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Package Pricing

Lesson 18 from: 30 Days of Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

18. Package Pricing

Next Lesson: Marketing


Class Trailer

Day 1




Evolution of Susan's Style


Branding and Identity


Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned


Day 2


Introduction to Gear & Equipment


Lenses Part 1


Lenses Part 2




Day 3


Seeing the Scene


Seeing the Scene Q&A


Rhythm and Repetition


Leading Lines and Rule of Thirds


Rule of Odds and Double Exposures


Day 4


Intro to Business


Day 5


Financing Your Business


Day 6


Q&A Days 1-4


Day 7


Pricing Calculator


Day 8


Package Pricing


Day 9




Day 10


Vendor Relationships & Referrals


Day 11


Marketing w Social Media


Day 12


Booking the Client


Day 13


The Pricing Conversation


Day 14


Turn A Call Into a Meeting


Day 15


In Person Meeting


Day 16


Wedding Planning


Day 17


Actual Client Pre Wedding Sit Down


Day 18


Engagement Session Details


Day 19


Engagement Session On Location


Day 20


Wedding Details & Tips


Day 21


Detail Photos Reviewed


Day 22


Bridal Preparation


Day 23


Bridal Preparation Photo Review


Day 24


Bridal Prep - What If Scenarios


Day 25


Q&A Days 5-11


Day 26


First Look Demo


Day 27


First Look Examples


Day 28


Portraits of the Bride


Day 29


Portraits of the Bride and Groom


Family Portraits Demo


Family Formal Examples


Wedding Ceremony Demo


Day 30


Wedding Ceremony Examples


Different Traditions and Faiths


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Demo


Wedding Cocktail Hour and Reception Room Examples


Wedding Introductions


First Dance


Wedding Toasts


Parent Dances


Wedding Party


Reception Events


Nighttime Portraits


Nighttime Portraits with Found Light


Post Wedding Session Demo


Post Wedding Session Critique


Wedding Day Difficulties


Post Workflow - Backing Up Folder Structure


Post Workflow - Culling Shots


Post Workflow - Outsourcing


Q&A Days 12-23


Post Workflow - Gear


Post Workflow - Lightroom Editing


Managing Your Studio


Post Wedding Marketing


Client Care


Pricing for Add-Ons


The Album Process


Balancing Your Business with Life


Post Wedding Problems


Parent Complaints


Unhappy Customers


Working with an Assistant


Assistant Q&A


Lighting with an Assistant


Q&A Days 24-30


Lesson Info

Package Pricing

Because every wedding is not just eight hours and then I hand over files because I do have packages and collections I needed to figure out first of all what it cost me to make them in and second of all what I need to sell them for. So when we come over here let's start all the way on the far right with my collection three my collection three starting from high to low collection three being the lowest my collection three is simply eight hours of photography by myself at an assistant assistant, not second shooter and then your high resolution edited digital files in his in folio gallery that's it I don't consider it a shooting burn because I'm not going out and shooting and just coming home and downloading the files and handing them over there being worked on and the files are a beautiful final product so it is when I'm looking at it myself my time and files package and we've talked about what it cost. We talked about it in the price and calculator prior my assistant, my post processing ...

