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When Everyone Says I Am Too Expensive

Lesson 35 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

When Everyone Says I Am Too Expensive

Lesson 35 from: Wedding Photographer Survival Kit

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

35. When Everyone Says I Am Too Expensive


Class Trailer



Class Introduction


The Gear That Will Save You in Tough Situations


How Lenses Shape the Image and Help Tell Your Story


Light Modifiers for Your Survival Kit


Gear to Spice Up Bland Images: Prisms, Mist and More


Walkthrough of a Difficult Venue


Why Each Room Works and Why It Doesn't


Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Dress


Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Rings


Wedding Day Details in a Difficult Situation: Shoes


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in Difficult Scenarios


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Small, Cluttered Room


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Dark Hallway


Photographing the Bride Getting Ready in a Doorway


Portraits of the Bride in a Small Room


Removing the Surrounding Space for a Bridal Portrait


Window Lit Bridal Portrait in a Tough Space


How to Shoot a Quick and Simple Bridal Portrait


Photographing Guys, Complaining Brides and "Helpful" Bridesmaids




Portraits of Bride and Groom: Ideal Situations


Portraits of Bride and Groom: When Things Go Wrong


Bride and Groom Portraits: What to Do If You're Indoors


Bride and Groom Portraits: How to Pose an Awkward Couple


Family Formals: How to Achieve Your Ideal Situations


Family Formals: When Things are Less Than Ideal


Family Formals in an Awful Space


Family Formals Recap and Questions


Photographing the Reception


Reception Q&A


What Can You Do to Safeguard Your Business?


Contracts Q&A


Dealing with Social Media as a Wedding Photographer


What if Advertising Isn't Working?


What to do When Everyone Just Wants More


When Everyone Says I Am Too Expensive


When You Hate Your Job as a Wedding Photographer


Lesson Info

When Everyone Says I Am Too Expensive

Everyone says I'm too expensive huh things were going well but then I raised my prices and no one will hire me they keep saying I'm too expensive I didn't see this coming should I lower my prices what's the maximum amount you should increase per year I made a five hundred dollar jump which is fifteen percent I worry that it was too much do you have a date in mind where you like to have x bookings for the next year such as by september first you need to be on track with fifty percent of my next season booked or something like that okay I tracked all of my bookings and averages from year to year I am a nerd like it's cool I love data so I have several ongoing spreadsheets where I'm always looking at how far out from the wedding or people booking what is their booking average what is their average when their wedding is over so on and so forth and so forth so I do track my bookings and averages from year to year that way I know like I can tell you right now I am one wedding ahead for next ...

