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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk 
Thread started 30 Oct 2014 (Thursday) 10:37
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Product based wedding Business Models are DOA

 
umphotography
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Oct 30, 2014 10:37 |  #1

In case you did not know- Every single professional lab and numerous wedding album companies are now selling products ( Prints, gallery wraps, framed prints, and wedding albums ) to your client base at your prices. All of them now sell direct to the public. This means, that the digital file you provide your clients in your wedding packages can be used by your clients to buy the exact same product you are trying to mark up and sell.

Additionally, many companies now allow the public to use their on line ordering software to design wedding albums on their own or they provide wedding design album service super cheap.

This is just fact folks. Its here. and publications like the Knot are telling the bridal markets where to get the products from and how Cheap it can be had for.

The digital file is now dictating how your business model for weddings will be designed. I promise you that within the next 2-3 yrs we will all have to adapt to smarter business models and step back from product based business models.

So What are you going to do ??

We are going to go completely Ala Cart and offer both services to clients
A- base price is going to be XXXX
B- album design price will be XXXX
c- special photoshop adjustements will be xxxx
D- large print preparation for 16x20 prints and up will be xxxx

In other words..Im going to get paid for the labor to do the work as fixed costs

products can be purchased by clients at our costs or if they want me to purchase them, then they pay a small percentage for handling and shipping costs to have products delivered to their homes

Unfortunately- The word will be out this year. Nothing is sacred any longer with professional labs........they are all selling products directly to the general pblic

I would love to hear your remarks about this topic. I think the wedding photography industry is going to see major changes in the next 2 yrs.

TIA


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tim
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Oct 30, 2014 13:44 |  #2

I haven't sold more than a handful of prints in years, I've stopped even bothering to offer them. I took albums out of packages a while back too, people just want digital files these days. A few want high end albums, and some just want someone else to do the design work.


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nicksan
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Oct 30, 2014 15:05 |  #3

umphotography wrote in post #17241727 (external link)
In other words..Im going to get paid for the labor to do the work as fixed costs

I think it's the sign of the times. You have 2 different forces moving in different directions. Clients are getting more savvy due to the availability of resources online and photographers wanting to maximize their bottom lines.

I would say price yourself accordingly...meaning, what you charge for the physical act of shooting, post processing, and delivering the digital files. That's the baseline, especially if you are assuming low to no print/album sales.




  
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umphotography
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Oct 30, 2014 16:54 as a reply to  @ nicksan's post |  #4

We noticed the change this past year. Everyone wants the base shoot and burn package. A lot want albums but wont pay $8-900.00 when they see that because they only associate -- Hey I can get that album for $165.00 at nations photo lab.

So its $165.00 v/s $900.00 for a completely designed album... they only associate the $ 165.00 because these companies will give them a base design for $75.00

Seriously, in a way this is good for photographers. Charge what your worth for the base packages and charge what you think your designs are worth compared to what a base program can put out.

I Agree with you Tim. Prints are a PITA anymore. When WHCC broke the flood gates open and started selling prints to the public at our price points, that officially killed the print business. Everyone knows you can get decent prints and we all know what we pay for them.

So I say again, Product based business models are DOA. I get several emails a week now got 16x20's from reputable labs for Super cheap. I had picture it on canvas send me one today for a 16x20 for $16.00,,,,,,,,,,,,So who in the heck is gonna buy one for $210.00 from me.

Im not bitter. it was coming. But the professional labs have really thrown the screws at the professional photography communities. They put out 1/2 ass seminars through pro groups, roped in the newbs with the dreams from the speakers and under cut everyone by selling the same products to the public for the same price points we get it for.

Loyalty is out the window.

Charge what your worth and let the clients get the products for our prices......Cool...im gonna use it to my advantage and tell every client I talk to use labs that we know put out decent products and at our prices. I dont want to take advantage of anyone with an unreasonable product mark up. If they can get it for the same price as me, im going to let them.

But we shoot right. We dont rely on excessive photoshop to get good files or correct mistakes. We know how to light. So thats gonna cost and at a fair base rate. And, if they want an album, cool. I will charge a fair rate for my design time and let them get it from anyone they want.

Everything will change this year for everyone.


