December 22, 2008

Making The Sale With Your Wedding Photography Clients

photo by from Flickr
photo by from Flickr

I guess the most critical time for a wedding photographer comes, not when you get an appointment, but at that final decision making time, when your client has to decide either to go with you or "keep looking" and how to encourage your wedding photography clients to close (with YOU) on the booking/sale.

So what are some good ways to "make the sale"? I'm going to share a few that I have learned but I'm really looking for you guys to help me with some good ideas so please leave me a comment or advice on how you would do it.

So, when you've shown your client all of your portfolios and have given your sales pitch, its down to your potential client making their final decision. I've been reading just some general sales articles and ideas that could apply to wedding photography, so try some of these:

  1. "Does this sound fair to you?" / use final closing phrases. Read this great article from the Missouri Small Business Development Centers for some great tips on closing a sale.

  2. Ask them which package they would be interested in. Giving them choices helps put them in the mindset of having already made the right choice of YOU!

  3. Offer to beat the price of any competition... even if its by $50 or $100. (I've gotten 2 wedding bookings this way!)

  4. Offer to add freebie's if the negotiation is going sour... (free or discounted engagement shoot, free 8x10, etc...)
  5. "Do you think that this (option) would be something that you would be interested in?"
  6. Know you client's potential "wants" as well as their needs. (ie. Brides want to look like models in a magazine, needs would be: Traditional group photos for grandma's picture window.)
  7. Don't be too anxious or nervous. People can smell desperation. Be yourself. Be honest. Let them know upfront what they are getting. Write out and practice some key selling points that you will talk about ahead of time if you are the nervous type.
  8. Finally, be prepared for the close. "Let's get this paperwork out of the way, so I won't waste any more of your time..." (actually have all the paperwork printed out so that its easy for the client to fill out and it answers all your questions about the "when" and "where")
In closing: Be organized, be yourself, know how to provide a solution to your client for their needs AND wants, then know and practice closing.

Please leave me a comment if you have any other good suggestions for closing a sale and I'll add them on here!

December 21, 2008

Essentials For Booking Weddings For Photographers

The other day, I got a surprise phone call for a wedding photography shoot in January. She was referred by a bride's mother from a wedding that I shot last year. Since I wasn't expecting any new business until Spring, I found myself a little rusty and unprepared on the business and sales side.

So I thought I would post a few tips for all you wedding photographers, to make sure you guys attract and KEEP your business rolling throughout the year, not just Spring and Summer.

Before meeting your potential client, be sure to have an answer for these questions (because I've been asked them hundreds of times):

How much do you charge?

This one may be tricky to determine, but it usually depends on your experience, the quality of your portfolio and if you came highly recommended. My advice start free... yes free, for your first wedding.
  1. Charge only for the price to develop or print out your photos and the price of the proof book. Put the best of the best from that shoot into your portfolio.
  2. Then, the next wedding start low-balling. I'm talking about ridiculous prices ($100 -$200). And explain to your client that you are "just starting out" and to give you a chance and you'll give them their money's worth and much more. Then give the client a full workup package (unlimited hours, six 8x10s, two 11x14s, etc...). Basically you won't make any money off of this shoot either... BUT now you have a GREAT looking portfolio and your client will be proclaiming your generosity to the world!
  3. Make sure you have pimped your name out to your first clients with extra business cards and freebies, asking them that, in exchange for your low price, would they mind giving a testimonial that you could quote and use in your marketing and to please pass my name around to anyone they know that has a wedding coming up.
  4. After 2 or 3 weddings like that, you'll have an AWESOME portfolio that will sell itself and you can slowly start charging "regular price" and putting together packages to maximize sales.
Why are you so expensive?
There should be several reasons that you can explain to your client the big WHY in wedding photography:
  • Intangible Artistry. Photography is a skill and an art. A professional doesn’t simply memorize what all the camera buttons do; you are able to capture the beauty and emotion of your client's day in a unique way. Good photos are more than just technically correct, they are the culmination of the skills you have learned and your creative "eye".

  • Like professionals in any other field, wedding photographers have worked out their pricing system for a reason, and it's not just to part your client from their money! Professional photographs are a wonderful way to capture memories. They are not essential, but they are priceless. A good photographer will provide the client with photos that are worthy of becoming part of their family's history.