year based on where I was last year at this time and I am to weddings behind where I was in two thousand thirteen and I am one wedding behind where I was in two thousand twelve that's cool I know I'm close to where I need to be when I start looking at these averages and I realized I'm five behind I'm ten behind then I know how do I keep this data tracked oh just a spreadsheet literally a spreadsheet that's it because I want to know how I'm doing I raised my prices once a year usually in may and I usually go up five hundred dollars to a thousand dollars per range than I give it two months to see how it goes so I bumped my start price up to sixty two hundred this year it went and it was a big bump it went from forty nine hundred two sixty two hundred I gave it a period of time I realized it was too high I brought it down to fifty nine hundred it was still a big bump do you know what I mean like you khun bump it check it and then bring it back do I have a scientific method for how I do it not really it used to be little bumps bits and pieces two hundred dollars here two 00:02:02.365 --> 00:02:05. hundred dollars there but now I jump in big jumps 00:02:05.38 --> 00:02:08. if suddenly clans aren't hiring you you have to look 00:02:08.12 --> 00:02:11. at everything is your marketing in line with your 00:02:11.08 --> 00:02:13. new prices what about your look your brand your website 00:02:13.83 --> 00:02:16. in your social media presence can your market even 00:02:16.59 --> 00:02:20. support your new raise that's a tough one what if 00:02:20.11 --> 00:02:22. you live somewhere you know I lived in tallahassee, 00:02:22.28 --> 00:02:27. florida and I knew that there was a price cap that 00:02:27.04 --> 00:02:29. I could reach that I couldn't go over in tallahassee 00:02:29.97 --> 00:02:31. now this was years and years ago it might be completely 00:02:31.68 --> 00:02:33. different now, but I hit the wall at three thousand 00:02:33.78 --> 00:02:36. dollars above three thousand dollars I could not get 00:02:36.64 --> 00:02:39. people to hire me now I could fill my wedding season 00:02:39.63 --> 00:02:42. with about twenty five to thirty three thousand dollar 00:02:42.6 --> 00:02:45. weddings and I was doing okay, well, I couldn't do 00:02:45.52 --> 00:02:47. that here in new york because cost of living is much 00:02:47.48 --> 00:02:50. higher so what if I moved to new york and I raised 00:02:50.04 --> 00:02:52. my prices to seven thousand dollars and no one will 00:02:52.83 --> 00:02:56. hire me and I realized that's my cab adds a tough 00:02:56.35 --> 00:02:59. place to be you've got to figure out how much and 00:02:59.29 --> 00:03:02. again I'm not trying to not answer this, but we did 00:03:02.03 --> 00:03:04. all this in thirty days at great length. What is your 00:03:04.57 --> 00:03:07. cost of living? What does it cost to make all of your 00:03:07.28 --> 00:03:10. packages? What is your profit on all of your packages? 00:03:10.04 --> 00:03:12. How many weddings do you want to shoot a year? What 00:03:12.16 --> 00:03:14. would be your take home if you booked your minimum 00:03:14.8 --> 00:03:17. for all of those weddings? Can you sustain yourself 00:03:17.12 --> 00:03:20. on that if not, do you want to diversify that's part 00:03:20.63 --> 00:03:23. of why I also put this retreat together for january, 00:03:24.19 --> 00:03:26. but we're going to talk a lot about diversification 00:03:26.73 --> 00:03:29. how kind of difficult it is to have all of your eggs 00:03:29.11 --> 00:03:32. in one basket so what do you do if you find out that 00:03:32.54 --> 00:03:35. your market can't support your new rates you've got 00:03:35.35 --> 00:03:36. to make a new plan 00:03:37.62 --> 00:03:42. yes take some questions about the plate racing side 00:03:42.36 --> 00:03:44. because that's always touchy for a lot of people yes 00:03:44.99 --> 00:03:50. it is so this question is some kinds asked me what 00:03:50.05 --> 00:03:54. happens if you are ill on the wedding day myself it 00:03:54.19 --> 00:03:57. scares me how to reply prevent and anticipate this 00:03:57.58 --> 00:04:00. problem and what would you do if you do have an emergency 00:04:00.89 --> 00:04:05. and you can't show up so I've shot with shingles I've shot with kidney stone I've shot with the flu um I have shot in all kinds of terrible conditions and I tell my clients it calling in sick is not an option like I literally would have to call in dead to not go to your wedding I'm not just gonna wake up one morning and be like I'm sick I'm not gonna come in to work that's that it doesn't work this way pops and advil man up and go to work like it just is what it is um two years ago I fell down the stairs in my apartment and I ripped open my hand from here to here on a screw down to the bone on a wednesday night and how the wedding on saturday I was in the e r all night long. I had emergency surgery on thursday morning to fix some nerve damage I went home thursday night with my arm in a cast, my shooting arm in a cast. This part of my fingers tuck out my thumb and the fingertips of this finger. And I'm just like. What am I to do like what my even remotely going to dio yes I think if you can take medicine and you can get to the event to do it great man up whatever you say but I would think that would be something you could put in your contract to say that they would get a discount and you would find yes somebody teo back you up if you're in a hospital bed or your yes you know absolutely so what I did and what in my contract is there to prevent me from getting my total but suit if that would've happened luckily it was a december wedding my husband the best photographer I know did not have a wedding I made him come to the wedding with me I cried and gave him big eyes and he had to come help me on I still managed to actually shoot by pushing the shutter with my thumb I looked like an idiot like to be clear but I was actually able to shoot some stuff it got to the reception I was really hurting I let him really take on a lot of the reception that was a bad week but in my contract that basically says if I cannot show up to your wedding do too and I have a laundry list like severe illness act of god someone and so forth I will provide you with a photographer your choice is to either accept the photographer or to not accept the photographer and my liability is just to fund the money that you've paid me so far so if you want to work with the photographer that I send you you don't get a discount you get them but if you don't want them I will give you all of your money back your retainer you're everything I understand go get whoever you want what you can't do is sue me for not showing up right like I will give you all of your money back but you can't come after me for more is basically what my contract says and it would have to be a very I'd have to be in the hospital I mean I've missed my daughter's dance recital and it's my grandmother's funeral it is what it iss like and I'm not saying that to be a martyr it's it is the job that we have chosen I've signed a legally binding contract I can't just not go now there are circumstances where in there is no way that I would go to the wedding I really don't want to get into them they would involve like the death of children I and if a client I've had a couple of potential clients pushed me and be like well if you weren't really sick like what if one of your kids was in the hospital and I was like were to do this you're going to make me like, draw a line in the sand if if my kid's in the hospital and how sick will I just not come like no we're not going to play the what level of disaster is a big enough level of disaster to not show up at your wedding I've been doing this for fifteen years I all of my best friends wedding photographers I think I have only in my entire career known of two people to not go to a wedding one was because someone had surgery and one was because someone tore their achilles tendon pretty good reasons emergency surgery torn achilles tendon I think we can all agree that's extreme circumstance but I will find someone for you I am very fortunate that I'm married to a wedding photographer in all of my best friends are wedding photographers we're gonna find somebody for you if we can't find somebody for you I will give you your money back the end it's all you khun dio right like and it needs to be those terms need to be very clearly laid out if act of god if I'm traveling to your wedding and something happens if I can't make it for x y z reasons abc is the recourse it's a conversation you don't wantto have with yourself and with your clients but it's incredibly incredibly important a couple more of