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umphotography
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Oct 30, 2014 16:55 as a reply to  @ umphotography's post |  #5

Nickson.. good to see you back buddy. Hope your summer went well :cool:


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drvnbysound
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Oct 30, 2014 17:48 |  #6

I'd say that's true... if your client are the type who are inquisitive, are really shopping around, and are possibly willing to "design" their own album etc. However, if you're clients are the type who go to you because you are the expert, you are the "artist"... and they are paying you for your vision, ability to capture it, post-production, design, print, etc... then you may not have an issue. The latter client may be oblivious to WHCCs offerings.

I suppose today, I'd loosely consider myself a freelance photographer. I don't shoot "professionally" on a regular basis. It's a serious hobby for me. Having said that, I'm approached on a monthly basis [average] to shoot various things (most recently an album cover). I've named my price each time and have not had any issue with said clients countering with someone else's price or offerings or even costs associated with the physical products (such as prints). They approach me because they know they can't get the result on their own.

I have another business which involves the resale of merchandise. You can search Amazon and eBay and get the same products cheaper, but I still have clients come to me because I'm an expert in the field. I know what to recommend, what works, and what doesn't. They come to me and pay [more] for the products because they know that my experience and recommendation is worth the cost.

Here's an example... let's say you want a security system for your home. You can spend time online and learn about various systems, how to install them, and even buy them online. You could save a LOT of money and do it yourself. Having said that, how many people end up calling ADT instead? Why?


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Oct 30, 2014 18:23 |  #7

I planned for the change in trend a year or two ago and started changing accordingly. I've transitioned to more files only based packages than albums being included as standard. Albums are now an option. I don't sell prints at all and never will.

My album prices make most photographers cringe but I don't really care (I've had quite a bit of abuse from some circles mainly those who rely on upselling albums at extreme markups). I don't look to make a big mark up on them, just enough to cover my design time. In effect the albums are at cost plus the minimum I'm prepared to make for my time designing them. Albums aren't what I'm selling though... what is on offer is my photography/my service. That is my "product" and it is something no one else can replicate.

In 2012 34 out of the 38 weddings I shot had albums
In 2012 27 out of the 32 weddings I shot had albums
In 2014 19 out of the 36 weddings I will have shot have albums
In 2015 2 out of the 25 weddings I currently have booked have albums

It hasn't affected my referral rates at all. Bookings are better than they have ever been in fact and just seem to keep getting better despite the change.

The industry is being brought into balance in that the photographer/their work is the strongest USP available. At the lower end of the market (more so) photographers will try and out package each other. Cramming products galore in and cutting margins by being overzealous with their offerings. They'll all lose out against each other as most have COGS well above 15%. The photographers who'll hang about will be those who are bought for their photography/service/pe​rsonality etc i.e. the things that are unique to them.

I noticed that the middle to top end of the market had started competing on product inclusions a lot 1-2 years ago. They were moving to the model I started out with and was using 3-7 years ago. I decided then it was time to go in the opposite direction to the crowd. The competitive advantage of including an 80 page album as standard had gone whilst the album companies had opened their doors en masse to the general public.

My business model is pretty much shoot/edit/burn to which I see no downside to at all. It is pretty much the most efficient and lowest cost base business model you can operate with. The downside (if there is one) is that you have to be able to have enough people wanting to buy "you" at the prices you need to charge to be sustainable.

If you're worth it... they will come... if not, you'll be found out quicker than ever before.


Peter

  
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nicksan
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Oct 30, 2014 19:03 |  #8

umphotography wrote in post #17242410 (external link)
Nickson.. good to see you back buddy. Hope your summer went well :cool:

Hey Mike!

Not really back.

I still second shoot (Have done maybe 20 gigs this year), but otherwise I'm out of the game to concentrate on my real career in I.T. :)

It's quite liberating. I get to hang out with photographer friends helping them out and get paid handsomely!

Yeah...I kicked the POTN habit...well sort of...I'm here typing so I guess not so much eh? ;)




  
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Oct 30, 2014 19:25 as a reply to  @ drvnbysound's post |  #9

With all due respect, You may be seeing this trend yourself...but this definitely is not a "fact" for everyone and is totally dependent upon so many different factors.

