Wedding Photography Sales: Top 5 Client Issues and How to Get Past Them by Sal Cincotta

Jul 24, 2013

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Wedding Photography Sales: Top 5 Client Issues and How to Get Past Them by Sal Cincotta

Jul 24, 2013

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We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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While we don’t usually discuss wedding photography, Sal Cincotta from CreativeLive shared this great advice with us and we thought it was worth sharing. Some of this applies to wedding photography, but I think some applies to any sort of photography that requires bookings (senior portraits, events and so on).

Wedding Photography Sales: Top 5 Client Issues and How to Get Past Them by Sal Cincotta

Brides and grooms have a certain set of expectations when it comes to their engagement and wedding photos –– expectations which often do not match up with your business’s available packages. Some clients expect an entire disc of images from their wedding even though you prefer to sell prints, while other clients expect their photos to be repeatedly re-edited.

Check out these tips on how to overcome 5 common sales objections in wedding photography, which will help you adhere to your business practices while simultaneously meeting your clients’ needs!

Wedding Photography Sales: Top 5 Client Issues and How to Get Past Them by Sal Cincotta

Clients Who Want to Swap Out Items In Their Photo Package

Many brides and grooms try to lower the cost of their wedding photographs by swapping out items in a package. You can avoid this scenario altogether by noting that “packages may not be altered” at the bottom of your pricing list. Of course, there are always those particularly persistent clients who won’t take no for an answer. In this case, explain that you aren’t in a position to lower an already discounted price because the services you provide are subject to the rates of your vendors.

Clients Who Can’t Commit to a Package

There are several ways to approach a bride and groom who are willing to commit to each other –– but not to their photo package. Make it clear from the get-go that they have to make a relatively quick decision about their package because the price is tied to your vendors’ specials. A delayed decision could result in them missing out on a good deal! If your client needs more time to decide what pictures they’d like printed, encourage them to buy a package that comes with an online gallery so they can pick out images and sizes at home. You should let them know that this option is preferable –– it lets you to lock in special prices from your vendors, and also allows them to take their time perusing images.

Wedding Photography Sales: Top 5 Client Issues and How to Get Past Them by Sal Cincotta

Clients Who Who Want An Entire Disc of Images

Many photographers don’t offer digital images because it encourages clients to print out their own pictures rather than using your professional services. So, how do you explain your reluctance to hand over a file of jpegs? Simply tell the truth: you run a full-service studio with gallery quality photographs, and artwork of your caliber doesn’t come on a disc. Instead, offer a Facebook gallery of the images your client has already paid for so they can easily share wedding memories with friends and family.

Wedding Photography Sales: Top 5 Client Issues and How to Get Past Them by Sal Cincotta

Clients Who Want a Photo Re-Edited

Every bride and groom wants to look like they stepped out of a magazine in their wedding photos, but some clients have unrealistic expectations about how much time you can invest in their photo edits. One way to deal with this problem is to offer re-edits on larger photos and canvases, while explaining that re-edits on smaller prints aren’t practical due to time and cost. When it comes to beauty edits, tell your client upfront that you won’t be able to edit out any blemishes until prints are actually ordered, which will also be a huge time-saver on your end.

Wedding Photography Sales: Top 5 Client Issues and How to Get Past Them by Sal Cincotta

Clients Who Want to Make a Delayed Payment

Weddings are notoriously expensive, and chances are your bride and groom will ask to delay their payment. Make it clear that payment is typically due at the time packages are purchased because you need to lock in prices from your vendors. However, you can always offer to break a payment in half –– just make sure you deliver the happy couple’s pictures after their final payment.

About The Author

Sal Cincotta is an award winning photographer, author, WPPI platform speaker and frequent instructor on creativeLIVE. This July 25-27, Sal is teaching a free Business Fundamentals course for creatives on creativeLIVE.

