Ask Anything

Splurging, Organic Marketing and Saying No!
ask-anything

I received an

email from a frustrated photographer asking HOW in the world do I convince my clients that my PHOTOGRAPHY is worth the investment. She wanted to know how to educate clients about the VALUE of her work and share with them how important it is to have BEAUTIFUL images of this monumental part of their life. I wish it was as easy as saying “This day only happens once, so hire a GREAT photographer!”…. but that’s not enough. Brides are on budgets and they have so many other vendors to pay besides US!  They want a good deal and they want to get it as CHEAP as possible. I understand this because I was a bride

planning my wedding less than 2 years ago and I had a budget…. and it was tight. We had over 400 people at our wedding and I wanted my DREAM photographer. I had emailed her BEFORE I was engaged and I’m sure she thought “Oh, I’ve got another crazy one on my hands!”…. and then I emailed her again the day after Michael proposed. She sent me her destination wedding prices since she would be coming from California and I cried. I cried because I was so torn. I didn’t even want to walk downstairs and show my parents because I knew what the response would be.  They would say “KK, that’s just not possible.”  I was going to have to pick between FOOD and a PHOTOGRAPHER!! In my mind, I was thinking “I think my guests can go without food! It’ll be a new wedding trend!”…. just kidding… but the thought crossed my mind! That’s how BADLY I wanted this.

 

This AMAZING day that Michael and I had waited for nearly 8 years was going to happen and be over in less than 10 hours of time…. and the pictures from our wedding day would be the only things remaining when all is said and done!  I cared about this!!  Not only did I care about the picture QUALITY… but I care about the EXPERIENCE as well.   In order to have amazing images, you have to have an amazing experience… and I knew that would come from loving your photographer. When you know your photographer and have a relationship with them, it changes things…. and it changes them for the better. I knew that Jasmine and JD would make us feel comfortable… and that we would have FUN and that our pictures would reflect that. I had followed Jasmine’s blog for 2 years before sending her that “I’m Engaged!” email and I was hooked. Big time. So with some help from my parents, I decided that my business would sponsor my wedding photography …. and we booked her. Cue the HALLELUJAH chorus!!! Was it expensive? Yes.  Was it more than we had hoped to spend? Yes. Were the images more than we could have ever hoped for? Yes.

 

Yes. Yes. Yes!  That’s all I said as I scrolled through of hundreds of images from our big day. We look through our album two years later and I’m constantly reminded of WHY I invested in the photographer of my dreams. 10.10.10 was magical and I have so many memories SAVED forever because of Jasmine & JD and I’m thankful. So not only do we have beautiful images but we had a wonderful experience as well.  As photographers, we’re not just selling images, we’re selling the EXPERIENCE…. and that experience is what results in great images!

 

So back to the original question… “How do I convince couples that photography is an important investment? ….. My answer isn’t simple or complete but this is what I think.  There are some brides that understand how VITAL the photography is for their wedding day… and there are some brides that have other priorities. And that’s OK!! Some brides consider photography just another vendor to book and check off the list… and some brides have known who their photographer is going to  be for months before they were even engaged! …. maybe even years! So my response to “How do I CONVINCE my clients that I’m worth it?” is that maybe those aren’t your ideal clients to begin with.  Maybe instead of spending SO much time trying to CONVINCE, that energy should be spent marketing toward your target audience. When you market yourself organically (no sales pitches, no massive ads… just word of mouth, blogging, social media sharing, etc) … you will start to develop a cluster of fans that LOVE your work AND love you. You could NEVER convince me to buy a Rolex because I could care less about that brand… I have no attachement to it! But guess who is signing up for the new iphone 5 even though it’s not necessary at all?! THIS GIRL… and my apple-crazed husband! Why are we willing to invest in another iphone? Because Apple has SUCKED US IN! We feel like we KNOW that company and we BELONG to it.  Your business can give off that same vibe! But you’re not going to have people attach themselves to your business with a sales pitch or trying to convince that you’re worth it at a client meeting. You have to get them attached to YOU and your brand before they ever email you about booking!  That’s what Jasmine did. She shares about her life, her clients and her favorite pair of boots and I just fell in love with her brand!! So when the time came for me to decide if I was going to book her… it wasn’t a question of “if”…. but it was more of a question of  ”how”!  I knew I wanted her and I knew that she was worth what she charged.

