Monthly Archives: February 2011

Full Coverage?

“A way to approach this it occurred to me is to design the album first without showing the client all of the images. Pick 50-100 of the best images and put together the spreads, show how the best images of the day can tell the story *better* than 1000 proof images. This may be a tough sell though. …I think a lot of the 1000 images comes from the artificial definition of what “full coverage” should be.”

Daniel Valente, Daniel Valente Photography

Dan V. is becoming one of our most prolific contributors in this comment on the Quantity vs. Quality post last week.  I am as guilty as anyone for thinking about wedding photography service in “full-coverage” terms.  Heck, that was our USP (Unique Selling Proposition) in the earliest stages of our business.  Then, everyone else jumped in and it became nearly standard – a phenomenon that I’m trying to avoid falling into going forward.  I always find it funny when I see a photographer offering something like “Unlimited Coverage (10 hours).”

Its always bugged me that wedding photographers in particular determine their pricing or offerings based on time of coverage.  It has just never sat right with me.  And while it might sound that I’m driving the conversation totally towards wedding photography let me say for the record that I don’t understand the whole concept of the “session fee” for portrait photographers either (expect a ranty post on that too!).  Is our value purely expressed in the amount of time you spend behind the camera?  Is the value in the amount of coverage, because that seems like it is pushing us into volume territory as well.  And what is coverage anyway?  Is every moment of coverage as valuable as the next?

I’m really thinking about how to remove the concept of coverage from my value offerings and stop looking like an hourly employee.  What do you think?  How are you dealing with time vs. value?  Are you doing full/complete/extensive coverage?  How is it working and how does it relate to the quantity of what you deliver?  When you sell via quantity of time do you feel that you are able to focus on quality?  Do you clients ask for quantity of time and how are clients valuing the time you spend?

Just to stir the pot, I think photographers should be charging for what they do, not how long they do it.  I think how long they do it should be irrelevant at worst, or at the photographer’s discretion at best.  I think putting a time limit on your price list (or asking for compensation based on a session fee) means that your process, your ability, your art, and your vision are all separate things that can be purchased a la carte, and some can be left behind if undesired.  This is of course a ridiculous sentiment, but I think its what we are saying.

Just want to get the discussion ball rolling to start the week.  Vent/rant/scream it out in the comments section, to the email  inbox ([email protected]) or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/amantofish).  Many thanks to those of you who have been passing this blog on to others as our traffic levels have really been climbing – keep it coming!

- trr

This week in fishing…

Hey all,

Back from WPPI and Vegas and after shrugging off the jet lag and we’re back.  Tomorrow we’ll be continuing the Quantity vs. Quality argument and there will be several more reader questions addressed over the next few days.  I want to thank all of you who have been sending the link to this site out to your friends/peers/etc.  Stay tuned, new post will be up late tonight for the morning rush.

- trr

Back from the desert…

On my way back home from WPPI and enduring a 6 hour layover after our red-eye flight. I’m looking back over the last few days and I really appreciate all the comments and messages that have come in while I was delinquent for the week. Over the weekend I’ll be checking/responding to everything that has come in and you can look forward to another “This week in fishing” post on Sunday. The it is back to your regularly scheduled spouting off on Monday.

I was reading the Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte on the flight from Vegas (highly recommended, review coming) and an idea occurred to me. I’ve been excited about the interaction that this blog has fostered so far and I want to keep taking things further. I’d like to start interviewing photographers and other creative pros specifically to hear about their struggles and breakthroughs with meaning and purpose and success (whatever that means to them). It occurred to me that I wasn’t so much interested in people who were already perceived as super-successful but those who were still in the thick of making it work. So, if you know of someone that you’d like to hear from drop me a line over email and let me know who they are and why their story interests you – [email protected].

- trr

How to sell quality over quantity?

“In the digital mindset where more is more, 10,000 songs on an ipod, 32gb of photos on an iphone, how do we as photographers explain to our clients that when it comes to image delivery, less is really more, and that 250 images from a Wedding is really the sweet spot. “

Daniel Valente, Daniel Valente Photography

Good question, Dan!  What you’ve identified is a trend.  The trend is one of building value by offering MORE.  The thing to remember is that whenever a trend like this becomes popular you can bet that there are going to be a growing number of clients who are frustrated by having to deal with/pay for/store/transport/look at/etc. MORE.  So any trend is an opportunity to build value by acting contrary to that trend.

Doesn’t it make sense that if you are worried about creating MORE your mind isn’t focused on creating BETTER?  Doesn’t it make sense that if you build your value on volume, you simply aren’t aligned to create quality?  As photographers we can be focused on filling your iPod, or writing your favorite song.  Both approaches have value, which one do you love to create and why is that the best for your clients?

Like I’ve said before, clients don’t know what to expect or ask for when it comes to photography.  We have to help them understand how to work with us.  You get to set the tone.  If you don’t, your competitors set it for you.  In my opinion, a client can’t enjoy hundreds to thousands of images.  That becomes a job in my opinion. And I think it is OUR job to consider those images and curate them down to the digestible number.   So perhaps our idea of what we do needs to change.  So many wedding photographers worry about their “coverage” of an event.  That the job is all about providing accurate documentation of everything that happens.  That’s fine, but you have to show the value of that to a client.  I’m wondering if our job isn’t more of a curator?  To take the whole of what is possible, to consider the purpose, meaning, etc and limit the display to what fits the given point or aesthetic.  After all, what you leave out is as important as what you put in.

And how many photographers really think about their work in these terms?   Wouldn’t explaining your take and process on the editing of your work help a client understand why your approach is the one for them?  I’m not trying to give a definitive reason here, because taking that off the shelf and applying it may be just as futile as delivering thousands as well.  Just trying to think off the cuff about how I might approach building the value personally.

Here’s your homework – give me an idea of why less is more.  Tell me a story about the approach, the quality, the aesthetic, etc.  Then, turn it around and give me a sense about the quantitative approach.  Sell yourself (or myself or whatever works for you) in both ways and see how it makes you think about your work.

Please leave your comments below.  And if you’d like your question to be answered/featured like Dan’s (thanks Dan!) send it here – [email protected].  Or let me know on Twitter – www.twitter.com/amantofish.

- trr

Never add complexity…

…without adding value.  Seriously.  This works for every facet of your business, but particularly with those elements that clients interact with.  If there isn’t a compelling, benefit-based difference in what a client is seeing, just don’t show it.  Or if you want to show it, don’t make it a decision point.

For instance, if you show a client 2 options, there should be a significant, value-based difference between the two.  That difference should be easy to choose between.  If there is a price difference between the two options, one should be distinctly higher in value than the other.  Otherwise, having multiple options just complicates the matter.

Look at your offerings, services, products, etc from a client’s perspective.  Is it abundantly clearly to a layperson (i.e. not a photographer) what the difference between similar options is?  If it is not immediately clear then drop it, or make the price the same, or  simplify the decision point.

Remember, every additional decision that a client must make is an obstacle to working with you.   Take a look at how many decision points you put in front of a client, and how easy it is to make those decisions.  In fact, can you remove them all?  Shouldn’t it be possible for a client to look at your online presence (or however clients interact with your brand) and be completely sold on you and want to book you immediately?  Are you making it harder than it needs to be to choose you?   Just something I’m thinking about as we are frantically designing custom collections for our wedding clients in order to close on bookings…

thanks

- trr

By |February 23rd, 2011|Business|0 Comments