that you've listed. They're getting the gallery and low res files of the collection. So in that gallery, are they just getting a la carte pricing for if they want prints or single digital images? And then really, to really get anything it's the collections?
Yeah, so the gallery itself, the online gallery, they can purchase the prints through there and that will have individual pricing. So if a guest wants to buy a photo that they see in the gallery, they can do that. Same with our clients. So you know, the clients that, I mean it never really happens, right? That nobody gets nothing?
No, it doesn't.
Like additional, yeah. But the idea is that if they didn't buy an album or files or a collection, then that would be their way of getting prints.
And I guess a quick follow-up, so on booking, to get the package deal and then plus a collection, what are they generally looking at? Are they full payment, half, how are you breaking that up and does it, you think it has a psychological impact on the sales process?
Yeah (laughs), I get that.
Sure, so regardless whether they take a collection or not, our standard terms are 50% when they sign the contract and the other 50% is due when the wedding day comes. We are flexible in splitting that 50/50, we can do 30/30/30 or, well that doesn't come out to 100--
It's like, whoa, bad business (laughing). (laughing)
So you know, thirds basically, or quarters even. You know, like we do want to give our clients that flexibility. What matters the most is that by time the wedding day comes around, like 100% of the fees are due. We know, over the last 10 years of doing business that we will always fulfill our obligation. We have a perfect track record. But the client, we don't know them. We don't know if they're just gonna disappear so we don't want to photograph a wedding and be left high and dry without the balance being paid out. So even if they are gonna receive albums three months after the wedding, we still request for the full balance even on the albums to be paid out on the wedding day itself.
The flexibility on this division of the payments is actually really important and it is something that we end up doing pretty often. Because when we have a client who's like, "look I love your work, I'll be honest this is way more than I wanted to spend, is there anything we can do?" Remember I said I don't want to start slashing our prices? But one thing we can offer them is, like if it's easier for you guys, we can split the payments. Doesn't change how much they end up paying, it doesn't change how much we end up getting paid. But you know, perception-wise, it makes it a lot easier for them and they really appreciate that we're doing that for them.
Yeah we just did that for a wedding we booked in Paris. And you know, we offered them to slit the payments and they needed two extra hours of coverage. You know what, there's zero overhead on additional coverage.
It's just our time but you know, in terms of financials, there is no overhead so that was easy for us to make them happy. We said no problem, we'll do two extra hours and we'll split your payments. And they booked. You know, it's very, very simple.
Several people online are asking if you have any particular vendors that you're using right now that you absolutely love, whether that's for your prints, for your albums, people that you could recommend?
Yeah absolutely, so for our albums, we use Renaissance Albums. We've actually been working with them since the very beginning. They're located just outside of New York and that's where they assemble all their albums. They quality is always really great.
Yeah, I'm extremely picky about my tangible products and I've touched so many albums (laughs). I'm always looking for the best stuff for my clients, right? So you know, I've done the rounds and I've looked at everything and for me, like Renaissance's prints have always been really great, the colors and you know, the quality. Like, I've never had an album warp on me or anything like that. And if there's even an issue, they're been really great with customer service. So that's, you know, they've had my loyalty for that (laughs).
Yup. For our online galleries, we use ShootProof, which is really great, works really, really well. Very easy to setup and manage and you know, for your clients to use as well. What we like about there too is we can get other vendors to come in and select their favorites and they can then download the favorites, so it makes the process easier for us. Dealing with planners and other vendors who might eventually bring us more business. And that's actually how we do the albums selections as well. I tell my clients, go through your gallery and just you know, create a favorites list so I know what your favorite images are. Sometimes they'll pick exactly the amount that's included in their albums, sometimes they'll pick more and I'll narrow it down. Sometimes they'll pick less and I'll do it but the idea is, I just want them to have a place to let me know, like what are your must-have images.
And then for our prints, so for the albums we let Renaissance take care of the printing because they nail it every time. And then for loose prints, we use a small lab in our hometown which does--
An amazing, amazing job.