 

So if you have clients asking you to slash prices and telling you that other photographers are offering them better deals and that you should match them…. let them go. It’s one thing to have a bride that is a perfect fit but doesn’t have the budget… and it’s another thing to have a bride that is trying to get a deal out of you. You don’t need to be working with that type bride in the first place…there are other photographers with different pricing that would fit her needs.   I realize some of you are probably thinking “Um, Katelyn, I have kids to feed and a house to pay for and I need whatever I can get”.  My response to that is, you’re right! You need to make money and I understand that. My advice would be to make this a gradual change in your marketing strategy.  When I started saying no to clients that I KNEW were not the right fit, it was SCARY… but now I’m working with the most amazing brides a photographer could ask for!! Also, when I know that bride isn’t the perfect fit for me, that means that I can help them find a photographer that will meet their needs perfectly! It’s really a win-win for everyone! Also, I just wanted to add that this post is NOT saying that brides that can’t afford certain photographers aren’t great to work with … because that couldn’t be further from the TRUTH! Some of my BEST weddings were the ones that I didn’t profit very much from!! Seriously!  My point is that if you’re a photographer that feels like you’re constantly CONVINCING and PERSUADING your brides to invest in your services, your energy could be spent somewhere else and those brides can work with a photographer that better suits their needs. :)

 

Well I feel like I’ve been rambling and so I’m going to rap this up. Photographers, don’t de-value yourself and brides, make sure you invest in a photographer that you ADORE… and if he/she is a little pricey, I can tell you first hand that a little splurge can mean amazing things for your wedding day. Don’t believe me? Check out my wedding pics :) Ps. I also realize that there are brides out there on a budget that really cannot afford to splurge and still be responsible with their finances. That’s ok too! I mean goodness! My wedding cake was made out of STYROFOAM in order to cut costs!! I understand! There are SO many amazing photographers out there that will fit into your budget and will do a FABULOUS job capturing your day!! This industry is bursting at the seams with new photographers with great talent and so if you’re a bride with a smaller budget and no room to splurge, I know for a fact that there are some GREAT options for you when it comes to photography!

Comments (21)

Comments

  1. Katie Nesbitt: ( )

    Oh this is such a great reminder, Katelyn! I get very caught up in booking whatever I can, but it’s important to remember the value in booking ideal clients!

  2. Kay Bouley: ( )

    Thank you! I am not a wedding photographer but I really needed to hear this message today! And your wedding photos are AMAZING! I would have gone without food to be afford them too ;)

  3. ashley link: ( )

    i LOVE this! so eloquently put!!! i know that whenever i get married, i want you! i don’t know when that day will be, but i’m gonna start saving now. ;) great job, girl! you’re awesome and i hope to one day be a “katelyn james bride!!!!” hehe. love this post and great advice! :)

  4. Shauna: ( )

    Thank you so much for this post! And I couldn’t agree with you more.

  5. Catrina: ( )

    Wow!! Girl, that is the TRUTH!! With health setbacks, I’ve been so mopey having to put my actual photography on the backburner, but right now is the perfect time for me to revamp my business plan. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing!

  6. Alicia Candelora: ( )

    Ok, so I’m curious what “My business sponsored my wedding photography” means. because hopefully soon, I’ll be in the same boat. The boat where the photographer I want is just going to be out of our budget. So I’m really curious what it means to have your business sponsor it. Does that mean it was tax deductible in some way? If so, what did you file it under?

  7. Julia Seiler: ( )

    Thanks Katelyn for this post! It was very enlightening :)

  8. Lauren Shirley: ( )

    I preach this ALL THE TIME when people ask what my ‘splurge’ for the wedding is… & I’ve been SO surprised by how many people (with their charming, unnecessary advice & opinions) are shocked to find out it’s the photography! I’ve had people who thought it should be the food, a live band, the flowers, the invitations… etc. etc. etc…. but only a handful have truly understood what an investment the photos are! Sure I’ll have a new husband (YAY!) & some fun memories… but the photos are really the only things from that DAY that I get to keep forever. They’re the beeeeautiful souveniers of the happiest day of our lives & the evidence of all of our hard work! I knew years ago that even if I had to DIY every other detail in the wedding in make it happen, I HAD to have Katelyn there to photograph it all… & no sales pitches or ads convinced me of that! <3

  9. Kathryn Grace: ( )

    Having just shot my first wedding a few weeks ago, I know now that you do not charge too much! You earn every cent! I am seriously thinking I need to start saving up now because the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I do not want to settle for anyone but you for my wedding photography when I get married!! I’m with you, forget the food! :-)
    Photography really is the most important thing in my mind because it is the only thing you have left besides the marriage itself once the day is over!

