Guest Post | How to Convince your Wedding Photographer to Give you a Discount

I think today’s guest post by the witty Daniel of Sutoritera might be of interest to all you budget savy peachy brides out there!

If you are to believe recent media, the average cost of a wedding in Australia falls just shy of $50,000. Yes, I double-checked and I am sure that I have written the right number of zeros. Fifty-friggin-grand. Let that sink in …

Without getting into the hooha of whether the wedding industry is a scam, my experience as a wedding photographer and small business owner for the past 3 years has taught me much about human behaviour; how we spend, and why we spend. I’m going to give you a few pointers on how you can negotiate with your wedding photographer to perhaps shave a few dollars here and there because let’s face it, a dollar saved, is a dollar saved. You don’t need a degree in economics to understand that.

Wedding photography costs a lot of money – and as it should! Your wedding photographer puts in a lot of effort and time: prior to, during and after your wedding day. You’re paying for their experience; you’re paying them to deliver a high standard regardless of the situation that may arise on the day. Truth be told, you’re not actually paying for physical photographs. You’re paying for their ability and skill.

In my three years as a wedding photographer, I can count on one hand the number of times I have discounted a wedding photography package. On the other hand, I have lost track of how many couples have asked me for a discount. Do you see the discrepancy?

Negotiating is a form of give and take. Both parties make compromises; both parties agree to give and take. Asking for a discount without understanding this crucial fact is why I have very rarely, given a discount to enquiring couples. It is all to do with how you frame the question.

In a recent meeting with prospective clients, I was asked whether I would give them a discount. They wanted 12-hours of photography coverage, a portrait session and a printed album. Nothing out of the ordinary as most of my clients order the same things. My immediate reaction to the posed question was, ‘why?’ Why should I put in the same amount of time and effort, carry the same amount of overhead and liabilities, be expected to deliver the same high standard of quality, and be rewarded for less money. Why?

I knew that they were capable of paying the $5,000 balance. The bride had told me herself that it was not a cash flow issue; they could pay the entire amount upfront; even today! I felt insulted. I was insulted. And this scenario has happened many times.

I smiled and I politely refused their request. In my head, the meeting was over.

Things could have gone very differently. In the following section, I will show you three simple steps to better your chances of saving yourself some money on your wedding photography bill.

1. Do your homework

I am surprised by how many couples rock up to a meeting without knowing my work. They want me to show them my work on the spot. I can’t. I would like to, but it is physically impossible to show them my work. Secondly, I automatically assume that they do not value my time. Therefore, in the very first few minutes of the meeting, I’m already disengaged.

Here are some ideas:

• Be familiar with the photographer’s portfolio.
• Name drop some of their blog posts and tell them why you like their work.

In doing so, you will impress your photographer. More importantly, you have earned their respect. And once you have that, it makes the negotiating process much easier for you.

2. Know what you want

When I look back at all the times I have failed at negotiating a price, it was because of one reason. I didn’t even know what I wanted. Case in point, I went into a local antique shop the other day. Half-an-hour later, I walked out $1,330 poorer.

When I tried to negotiate on price with the owner, I couldn’t. I didn’t know what furnishings I wanted. I went in without a plan, without a budget, and walked out regretting it. I tried to save myself by telling him that I was willing to spend a grand but the end result was the same. I had no leg to stand on. I did not do my due diligence. The same applies when you meet with any wedding vendor.

Read their price list. Understand what is on offer. Have a guestimate of what you will need. And from that figure, you will have a benchmark to compare with. Without this legwork, you have nothing to refer to.

3. Give and take

Following on from the previous step, ask yourself the following questions:

• Do you need all 8, 9, 10 or 15-hours of photography coverage?
• Do you need that included second photographer?
• Would you be open to scrapping the portrait session altogether?
• Are you willing to ‘save’ less with the offered package and go a la carte?
• Are you in a financial position to pay the full balance upfront?
• What constitutes as a viable discount to you? $50? $100? $1,000? Be honest.

What other compromises can you make?

So you’ve done your homework. You’re familiar with the photographer’s portfolio. You’ve met and within the first 5 minutes, you already know that both parties will get along just fine. You roughly know what you want from the wedding photographer and using their own pricing structure and provided information, you have identified services and/or products that you are willing to compromise on. Now, it is time to negotiate.

Some photographers will discount regardless of the situation; all you need to do is ask. Some photographers will not discount regardless of the situation. That is life. But I can tell you for a fact that if the same couple had approached me with the same three steps as outlined previously, I would not have refused outright. I may have only agreed to ‘think about it’, but at least, I would not have thrown the idea away immediately. And that is the take home message.

Photo by Sutoritera.

  • Bibi

    Dan, I don’t understand why you feel so insulted at the fact that you were asked by a prospective client for a discount. Just because the bride indicated she has no cash flow problems doesn’t mean the couple is flush with money or they don’t want to save some money wherever possible. Like you mentioned, costs of weddings to ever increasing, why wouldn’t you try to save some money where you can?

    I agree, you, as the photographer, has every right to refuse to give a discount. But why instantly think the meeting is “over”? Maybe the couple was willing to pay the full amount because they love your photography a lot but were just taking a chance to ask for a discount. And because of that one question, you have ruled them out already? I don’t think that is very fair.