Wedding photographers tend to be pretty concerned with pricing and how you offer your service. I’ve heard the argument about respecting your time – that if you don’t charge for every minute the client won’t respect your time and will run over you in negotiation. But it almost seems too easy to offer “unlimited” coverage and basically make time a non-issue while potentially allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.
I know what I do, and I’ve never been big on making an issue of what I do – you’ve got to do what is right for you. But I do think that “time” is a somewhat strange metric to base all pricing on. I don’t think anyone thinks about their wedding in terms of how long it is going to take. It is very difficult to equate deliverables to how much time is spent (sure, it makes sense to us photographers, but I think we understand it largely through the experiences that we’ve had that the client simply doesn’t have). I do tend to think that many people fantasize about what their wedding will be like – I doubt that any of those fantasies involved a clock.
I realize that time is relevant to us as professionals. But I think that anything that we care about has to become a value to the client if we are going to make it a decision point for them. I don’t love making time an issue for clients because it isn’t a positive metric in their minds or anything that they are excited to worry about. Anything that you make a pricing-based decision point ought to be something exciting to think about in my opinion. Time doesn’t seem like an exciting thing from the client’s perspective. I want the decision points to be things they could want, and things they are interested in – I don’t want to focus on what they aren’t getting.
That doesn’t mean that I think you should do “unlimited” coverage. Besides, everyone who says “unlimited” puts a fucking limit on it anyway which makes the whole concept ridiculous. Regardless of the way that you build it you need to manage expectations on what you’re going to do, what you aren’t going to do, what options the client has, and what the ramifications of those options are. Expectation management always rules in this case. You can’t charge the client more in the moment if they don’t understand what you’re charging or why. And as a side note, a contract is NOT a communication device (it is a protective device) so you can’t expect them to read the contract and understand how your system works.
But I like to think about it like this – I want to be paid for what I’m doing, not how long I’m doing it. I don’t think it should cost less for me to shoot because this job is a little shorter than the next. The value of what I do (IMO) is the preparation, the reputation, trustworthiness, the approach, etc. None of those things have anything to do with how long I’m doing the job. If I want to sell those things then making time a decision point seems silly and takes the focus off of the things I want them thinking about. When you charge for something you tell the client that it is important to think about – I personally don’t want them to be thinking about time. Your approach may be very different, and you should act accordingly.
What do you think?