Monday, September 21, 2009

Spotting Good Wedding Photography - A Public Service Announcement About Budgets And Pricing

We now interrupt your normally scheduled programming for this public service announcement...

Soon-to-be-marrieds please take a moment to think about this...the number one challenge that I and every other wedding vendor I know has when they pick up the phone is that the nice person on the other end of the line has absolutely no clue (or won't say) about how much they are willing to spend for their photography (or flowers, or, or, or) and what they expect as a product. Like most wedding professionals, I have a keen desire to help you have a perfect day. Like many in our industry, I am happy to customize a package that will work for you, but, and it's a big but, you have to tell me what you want and give me an idea of what you are willing to spend to have what you want.

Here are a couple of examples of recent phone conversations...check out the difference in the outcome:

Photographer: Please let me ask you a few questions so that I can understand your needs. How many hours do you think you might need for your day? Bride: I don't know...just for the ceremony and one or two photos after. Photographer: How long is your ceremony? Bride: I don't know yet? Can you just give me a price? Ummm, that's alot more than we wanted to pay...Photographer: Do you have a budget in mind for your photography? Bride: no, we really don't know what we can spend yet but I know it isn't THAT much...I'll have to talk to my fiancé and get back to you...

Now, How about this:

Bride: Hi, I'm getting married and wanted to see about prices??? I'll be getting ready at my mom's house in Tempe, the ceremony will be at St. Mary's Church and the reception will be across town at Mountain Golf Club. Photographer: Congratulations! So let's see, We'll need about 30 minutes for your dressing photos and isn't it about a 15 minute drive to St. Mary's from there? Approximately an hour and a half for photos at the church and then 30 minutes to Mountain...I think we're looking at between 5 and 7 hours coverage, wouldn't you agree? Bride: Oh yes, that should be about right...I was thinking more toward the 7 hours and I'd really like a great album oh, and of course the disc...did I mention I need to keep it around $2500? Photographer: Oh thanks for letting me know...I can put that together for you, now on 7 hours it would be $3500, but I'm wondering, do you think we would be able to accomplish everything for you in 5 hours? Then I could bring it in for $2800...Bride: I really appreciate your flexibility! You know, I would like to talk further and see what we can do, when is the best time to come and meet you?

In the first case, the photographer (in this case, me) has her hands tied...all she can do is throw some numbers and ideas out and hope that something sticks. The bride hangs up frustrated and unfulfilled and the photographer is equally frustrated because she (yeah, you know, me) couldn't help that bride and in fact has now contributed to making her decision making process more frustrating. No Win Situation.

Now, in the second example, we have a win-win. The Bride came to the table prepared. She had such a great experience on the phone that she has now furthered her photographer search immensely and assuming it is a personality match probably go on to hire our friendly photographer (once again, me). She has saved time and aggravation for herself (and, of course, me) by being prepared and open to a little flexibility for herself and her photographer.

So, which would you rather be? Crying in your beer with your co-workers after a slew of frustrating phone calls and no closer to making your wedding day plans or drinking Mimosas with your girlfriends because planning your day has been so easy that you really can celebrate? Hmmm... a little more champagne in the O.J.?

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