WPPI 2009 – Platform Speaker Notes – JB & DeEtte Sallee
Speakers: JB & DeEtte Sallee of Sallee Photography
Lecture Title: No More Excuses! Every Wedding Has Potential!
SLR Lounge Lecture Usefulness Grade: B+
Overview: JB & DeEtte’s lecture was themed around the subject of not having to purchase every bit of equipment, or bring along a 5 man photography crew in order to deliver amazing images. While the topic of their lecture seemed to be more rooted in turning the ordinary into the extraordinary a la Jerry Ghionis, they actually spent the majority of their time discussing the business side of their photography studio. Meanwhile, photography, lighting, posing and post production technique kind of took a back seat.
Even though their actual presentation strayed quite a bit from its description, overall the lecture had some great useful tips, hence the B+ grade. So, without further delay, here are our notes along with a little bit more.
1. Start with a great website
Pye: While we agree, this seems kind of obvious and not worth mentioning. It should be pretty clear to everyone that if you want to book high end photography clientel, you should present yourself as a high end studio.
2. Instead of packages, use a single rate commission more like that of an artist
Pye: While this seems like a good idea, keep in mind that if you switch to a single rate commission system too early, you could lose out on a lot of business opportunities. A single rate commission is simple, however its simplicity can also be a turn off to many clients. Perhaps your wedding commission starts at $5,000, however you are willing to shoot weddings on available dates for only $3,000. Well, clients with a $3,000 photography budget may not even approach you because of your high priced single rate commission. So, we would advise you to consider where you are at in your photography business. If you are busy and having a hard time keeping up, then by all means, a single rate commission makes sense. However, if your studio is still early in its life or if you are struggling to find more clientele, then the package system provides more flexibility.
3. The commission is one set amount and includes only your time to shoot the event
Pye: Again, this just depends on what type of clientele you serve. While higher-end clientele can accept purchasing additional products on top of the package price, this may be impossible for low to mid-range clientele who want to walk away with some sort of product after paying $3,000.
4. All products including albums, prints, canvas prints, etc should be ordered a la carte
Pye: Again, see our comments above.
5. In case you are curious, JB and DeEtte’s wedding commission starts at $5,000 and includes the following:
- 2 Photographers (a main and an associate): They noted that you should always clarify that each main photographer is equal in skill so that you don’t necessarily have to specify which will attend. Clients need to add an additional $1,500 in order to get a second main photographer.
Pye: I would like to add on that telling the client this is fine, so long as the main photographers are indeed equal in skill. Otherwise, you are doing yourself and your clients a major disservice.
- Limited locations and hours: Limited locations with an hourly package based on what the client needs. Their packages seemed to start at around 6 hours of service.
Pye: Personally, I don’t believe that limiting the number of locations is effective. Not only does it stress out the client, but what does it really matter? You are booked for 8 hours, it shouldn’t matter where you spend that time (unless most of it will be in the car driving of course). In addition, I felt like it isn’t fair to the clients to set your commission at $5,000 for only 6 hours of service being that most clients need 8-10 hours. Because in reality, your commission then isn’t really $5,000 for most clients which can be considered misleading.
- Additional sessions: Bridal portraits, engagement and boudoir shoots are included in the package
Pye: A nice addition definitely. However, if your clients don’t want boudoir or bridal portraits, your only option is to reduce the package price, or to add additional products/services to the package. In our experience, it seems that most clients do not want bridal or boudoir sessions.
- Image Discs: Color corrected mid-resolution (4″ x 6″) files: they charge $5,000 for a full resolution DVD
Pye: I liked this tip. However, you should know that in our day and age where everyone wants digital, this could be a deal breaker for many couples. They even mentioned that for those using super high resolution cameras (12-20 mega pixels) it is worth telling the client that the full resolution disc will be difficult to use and manage on anything other than a state of the art computer (which is entirely true). Imagine your clients trying to send off twenty 20MB files to Costco Printing through their dinky computer and Internet connection.
- Professional presentation: Nice packaging to present the CD and all of the products
Pye: I completely agree, it is important to make sure the client always sees a finished product!