my online proofing our pre event kind of round up and then parking costs a thousand dollars now usually when you're looking at a general retail model for how you mark something up retail is usually cost times three right you cover your expenses, you cover your taxes and then you take home a tidy little profit but that's not how I want to look at things because I'm a creative professional, I am worth a higher rate. I really do believe that I'm worth more than time times three or cost times three. So what I've done for my base prices, I've done cost times five and it took me a little bit of tinkering to get to my time's number that I was comfortable with. But for me, a thousand thirty one dollars based times five gets me to five thousand one hundred fifty five dollars for eight hours of photography and files. Now I know that with that five thousand dollars my costs are covered, I'll be able to pay my taxes on it, and then I will have enough money left over to have compensated my time and my talent for shooting that ate our wedding. Now, because that's not the only package that I have, we're going to move up to collection too. Collection to is my nice mid range package it's the one a lot of people immediately gravitate towards. You still have eight hours of photography, it is still myself and my assistant. You do still get your digital files and yours in folio gallery, but you also get an eight by ten album with forty images, so let's talk about that for a little bit. You start off here assistant post processing online proofing prevent dining and parking just the same as in collection three it's the same number of hours those things simply translate straight over now my album company is madeira books I produce almost all of my albums through madeira books my pricing here is based on two thousand fourteen january pricing from madeira books a base price of an eight by ten album is two hundred and sixty five dollars additional spreads two hundred and seventy dollars now additional spreads there are several different ways that you can look at this the way I price out this book is if a client comes to me and says I have an eight by ten album with forty images I want my book to be one picture per page for forty pages I can say okay because additional spreads that's the cost of what it would take to make this eight by ten book with forty pages very easy that way if they do anything less if I put two images on a page three images on a page I make a little bit more profit but this way it allows me to accommodate a client who wants to put one image per page without losing money or having to charge them more. I also include imprinting and the cover photograph it isn't an additional charge some people do charge separately for it because it does cost more money but I've chosen to included in the cost of the collection, so if a client does say we want our names on the front or you want a photograph on the front, I've got it built in and I can provide it for them. Now, looking down at the bottom, the total cost hard costs to put this collection together is sixteen hundred dollars. Now, we've got our base times five, which we talked about before the fifty one fifty five now for the album, I'm going to take the cost of putting together the album and do my standard retail times three that gets me to seventeen hundred dollars, so if I'm charging a client for an eight by ten album with forty images out of the package seventeen, seventy I rounded up to eighteen hundred dollars calling today. I know that if a client comes back after they're event and they want to buy a book or they want to buy an extra book for their mom or their grand mom or whoever I have that built in eighteen hundred dollar book, so then I take my base times, fives and my album times three pop him together sixty nine twenty five that is a pretty all right cost for that collection I saw that collection for seven thousand dollars. Nice and easy there you go I know that I'm making my money for my time and my talent that I'm putting into it I've got my cost of the album covered times three perfect there you go going all the way up to collection one exact same principles of what we've done before you still have assistant post processing online proofing prevent dining and parking none of that changes but you'll notice my numbers are a little different bias that collection one gives you nine hours of photography instead of eight, so I'm paying my assistant more because I'm shooting an extra hour I'm shooting mohr images, which will require more post processing paying by the image so I've increased my assistant price I've increased my post processing price proofing pre event dining parking those will stay the same those don't change whether I'm there nine hours or eleven hours parking might be a little bit more but in additional hour really isn't going to change your parking fee all that much now with collection one they receive a slightly bigger book with slightly more images it's a nine by twelve album with sixty five images book base price is three hundred fifteen dollars additional spreads are close to five hundred dollars why? Because if they come back and they say we want one image of page for sixty five pages, that is what it will cost to put that book together imprinting and cover photograph because I want to be able to offer that to the client without charging separately total cost is nineteen hundred dollars based times five is fifty four hundred dollars bearing in mind that my assistant in my post processing or more expensive album costs times the standard retail times three markup is twenty five hundred dollars if a client comes back later wants to buy a nine by twelve album with sixty five images I charge them twenty six hundred dollars I know I am covered so you take your base times five and your album times three you added together eight grand that's actually amusingly enough exactly what I saw that package for so I know with every single package that goes out the door what it costs for me to make it what it costs for me to put it out the door what it costs to be able to accommodate the client's needs for the books at the absolute maximum that they could possibly be and then I know that I'm going to make my money on the creative side of it in a manner that makes me very comfortable so moving on words I make the least amount of money on collection three because it is just time and it is just my assistant in my post processing I'm not marking up a book it is my least profitable collection however it is my collection with the most ability to upgrade they're going out on over time they might come back and get a book a lot of them do come back and get a book they might add on an engagement session there are places to go with collection three because it is so bare bones you khun ad on from