Despite the many digital innovations such as You-Tube, digital photo frames and DVD slide shows, there is still no better way to enjoy and relive wedding memories with family and friends than with a quality photo album. Still images let you hold, savor and relive these special moments in a way that video or even an I-phone slide show cannot.
Today’s “shoot-and-burn” wedding photographer chooses not to take the time nor, in my opinion, do they see the value in offering complete album design services. Many brides have also chosen this route to “save money” and handle their wedding album design and printing themselves. Some of the problems a bride can encounter with this approach is finding sources for professional quality prints and photo albums, finding the time to do all of the work and having the skills to be able to edit and layout an album. Many images from some shoot-and-burn wedding photographers, or friends of the family, have not been properly color balanced and lead to poor quality output.
All of this, however, is what we do; or at least should be doing. As professional photographers you owe it to you images, your bride and yourself to serve them from capture to final presentation. Most brides these days do want a disk of all of their images. I don’t think there is a problem with that but those images and the work we do as photographers has value, so the disk should not just be given away.
So what can you do to compete against these photographers and the brides who think they just want a disk?
Education – Educate your prospects as to the value of what you do and how it benefits them and insures better photos. Do brides really want to edit hundreds if not thousands of images? Do they want to or even know how to retouch and enhance images. Do they know the difference between a consumer grade and professional reprint? Do they have the skills to design a storybook album? Can they do all of this as quickly and efficiently as you can?
Marketing – Brand yourself as the professional you are, someone better than the Craig’s List shoot-and-burn photographers who offers valuable services.
Give Something to Get Something – Sure many of today’s brides want their images, but do not give them away for nothing. Require your brides to get a small album or include a print credit through your studio, pro-lab or online host so that they’ll receive professional quality images as well as their disk.
Streamline Your Workflow – We have found that with an efficient workflow you can actually sell more. A wedding is an emotional event. To take advantage of that emotion, you need to work quickly. We recommend editing your images and pre-designing an album within the first two weeks following your client’s wedding. Meet and show them their album layout. Make this the first time they see their images so that they emotional impact is high. Make any changes and updates at that meeting. Place the album order and then release the images online. Make a selection of images available via slide show, your blog and/or Facebook to create buzz. Deliver the finished wedding album within three months of their wedding. You’ll get your money, the couple will be excited and you’ll get more referrals. Could the same happen six months or a year after their wedding when the excitement has faded?
Profitable Packaging – Whether you are offering a large package with all of the bells and whistles or a simple package with a few hours or coverage, a highlights album and disk; know your costs and price yourself to be profitable. How else will you stay in business?
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No – Sometimes you just have to say no. First, do all you can to show the value of what you do. But if the prospect can’t see your value and insists that you match the lowest price in the market, say no and find another client.
The following was written by Robert H. Hughes, Master Photographer., MEI., CR., ASP., PPA Certified.
“A THOUGHT ABOUT THE “SHOOT AND BURNERS
There is a group of wannabe “Professional” Photographers who compete solely on price. This group will offer to “Shoot pictures and burn them to a disc.”
The real truth is that they usually do not want any further contact with the client. In most cases they neither have the knowledge, talent or experience to formulate legitimate business strategies or process images to get professional quality prints. This quote from Martha Blanchfield in her Studio Photography Magazine article, about Claudia Kronenberg, a wedding photographer in Nantucket, who sums up the “Shoot and Burn” philosophy. “Having your wedding photographed and just receiving a disk of images is what I would equate to receiving the fabric of the wedding dress without the designer to stitch it together,” says Kronenberg. “It’s what we do with the fabric, or photographs, that make the difference.”
The “Shoot and Burners” do not really care about delivering a professionally finished product as indicated by their philosophy which is shoot and burn. All they want is to be relieved of the responsibility of having to do the hard work which comes after quality images are created. The “Shoot and Burn” strategy does not save money! It catapults the consumer (Bride) into a world of which they have little knowledge. By the time the client experiences what is really involved in finishing the job, the “Shoot and Burner” is long gone with the client’s hard-earned money. “Shoot and burn,” is nothing more than getting quick money from an unsuspecting client.”
We at Zookbinders are here to help you – the true professional photographer. When you succeed, we succeed. If you have any questions or would like help tackling this part of the market, please let me know. You can reach me, Scott Patrick, at 800-810-5745 ext 275 or email@example.com.