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Photography Question 
Brenda M. Wolfensberger
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/29/2004
 

Providing Prints vs. Providing CD/Negatives?


Hi everyone! I have a question about portraits/weddings. I took a course at a college where the instructor said that he NEVER produces the finished prints for a client, he provides only a proof album and then gives the client the negatives to do all their own printing. He, of course, sets his fees accordingly to where he feels he has been paid correctly. We recently had a local photographer charged by the attorney general for collecting payment for weddings/portraits, and never producing the prints. Obviously, I wouldn't do that, but does anyone have any input on either side? Meaning, is it easier/better to take the shots, provide a proof album and then take the order for the prints ... or just take the shots and hand everything over to the client. With just getting started I see good and bad with both ideas. Any thoughts from the veterans out there?


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8/1/2005 7:35:58 AM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  Brenda,
I have a price list that I provide at the time of the contract. It defines clearly what they are getting: They pick the package, and it is stated in the contract and a deposit taken ... balance due a week before the event.
Then I provide WHAT I sold.
Do what works for you but, then follow through with the client. I sell usable CDs for them to print from - to packages that provide it all ... CD and finished product.
I do hope this helps,
Debby


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8/1/2005 7:48:23 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   I provide the prints and keep the negatives. If they want reprints, I take orders for those. Once the negative or full-resolution file leaves your hands, you have no control over who prints the pictures. A bad print job will reflect on you regardless of the fact that you had no control over it.


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8/1/2005 8:35:33 AM

 
Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2003
imagismphotos.com
  Brenda,
I think Debby's answer is right on the money. You need to decide what wedding plans you want to offer and what prices you want to charge. You need to clearly specify what your clients are paying for in the wedding contract -- never shoot a wedding for pay without a signed contract. After receiving payment in accordance with contract terms, make sure your clients get at least what the contract stipulates. I offer a range of plans from a low-end ala carte plan where the client receives a high res CD that they can print from, to my high-end package that includes everything but the kitchen sink! One thing that I stipulate in my contracts is that my clients have a maximum of 90 days from release of wedding previews to place an order for all contracted items (albums, portraits, etc.) -- at the end of 90 days, if no order has been received, the contract terms are considered fulfilled and no further obligation is outstanding from my studio. The reason I implemented this is that amazingly, even clients who have fully paid their wedding contract will become distracted and busy, and fail to order their wedding album -- even after I've contacted them several times. I've had a couple contact me after 5 years to tell me that they never got their wedding album -- and it was through no fault of mine. So say what you are going to do, and do what you said your were going to do -- you will have mostly very happy clients.

God Bless,
Greg


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8/2/2005 12:22:28 PM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  OOOOH, OHHH GREG,
GRETA IDEA - THE 90 DAYS TO COMPLETE ORDER, GOSH , I LIKE THAT!!!
THAT WOULD SURE GET RID OF THOSE SURPRISE WORK LOADS I HAVE NOW!
THANKS FOR THAT GREAT IDEA, I WILL BE USING IT!:-)
DEBBY


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8/2/2005 1:53:42 PM

 
Brenda M. Wolfensberger
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/29/2004
  WOW!!! Thanks for the great responses everyone. If I understand Greg correctly, you offer a client the choice of getting a CD to make their own prints OR you get all prints and provide them. And I'm assuming the 90days to complete an order (and if not you consider contract complete...) does this mean that if they come after 90 days with the order, they pay again? That confused me a little. I like that idea alot though of giving them a set amount of time to respond.

Kerry, I understand what you mean about "bad print - still reflects" but would it work to provide a basic disclaimer that states you only guarantee the results of the pictures printed from specific labs or that prints from Walmart, CVS, York, etc... you don't guarantee results? Would that work? I understand people will still have that initial thought that it was the photographer, not the developer, but just a thought.

Debby, thanks for your input. I've visited your site (and have it bookmarked) and love your work. I like the idea of the "pay in advance" too. I guess I need to try to figure out which way to go (or do both as you and Greg have done) and then determin pricing.

I think that's the hard part, but I've been reading some good forums on setting prices, so I'll get to it.

Thanks to all! Oh... by the way... did either of you see my question on where to obtain the finished portrait albums that are made with a "board" type page? I've been trying to find a lab that will do those and not knowing for sure what they are called I've not had any luck.

I'll bump that question so it's back up there and maybe it will get a response.

Thanks again! (I love this site!) :)


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8/2/2005 3:06:47 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   I like Greg's idea too since sometimes people do delay their orders but I have never had one go 5 years! It does help keep the workload current.
The problem with a disclaimer is human nature. Some people would never admit that bad prints were their fault. Also, their friends might look at the pictures and tell them how nice they looked even thoug they really hate them because they don't) but you would get the blame since they don't know who had them printed. There is also the fact that some people may take them to a local mini-lab like CVS and get great results whereas someone else might not get the same results. There is a local CVS where I take my own 35mm film for developing - depending on who's on duty! If toe wrong person is there, I don't leave the film. If the right one is, I do because I know I will get great results. After all, it is the operator more than the equipment that can make the prints bad.
As a disclaimer, I am old and old school. When I started shooting weddings NO wedding photographer would dream of letting his negatives out of his possession. I am still the same way.


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8/2/2005 3:20:29 PM

 
Brenda M. Wolfensberger
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/29/2004
  I can't imagine letting go of them, but it seems like I've heard of that happening alot lately. My problem is that other than a local lab that does very good on small print jobs, I'm having difficulty locating a lab that can do the hard paged albums, the large canvas prints, etc.


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8/2/2005 6:32:47 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   www.prophotoimaging.com


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8/3/2005 7:45:57 AM

 
Greg McCroskery
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2003
imagismphotos.com
  Brenda,
Here's a clarification on my 90 day order policy. I will always work with a couple who lets me know that they are unable to order within 90 days -- I'm not absolutely rigid. In addition, if a couple passes the 90 day period without contacting me and then wants to place an order (e.g., after 4-6 months) I implement a 10% 'upcharge' fee to fulfill the order (10% of the wedding contract amount). It is very easy to justify this policy up front with the clients. I tell them that I want them to get what they paid for, and I don't want their family and friends telling others that it took a year for the couple to get their album from me (when I had no control over the time frame). I explain to them that because they lock in to their package price at the time of booking, I often have price increases from suppliers that must be absorbed by my studio in fulfilling their order. I cannot afford to absorb addtional costs on their order just because they failed to place an order in a reasonable time frame. I haven't had anyone who doesn't see the logic in this. Of course, I also tell them that it creates workflow issues. I hope this info helps, and I pray for your success.

God Bless,
Greg


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8/3/2005 8:09:44 AM

 
Brenda M. Wolfensberger
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/29/2004
  Thanks Greg, that definately helps me and thank you for the clarification. Sorry to be slow on this, what ever will you do with us newbies! haha You have been more than helpful and I really appreciate it.

Kerry, thanks for that site, I'm checking it out now!

I really appreciate the helpfulness of all the established professionals out there on BetterPhoto, you certainly help make getting into this business easier. My hats off to all of you!

Brenda


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8/3/2005 8:13:18 AM

 
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