May 31, 2018
Long overdue! A few of my favorites from my Indian wedding in Mumbai/Day After Sesh In Udaipur. Laura and Kunal are the sweetest humans and various moments throughout this three day experience brought tears to my eyes. This culture is so rich, committed, colorful, passionate and unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
I’m also sharing some thoughts about client experience. Thoughts that have been patiently waiting to be written for sometime now.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what client experience means to me. It started really consuming my brain this year in between occasional emails from potential clients asking me to compromise my pricing. No hard feelings. I get that people have budgets and priorities! This isn’t meant to be a pep talk to anyone in particular but more so a chance to explain the various levels of client experience.
If you are on the client end of this and are wondering how this might relate to you, you might want to ask yourself:
“What do I want from my wedding photographer? What am I willing to pay for a good experience? Do I even care about the experience?”
Is it 10 great images? Is it the story of your day told from an artistic perspective? Is it an experience where you feel like your photographer is taking what they know from working in the industry and helping guide you through the planning process? Or do you just want someone to capture the bare minimum so that you have a few images to throw in an album?
What you want out of the experience will determine how much you spend on your photog.
I’m always kind and understanding when potential clients request a price adjustment or a change in what’s included in specific packages. I either politely say I can’t make it work or ask to meet in person. Meeting in person gives me the chance to better understand a potential client’s needs and provides an opportunity to hash things out and see if we can make something work.
I’m always an advocate of both parties walking away feeling taken care of and my couple feeling confident in the money they are spending.
Why I don’t get riled up over these emails like initially did when I first started my career in wedding photography? Well, once upon a time, before I was a wedding photographer, I was on the other end of this industry as well. I didn’t fully understand the ins and outs of why photographers charge what they do. And I get it, weddings are expensive and the photography industry has created this environment that’s lacking a standard price tag. People that aren’t in the industry don’t always consider the fact that we are perpetually setting aside up to 30 percent of our earnings for federal and another 15 percent for expenses and merchant fees. They may not think about the fact that we don’t have health insurance or a 401K. And that’s why I take the time I respond with grace because I know intentions are normally good and people don’t always fully understand the financial aspects of our business and the specifics of what we need to be charging to stay afloat. In fact they are most likely stressing tough about the cost of a wedding! So again, no hard feelings but nice to have an open conversation about this sort of thing.
Years later, now that I’m fully immersed in this industry, it makes more sense. You pay for what you get and I feel confident not only in the work I create but the way I make my clients feel from start to finish.
You pay for client experience. It’s true.
And I’ve worked so hard to hone in on the experience I provide for my couples.
I’m not a show-up-and-shoot kinda person.
I’m not a check-my-watch-right-at-8-hours-and-peace-out kinda gal.
When you book with me there are questionnaires, and guides to help you plan your day. We trade phone numbers and text often.
We FaceTime and meet for dinner.
I look over your timeline and visit your venue before hand to see how the light hits the wall where you’ll share your first kiss.
I show up early on your wedding day to get the lay of land and pick portrait spots.
You may receive a gift in the mail or a sweet card.
I love this job and I’d like to think that shows in the client experience I provide. And when you put down your deposit you aren’t just paying for 6 – 10 hours of coverage but a friend who invests in couples from start to finish and well beyond that. With that said, I understand that not everyone prioritizes a budget of 3-8k for wedding photography. Sometimes people value flowers or food over imagery. And I get that. But if you’re looking for artistic imagery and a photographer who puts well beyond 40 hours of work into setting you up for success on your wedding day then you are going to invest more!
So again I ask the question: Do you even want this from your photographer? It may be too much. Some people don’t care about creating a relationship with me and that’s ok. Again, no hard feelings. But a lot of people do care! They want the experience on top of the images. And they are willing to pay for it.
I’m a believer that if we connect and feel good around each other, there’s a pretty good chance that will translate into killer wedding images.
Another question? Do you have the budget for higher end wedding photography?
A lot of people say they just don’t have the budget but bare with me while I play devil’s advocate here. Do you not have the budget or is wedding photography not a priority?
Maybe you really just don’t have the budget. Which is tough because everyone deserves images of their wedding day and I’m sure most individuals would love top notch quality images as well. It’s sad because my heart wants to do work for free and compromise so that everyone can have great images but bills have to get paid and money has to be set aside strategically for retirement. I have to set aside strong feelings in my heart sometimes to take care of myself.
For those who have the money but don’t prioritize photos, I have a secret wish for you. And I feel like if I say it out-loud it may put some positive vibes into the universe and promote more honesty and open conversation amongst not just wedding photographers but all vendors in this industry and potential clients. My secret wish is that people would just say how they feel because we are all human and it’s ok to differ in what we want out of our lives. “We only want to spend x amount vs. we only have x amount to spend.”
It’s ok to say, “Photography just isn’t our top priority!”
I love the honesty there.
“We only want to spend X on photos, we value good food and a live band…and as long as I get one pic in our wedding get up, we good.”
Because in the end, everyone deserves what they want on their wedding day! And if it’s coming from an honest place I respect that and wish those clients all the best 🙂
I’d love to hear your thoughts about client experience! Feel free to comment or reach out to me via email to start a conversation // firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!