Chromatek Newsletter No 109 11th January 1991

$400 Wedding coverage
Some people are reporting that their local Newspaper is full of adverts for people that will do weddings for $400.00 and give away the negatives. Now no one can compete with that on price but I believe you can compete with this style of wedding if you really do some marketing of your business.

These part time photographers are advertising that they will do a Wedding for $400.00, give you the negatives and so many prints. Your potential customers don't know any different and if somebody claims to be a photographer and the price is one tenth of what they think you charge, they may feel that whilst the work won't be quite as good, it will be good enough.

But the main basic point is that your competitors which these people are, are advertising, they are advertising the price and they are basically stating in they're advert that this is all that the people are going to pay.

A lot of people that haven't been through to a studio may have started off with the concept that they would be spending $1500 and have ended up $3000. They have told this to their friends and their friends now are under the impression that if you get a Professional to cover your wedding you are going to be spending $3000.

If you want to keep weddings, you are going to have to start advertising precisely what your prices are.

You are going to have to start advertising for more work, you are going to have to start advertising a complete package, what the total cost will be.

Sure, you can have still your $3000 coverage, but you first of all have to get the girl into the studio before you can offer that particular coverage.

I still recommend you having coverage's going through to five to ten thousand dollars, but boy those five to ten thousand dollar coverage's are going to have to be pretty damn good. That's if anyone is game to do that particu­lar type of coverage. But the main point is that the coverage's are going to have to be such, that at what ever level the people are that are coming in to book you they are going to have to say about your price "Oh, that is quite reasonable for what we are getting."

Now I am not suggesting anybody charge $400.00 and give away the negatives. If you can't compete with these people on quality and a reasonable price find their weakness, they will have one.  Do some market re­ , find our WHY and WHAT your brides are want­ing.

With many people finding things tighter it could be due time to move away from the exclusive coverage that many photographers have moved to over the last five to ten years and perhaps go for a little bit more for the volume business like what we used to do in the 60s and early 70s.

Back then I had Thorpe Studio and at the beginning we used to do many weddings, in the height of black and white days here in Pukekohe, (with remember about 8000 population) we did 120 wedding one year, now that was a pretty busy year and I do not know if I could do it today but that was the sort of volumes that many photog­raphers used to do.

We used to be able to do this by having part time photog­raphers and the Bride and Groom and the Wedding party would come to the studio for their formals.

It could be worthwhile thinking of moving back to this style of coverage with yourself just doing the formals or if there are two of you in the business one of you do the formals and the other one do one of your high priced weddings.

Some people over the last few years have been talking of getting two to three thousand dollars from the bride for their wedding coverage's and a lot have found that this type of coverage has whilst it has not disappeared has become slightly harder to get.

It could be that a wedding coverage of four to five hundred dollars with the bride and their friends finishing up spending between $1000.00 to $1500.00 maybe more acceptable to many the people out there that would possibly rather employ a studio than somebody on a part time basis.

There is really no reason why some of these coverage's can not be very nice and there is nothing to stop you, organizing a series of seminars to train up a group of part-timer's so that you have a pool of photographers interested in earning some money in the weekends.

The name of the game is your break even point and if you have moved from one hundred weddings down to ten weddings that you can see yourself doing this coming year your rent and other overheads are going to eat you completely away.

Basically it means that you going to have to have more clients coming through your studio, each paying a proportion of your overheads so that you can stay in business, no customers mean you "no can pay the rent" and if you no can pay the rent it means you will be joining all of the other businesses in bankruptcy or liquidation.

I have spoken several times to my friend in Chicago who does round the two thousand weddings a year, has a staff of between seventy to one hundred and twenty-five photographers and whilst he is very active in his business you do not really see him photographing wedding, he is too busy banking the money.

He is really into volume, has extremely nice modern premises (which he owns), he is very reasonable on his fees to cover a wedding and his print prices are ex­tremely reasonable and he manages to do all this through volume.


