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Thread started 18 Jan 2009 (Sunday) 10:09
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POST-wedding pricing / contract? "Interesting" situation!

81 posts
Joined Dec 2006
Location: London, UK
Jan 18, 2009 10:09 |  #1

I recently found myself with the fortune of shooting a wedding at very short notice, and now I'm preparing to meet the couple again in a few days time to show them the results...! I've shot a couple of weddings before for friends, and they've been pretty pleased, but this is the first paying job. Despite the probably alarming sounding nature of the story below, I think things went pretty well so far, but I'm just after a bit of advice over how to work things out best from here! I have sort of agreed a price verbally, but now I'm thinking I should try to get a little more in some way or another given the coverage I put in.

First of all, here's the story... I was actually supposed to be acting as a second videographer on the day (the other guy knows the bride and he'd arranged to pay me). However, I get a call the night before saying the photographer they'd booked had dropped out and could I cover it instead? To be more accurate, this photographer had been travelling from eastern Europe to the UK and his car had broken down due to freezing weather! I discussed it with the other videographer, and he told me they were working on a tight budget (I guess this is why the guy was coming from eastern Europe?), but I should still get more than for helping with the videography. I said I was looking for at least £150-£200, but I'd discuss the exact arrangement with the couple when I met them. I was told they'd go with it (seemed they didn't have a lot of choice at that point!)

I know this isn't the smoothest way of working, but it's how things happened. The first time I met the bride was when she was getting ready after having her hair done (it seemed like a bit of a disaster for her because she had to get driven to another city and back again at the last minute after something went wrong with her initial hair appointment, so everything was running late!) Well after this things seemed to go a bit more smoothly, and I think the rest of the day went without too many hiccups for the couple :) I think I got most of the important shots - a few missed opportunities and minor panics, but I think I have enough good material (I'm working my way through editing down 1700 shots now...). Now, I was introduced to the groom just before the ceremony, but finally got to chat with him after the dinner. I said I was looking for a basic fee of £250 for covering the whole day (12 hours shooting), but we'd work it out exactly once we meet up when they're back from the honeymoon.

So I'm wondering what is the best way to procced and if I can expect to get anything more at this point? I'm hoping when I show them the edit they will be pleased enough and I might be able to haggle for a little more (another £50 or £100?) For the basic amount I think I'd say I'll give them web-res prints on CD, and perhaps make an online gallery for them. Or maybe I just say a little more - £400 or £450 - and I give them the full size files with rights to make whatever prints they want. I think that's the easiest thing to do. But the question is if I can stand to do any better by saying I'll do a package of prints or an album separately. I've not really got any experience with making albums, so I'm more hesitant to go down that route, with the extra time it will take to investigate and prepare, and the uncertainty involved. Also I don't have any sample to show them.

Whereas on the other hand, prints seem a good option - I think maybe they could be impressed if I take along a couple of 8x12 prints? Currently I'm planning on showing them a slideshow on my laptop, and I'm not going to give them anything until they've paid :) But at the end of the day I have to see how willing they are to pay anything extra anyway when I discuss it, I'm suspecting probably not based on the information I have. However the wedding day was held in a pretty nice hotel and it didn't seem like that was done on the cheap, so I have some doubts... although that could have all been paid for by relatives.

That leads me to the third option, which is to give them the low res CD & gallery for the basic price, then to try and set up an online ordering system, or use a commercial service to try and sell prints that way, possibly also to the guests. A lot of the brides family had travelled from different countries and were really happy having their portraits taken, so I feel some of them might cough up for prints. The downside is I want to keep the additional organisation to a minimum, as I have a full time job at the moment which is also keeping me busy! I'm not sure if I have time to figure out setting up an ordering system on my web page just now (I haven't even had time to update my portfolio!) So a commercial provider might be good - I used photobox pro before, though they take around 50% of print sales.

So any thoughts? Are my prices way off? I know I am probably charging on the low side, but given the fact I'm still just starting out with this as something on the side, and the nature of the situation that it's about right. Including post processing however, I'll have put in quite a lot of hours, and I think my images should be up to a reasonable standard.

Oh, also should I try to make up some kind of contract, even though it is after the event? Basically I think I probalby want something more like a simple model release, so that I can use the pics for my own purposes etc. (I'm not going to assign them exclusive rights in any case).