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24 responses to “Wedding Photography Sales: Top 5 Client Issues and How to Get Past Them by Sal Cincotta”

  1. aurorahigh303 Avatar

    So when I got married over 8 years ago, my photographer gave us a disc with every single image captured that day. He was very specific with us stating that it was for viewing only. If we wanted a disc with all the images at ‘print quality’ he charged an additional $250. I think this is a great way to satisfy those couples who want a disc, but still allows the photographer to push their own services for printing. The images on the disc we got were also watermarked, so printing, even if quality was decent wasn’t an option without cutting a huge part of the print out to avoid the watermark.

    I think photographers should give a disc with all their images if that’s what the couple wants, but they don’t have to be ‘print quality’. I can’t imagine that too many of this guy’s customers were upset that they couldn’t print from the proof disc. His packages were stellar, parent’s albums, our album, individual prints of all sizes and very reasonably priced.

    It seems like now photographers only want to shoot the wedding and give a link about a week later with nothing else included. I feel bad for couples who pay thousands for only a wedding photographer, no prints, discs, or albums unless they pay hundreds extra.

    1. Kristen Pierson Photo Avatar
      Kristen Pierson Photo

      It’s always nice to come away with your wedding with a product. I’m a photographer and I don’t mind giving my clients a print disk but I would NEVER put my watermark on photos they planned on printing. I never put a watermark on anything actually.

      There is nothing like printed photographs though. So whether I print them or my client prints them doesn’t matter to me. As long as they print them.

      I also think it’s a really good idea to surprise clients with a few small prints with their digital images. It makes the whole experience that much more special.

      1. aurorahigh303 Avatar

        On the print quality discs he wouldn’t put the watermark either; we didn’t buy it but I did ask. I was satisfied enough with the prints the package came with I didn’t feel the need for the higher res disc. I think my photographer started as a commercial advertising photographer and the watermarks are a habit he got into during that time. Nothing in any album or print has his watermark, only that low res disc.

        But I totally agree with you, it shouldn’t matter WHO prints the images, as long as the customer is happy and can get what they want.

        We’re in the process of starting our own photography business and one thing I was adamant about when discussing this type of thing with my husband was that I want our customers to be happy. If they don’t want us to print, but want a disc, we’ll do it; we’ll also get prints for them if they prefer that and we’ll adjust our prices accordingly.

        Maybe I’ve heard too many disappointing stories lately. One example is my cousin’s wedding. Lovely photographers, but a very niche style. They were from out of state and so all their travel costs were taken care of by the bride’s family in addition to their fee. They were around to get everyone preparing and then until the reception ended. It was almost $10K with all expenses added (gas, hotel, and fee for the day) and the couple did not get one single print for that cost. They gave wedding photos for holiday gifts that year and spent probably another $500 on that. They haven’t even gotten their own prints yet b/c they can’t afford a simple 8×10 (the cost of larger prints with this particular outfit is OUTRAGEOUS!)
        I really take issue with that. If the fee is in the high thousands, at least make it worth that money by including a set of prints for crying out loud! It feels like this particular photographer was just nickle and diming their couples; oh you want an album, that’s $500, a print for each set of parents will be another $250, smile booth, that’s $1500 and another $250 for the disc. I get that we need to make money in our business, but I cannot imagine running ours that way.

        Maybe you can provide a little insight on that for me Kristen? Am I nuts to think that an event photographer should include a basic print package in their fee, or as an option?

        1. Laurian Ene Avatar
          Laurian Ene

          I don’t find it outrageous at all, why on earth did they hire those photographers if they were out of their price range? Thats whats outrageous to me, its like buying a Ferrari and complaining about the insurance costs… Well don’t buy a Ferrari then.

          10k for you is alot, but for their clients it might be a sneeze, it might be the bar that helps them stick to a certain clientel. There are so many photographers out there, that if 10k is your top and you want an all-in package for 10k, there is certainly someone out there for you.

          Also keep in mind, that quite a few photographers will price their prints differently than other “goods” because the cost of production for a print isn’t paper and ink, its the time put into the photo. Whether you buy a 8×10 or a 24×36, I would put in the same amount of time to make sure every detail is perfect in the print, how would you price that ? Lets say i spent 5 hours working on a 8×10 print… These aren’t going to market, you’re the only customer. So i have to charge for my time right ? 5 hrs at what ? Can we say mechanic rates? 25-50$/hrs ? You can sorta see the math now right ?

