Hello, my darlings!
So I have a bit of news. Mockingbird Photography has decided to increase the price of services. Before anyone gets twitchy, let me give you the pricing breakdown and explain what is in the making here.
Last month I photographed a short and sweet engagement session. It lasted about 30-45 minutes, which in my eyes qualified as a mini-session. My price for that is $35. The client asked how much she needed to pay and when I told her, she looked at me dumbfounded. Initially thought “surely that isn’t too expensive… there’s no way? That’s a cheap dinner for two, tickets plus snacks at the theater, a full tank of gas for my car…” Then she said, “Kaitlynn, I would have paid $500 for these images. I know quite a few people who would pay that much for your work and for the experience I just had with you.” $500 dollars for 35 minutes? Let’s get real, totes not realistic. But talk about an amazing compliment. Then she said something else: “You ought to start raising your prices. People won’t think they are getting quality work for $35. Trust me, we are willing to pay more for excellent results.” I started to think of all the things we spend money on. If a used car of a newer model is very cheap, I am usually concerned something is wrong with it. Cheap pans don’t last long, the food sticks and they smoke on the stove. Cheap shoes are cute, but last 1/10 of the time as a pair of Clarke sandals. Cheap winter clothes don’t keep you warm: L.L. Bean knows what’s up. Cheap cameras don’t make high quality pictures. Cheap nail polish requires four coats instead of two. Cheap coffee pots don’t always prepare coffee in a consistent manner. Cheap homes are either old homes, poorly built homes, or homes made out of things that just plain don’t last long (unless it’s an awesome deal on a foreclosure). Cheap mattresses wear out faster, don’t flip over and hurt your back. Okay. You get what I’m saying. My point is, it made sense. I am willing to pay more for better quality food, better quality gas, better quality SERVICE. And that’s what we are as photographers, correct? We are a service industry, seeking to please customers with a product that documents a pivotal point in their lives. Tell me again how it’s a good idea to give them poor photographs, poor editing and poor customer service? Right, it’s not. And if THAT is what clients are expecting to get for a $35 engagement session, I don’t want in on that.
We’ll start with the most expensive package first. Now, here’s the breakdown:
Every Nook and Cranny
eight (8) + hours of service
8+ hours of service with all images edited/post-processed
Image turnaround: 3-4 months
The initial deposit – $430
due three months prior to wedding
Remaining payment – $870
due one week prior to wedding
8+ hours of service with raw images + 200 images edited/post-processed
Image turnaround: 4-6 weeks
The initial deposit – $370
due three months prior to wedding
Remaining payment – $730
due one week prior to wedding
Now, instead of offering one package at one price, I have decided to create two alternatives for each package. The difference lies in the time spent post-processing. The first package, all images are completely edited. This is an incredibly time consuming process and it is safe to say that for each hour of shooting there is roughly two hours of post-processing. Weddings are wonderful and I’m not sure there is anything I love to photograph more, but a 12 hour workday is a long day for anyone. On average, my weddings come out to be 9.5-10 hours long, not including engagement sessions and rehearsal dinners. Those ten hours are spent on my feet being beckoned by family members, trying to satisfy grumpy guests, remembering to get all the images you have requested plus more, moving around the dance floor, making people uneasy as I shift around the chapel during the ceremony with little time to snack, rest, breathe or think. It is a full-attention type of deal, and if one pivotal thing is missed, that’s going to be one incredibly unsatisfied guest (and rightfully so).
Like most people, we want to feel rewarded for our hard work. Some clients think that once the wedding is over, our job is over. But that is the opposite. That is where the work begins. Home we go to edit, edit, edit, consume coffee, edit edit edit, go to our other job, edit, edit, edit, answer your questions about progress on your images, edit, edit, edit, buy more discs, postage and ribbon to wrap your CDs in, edit, edit, edit, study for a final exam, edit edit edit… It is important to remember that some of us are not so lucky to do this amazing job full time and we also have to balance the rest of our lives while trying our hardest to deliver a product you love and cherish in as timely a fashion as possible. It’s a lot, and sometimes it can be overwhelming.
Now there is an alternative. You can get all the images edited but it will be a longer turnaround. There is a much longer time invested in editing, therefore the rate increases. Or, you can get a disc of raw images (that is, unedited), select the supplied number of post-process edits (varies for each packages) and we will edit those specific images and send them to you in a new disc. The turnaround time is shorter, you get your images faster, but they may not have the punch you were looking for. There are pros and cons to each option, but I think it is most important to stress that you have an option.
Also note that the initial deposit is due three months prior to the wedding. I don’t feel as though it should be a booking fee: Mockingbird isn’t quite busy enough to be very strict on dates. But for now on, I strongly encourage clients to book at least three months ahead of time. This September I have two weddings booked: I had to turn another client away this month because hers was the same weekend as another. It is strictly a first come, first serve basis and I will never schedule another session the same date as a wedding. Wedding clients will always have the complete attention of their photographer on their wedding day.
Second shooters were paid $300 no matter how long they shot (I typically required 4 hours minimum). However, they do just as much work as I do (minus two or three hours and a teensy bit of stress…) with their own images. Often times, they go above and beyond: this is the place for them to build a portfolio, a client base and confidence in their own performance as professional photographers. Therefore, I raised the price of second shooter to $450.
Mockingbird Photography is now encouraging payments via PayPal rather than taking a risk to send cash or checks in the mail. Full payment is now required prior to the wedding day (for lens rentals, traveling costs, second shooters, photo booth set up, etc). We are no longer offering complementary engagement sessions, but a contract price ($45) which is applicable for those who sign a wedding contract prior to their engagement session, or the ala carte price ($85). Portrait sessions are now $65 per hour rather than $55, and event coverage is $80 per hour rather than $65.
I have done research on other photographers in all states. Most of their base packages begin at $2,000 (at least the ones worth hiring…). Our base package begins at $480.
We are still well below the average cost of photography and plan to always try to stay on the more affordable end of the spectrum. However, we have reached a point where we are doing more work for less (or sometimes for free) and it is time for that to change. With this increase in income, I plan to invest in better, higher quality equipment to deliver better, higher quality products. I feel confident that my clients will understand this decision and I hope you guys stick around. I really like you. ;)
Please email or contact us with any comments, questions or concerns you may have. I’d be glad to be of assistance.