Since money is always a hot topic and a lot of people ask me for advices about how to price their services, here is a short -true- story.
A few months ago, I received a request from an “acquaintance” asking me to shoot her wedding. She liked my work and wanted me to cover her event. Thing is, she is still a student and was short on budget.
No problem I said, I would give her my rock bottom price (1200$). After all, she was a pseudo-friend and the girl was a cutie so the end result would look great and I could boost my portfolio while getting some cash at the same time.
When I gave her my price, she was a little bit shocked, expecting I guess something lower, and tried to negotiate. Since this was already my lowest price, there was no way I would go down so she replied she would think about it.
Of course, she shopped around and realized how good my price was and came back. We both agreed on everything and I booked the date in my calendar. Since she was somewhat of a relative, I did not ask for a deposit and we had a gentleman agreement.
I am sure you can guess what happened next: a few weeks later she sends me an email saying she found someone cheaper so she would not need my services.
I think I was more frustrated about the fact that she contacted me by email than the cancelled contract since it would mean I would have one more weekend with my family & my BBQ.
This was a few weeks ago and yesterday I had some feedback about the ‘replacement’ photographer who ‘undercut’ me. The guy was of course an amateur shooting his first wedding. He acted like an amateur in every single aspect of his job and while we have not seen the end result yet, expectations are low.
While I would love to feel happy about this, I am not. I am a bit sad for this little girl, and then again it is not like I did not try to help her out.
Here are a few things to remember from this story:
Stick to your price
Whatever your price, stick to it. If you open up the door for price negotiation, the bride will feel it and you will end up doing the same job for less. And how do you feel about doing a job for less than what you think it is worth? It will suck and you will think about it the whole time you will be shooting and editing the picture. Which is not the best creative mood setter!
Stay away from cheap people
People who try to negotiate on price will do the same for everything else. End result: not the kind of grand wedding you want to showcase in your portfolio.
Get a deposit
This is the last time I am reserving a date without a cash deposit. Ever! By getting a deposit, you are making it much more expensive for the bride to cancel. Even a 50% refund should be enough to secure the date.
Don’t try to compete with amateurs
Make sure you price your services according to your skills. There will always be someone to undercut you: people who are looking to get experience at the expense of revenue. There is nothing you can do about it. Try instead to compete with people who are more expensive than you and compete on quality, not price.