This is a un-sugarcoated look into what life is really like when you walk away from the steady paycheck and enter the world of being self employed. I will be sharing my experiences, thoughts, and anything else that comes my way as I navigate the waters of being a full-time photographer. I also hope to interview other full-time photographers to share their experiences with you as well. To see the rest of the articles in the series, click here.
Should You Offer Unlimited Wedding Coverage?
I know by writing this article, I’m going to open Pandora’s box. There will be some of you who totally agree that unlimited wedding coverage is a great idea, and there will some of you who think it’s a horrible idea. What I will say is this, at the end of the day, we as wedding photographers need to adapt to the market, we need to listen to what clients and potential clients are saying to us. My opinion has and always will be adapt or die (not literally).
The Game Is Changing…
The wedding photography industry, from my viewpoint, is changing; the generation that is getting married (I’m part of that generation) is used to getting what they want. They rarely heard no growing up, and want a lot from their jobs, and service providers. And they are willing to pay for it. In my heart, I truly believe the days of telling a potential client that they can book a collection that is 5 hours, 8 hours, and 10 hours are over. This generation wants you for the entire day, and you know what, I agree with them!
A Lesson Learned
In the recent months, what I learned booking for 2015 was that I was going about pricing all wrong for my target couple (25-35 years old and working professionals). I was offering collections that had different hours associated with the price; as you went up on price, I would provide more coverage on the wedding day for my couples, and man, did I lose a lot of jobs because of that. I can’t tell you how many couples that I met with for 2015 tell me, “You know, Chris, I really wish you offered unlimited coverage for the day.” Like a stubborn ox I said, “No, I have set hours and that’s what I offer.” As I lost one couple after another, limiting myself to set hours, or collections, I followed my own advice and said, “Open your eyes Chris, things are changing, client after client wants unlimited coverage.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized I would want unlimited coverage if I were getting married as well.
Why You Should Consider Offering Unlimited Coverage
This is the number one reason I have ditched set hours, and I’m not talking about stress for my couples, I’m talking about stress for me. As I went through the last two seasons photographing weddings, I was scheduled for coverage from 5 hours to 8 hours, and I was always stressing out about being able to cover everything in the time I was paid for. I pride myself in keeping everything on schedule during a wedding day, but let’s get real for a second, weddings usually always run behind. There is nothing worse than being near the end of your coverage time and the cake has yet to be cut, or dinner is nowhere near done and parent dances still need to be captured. I hate having to go up to the DJ or event coordinator and say, “I’m scheduled till 9pm, can we move things along please?” HATE IT!
I view wedding days as a story, with different moments throughout that day that make the story unique to each couple. I shoot for the album, meaning that I’m trying to tell a story with my images, and when an album is made, I tell that story in the sequence that it happened. By having set hours, I was always stressing out about capturing the whole story for my clients. Yes, I can capture a wedding in six hours, but it’s hard to capture the day, my way, in that time frame. Heck, even eight hours is not enough sometimes. By offering unlimited coverage, I’ve allowed myself to stop worrying about not having enough time to capture the day, and just go with the flow. It’s less stress for me, allowing me to be even more creative, and one less thing my couples need to worry about.
Added Value To Your Wedding Collections
I’m a big believer in adding value to your wedding collections. This is where you can change your collections around to still keep set hours if you would like, but also have a collection that includes unlimited hours. Personally, all my collections include unlimited coverage, and as the collection prices go up, I add value items such as a second photographer, and albums.
If you want to have set hours, but still appeal to the unlimited coverage client, you could offer two collections that are based on hours of coverage and two that include unlimited coverage and other high value items. This would allow you to book couples who don’t want you at the wedding all day, and also appeal to the couples who want unlimited coverage. My bet is most couples will go up to the unlimited coverage options, because if you sell it right, they will see the value of having unlimited coverage. This is all up to you, but I think having unlimited coverage is an extremely appealing value item to your clients.
It Shows Couples You’re Invested In Them
Offering unlimited coverage shows potential clients that you are committed to them for the day. You’re not going to be rushing out of the reception because your six hours are up. You’re not shooting another wedding in the morning that same day (I have no clue how you could shoot two weddings in one day, but I’ve heard of it happening). In the end, it shows my couples that I’m completely invested in them the day of their wedding, and all I’m focused on is capturing their day to the fullest without compromise.
Wouldn’t You Want Unlimited Coverage?
When you sit back and think about it for a minute, wouldn’t you want unlimited wedding photography coverage on your own wedding day? I know I would, I would hate to pay a large sum of money to only have my wedding photographer capturing part of the day, when I want the whole story captured. It might be the fact that I fall into the current generation that is getting married, but everyone I know who has gotten married recently or is getting married (I’m meeting with those couples regularly) wished they could have paid for unlimited coverage or loved having unlimited coverage.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I know I opened up Pandora’s box with suggesting that you should consider offering unlimited coverage. You are free to build your wedding pricing as you see fit, but if nothing else, I suggest have unlimited coverage as an option. Make sure you price the option accordingly for yourself. I’m not going to suggest prices, every photographer is different and you need to know your numbers and know what you need to charge to run your business. What I charge is not right for anyone but myself. All I will say is this, wouldn’t you hate to lose a great client because you don’t even offer the option of unlimited coverage? I sure know I missed the boat on some awesome clients because I didn’t even offer the option.
Till next time, keep shooting, building your business, and embrace the hustle!