Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:Some good stuff here John!
We all are fighting the same battle, lots of new photographers everywhere and cheap price points. Just like you I also have
WalMart & Costco where folks can buy Gallery Wraps for $50, however I have clients that come to me willing to pay $350 for a 16X16 inches
Gallery Wrap from my studio and have sold several in just the last few weeks. I too enjoy the marketing & sales part of the business and
you have to find away to make those things happen if you want to stay in business.
I myself don't have a sitting fee, never have and most likely never will. What I do have is a Reservation Fee for most of my work, $250 upfront to put those clients on my planner. I then give this back to them at the ordering appointment as a credit towards their purchases. Everything at my studio is A la Carte, NO PACKAGES and this has been working for me ever since opening up my studio doors 14 years ago. Planting the seeds of Wall Portraits is the lst thing I do when chatting with a new client, plus they see these hanging at my studio. During the session I again point out what would look great on their wall, same when they come and visit me for their ordering appt. It doesn't have to be HARD SELL, just keep making suggestions and you'll be surprised at how easy it can be. Your price points should be at a higher end as you can never go up in price when in front of a client, however you can always come down alittle. I do offer discounts on other products if that Wall Portrait is purchased. My 8X10's & 5X7's are priced at $60 each for the same size which is my regular price. Sent to a prolab, protective sprayed, slightly textured and mounted on a nice beveled board. Now when doing volume work like a dance studio I photograph for every year I do offer packages and loose prints. 2ea 5X7's & wallets, $30, etc.... It's a $6000 day for me with my costs being in the $1500 range. We constantly need to up our own game to show those clients quality work, it's the only way I'm going to keep my doors open. Forget about the competition and worry about what your doing and keep working it every single day.
I am amazed at how close my operation is to Ernst. I also have no packages and my pricing is virtually identical. My 8x10 is $85.00, but if they buy a 16x20 or larger, it becomes $60.00. I do add $25.00 for a bevel mount and texture. When people want several 8x10s and a few 5x7s, that discount will more often than not get them to see the wisdom of getting that wall portrait. In fact I think this past summer, not one high school senior client passed on the wall portrait. Many of them were the metal prints at $300 and up.
I absolutely agree with Ernst also that planting the wall portrait thought in their mind at the time of a consultation and certainly during the photo session, pays off. I do charge a session fee that I call a "Creative Fee." That includes a $100 print credit. In my view, that upfront charge is a great qualifier - it they cannot or will not come up with $300 to get my work, then the chances of a good sale are pretty thin, IMO.
The danger with an a la carte system is that there is no floor - the advantage is there is no ceiling. IN a few cases where the final total was more than expected, I simply asked them what they want to take out of the order. Now the just spent an hour or so putting tho together and loving the images...how do they decide what to take OUT? In most cases they decide to keep it all and in a very few they will take out a few 5x7s. At NO time do I ever pressure anyone to buy. I will help make display choices or show them why that 8x10 is too small for a single wall portrait, but after I show them, if that is what they want, that is what they get.