Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mind boggling

Wow, can I just say, when you really get into it all, (I am refering to the photography business) It is truly mind boggling. I cannot tell you how many sites I have looked at, comparing services and prices... I mean really, how does one come up with a reasonable rate, pricing, and make the profit margin, while giving their clients the best deal? It's crazy. I guess you pick a starting point and go with what sells..... I have been told it is much easier to lower your prices than raise them, so I aim for the mid range I guess..... I can go lower because I do not have the overhead of a studio, but I still have to consider insurance, incorporating, and someday, God willing, maybe even a studio of my own if things really take off. :)

It's crazy I tell you, and I need a break from all this business thinking I think! But if I slow down, I loose my momentum, sigh, whew! OK, so here is one dilema I am facing..... traditional pricing vs copyright free cd...

On one hand, a sitting/session fee and package prices with ala carte, and on the other hand I am starting to see with the digital era, alot of pros, shooting, editing and selling a copyright cd to their clients, and walking away from money from print orders...

It seems to me, that in the end, you make about as much from each shoot and the latter is much less time and cost intense. Let me explain.... I'm just picking a random fee and spitting out amounts for examples....

Traditionally, you shoot, edit, produce proof prints to the client, take and fill and order for prints, and return the final product. you have your time shooting, editing, printing proofs, time for pick up of proofs, or shipping proofs, time waitig for the order, time filling the order (back and forth to the lab or uploading etc), possible hassle from your lab, packaging, and returning the order to the client. Say a good order is $100 for sitting and $250.00 in prints ordered (OK I know it goes way up from there, or sometimes it's 70 bucks) So there's $350.00.

NOW.... If you shoot digitally and offer an "all inclusive session" Say you charge $400.00 for the session, (I am talking 8-12 proofs kinda standard, or whatever you normally shoot and give) an online gallery and a copyright free cd. You have your time shooting, upload, editing, then it's done, for the same or more amount really.... The customer has to pay for their prints from there, but... it's on their time and dime. You can recommend a lab or let them go where they love to have stuff done... If it doesn't meet their standards, they take it up with the lab.... not you. They make as many copies as they want, for as long as they want, so they win out with this really. (Up front it's a lot of money, but if you order or want a lot of prints it's cheaper real fast) How many folks limit their orders because of expense. Images they might have purchased in the beginning might get cut for the budget, this way, they print what they want when they can.

You as the photographer goes on to shoot more and spend less follow up time on each order. And cut out time packaging, those materials and shipping costs when applicable....

Of course you may loose out when the occasional customer that spends hundreds if not thousands of dollars comes your way on the print order, but for most of us, that's rare indeed.... And you can offer printing services if your customer doesn't want to mess with it or wants pro papers.

The cd method seems like a win-win situation to me, if I can just get over the photographer's ego, to hold all rights to our images... I would still retain release rights for publishing and whatever I want to do with the images under my name as well.
The customer wins, because they can do almost anything with those images short of publishing them. They can email them, websites, scrapbook, print, whatever.....

So I ask, what are your opinions, Come on, I know you have em! Let's hear it, from customers to fellow photogs! Whadda ya think?!!! Email me privately if you would like to express you opinion and not make it public please :) It's on my profile...


Blogger Susan Jones said...

Hey Wing!!!!
I'm weighing in here...
I say get in...and then get out...right outta the way.
WE take pictures, we are passionate about that...not all the 'fluff' that goes with the printing production.
I say take it, give it, get paid and go on your merry way to take more and more pictures.

7:05 AM  
Blogger JAM said...

The "cd method" you describe here is pretty amazing. I've never considered even trying to make money with photgraphy, and this way sounds like something that I would have jumped at. I have always despised the whole looking at proofs, deciding, and then figuring out what I like/can afford.

From a photographer's standpoint, I would love to take shots like that for a set price, put them on a nicely labeled cd with all my info on it, and turn them loose to print what they want. In fact, I've done that very thing for friends, for free, just to be able to take photos of events. I like doing it, but I don't get paid for it. No pressure, nothing but the fun of taking photos in a new situation. A couple that I took wedding photos for recently are coming over this afternoon and I'll show them the photos and give them the cd. It was just for fun, but after reading this, I see that I could make a little side money if I had the guts to try and promote myself.

Then later, if you build up a good business, you could get the latest printers and all that stuff, and offer to print their photos, again, for a price that both you and they can be happy with. But you only have to add that aspect if you REALLY want to.

Just sounds like a great way to get going, and if you don't like the proof/printing side, you can be looking for someone who does and send your clients to that person.

Anyway, go for it. If the printing stuff seems to be more than you want to do, then don't. It's the beauty of modern equipment. Plus, you could put together a portable light and backdrop set, and offer to come to them and shoot, if they wanted something more formal and classic.

Jeesh, there's a million options; I'll shut up now.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Wingnut said...

Hey thanks Susan and Jam, and everyone that emailed me privately! Someone brought up a good point to offer both options, some can afford the slightly higher upfront cost of the cd and some just want a couple of prints so the traditional way works best for them.

I will iron out my "packages, and post them on my website this week and just see which way the customer likes best I guess. Time will tell.

I really like going through proofs, and looking at the final in print in your hand, but the ease of giving people a cd and being done is so alluring....... (sp?)

I can see doing weddings and senior portraits on cd and turning it loose. Something big like that would be the way to go for the customer for sure, a big savings if they will take the time to do up their own prints.

A friend was telling me that when they got married, she had to just get a few shots becasue cash was tight, and a cd would have been a better long term investment, she could be putting her wedding album together now, 8 years later as she had the time and money to do it right, that sold it for me!

6:13 PM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

I see I'm coming to the discussion a bit late... but better late than never! I am primarily a customer, and from my point of view (e.g. for my wedding) I would never have gone for a traditional package where you have to agonise for hours over which super-expensive prints you can afford and which ones you wrenchingly have to leave. Another problem with this model happened to a friend of mine - the photographer that did her wedding shots retired and left town - so even if she wants more shots now that she can afford it, it's no longer possible!

I can see that there might be a call for the traditional model where people can't afford the increased up-front costs though, so I think offering both would be great. Good luck! (and btw I, love your postcards!

3:13 AM  

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