these if that's all right okay what about this from I j bowers? How about the infamous I'm on a tight budget. Is there a better price that you can offer? No. I mean no I'm not trying to jerk again not trying to be a jerk but no I'm on a tight budget too I feel really bad are you getting married on a friday in february okay I'm not going to come down in price but maybe I can give you another hour right like I'm not going to deviate from my minimum price because that's where I know I'm profitable but if I have to give them an extra hour of overtime maybe come from a thirty minute engagement session that's one thing if you're getting married saturday of memorial day weekend there's there's just not anything I can do to help you and I won't refer you to a lower press photographer either uh at all and the photographers that I have to refer at my price point they're the ones that I trust no there is nobody justus good as me but cheaper like really well and that I get this ass a lot you know is is there someone that is of your skill level at a lower price point that you can refer and I want to say if they were at my skill level they would be at my price level right clients don't understand they don't understand they're not trying to be mean but I will say you know unfortunately I don't have anybody at that price level to refer to you I highly suggest you check out and I give them a list of you know the not fearless photographers you know, a couple of different resource is where I know the photographers are going to be good on dh then send them on their way to find somebody awesome you could find somebody good there are good people at all different skill levels in all different price points I just can't refer you to somebody who charges fifteen hundred dollars because I don't know anyone who charges that that I would trust doesn't mean there's not somebody out there I love your cleveland it is susan I mean that's just that's just part of it is confidence part of it is total bullheaded stubbornness and part of it is running a business for a very long time and knowing where I can given where I can't give and it's also being firm and policies because I know that if I am not they will come with them a host of headaches later damn experience and we're all learning and trust me client communication and dealing with all of this stuff so much harder to do when you're new in business you will develop your thick skin you will learn to separate business from personal life and I want to be very clear separating your business from your personal life doesn't mean you don't care the end great uh maybe one more please alright, okay uh best way to deal with buyer's remorse when the bride decides six months after seeing her photos that she doesn't like them. Unfortunate, yeah. It's not my problem man I'm sorry like I I most of the problems that you're gonna have post wedding have nothing to do with you having buyer's remorse and dumping it on me isn't fair that's not fair it's like me going back to the car dealership and crying because I overextended myself they didn't force me to buy a car I didn't force anybody to hire me I didn't force them to spend what they did if they come back later and they're like we really couldn't have afforded that well I did not put a gun to your head and make you hire me like I listen I get it weddings are expensive and I can absolutely understand after the wedding being like oh my gosh, we spent all that money and now it's over but a simple I'm really sorry you feel that way it was really nice to work with you I trust that these images will live in your family for generations to come and I hope that down the road the investment 00:12:11.765 --> 00:12:16. becomes something that you are pleased with p s please 00:12:16.79 --> 00:12:19. don't tell me about your feelings like and and not 00:12:19.12 --> 00:12:21. because I'm trying to be cruel, but 00:12:22.51 --> 00:12:24. but it's kind of a what do you want from me sort of 00:12:24.76 --> 00:12:28. thing like buyer's remorse cool and I've had complete 00:12:28.46 --> 00:12:30. some people come to me with buyer's remorse and then 00:12:30.87 --> 00:12:33. years down the road, write to me again to tell me 00:12:33.51 --> 00:12:34. what the images mean to them 00:12:35.91 --> 00:12:38. and a lot of people will get over it it's ok yes I 00:12:38.37 --> 00:12:41. saw a hand I don't know where it came from back yes 00:12:41.83 --> 00:12:45. and I wanted to ask what happened if somebody right 00:12:45.83 --> 00:12:47. about review about this 00:12:49.17 --> 00:12:51. well somebody writes a bad review about me I can't 00:12:51.39 --> 00:12:51. stop them 00:12:53.01 --> 00:12:55. I hate to say that but I can't stop them the only 00:12:55.93 --> 00:12:58. thing that I can do is write if someone writes a bad 00:12:58.17 --> 00:13:00. review about me there's two types of better views 00:13:00.04 --> 00:13:03. big old fat lies and ones that are true but very emotion 00:13:03.62 --> 00:13:06. based if I make a mistake with a client I am going 00:13:06.33 --> 00:13:09. to own up to that mistake the best thing you can do 00:13:09.03 --> 00:13:11. is tell the truth if I've screwed something up I am 00:13:11.34 --> 00:13:13. going to say I screwed this up what can I do to make 00:13:13.88 --> 00:13:17. it right own it right in the face seriously 00:13:18.11 --> 00:13:20. but if a client is like well I heard you for the wedding 00:13:20.79 --> 00:13:22. I mean we like pictures it was really expensive and 00:13:22.67 --> 00:13:25. now we really regret spending that money and we would 00:13:25.31 --> 00:13:26. really like a refund 00:13:27.69 --> 00:13:29. or we would really like a free album or we would really 00:13:29.8 --> 00:13:32. like or whatever whatever if that client who's mad 00:13:32.47 --> 00:13:34. at me about the bridal parties bridal party on the 00:13:34.16 --> 00:13:37. beach and what not if she goes online and writes a 00:13:37.07 --> 00:13:40. nasty review about me. If it is one hundred percent 00:13:40.19 --> 00:13:44. untrue I will contact wherever the review is, an attempt 00:13:44.03 --> 00:13:47. to get it taken down because most places are very 00:13:48.01 --> 00:13:51. careful nowadays about reviews that are lies, I'll 00:13:51.03 --> 00:13:53. get it taken down. But if it's, like let's, say, someone 00:13:53.56 --> 00:13:55. goes to a wedding wire and write something really 00:13:55.21 --> 00:13:57. nasty about me, and I have twenty amazing reviews 00:13:57.65 --> 00:14:00. and one bad review, how many times have you looked 00:14:00.39 --> 00:14:02. up? Something on yelp, right? Like you look at a restaurant 00:14:02.95 --> 00:14:05. and it's got like, seventy five five star reviews. 00:14:05.86 --> 00:14:09. And then one guy is like one star. Food sucked. 00:14:11.61 --> 00:14:13. Who are you going to believe the seventy four other 00:14:13.48 --> 00:14:15. people that really loved another one guy that super 00:14:15.45 --> 00:14:18. hated it all of your good reviews will outweigh one bad review and you know when you look at review sites and the review seems a little off kilter don't be afraid and don't let your clients push you into something you don't want to do by the threat of a bad review that makes me angrier than anything if you don't give me what I want all write a bad review about you oh will you okay again bad idea um I will come back to them and be like you know what? Writing a defamatory review about somebody online about something that is not true not exactly one hundred percent legal I really I really don't appreciate the attempt to blackmail me let's talk about it and see what kind of resolution we can come to together don't do this to me like please don't do this to me and it's tough and people the longer you're in business you will have people who will behave in ways that are not exactly awesome you just have to meet it head on and don't hide from it if someone's unhappy with you you've got to meet it head on and talk to them and the longer it takes to talk to them, the worse it's going to get listen to them here out the issues that they have with you if it's something, you can fix six it, sometimes they just want event. I'm really sorry you feel that way. I'm really excited. I'm really sorry you felt that way about the experience. What can I do to make it better for you? Maybe nothing. Maybe they just wanted to complain. Maybe they want a couple of prints, give somebody a couple prints if it makes them happy, can't have an album. We're not going to re shoot your portrait or anything like that, but clients really love to hear that you care and that you are asking them, what can I do to make it better?

