“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@example.com) 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!