  10. Julie: ( )

    It’s so funny that you, a wedding photographer, had moments just like the other brides (IE: ME!) where you emailed your dream photographer 2 years before even getting engaged and then emailing her immediately after you got proposed to. I was the exact same way with you. I had been following you since your inspired designs days and I KNEW you were going to be my photog since you started KJP – do you remember my email to you almost a year out saying “it’s going to happen soon! i know it!” or something and then a year later, i emailed you the great news and booked you? oh man, such a great investment! i can’t wait til next april :)

  11. Jolynn: ( )

    LOVE this post. I want to share it with EVERYONE!!

  12. Annetta: ( )

    Thanks for this Katelyn. It helps to know that I’m not the only one who turns brides away because they are not a good fit for me. It’s hard to do but necessary.

  13. Becca: ( )

    It just happens girl! We all KNOW you from your blog and fall in love with you and your crystal clear, colorful images. It will continue to keep girls like me coming your way- because you are AWESOME, SWEET, and the ONLY person we’re hoping to share our wedding days with after following the blog!

  14. Abby Grace: ( )

    YES! Yes yes yes! I was asking the same question at the very beginning- how do I convince my inquiring brides that I was worth my pricetag? And I eventually came to understand that if they needed convincing, they weren’t for me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with prioritizing other things above photography, but learning to refer those kinds of brides to other photographers is one of the absolute best lessons I’ve learned for my business. AWESOME blog post, girl!

  15. Lauren Winstead: ( )

    SUCH a great post! I often feel a little guilty when I email my potential brides about pricing, because I want them to be mine and I want them to feel like I’m worth what I have to charge. But, I’ve found that the girls who really want me always say, “No, no! We want to pay you a fair price!” It really is about finding the right fit and the girls who will become your walking advertisements. :)

  16. Karie Murray: ( )

    Ok. So I’m officially printing this post and posting it on the wall above my desk. I might even title it “personal pep talk from Katelyn!” It leaves me a little forlorn to look at my 2013 calendar and only see one, yes one, wedding on it so far. …ok, it’s a bit scary! I have the 3 kids and the mortgage…. but, then I think about what a wonderful couple I’ll be working with on that wonderful date in April. And that they are the perfect client for me, in my target market, and I’ve photographer the grooms family for years. I’m going to make the most of this wedding! – and keep shooting for the stars!

  17. Rici: ( )

    Beautiful message Katelyn! Thank you for reminding us!! YOU are so great! I really love to read your rambling!:) ~ Saluti.

  18. haley: ( )

    this is exactly what I needed katelyn. thank you! i AM FOREVER trying to answer that question for myself and could NEVER get an entire grasp on the situation.

  19. Lauren Carns: ( )

    Thanks, Katelyn! :-) Reading this post literally made my day.

  20. Ursha: ( )

    I so agree with everything that you have written here. We(i and my bf) had an experience last month with a bride to be. She loved our photos and she said that they’ll 100% book us. After a few days she wrote an email if we can charge less for the same package cause other photographers have the same package for a bit less money. This was the first time we said no, we can’t(we are just starting out) and that even though we know there are people charging less, they don’t offer what we do, they don’t see the world as we do. Guess what, next day she called and she said that even though she’ll have to spend a bit more, she wants us because she just loves the photos so much. And it meant so much too see that saying no is good!

  21. {Behind the Camera} Brides & Photographers Sorelle Photography Sorelle Photography Blog: ( )

    [...] Today my obsession led me to a photographer’s blog I hadn’t been to before. I clicked a link and landed on Katelyn James blog for photographers and I immediately was led to a post that rings so true for me that I had to re-post it. If I was better at Twitter, I would likely have tweeted it – but, social media is Tammy’s area of expertise so I will let her shine there. The post I’m referring to can be found here. [...]

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