6. Booking Incentives
- Working a deal: If you need to work a deal out with your clients, give them extra time, not extra products
Pye: Their argument for this was that time was free, where as products cost you money. Our argument to this is that time is money and that it may not be worthwhile unless you have all the time in the world.
- Print discount: Provide 25% off of the price of pictures that are purchased during the after party to create a sense of urgency
Pye: I thought this was a great tip for those doing after wedding parties for the bride and groom
- Reception slide show: Offer a small slide show of 15-25 images of the bride and groom’s engagement or couples session at the wedding reception table
Pye: This is a great tip, and I think that regardless of whether or not they purchase this option, it should be provided where possible. This is wonderful advertising for your studio as everyone at the wedding will have a chance to see your work and quality images.
7. Album Pricing & Purchase Incentives
- Starting album price: Sallee Photography’s album pricing starts at $3,000 for 10 spreads (20 sides). Again, a great incentive to get the couple to purchase the album is to offer 25% off if they purchase the album along with the package.
- Booking Incentives (Client’s have their choice of one of the following):
- Book today and receive an extra hour of coverage
- Free 20×30″ image from the wedding
- Free 5×7 or 8×8 parent album
- Reception slide show of images
1. Bridal shows work! They booked 48 weddings from a single bridal show.
Pye: Let me mention that if you are going to do a bridal show, you need to do it effectively in order to have this type of result. The Sallee Photography bridal booth looks like a full on studio with a large gallery, numerous pieces of modern furniture, 10 different sample albums, several LCD displays, etc. The cost of the materials and products used in their booth would cost around $12,000-$15,000 alone. This type of setup, is what is able to help them differentiate themselves in bridal shows.
2. Offer something unique that others cannot.
Pye: I agree with this wholeheartedly. Though again, this is fairly obvious. But, if you cannot differentiate and distinguish yourself from your competition, their is no reason for clients to book you. Whether you offer unique albums, a unique style of wedding photojournalism, great looking bridals, or whatever, find something to differentiate yourself.
3. Educate the client
Pye: This is something that we believe in as well. Hence the client resources section of Lin and Jirsa Photography. We make it our job to educate our clients in our art and profession. Clients need to know why they are booking us rather than asking their friend or uncle to do it for $500. Education is crucial in this task.
1. Favorite Lenses (in order):
- 70-200mm f/2.8L Zoom Lens
- Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM Lens
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens
2. Off camera lighting
- Quantum Q Flash T5dR Digital Flash Head
- Video lights
1. Frequently employ assistants in order to hold off camera lighting and reflectors.
Pye: Great tip for amateur photographers or new professional photographers. Overall picture quality will increase dramatically as soon as you move your light source off your camera. Avoid flat lighting!
2. Always use a reflector in window shots in order to fill the shadows in the face in order to prevent them being clipped.
Pye: Huge tip for both amateur and professional photographers. The reflector is often forgotten in window lighted scenes. Depending on your camera angle, either use the reflector to fill the shadows on the shadow side of the face, or use it to fill in light from underneath, thus opening up the eyes.
3. Use a fish-eye to catch a wide shot of the first kiss from the back of the chapel showing the entire crowd. This shot is frequently used as a full spread in their albums.
Pye: Must admit that this is a great tip, this is an easy shot and an easy spread to create. Definitely a crowd pleasing shot.
4. Typically uses off camera lights at 45 degrees off to the left or right of the camera.
Pye: This is just good lighting practice, but again, it is worth mentioning.
5. Use a snoot to direct flash exactly where you want it to go, otherwise it will spill everywhere.
Pye: If you have ever had issues directing your flash where you want it to go, a snoot is definitely going to be your new best friend. Great tip! Many amateur and even pro photographers don’t really use or even know of snoots. So grab a snoot and go nuts!
1. Invest in your business
Pye: This seems like another very general bit of advice. However, we do realize that many people overlook this fact. Make sure that you are putting time and money back into your business to ensure that you are always offering a top notch product.
We would like to thank JD and DeEtte for a great lecture. Good job guys and we look forward to hearing from you again next year.