You mentioned The Knot and I think that explains a lot. That website caters to a penny pincher bride, who definitely isn't going to be interested in spending any more money than she needs to. If you are marketing to a clientele that frequents websites like that then you are going to have clients who don't buy anything and just want a shoot and burn photographer.

Market yourself to higher end couples and I think you will see a totally different trend.

Personally, I am having one of my best years ever for both print and album sales. I credit Instaproofs for the print sales, I switched to them last year from Smugmug and it was honestly one of the best things I could have done for my business.

Anyway, my point is that the people who want to buy are out there...I just think you are looking in the wrong places.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Oct 30, 2014 19:44 |  #10

helloagain36 wrote in post #17242663 (external link)
You mentioned The Knot and I think that explains a lot. That website caters to a penny pincher bride, who definitely isn't going to be interested in spending any more money than she needs to. If you are marketing to a clientele that frequents websites like that then you are going to have clients who don't buy anything and just want a shoot and burn photographer.

Over here in Oz it is definitely going the way Mike notes. I operate in the upper segment of the market and it has been going that way for a good couple of years now. Yes there are still brides who want prints etc however there is a general market shift and has been for some time.

Many of the togs who wouldn't have touched having huge albums included as standard a few years back now all have them and many are desperately competing on including as much as possible. Their COGS have been going up whilst their prices have been dropping or staying the same.


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umphotography
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Oct 30, 2014 19:58 |  #11

helloagain36 wrote in post #17242663 (external link)
With all due respect, You may be seeing this trend yourself...but this definitely is not a "fact" for everyone and is totally dependent upon so many different factors.

You mentioned The Knot and I think that explains a lot. That website caters to a penny pincher bride, who definitely isn't going to be interested in spending any more money than she needs to. If you are marketing to a clientele that frequents websites like that then you are going to have clients who don't buy anything and just want a shoot and burn photographer.

Market yourself to higher end couples and I think you will see a totally different trend.

Personally, I am having one of my best years ever for both print and album sales. I credit Instaproofs for the print sales, I switched to them last year from Smugmug and it was honestly one of the best things I could have done for my business.

Anyway, my point is that the people who want to buy are out there...I just think you are looking in the wrong places.

With all due respect

we Do NOT market top low end brides. We are mid to upper mid for the market, which is where we want to be, and, I have the stats to back up my thought process as well. If you can consistently market in the 3-5K market, you are hitting less than 10% of the total bridal market.Tjhats still a lot of brides. If you can stay there with cash rich time poor clients you will do very well. That market is about 9% of the total wedding market.

We market to the 3K bridal market and do very well. But the trend to buy albums and prints have been consistently dropping for everyone that I know for the past 2 yrs. Im very active at DWF and know numerous active professionals across the country who are seeing the same thing.

So

Its not the segment of the market that I nor my peers are marketing to. If you are involved with any active working professionals who have been doing this for 5 or more years, they are seeing the same trends as anyone else.

Additionally

Not True for the KNOT marketing to low end brides. Sure there are many bargin hunters on the knot. they are also on wedding wire, martha stewart, wedding.com and others. The top 2 pages costs a pro photographer $375.00 per month to advertise on and to market to brides. They are not there to hit up bargin basement brides. I personally know a couple of pros who are the knots photographers of the year and they market strictly to High end bridal markets starting at 3K and going to the Mid 4k figures with their packages and they get a ton of business from their marketing practices on the KNot. A mid 4 bride is no where near a bargin basement bride.

Really glad you are having one of your best years ever. We just had our best as well with the wedding side of the business.


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Oct 31, 2014 07:59 |  #12

This has been coming for years and I like to think that I saw it and positioned myself to deal with it back then. I use Zookbinders for my albums and they began marketing directly about 2 years ago.

Before that time, I went a la carte for my pricing. I found that this alone was an important differentiator and marketing element; clients love it for a number of reasons.

I start by charging a flat fee for the shoot. For products from prints to albums, I typically charge a reasonable mark-up; one that generates enough income to care about but not so much that my pricing seems unreasonable, especially in this DIY environment.

I still do good money in prints, but never from the couple. It's the guests who don't wan't to bother the couple for copies will frequently buy prints and/or digital downloads of images from my gallery site. And since it's just a pass-through to me and I don't need to do anything to manage print orders, it's like free money for nothing more than setting up the gallery which I would have done anyway.

