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5 Ways To Respond When A Photography Client Requests A Discount

By Hanssie on May 12th 2016

Most of us have had a photography client request a discount, and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will, and when it does, you’ll need to know what to say. You may be fearful that someone is trying to take advantage of you or that your work/brand/reputation may be diminished if word got around that you gave someone a discounted rate, or you may think nothing of it. In either case, knowing your stance on discounts in general and knowing how to respond will give you more confidence so that when a photography client does request one, you can properly respond to their request.

Before we begin, it would be good to keep in mind that clients asking for a discount may not necessarily be undervaluing your services. Sometimes, asking for a discount is part of the culture of your client. For instance, my mother will ask for a discount everywhere we go…be it a street vendor or a local Starbucks (it’s a bit embarrassing really). Seek to understand where they are coming from and know how to respond to them, making the situation less awkward for you and maybe you’ll both end up getting what you want.

1. Say No

If you’re a people please, telling someone ‘no’ can be for difficult. But if you decide not to discount your prices under any circumstances, just say no. An example,

“Unfortunately, I am not offering any discounts for my services. I hope you understand.”

This may cause you fear of losing out on the job, and that is a real possibility, but keep in mind that discounting your prices may lower your perceived value and the client may end up not booking you anyway.

Once, when I was new to the photography business and just building up my portfolio, I agreed to lower my pricing for a potential client, and when I hadn’t heard back from her and contacted her the following week, she informed me that they ended up booking another wedding photographer in the area, someone I knew was in the same price range as my typical rates. Reflecting on that situation, I realized that I either lowered my value in the potential client’s eyes, or I didn’t provide enough perceived value.

Hope of investor concept

2. Ask Why?

If you’ve done your job of educating the potential client of your perceived value and they still ask for a discount, one way to respond is to simply as, “Why?’ or, “Is there a reason you feel you are entitled to a discount?”

This places the ball back in their court to respond. Perhaps they cannot afford you, but they love your work a lot; maybe they (like my mom) just loves a good discount; others may say, “Oh, I have a lot of friends getting married soon.” (Don’t fall for that one!)

In any case, listen to what their “why” is and go from there. They may have a good reason you hadn’t thought of or perhaps you haven’t educated your potential client on the value of your work. Whatever the reason they provide, once they provide it and you where they are coming from, you have more information with which to use to overcome their objections.

3. Negotiate A Small Discount

If you’ve decided that you have built in wiggle room in your photography packages and are okay negotiating a discount in certain circumstances, you could always say,

“I can offer you a 5-10% discount, if…”

Fill in the blank yourself. Some cases could be:

  • They offer to sign the contract and pay you in full on the spot
  • They are willing to book an additional add-on to their package
  • They have multiple projects you’ll be signing a contract for or the project is long term

Whatever the reason, if you choose to offer a discount, be sure to set forth the parameters you’re willing to work with for yourself so that you can negotiate without surprise, and there are no misunderstandings.

I’ve given my previous clients small discounts in the past knowing that they love my work and will continue to book me for future services. Two years ago, I was able to take a 10-day, all-expenses paid trip to Greece to be a set photographer on a music video. She was a former client, and I offered her a discount because I knew that I would get future bookings from her…and I got to visit a country I’d never been to before!

On a side note, you might consider a flat-rate ‘friends & family’ discount so that when a close friend requests your services, you can tell them that your friends and family discount is __% and leave it at that.

greece-requesting-discounts-hanssie

 

4. Offer to reduce the scope of their package

Another way you can respond to a client requesting a discount is to offer to reduce the scope of their package. For example, you can reduce the number of hours of coverage in a package or maybe downgrade to a smaller album with fewer pages.

“If price is an issue, then maybe we could omit this from the package…”

In my experience, most of the time, they end up paying the full price anyhow because I’ve already educated them on the value of everything in the package they were considering (i.e. engagement session, second shooter, x hours, wedding album, etc.)