Btw. I shot a mixture of formals and PJ/candids. For presentation, I don't know if I should mix them up chronologically, or do in two sets? [I'll try to post some samples once I'm further through the editing :)]

deblur's photos @ flickr (external link) | My web page (external link)

2,165 posts
Likes: 3
Joined Feb 2008
Location: Southern California
Jan 18, 2009 17:06 |  #2

wow, 1700 shots!
While I do not know your area or average wedding prices local to you I cannot comment but:
Figuring editing and post processing is probably going to take at least 6 hours you should in the future account for that time too.
If you have no agreement you are in a tad sticky situation. Do you have any idea of the original agreement with the photographer who did not show? Personally I would try to negotiate the same terms if they will let you know what they were.
Beyond that I would provide a Web gallery, allow them to order reprints from there, offer proofs at a per each price and show them options for an album. There is no reason you should not be able to create an add-on sale to increase your profit.

Wedding and Portraits (external link)
Commercial Work (external link)

Senior Member
256 posts
Joined Feb 2005
Location: Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia
Jan 18, 2009 22:01 |  #3

Interesting situation. You have effectively committed yourself for $150-$200.

I would do the following:

1. For this price you provide the coverage on the day, your time etc. and a low res disk (400x600 pixel images, watermarked) Use a batch action in PS to do this. Provide a pricelist for orders, with a minimum fee of $5 per 6x4. Work out prices for all standard enlargement sizes. Use a factor of at least 10 x cost (eg. a 10" x 8" costs you $5, charge at least $50).

2. For an extra $200 offer them 100 6" x 4" shots, where they choose the shots, as a bulk buy.

2. If they spend over say $600 on prints (inc. enlargements etc.) offer the hi-res image disk for an extra choose but at least another $150.

You won't get sales from relatives given you didn't have a hand-out at the wedding.

This way you have fulfilled your obligations, but you still have the opportunity to get more.

Professional wedding photographer based in Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia (external link)
Links: Website  (external link)| Blog (external link) | How to photograph a wedding (external link)

Light Bringer
51,010 posts
Likes: 374
Joined Nov 2004
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Jan 19, 2009 03:25 |  #4

Ask for a reasonable hourly rate - pick it based on your experience. Charge it for your photography and processing time. Anything extra price per product.

Professional wedding photographer, solution architect and general technical guy with multiple Amazon Web Services certifications.
Read all my FAQs (wedding, printing, lighting, books, etc)

81 posts
Joined Dec 2006
Location: London, UK
Jan 20, 2009 07:17 |  #5

thanks for the suggestions. Well the editing has been taking a little longer than 6 hours, I think I can average about 100 photos per hour with lightroom (probably doesn't help that the new local adjustments tools are so slow, but tempting to use as they can so improve some high contrast scenes)! Actually nearly half of the shots are from after the dinner, I went a bit crazy trying to get candids of the dancing etc., but I'm going through those a bit quicker than the formals at least as there is a lower hit-rate.

In terms of the agreement, I guess they are in as much of a difficult situation as I am, because I'm not obliged to give them anything, and hopefully they will want the shots so I still have a little bargaining power. Afraid I don't know about the original photographer's agreement, I can try asking though it may be easier just to put forward my case for what work I have done.

I think I will pretty much go with what Rokkorfan suggests... though I will show them the full-sized ones on my laptop, and then just give the low-res watermarked ones on disk. Does anyone have a suggestion roughly how many shots to include in the slideshow...? I 'm thinking about 150-200, but maybe I will cut it down to 100. There are probably about 40 or so good formal shots of different groups, and the rest will be storytelling and candids (again quite a lot of portraits of the different guests). As I'm not really thinking of doing an album I think I'll group them in these two sets.

Good point on the handout for the guests, I'll think about that next time. But hopefully once I put up the web gallery (after I give them the disc) they might send round the link to the attendees. I'm still unsure if I should use a commercial photo sales service or to put them on my own site with an email link for orders and then handle printing and posting everything myself. If it's for the couple I'll do the second (they live locally), but for large numbers of guests it could be easier to outsource... What do others do?

deblur's photos @ flickr (external link) | My web page (external link)

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POST-wedding pricing / contract? "Interesting" situation!
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