If you are having a problem booking your normal person­alized wedding coverage it could be worthwhile you considering going slightly more volume oriented and start training your existing staff to do weddings. Of course if you are more than a husband and wife team this will means that anybody that is working for you must be able to photograph weddings in the weekend otherwise you are really not interested in keeping them employed during the week.

You will still need to market your services and you still need to do an extremely good coverage of the wedding which really just boils down to training.

You must have a good range of wedding albums full of wedding photographs, there is nothing worst than just having the one wedding album for a bride to see and then she has to imagine all of the other coverage's that you do. This is an interesting article I collected from somewhere:-  

If You Don't Own It, How Can You Sell It?
Many photographers are amazed at the amount of two volume sets of 8x10,11 10x10 and 11x14 wedding photographs we sell.

Their common retort is, "My customers would never buy that many pictures

The reality is that, even at cost, most photographers don't have two or three volumes from their own family func­tions.

How can you sell what you don't believe in enough to invest in yourself?

How can you suggest the benefits of how nice it is to hold on to past memories if you can't give examples from your own life?

If your salesperson doesn't own a two volume 8x10 set of albums, you had better sell her one so she can explain the benefits of owning one. Otherwise, your sales staff is subconsciously conveying to the customer, "You don't need that much, I only had 25 photos in my wedding album." Unless you have something to show for it, you will not be able to sell the believable benefits of hundreds of photographs per occasion and give examples from your own life.

Your sample albums should have a minimum of 70 and up to 200  8x10's (or bigger) to show your clients what you believe in.

Your displays are your silent sales force and show how you really feel about your product. If you show your clients' samples from tiny 4x5 books, that is what they will probably want to buy. If you show samples from two volumes 11x14 books, that is probably what they will want to buy!

Just remember, if the best is too expensive for you to invest in, it is more than your clients will want for themselves too.

This goes for wall portraits also. If your walls are adorned with wallets, 8x1 0's and a few 11xl 4's, how can you expect to sell 30x40's to your clients? If you display and show off your 40x50's, it makes your 30x40's more be­lievable.

Moreover, to make selling wall portraits believable, you and your sales staff should own and enjoy the product you are selling.

Would you buy a Mercedes from somebody who drives a Ford?

So, let's get out there and start buying and enjoying what we are selling, and you will see your sales climbing.

My view on keeping your part time photographers is to form a separate limited liability company in which they have some shares.

It is part and partial of the shareholder's agreement that they will not do weddings for anybody else besides the limited liability company and if they leave the limited liability company you will purchase the shares back from them at least what they paid in and they have pre-agreed to that they will not do weddings within say a twenty-five mile radius of the headquarters of the limited liability company for say three to five years.

The limited liability company would book the weddings and all money would go into the limited liability company from which you would deduct the price of the film, processing, you're selling costs, wages and all of the other overheads that go into the running of the business and you might find that the limited liability company makes a profit of say twenty cents in the dollar.

This then could possibly be distributed to the sharehold­ers at the end of the year on a pro-rata basis depended onto the numbers of weddings that they have photo­graphed.

That's the bones of the idea which could help you tie up photographers so that they can not go out in competition to you and my solicitor however is on holiday so he has not yet seen it to tell me if it is legal so you will need to talk to your legal person or me before you think of doing this.

You can get some cellular telephones pretty cheap now and when you couple that to a cheap monthly rental and an expensive call rate, when I say an expensive call rate it is expensive if you are speaking for half an hour but if you want information from some one it is cheap.

If each one of your candid photographers had one of these cellular with them and you were in one central location doing all the formals you would be able to find out from them where they are, how long are they going to be, tell them to hold things up for a few minutes or speed things up, you would be in full control.

OK an organization like what I am talking at would only work in the larger centers and I would not propose Richard try to set something up like this in Otorohanga but the major cities of 50,000 plus somebody prepared to do something like this should very easily scoop the pool.