it so while booking that collection initially seems to be the least profitable it ends up being very profitable on average in the inn because clients have to add to it it really doesn't include much of anything it is the collection that let's meet up sell it lets me put in a book it lets me put in multiple other things that will get the price higher which will get my profit higher for example in two thousand thirteen I sold thirty one hours of overtime by overtime is four hundred dollars an hour and if you do the math that's a nice additional add on I started eight hours because it's a wonderful average however most clients generally end up at about nine to ten hours sometimes more so while it is a great start it covers most weddings in most circumstances I did sell thirty one hours of overtime so that is another thing to consider you can't bank on the overtime but after years and years of doing it this way I know that there is a very large chance that a lot of my clients are going to add on some more time my booking average for two thousand fourteen, when I look at the weddings that I've booked already for the year is sixty five hundred dollars. However, that's, before anybody's bought an engagement session, it's before anybody has up, sold their album it's before anybody has added on a single hour of overtime and that's a pretty okay number last year, my booking average for the year before I started shooting the year was fifty eight hundred dollars by booking average after the year was over with seventy one hundred dollars, so you can see that on average. I really do manage to add in additional things for every single client to get that final number even higher. But for me, I don't want teo to depend on these up cells, and I don't want to depend on people needing overtime and depend on people upgrading to books. I want to know that if they buy that collection and only that collection that it will be profitable for me. So when you're looking at your collections and you're putting everything together to include or not include your digital files is a really big thing that a lot of photographers struggle with, I do not give away my digital files, I do sell them, they are included in every single. Collection it is something that a lot of my photographer friends and I continually disagree upon because everyone has a different opinion on that, but I do include my files however, at that base times five mark up that is a number that I am very comfortable letting my files go at you might think I'm right you might think I'm wrong everyone runs their business and structures they're pricing differently and this is what I am comfortable within the numbers that I'm comfortable with for this, but when do you raise your rates that's another one once you figured all of these things out and you figured your pricing and you figured that yu are profitable and that you know what you're making for every single wedding when do you take that step an inch them up for me when I was very first newly in business in my first couple of years, every time I would raise my rates, it would be massive, right? Like every time I would do a jump, it would go from two thousand dollars to twenty five hundred dollars, twenty five hundred dollars to thirty four hundred dollars like it would just bump up every single time, but now that I've reached a place where I am more comfortable with my rates, I'm raising them in hundreds instead of thousands of dollars and I'm raising them in tiny increments so I might book five or six weddings for the year and then bump every collection up one hundred bucks and then book a couple more and bump it up a hundred bucks in october of last year, I pushed a slightly high price ray's thinking that it would work out, but when I did that, the government did this awesome thing where it shut down for like a whole month nobody booked me for an entire month. Yes, a lot of it had to do with the fact that everyone is very scared about the state of the economy, but I also pushed too hard, too high and too fast, so I took that in stride. I brought it back down a little bit, I have no problems and saying I've raised him too high too fast I'm going to come back down and I went right back to my book a couple in shit up a little bit method I'd rather go slow and steady, then go too fast and alienate all of the referrals from that previous client base because the pricing is so different and I don't want to shock things and what I did in october of last year is I shocked a little too hard and I stepped back no problems with that if you go to high step down it's it's fine, we're not going to judge you my favorite thing that a lot of people will say is, listen, you shoot like fifty weddings a year, why don't you just double your rates and shoot half the events to which I say that's dumb because if I double my rates first of all, I've alienated my entire referral base I go from five thousand dollars for eight hours and files to ten thousand dollars that's gonna be a really hard sell for my previous clients to refer their friends to this? So the other thing about that is if I double my rate and I shoot half of the events right now, I have fifty brides, fifty grooms, fifty event planners, fifty venues, fifty florists, fifty everything that I can use to get my name out there further and further if I have that I only have twenty five and right now, even though I've been in new york for almost six years, I'm still new and I'm still getting my name out there and there is no point in time in which you have arrived and you can stop working on it working on these relationships, working on pushing my name out there further working on getting more people to know about me is something that I am working on every single year and if I half that referral based from the year before then I've half my marketing efforts from the year before do I want to shoot fifty weddings a year for the rest of my life? Of course I don't like that's like terrible I don't want to do that who wants to do that but for right now while I'm still young ish and I can keep shooting fifty weddings a year without hurting anything I'm going to do it however I do have a five year plan and I do have a ten year plan I have a fifteen year plan you don't get to know what it is I don't want you to take my plan but I do have a plan on how to raise and then lower the number of events that I shoot but I'm not there yet so while you need a plan when you're getting started you need to look ahead to the future you need to see where you're going not only with managing your money but if you're shooting an extraordinarily high number of events how long do you reasonably expect to sustain that and still enjoy your life and then what do you do once you figured out all of these prices and all of these packages and all of these