          1. Brian Avatar

            Well said. You’re comments on this page are valid and well articulated. Folks reading this should feel fortunate to get the free advice.

            Many don’t understand to factor in their time at a rate that justifies existence. Let’s say you want to make a decent middle class wage of $75,000 / annual. You would have to shoot one wedding per month at $6250 just to cover wages. That doesn’t include taxes, insurance, equipment, rent, software, the prints in the package, mileage, ect….

        2. Todd Avatar

          Pardon my ignorance, I’m just starting out.. But why not just offer an “a la carte” option, you pay for the photographers time at the event, you want a print disk? that will cost you x because you are now taking away from any profits that I may make on printing this, oh you want x, y and z photos retouched, sure, no problem, that service will run x amount.
          I understand that several people want a print disk, at my wedding, my wife wanted one as well. I was totally annoyed with all the out of focus and random shots that the photographer had point and clicked on. I ended up having to pose my wife and I, as the photographer was incapable of doing that, I was the one throwing out the ideas for shots… I was very happy that I was able to cut out my photographers profits with the print disk, instead of using his online site to order. If the photos had been better, and the photographer had a clue, then I probably would have ordered from him, had him retouch, etc.

    2. Paganator Avatar

      It seems to me that hiring a photographer for a wedding should give you access to all of the photos (or at least a large selection of the best ones, I understand that out of focus shots don’t need to be included) for one price. It seems outdated to me to only give printed pictures and charge extra for every print.

      The photographer should ask a fair price for his time, then hand the resulting pictures and let the clients print wherever they want, otherwise it just feels like he’s keeping the pictures hostage so he can extract additional money. The valuable part is the time and skill of the photographer, not the printed paper, so that’s what clients should pay for. Most of the time he doesn’t make the prints himself anyway.

      1. aurorahigh303 Avatar

        I understand what you’re saying here Pag, but what I’ve been seeing lately with some photographers is that they charge x amount for their fee and then every thing else is a la cart. In the example I gave above, the only way my cousin got photos was by looking at the link the photographer sent to her. While she ‘had access’ to the photos, that was the ONLY way she could look at them. She didn’t even get a set of printed proofs. She had no way of knowing what those images will look like printed and after the holidays she did disclose to me that she wasn’t so thrilled with how some of the prints came out; had she gotten a set of printed proofs, she could have made a better decision or chosen different images. Images are totally different on a monitor than printed. I feel like that particular photographer is doing his clients a disservice by not providing that at all.

        Also, when I say ‘including a set of prints’, I mean to say an option for an assortment of sizes printed included in the price quoted. For example, package A includes photographer arriving in time for prep, staying through duration of reception, an album, 4 5x7s, 2 8x10s, that kind of thing. In my opinion, only allowing couples to access images online isn’t that great. I’d much rather have a link or disc PLUS a set of proofs. Like you said, it’s not that expensive to run off a set of 4×6 prints of all the best images of the event.

        1. Paganator Avatar

          That makes sense. Around here, good 4×6 prints cost $0.40 each, so printing the best 100 pictures would only cost $40, which is easy to include within a multi-thousand dollar package anyway. Cheap prints are even more affordable.

          1. aurorahigh303 Avatar

            Exactly! Something like that wouldn’t even be itemized, it’s part of my fee, you get me for 8 hours (or however long) and a set of proofs in addition to being able to view your images on a link or disc. I don’t know, maybe I’m totally out of touch here.

        2. Laurian Ene Avatar
          Laurian Ene

          .40c per 4×6 is a nice production cost if you completely ignore the photographer’s time in editing all the shots, alot of which i’m guessing you wouldn’t buy. See my earlier post about cost of production not being paper n ink but being production time for the photographer.

          Theres also the fact that some photographers will cut costs (and end up cheaper for you, in theory, ignore the jerks) by not editing EVERY photo, thus the online limited galleries. Theres no reason i would ever want other people to see unfinished works, if one was to receive a set of proofs, they would definitely show them to a much larger audience.