  • Equipment. High quality camera bodies can cost $5,000. Lenses can cost $1,000 each. And at 2,000 to 3,000 frames per wedding, even a good camera will need to be replaced every couple of years not to mention flashes, light meters, tripods, camera bags, etc...
  • Hidden Work. Every meeting with potential clients is an investment of his time, whether you get the job or not. You will spend time with them before the wedding to go over your plan for the day, the shot list, and the design of any albums you may wish to purchase.

  • Once the wedding is shot, you will spend hours editing, retouching, and color-correcting hundreds of images and then creating an album and/or online gallery of the final wedding photos.

What do I (the client) get if I go with you?
This is up to you and how much you are charging. But make sure your client knows the answer to this up front.

How long will/can you work?
Make sure there is an hour limit or hourly rate in your contract (charging for overtime after a certain amount of time), or you'll be at the reception till the cow's come home... literally.

Do I get the (digital) negatives to make copies for myself?
According to federal law, images produced by a professional photographer are copyrighted the moment they are created. Federal law prohibits copying or reproducing copyrighted material without permission from the owner of the copyright, i.e., the photographer. If a client copies or scans your photos, the photographer should be paid just as if they were buying reprints. If you or your videographer transfer the proofs to videotape, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints.

BUT, photographers are free to negotiate and sell their negative rights away to the client for free or for a fee. I suggest negotiating a minimum fee for the rights that would be the same price as a client would spend purchasing reproductions or enlargements from you. That way you both come out ahead and the photographer doesn't lose enlargement sales.

What kind of packages do you have?
Be creative with this, but there are some standards. Have "Small, Medium and Premium" type packages and make the Premium package be a better deal for the client (give a slight discount for the individual items). Then they are more likely to buy the Premium.

Next time:
How to encourage your clients to close on the wedding booking/sale...

December 17, 2008

I'm Dreaming Of A Weird Christmas

You've all seen the normal Christmas decorations, now check out the weird side of Christmas... From wacky, yet mesmerizing Christmas light shows, to creepy Christmas ornaments, to nerdy Nativity scenes...

I know Christmas is supposed to be a time to remember Jesus' birth, but I think that the baby Jesus has a sense of humor as well. In that spirit, I bring you my Top 10


(brought to you by... The Internet. Open these in a new window or tab, so you can come back and enjoy all of them!)

  1. Creepiest Christmas ornament (A fetus soldier to adorn your tree this year. Very anti-choice, pro-military chic.)
  2. Krampus is the evil demon anti-Santa - from Birmingham's own Mental Floss Magazine.
  3. DIY Geeky Nativity Scenes - mostly lego, but how about the Simpsons, or mine ("All God's Creatures" edition)!
  4. BetaMaXmas - Kindof cool actually... for an 80's kid. Watch 80's Christmas sitcom clips and vintage commercials on a virtual TV. You can even adjust the antenna for better reception!!!
  5. Scary Santa Compilations - There's alot of these floating around, but this is the best compilation. Also check here and here for some good crying babys pics.
  6. The Ugliest Christmas lights - Some of the most hideous holiday decorations ever!
  7. 17 Jaw-Dropping Christmas Light Shows - the best of the best... really cool and weird.

  8. Seasons Greetings Machine Maze... Thingy - created by Roy Doty see if you can follow it all the way to the end.
  9. Robot Gift Guide - Robots... nuff said.
  10. Wierd and disturbing Christmas Cards
Well, that's it for now. Hope you guys enjoy these!
If you like this kind of thing, please consider subscribing via RSS or email!

Have you found anything funnier or weirder than these? Leave me a comment and I'll add them to the list.

December 15, 2008

Digital Camera Buying Advice For Christmas for Non-Geeks

How do I buy the right digital camera for my budget? Which brand is better? How many megapixels do I need. What the heck is a megapixel?

These are some of the questions that I will try to answer for you guys here on The Horse this holiday season.