everything's what do you do in the slow season rolls around in the events dry up january february march I don't have a whole lot going on wedding wise july and august also not terribly busy because it's way too hot so what do I do in my slow season? I manage my money in the busy months so that I have money to live on in the slow seasons I take times to do things like this, I come to creative live and I teach you for thirty days, which is a wonderful way to spend the offseason. I will revamp my marketing plan for the year. I'll take some of that money that I've set aside for advertising and gifts and taking care of clients, and we redouble my client communication for the year. So because I've managed the money in the high season, I can live off of it in the slow season and use that time to just re strengthen and redouble my efforts for the coming year. Now I'm gonna take a brief second talk to you about destination weddings used to shoot destination weddings all the time. It was kind of my thing for a while and it was horrible. I was really miserable. I was tired all the time I was waking up in hotels and didn't know where I wass like it was, it was simply too much and it was very, very, very overwhelming that said, I do still shoot destination weddings, I have four. This year where I have to get on a plane and I have to go somewhere but when you're looking at your pricing in your packages for destination weddings, you have to be very, very, very smart about how you do that in the first place you have to realize do you actually want a destination wedding? And if you're sitting at home and what you're telling yourself is oh my god destination wedding would be like the greatest thing ever I get like a free vacation and I get to go to like somewhere really cool and I get to shoot a wedding a destination wedding is not a vacation when you go to the florida keys to shoot a wedding you know what you're going to see if the florida keys you're going to see it as it drives by when you're in your car going to the wedding and you're going to see it when you go home from the wedding and every time you leave your hotel room you're going to be worried about locking up your gear and are my cards safe and is everything backed up? I would rather shoot your wedding at home and go on a vacation on my own time, so no I don't want destination wedding is the other reason why I don't really want them is because I can stay at home and I can shoot two or three weddings in a weekend it would be very hard for me to go away for a destination wedding and make the same amount of money that I would make if I stayed at home toe work. Now, if I'm going to take a destination wedding, it will be in january, february, march, july, august in a time that I know that it's going to be difficult to book one wedding, much less two or three in a weekend, I will absolutely entertain a dustin destination wedding at that time, I will also consider it during peak season if it's a very strong referral if it is a sibling of a client that I've worked for before, if it's someone that I really love and want to be able to do that for them, then I just need to weigh the pros and cons of being gone on a weekend that I might have been able to shoot more than one event. How to price for destination weddings I do not include travel in my pricing for destinations I give them a flat rate. It is every single collection that you've seen me talk about so far, plus twenty five hundred dollars. So if you're looking at the collection that's five thousand dollars for eight hours and files it's going to be seventy five hundred dollars. If I go out of town, why twenty five hundred dollars more? Why not that's my number of annoyance, I am fine making twenty five hundred dollars more for the stress that it will take me to get on the plane and go to the event and I don't mark up things differently. I don't change the way I structure my collections I just simply charge more for them and it's a flat twenty five hundred dollars per collection above the regular price. The clients don't know that because the price list that I'm sending them just simply reflects the destination wedding rates they also have to reimburse me for my airfare, my assistance airfare because I want to take her with me I don't want to work with somebody that I don't know very well my time in a rental car and two, two, three nights in a local hotel depending on how long that I'm going to be there I make my own travel I don't allow a client to book my hotel I don't allow them to book my airfare I do it all myself on dh they simply reimbursed me as it comes they pay for my airfare before the event they pay for my hotel, say and my rental car after the event it is much easier if you take care of your travel yourself and simply let your client's reimburse you later the other thing that you should really consider about destination weddings is can you legally shoot them if you were going to mexico to shoot weddings and you don't have a visa and you don't have the proper ability to shoot in mexico, you shouldn't be shooting in mexico I will not take weddings in canada because I cannot legally shoot them in canada I just I just won't do it it is not worth the extraordinary hassle and taking the business away from a local business that could do it legally and I am telling you save yourself the headache, shoot a wedding at home and go to mexico for fun it burns me up whenever I see a photographer illegally leaving the country to go shoot somewhere else so I won't do it unless I can do it legally just just as simple as that. So thank you very, very, very much for sitting here with me for looking over my pricing calculator for looking over all of my packaging information you're pricing calculator is included if you do purchase the course so you will get to crunch their own numbers for fun on your own time and I know you're all super excited, I hope that none of this has been discouraging to you I'm not trying to discourage you, I'm simply trying to get you to get ahold of your numbers and get a handle on everything so that every decision that you make every decision about growth that you make is coming from a place of education and knowledge, and that you run your numbers several times a year just to make sure that, you know what's coming in and what's going out. And what you need, knowing all of these numbers as well as I do, has taken away a lot of the headaches of running my business, because none of it is done on speculation. And again, you don't have to be in business for five years before you start doing this or fifteen years. Start doing it from the beginning. So that it's a wonderful habit that you'll keep with you in all of the years that you're in business. So, thank you. So so, so much for sitting with us, and I'll see you again tomorrow.