          You wouldn’t want a wedding with half a tux, half made-up, and half-cooked foods? On the flipside, if one was to edit every single shot, you’d pay alot, for things you wouldn’t want.

          Example, i always get asked to take photos of the food, only once has the couple actually included that in their print packages…..

      2. Laurian Ene Avatar
        Laurian Ene

        The difference with a hostage situation is “need” photography is a luxury good, so theres no hostage situation, he simply has something you “want” and you have something he “wants”.

        Remember also, that all professionals would go over their prices with you before you ever booked, so if you weren’t okay with their prices, there was no need to work with them, in fact,

        The market is so large, that yes there are photographers out there with flat rates, even good ones, there is someone for everyone. You will notice emerging trends in the upper scale though, but you definitely push into “want” territory at that point.

  2. Geoff Avatar

    We get a lot of clients who’ve been exposed to exactly this type of sales model and they’re never happy about it.

    Most of them felt pressured to sign up to something quickly “or lose a good deal” and then found that almost everything they wanted was an expensive extra.

    I think the only reason this model still exists is because so many photographers use it that clients become resigned to having no choice.

    We get such a positive reaction by doing almost everything opposite to what’s written above I just can’t see the sense in it.

  3. David Travis Avatar
    David Travis

    Wedding photographers’ reluctance to offer digital copies of images just shows how many of them are living in the dark age. There is no difference between this old school approach and the record companies who for a long time resisted digital downloads despite the fact that people were crying out for it. I’m not sure if a record company executive ever used the feeble excuse that “artwork of this caliber doesn’t come in mp3 format” but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    In a world where 99% of images we see are now on a screen, it doesn’t make sense to offer photographs only in printed format. A better approach is for a wedding photographer to ask: “How much do I need to make from this wedding?” rather than “How can I eek out every last penny from this client?”

    1. Laurian Ene Avatar
      Laurian Ene

      I get where you’re coming from, but the truth is that wedding photography is notoriously expensive on the up-scale. Meaning that most photographers need to make alot of money to be able to run a business at all, not talking about being rich. If you want me to shoot your wedding on the lower end of my price list, then you need to understand that i won’t be able to provide you with as much as i do on the higher-end, its not about milking you its about being able to do both and still keep my business afloat.

      Now, on the CD topic, the difference is theres absolutely no global calibration for monitors and printers as there is for MP3, your shots will vary wildly and you’ll come back to me asking why your shots are green, or worse, you won’t notice it and show all your friends, and they’ll say “Oh so nice” and not hire me.

      But, on the flipside, I understand why you might want to walk away with something, something to show for your money to your friends and family right away, something to show them so they can help guide you in your choices. Thats where FB galleries and other such things come into play. An FB gallery is a MP3. Wanting full-res DVD of all your shots unedited, is not. Its just a horrible mis-educated decision on your part that newbie photographers grant and experienced photographers will refuse.

  4. Someone Avatar

    I largely agree, except for the refusal to provide digital versions of the images.

    Personally, I would be completely unwilling to accept this limitation, and I think it’s a terrible idea for the photographers too.

    Basically, the **ONLY** condition under which I would agree to such a contract is if the photographer can ABSOLUTELY guarantee that they will be willing and available to provide prints of the images for at least the next 20+ years.

    Prints age, prints can be damaged. Prints are not the ideal permanent storage medium. One of the major advantages of digital storage is the facility to preserve content practically indefinitely. After all, you may be married for decades. What if you want to revisit the occasion? Are you stuck with the prints you purchased just when you were getting married, and probably under considerable financial duress?

    Photographers: Are you willing to guarantee the availability of your prints for the long term? If not, refusal to offer digital copies is a terrible, terrible idea.

    Additionally, what happens if disaster strikes, and you loose your image archives? Are you prepared to deal with all the angry clients after you tell them you can no longer provide the additional prints you promised would be available?

    1. Grandiour Avatar

      Totally agree. I trust my backup strategy much more than I even expect of a studio. Ultimately I also think photographers need to get in tune with modern times. A service package should include the photography, the post processing and a great album. Additional cost for digital copies is fine but just saying no is in my opinion just short sighted.