A common problem that non-geeks have when buying a digital camera is the wide range of choice and brands available in point and shoot and DSLR cameras. Well, I'm going to help you out by giving you some definitions that you can use on your salesperson to sound (and actually become) more knowledgeable about digital cameras:

Point and Shoot: this is a still camera designed primarily for quick and simple operation. Most of them use an easy autofocus system for focus and automatic systems for exposure and whitebalance as well. Most are relatively inexpensive and manufacturers are adding more and more features as time goes by. These are very popular and a great buy for the casual photographer.

DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex): a digital camera that uses a mechanical mirror system and pentaprism to direct light from the lens to an optical viewfinder on the back of the camera. DSLRs are often preferred by professional still photographers because they allow an accurate preview of framing close to the moment of exposure, and because DSLRs allow the user to choose from a variety of interchangeable lenses. Most DSLRs also have a function that allows accurate preview of depth of field. (from Wikipedia)
Most of these bad boys are fairly expensive (start at around $500) but are well worth the trade-off in features and speed. More on these in a later post...

Optical Zoom: The ability to physically zoom the camera with the mechanics and glass of the lens. This amount is measured in "X" (ie. 4X Optical Zoom)

Digital Zoom: this type of zoom is actually a cropping of the sensor in your camera and the software interpolating the digital resolution of the cropped area. Because interpolation disturbs the original pixel layout of the image, as captured by the camera's image sensor, it is usually considered detrimental to image quality. Also measured in "X".

Josh's Camera advice: Digital=BAD, Optical=GOOD. You want more optical zoom on your point and shoot.

Flash Memory (and other storage media): this is the place where your pictures will be stored on your camera. Most are small cards, some less than one inch in length that are removable. Flash memory can be erased and programmed many times. Some types of flash memory are:
  • SD Flash (very common, comes in "Mini" and "Micro" versions)
  • Compact Flash (older but still used in some Nikon cameras)
  • Memory Stick (Sony proprietary)
  • xD (Olympus and Fuji proprietary)
Be sure to know what kind your new camera has and how to use it or transfer you pictures to a computer or printer.

Megapixel: A megapixel is 1 million pixels, and is a term used not only for the number of pixels in an image, but also to express the number of image sensor elements of digital cameras or the number of display elements of digital displays. For example, a camera with an array of 2048×1536 sensor elements is commonly said to have "3.1 megapixels" (2048 × 1536 = 3,145,728). (from Wikipedia)
This may sound nerdy, but basically, the more megapixels the camera is rated the higher resolution you can take pictures at. Of course there are downsides to a larger megapixel rating:
  • larger memory storage card needed (more expensive)
  • each picture takes up more room on you memory card
  • longer transfer times and slower shooting times on a P&S
What it boils down to is: Unless you are printing out 8x10's or larger, the normal consumer needs no more than 6-8 Megapixel sensor to print out very sharp 4x6 photos.

Josh's Camera advice: don't splurge on the bigger megapixel rating on a point and shoot. 6-8 Megapixels will be enough.

So, to finish off, some of the best new point and shoots for this season in my opinion are:
  1. Nikon Coolpix S series
  2. Canon PowerShot series
  3. Sony CyberShot series
Other great picks are: the Kodak EasyShare series and Fujifilm FinePix. But research your camera before you buy it using your new knowledge (above) and get the best features for the best price for your giftee (which may just happen to be yourself ;-)!

Enjoy, and I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!
Remember the reason for the season...

December 13, 2008

Movie trailers for winter 2008 and summer 2009

~ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~

I remember seeing a teaser for this during the Olympics. This is coming out Christmas day 2008. Adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards... right up my alley!

~ Angels & Demons ~

According to IMDB the official release date for the new Dan Brown movie based on the best seller is going to be May 15th 2009. As you all may know, I'm a HUGE DB fan and I've been anticipating this movie since the rumor started shortly after Da Vinci Code came out.

Super sneaky secret website! I heard a rumor about this so I investigated and found it. Apparently one of the trailers for A&D has the words "Altars Of Science" hidden in the Illuminati logo. If you Google that phrase you'll find a paid link (the first link) that will lead you to the hidden website. I'm not going to give you the link here because that would ruin the fun. But definitely go check it out if you're a fan to find a video feed.

Still no official word from Brown or Doubleday (Brown's publisher) about his new manuscript tentatively tittled The Solomon Key. The subject matter will deal with the history of the Freemasons and their influence on our founding fathers in the U.S. and possibly Skull and Bones or other secret societies. Robert Langdon will return as the main character as well.