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Wedding Photographer Survival Kit Slides

Ratings and Reviews


I found this course extremely helpful. I own Susan's 30 day bootcamp class and I think that this course is a great supplement to that course. I don't work with an assistant so it was very helpful to see how she would approach a scenario without an assistant. It was also great to see her point of view and thought process when scouting locations for portraits and witness her ability to make something beautiful out of "not so pretty" or difficult locations. It helped me to take a better approach to finding the light, and really paying attention to all of the different details throughout a room. Her business tips were awesome too. I could go on and on but maybe you should just get the course. It's worth it.


Good and useful course as typical of Susan Stripling; I also own Creative Wedding Photography. However, all the class materials should reside on the Creative Live website -- not just the Power Point presentation. I understand Susan's desire to drive people to her website to increase visibility and sales of her own products, but the strategy isn't very customer-centric for CreativeLive customers. People shouldn't have to "google" the name of her company to find the information that she references in this course; and then once on the website scroll through outdated or unwanted information to find, as she states at her website, "Below is the list of gear (as promised) that I've mentioned on Creative Live." If people are smart enough to find CreativeLive, they'll be smart enough to find on the web any presenter that they like or want to know more about. The folks at CreativeLive ought to address this type of behavior before it sets a bad precedent for future presenters.


I love Susan. She will give it to you straight! I own her "30 days" class and it's amazing but one thing I took away from this course was when she said something along the lines of, "Those photographers who tell you they hand pick their clients are lying to you!" Haha. There are TOO MANY young and arrogant wedding photographers who think they are rock stars. They really get me down. And that's why I like Susan. She's honest.

Student Work