Class Materials

bonus material

Quicksheet Inside Guide (one large PDF file)
Quicksheet Inside Guide (zip file of individual PDF pages)
Pricing Calculator

Ratings and Reviews

Misty Angel

oh Susan, you are AWESOME!! I am not a wedding photographer (despite dipping my toe in this intimidating pool for one of my dearest friends), I shoot all forms of portraits and love sports too! Your '30-Days' has been the single most influential and educational moments since I started my venture into photography in 2009! THANK YOU! Your honesty, directness, bluntness, humor and vulnerability makes these 30-Days the most worthwhile time spent away from actual shooting; while simultaneously is the most inspirational motivator to push you out there to practice these ideas/techniques! #SShostestwiththemostest You raise the bar in this industry, not just with wedding photographers, but with all genres of photography! I wanted this course to learn about shooting and thought, great... I'll get a little bit of the business side too... OMG! I got it ALL! I'm dying! What an awesome investment in myself, my business and in YOU! PLEASE keep doing what you are doing! I love your new Dynamic Range, I feel that it is a wonderful extension of the work you do with Creative Live! I watch you EVERY DAY, every morning... I know that I continue absorbing your wisdom through repetition! I don't want to be you, I want to rise to your level! So thank you for the inspiration, motivation and aspiration! Keep on being REAL, its what we love about you! We embrace your Chanel meets Alexander McQueen-ness! :) Thank you for stepping into this educational space and providing us with your lessons learned so we can avoid the negative-time investment making mistakes... we are drinking your virtual lemonade!! HA! Like the others, whatever wisdom you offer in this medium, I will be jumping at the opportunity to learn from you! THANK YOU!


All the positive reviews say it all. When Susan took on the challenge of teaching this course it must of looked like attempting to climb Mount Everest...and she accomplished just that. Susan is a detailed, well-organized photographer and this clearly comes out in her teaching. Using repetition, clear instructions, a logical and well laid out presentation, she answers most any question you might have when it comes to wedding photography. I felt like I was having a private consultation when watching the course. She is real, honest, tactful, funny, and a gift to the photography community. Finally, her photography is professional and inspiring. Thank you Susan for the tremendous amount of work that you put into making this an outstanding Creative Live course for us all.


Wow. What a super, comprehensive, entertaining, informative course. Well done. I've taking a lot of photography classes and this one is definitely top of the list. Susan Stripling was very well prepared (and great job by the CreativeLive Team too). Terrific course. Susan shared so much. Thank you! P.S. Love the CL boot camp courses.

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