[REWIND: SHOULD YOU EVER WORK FOR FREE? 5 TIMES YOU MIGHT CONSIDER IT]

5. See if they can provide something of value to you

Otherwise known as a trade, this could be a win/win situation for both of you. Perhaps your potential client is a graphic designer, and you’re in need of a new logo, you could offer a discounted rate for x number of design hours. Maybe they own a Chick-fil-A and will offer you a year of free spicy chicken burgers and fries in exchange for a discount of equal value. You can say,

“I’m prepared to offer you a x% discount off my day rate in exchange for…”

Ultimately, like everything in your business, it comes down to you, what you value, and your business goals.

Bargain-hunting clients are just part of a small business owner’s life, and having a preconceived and confident approach on how to handle them and what to say to them can go a long way when you do encounter a discount request.

Do you offer discounts? What are some ways you respond? Comment below.

 

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

23 Comments

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  1. Karen Borter

    Just going through past articles and this one is gold to me. I am currently struggling with a pricing model and this has helped a lot. There is a genre of photography that I do mostly for fun and if I make a few bucks on it then great, if not, no biggy but it’s a genre that typically they don’t pay for. I put out quality work within the genre so I am going to start charging for my work and time. There are those that I wanted to offer a discounted rate too since I’ve shot them before for free. I like the Friends and Family discount idea and will set a percentage. I am working on that this weekend.

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  2. Tom Barrett

    The worst ones are definitely ones that say “we’ll have constant work for you after this”
    Bullshit. Charge them full price on the first shoot and possibly lower it on subsequent shoots.

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  3. Patrick van Os

    We don’t give people a discount, since we think it can come across as that you don’t think you are worth what you ask for your photography, but if we really want to get the assignment we sometimes throw in an album upgrade or a few extra spreads for free.

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  4. Harinandan Rajeev

    Great article .. Everyone may need this

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  5. Spacephoto photography

    Great article as it is all ways the case, I found my self at the beginning that I would do for less then it is actually worth because I did not know the price of my product but now that I have some statistics and information how much other competitors is charging, I stay firm on my numbers and can justify every body asking for price why we charge the price we change and what dose that includes as most of the times thy just don’t know. It is all about education your client as thy just see you with camera and then ready images not all the behind scenes, your travel, editing work and other things including tax you pay

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  6. Cedric Labour

    sadly work of a photographer is underrated in my country, most people are always looking for the best price not necessarily the quality of the product. when i comes to educating clients..we have a long way to go here.

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  7. Lakin Jones

    My name is no, my sign is no, my number is no
    You need to let it go, you need to let it go
    Need to let it go
    Nah to the ah to the no, no, no

    -Meghan Trainor

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  8. Lee G

    I’ve had a few people ask for a discounts. I merely responded how can I discount you on a discounted product? I’m no where near super expensive, but I’m also not free.

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    • Moise Oiknine

      I don’t know who you are and where you stand in the industry, but you are NOT a discounted product. You may not be offering the same product (i.e. years of training, post production & final results) as others in the field, but if you are a photographer for hire, correct pay is what you need to be receiving.

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  9. Paul Wynn

    Thanks for this article, you have pretty much covered all the situations where I had to respond to the ‘discount’ question. I do feel it comes down to confidence, having the belief in yourself and the value of what you offer.

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  10. Moise Oiknine

    Great article. I have a few friends that I am going to pass this on to. Rule number 1 in particular was the most challenging for me years ago until I was able to build the confidence in myself and my work. That’s what is boils down to folks…confidence.

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  11. Grzegorz Rubik

    veey good post

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  12. Samuel Seth

    All good points. I hate to be a stickler but please proofread the article.

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    • William Irwin

      Agree… whoever is doing your proofing for the articles has been slacking lately. Time to have that “talk” ;)

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  14. Simon Grimley

    Years ago when I was fitting carpets for a living I had a client ask for a discount as he had lots of friends having building works going on and would recommend me.

    I declined but said that for every customer who phoned up and booked me mentioning his name I would give him a referral fee.

    He agreed and funnily I never got a job from any of his friends, but he was happy….

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  15. Justin Haugen

    I use my engagement sessions as leverage. I don’t mind comping a session and have done it from time to time when the matter of discount comes up.

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