For albums, I entice my clients with the disc. My price for shooting the day does NOT include the disc of images. They can buy it for $500. Or . . . it's free with an album purchase of $500 or more. When the couple comes to see their images, they buy the disc and their receipt is essentially a credit for that amount. Now, that $1,000 album will only cost them $500; not that much more than they'd pay themselves and now they don't have to do the design, etc. I still do albums ~75% of the time; frequently 40-50 page 12x12 albums going for well more than the $1,000 minimum.

I still sell and earn a decent return on albums. If they don't buy an album, I already earn a nice portion of that profit by selling the disc; a profit that I can count on earning 100% of the time. And not including the price for the disc in my shoot-the-day price helps to keep the perception of the intial price to the client down which is first in mind when they're looking to book.

This approach has been pretty successful for me. Though it should be noted that I only do wedding photography part-time and my prices might be a little on the lower side. But just a little. :-)


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Oct 31, 2014 08:06 |  #13

helloagain36 wrote in post #17242663 (external link)
You mentioned The Knot and I think that explains a lot. That website caters to a penny pincher bride, who definitely isn't going to be interested in spending any more money than she needs to. If you are marketing to a clientele that frequents websites like that then you are going to have clients who don't buy anything and just want a shoot and burn photographer.

I think you are grossly mistaken. While I'm certainly not at the high-end, I am a large distance from the shoot-and-burners and most of my clients say they found me because past clients have posted positive comments about my work on their forums. I don't advertise anywhere. I neither sell on or negotiate price. Yet, easily more than half of all clients are "Knotties" and say they found me there.

I've checked out the Knot's forums myself just to see what they were all talking about and, just like the rest of the world, brides there run the gammit; those looking for low end photographers under $2k as well as those boasting about how much they love the work their $10k photographer did.

The Knot is neither high nor low end; it's just an extension of the broader market.


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helloagain36
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Oct 31, 2014 09:13 as a reply to  @ Peacefield's post |  #14

Perhaps you are right, I am sure some of the brides who frequent the knot have money to spend. I shouldn't paint with such broad strokes.

However, my overwhelming experience is that they are grossly uneducated by the misinformation that The Knot spews out into the wedding world. Nearly every referral I've received from that website has been either a strong-arm price haggler or has asked about selective color editing or HDR. The garbage that website publishes does nothing but devalue and cheapen photographers.

All of those things are enough to make me run in the opposite direction. That is not the type of client who really appreciates or values the style of photography that I specialize in and thus they are not who I prefer to work with.

For me it is all about finding, attracting and booking my ideal client and The Knot is not the right place for me to do that. Of course, YMMV.


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umphotography
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Oct 31, 2014 09:59 |  #15

helloagain36 wrote in post #17243604 (external link)
Perhaps you are right, I am sure some of the brides who frequent the knot have money to spend. I shouldn't paint with such broad strokes.

However, my overwhelming experience is that they are grossly uneducated by the misinformation that The Knot spews out into the wedding world. Nearly every referral I've received from that website has been either a strong-arm price haggler or has asked about selective color editing or HDR. The garbage that website publishes does nothing but devalue and cheapen photographers.

All of those things are enough to make me run in the opposite direction. That is not the type of client who really appreciates or values the style of photography that I specialize in and thus they are not who I prefer to work with.

For me it is all about finding, attracting and booking my ideal client and The Knot is not the right place for me to do that. Of course, YMMV.


I get very upset with the knot as well when they write the horse**** articles we are al familiar with. But you have to remember, they are also marketing to a broad segment so they have many brides as well that are on Tight budgets and are looking for that type of information. So they need to do what they need to do to attract clients and to stay in business as well. Seriously, People that are looking TO SAVE $$ may also be your clients. Some will skimp in a lot of areas if they value photography, others dont value photography and will spend on the video guy.

One thing ive learned is that its all about the referrals and the reviews. The girls see the reviews and read them. I have 50 positive reviews on Wedding Wire where we advertise- they help sell what we do. But If I can get my reviews transferred over I may switch to the knot. I need to talk to them

here is what people say about us- I like wedding wires review system. They wil not let you buy off a bad review so it keep you on your toes.

http://www.weddingwire​.com …bor/b714e8a7e64​5ffda.html (external link)


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