    2. ELeighK Avatar

      Why should they be expected to guarantee that? Does your employer expect you to guarantee that the work you do today will be around for 20 years? I’d challenge you to name anything that has a 20 year warranty. Also, a well cared for high-quality print from a reputable lab (not the $.09 4×6 you get from Walmart) should easily last 20 years.

      Digital storage also has a limited shelf-life. The latest estimates I’ve seen puts solid-state and CD/DVDs at about 5-10 years and spinning disk at 3-7 (depending on operating conditions, media quality, etc.). Are you going to remember to copy those to new medium on a regular basis?

      You say that you would be completely unwilling to accept that limitation, but are you willing to pay for it? The price that most photographers (or at least the ones who plan on staying in business) need to charge will increase because most people who want CDs are not wanting to buy prints (and therefore a lost source of revenue).

      Finally all the photographers I know protect themselves extensively against data loss by both investing in professional level equipment and maintaining very methodical processes to ensure that no image is removed from one medium before it is confirmed to be in at least two other locations.
      Granted disasters do happen, but I’d wager that it’s less likely to happen to someone who frequently thinks about the files they have and how they are managing their storage.

  5. fotogrllt Avatar

    During my 20 years of photography no one ever asked if I had a degree in photography–which I do not. No one care if I belonged to the PPI or the other organizations. They were interest in how good my photos were and how much I charged. Even though I find the images interesting that are shown in this post, no one ever asked me to do anything in that genre. They were impressed with my style. It made me money and that is what photography is about.

  6. kristen Avatar

    I am one of those that do offer a disc of all edited images to my brides. I have not started offering prints yet. I am having an issue with clients taking my images and uploading them to Facebook or Instagram (via mobile) and editing them. Is there a nice way to tell them not to edit or crop images??? Maybe give them a little card with the print release saying not to edit?

  7. Jeremiah Berry Avatar
    Jeremiah Berry

    Reading everyone’s comments below, I think that there is a misunderstanding when it comes to what Sal wrote above. I think the question to ask here is “Who is the client (avatar) that I am catering to and what do they mainly want?” as opposed to “How much do I need to make from this wedding?”. Simply put, it really pertains to your target market. We don’t supply the digital images unless it is in our highest package, simply because our clientele doesn’t want it. They want a full service studio. You can ask any successful business what helps them to be successful and they will tell you that one of the reasons is because they nailed down who their target market is, then tailored everything to that person. Just like a steakhouse doesn’t sell Big Macs and fries, you want to set yourself apart and define who your target market is. If you target market wants digital images, then awesome, stick to that, but if they don’t, then why would you give them something they don’t want? It all depends on your current and/or ideal clientele and fulfilling their needs.

  8. Andrew Murray Avatar
    Andrew Murray

    This is very old school advice. It ignores the changes in technology to the craft and it ignores the true desires of the customer. The author should go have lunch with the former CEO of Kodak and ask if they’d do anything different.

  9. Photography Saint Avatar
    Photography Saint

    Why are all photographers “trying to stay afloat”? I hope you all know that using that language only worsens your problem. You’re a pro, respect yourself and your prices. Stop crying about “staying afloat.” I don’t give out my digital negatives (in high resolution) because it is in my best interest that these photos are displayed! I want people to see my photos!!! I offer ALL my packages with a Wedding Book, ensuring that my customers leave my offices with a product that will stay in the family for generations. They’ll never see them if they’re stuck on some computer hard drive. It’s a matter of business principle.

  10. Arasu Weddingphotography Avatar
    Arasu Weddingphotography

    Do not pay attention to details
    Accessories, such as bouquet, details of dress, veil or shoes are elements that, over time, you’ll want to remember. Wedding photographers emphasize that, often, brides are not fully aware of their importance and do not care for the photos. ” It is true that supplements are very important, but it is not unless the bride may need help at the time to come out good in pictures , ” says Ruben Acosta . “Usually the work to take care of those details should be helped by the bridesmaids. They always ask a friend or someone you trust accompany us to the session so that we are not any detail , “he adds.

    Discover in this gallery which are the 58 most photographed details at a wedding .