~ Valkyrie ~

Also releasing Christmas Day 2008. This is going to be a tough choice. I'm also a huge Tom Cruise fan... and I love "based on a true story" movies. This looks great! Well acted, filmed and great production design and costuming.

Other upcoming films of interest to me are:

Terminator Salvation (Terminator 4)
Watchmen (based on the classic graphic novel)
(trailers by

December 9, 2008

Revolution Pictures releases Jake Owen - "Don't Think I Can't Love You" music video.

(the link for the video above is here: Jake Owen - Don't Think I Can't Love You
YouTube has disabled embedding for this video)

Revolution Pictures has released the music video for Jake Owen "Don't Think I Can't Love You" to the internet (YouTube) and their website, The video was shot on 35mm film earlier this year in the parking lot behind the Alabama Theater and in the top floors of Playhouse (the best costume and props shop in Birmingham). I worked crew for the video as a PA (Production Assistant) and driver. It was a long day but we got it all done in one day. Revolution Pictures is out of Nashville, TN and usually puts up their crew in a hotel for the night. This time the crew ate at The Cheesecake Factory the night before and I happened to be working so it was a strange coincidence.

Apparently you can now catch the video on CMT and the other top Country cable stations, but I bring it to you here... right from The Horse's mouth... (...via YouTube) ;-)

December 5, 2008

New Short Story Blog from Josh. Your new Soap Opera on the web.

I just started my new short story writing blog on WordPress. com called Storycrafter. Its a little experiment I’m doing to get my creative writing juices flowing again.

The other day I started this blog so that I could write a few short stories of mine chapter by chapter and my readers could follow along, soap opera style as I write more each day. I have a poll where I am taking suggestions of what to write about. All of the choices are ideas that have interested me recently, so I just need to pick one and start doing it. Help me out peeps!

Storycrafter - http://joshself. wordpress. com/

December 3, 2008

Top 10 Christmas Songs you love to hate while shopping and eating

<---(This is our Nativity Scene this year with all God's creatures!)

It always happens around this time of year. This year it started 3 days before Thanksgiving. You know what I'm talking about... Those darn Christmas songs. Especially the songs that you are forced to listen to as you are out shopping and eating in restaurants. I am especially sensitive to this because I work in a restaurant and am blasted with the same 10 - 20 songs ALL DAY! Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Scrooge or a hater and I'm all about singing praises to the Lord about the birth of His Son Jesus, just mix it up a little! So, in that spirit here is a list of my top 10 most annoying Christmas songs:

  1. Jingle Bells - Barbara Strisand (the caffeinated version)
  2. Hey Santa - Wilson Phillips (uhhggh! I hear this at least 7 times a day!)
  3. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
  4. Baby, It's Cold Outside (Vanessa Williams' version) - Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer (I agree with everyone who calls it the Christmas date-rape song)
  5. Rockin' Around The Chirstmas Tree - Brenda Lee (1958) (Nobody "rocks" around the Christmas tree... what does that even mean? Annoying nonsense)
  6. Happy Holiday - Bing Crosby (1942) (More annoying nonsense: "whoop di doop and dickery dock..." nuff said)
  7. Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney (I just hate this song because of bad song doesn't have a chorus. Just "Siiiimply haaaaaaving a wonderful Christmas time" over and over...)
  8. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause - Jimmy Boyd (1952) (from Wikipedia) The song was commissioned by Neiman Marcus to promote their Christmas card for the year, which featured an original sketch by artist Perry Barlow, who drew for the New Yorker magazines for many decades. Jimmy Boyd's record was actually condemned by the Catholic Church in Boston when it was first released on the grounds it mixed sex with Christmas.[citation needed] Boyd, aged thirteen, was widely photographed meeting with the Archdiocese to explain the song.
  9. Marshmallow World - Darlene Love(?) (more nonsense that has nothing to do with Christmas)
  10. My Favorite Things - The Von Trap Family (I actually like this song but, is this really a Christmas song?)
What are some of your "love to hate" Christmas songs? Lets see if we can get some more interesting ones. Also comment on a few that are your favorites!