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Available for local and destination weddings and portrait sessions.  Each project is different, so contact me for an exact quote.  Portrait sessions start at $300 and wedding coverage begins at $3,000.  Typical wedding fees are about $5,000 - Send an email to me.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Getting More "WOW" from Your Engagement Sessions

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months, you understand that our whole marketing strategy is about getting ‘wows’ and ‘raves’ from the client. Go back to the April posts and read the 4-part series on how to get your photography business online, for an overview. The foundation of this philosophy is routed in world-famous photographer Gary Fong’s Getting Rich as a Photographer, 2-DVD set.

Gary was a trendsetter, and unique in his approach to the business of photography. He recognized that photography is a competitive business, and new ideas are necessary to keep one step ahead of that competition.

Today, I’d like to make you aware of an idea that can do three things for your wedding photography business:

1. Book more jobs
2. Make more money
3. Create more “wow”.

Before I ‘reveal’ the idea, let me tell you what I have been doing for several years. Anytime someone books me (pays a deposit) for a wedding, I offer them a FREE engagement session.

There are several reasons for this, but, primarily, it is to allow us to get to know each other. I’ve always thought that it is better to photograph a wedding as a friend, than as some hired gun shooter from the internet. (I also encourage you to go to rehearsals, if possible).

Now, since I don’t ‘include’ the engagement session in my wedding ‘package’, I present it as my gift to them. We spend about 90 minutes, usually on a Sunday morning in Laguna Beach, CA. I provide them with an 11x14 inch print, that they can have framed in a signature mat, for display that the reception. Since this is a FREE gift, I never have to worry about scheduling, travel to locations, etc. It’s a gift and they need to come to me. Of course, after the shoot, I do offer them a chance to have a Guest Book made from the engagement session images. Normally, I place 1 or 2 images on the right page, and leave the left side black, for guests to write little notes. An inexpensive way to do this is through I charge about $250 for these.

Here the BIG IDEA. I’m sure that other photographers are doing it, but I first heard about a photographer in Santa Barbara, CA – Damian Langere --. He does Fashion Engagement Sessions. Rather than just a few wardrobe changes at the beach, Damian puts his couples through a complete ‘make-over’. He hooks his bride and groom up with a style consultant, who helps them pick the wardrobe. Then he schedules them for a ‘hair and makeup’ session. When the couple is ready, he does a fashion style photo shoot using multiple locations in the Santa Barbara area. Here’s a video that explains it all.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Canon 21megapixel Camera!

Most of you know that I use Nikon. Yesterday, I talked about getting on the waiting list for the D-300. In the iterest of equal time, it is only fair to tell you that Canon has new 21meg camera -- as well as the 40D - which is a prosumer model.

Get on the waiting list (40D shipping in September, and the 1DS-Mark III will ship in November). For a look at the new Canon offerings, go here. There is an interesting audio interview with Canon's Mark Westfall.

To be fair, I did shoot Canon SLRs for several years, before I went digital -- which will six years ago this weekend Labor Day).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nikon D-300 Waiting List

OK – I didn’t write this – this is directly from the Nikon marketing material – but it’s still exciting, if you are a Nikon shooter. Chris James first sent me the information, a few days ago, and now Ritz Camera is taking waiting list orders. (I bought my first DSLR – a Nikon D-100 – after being on a waiting list).

“The D-300 will be available from The Nikon Store @
beginning in November 2007 for an estimated selling price of $1,799.95**. ENTER "d-300" IN THE search box. With the introduction of the D300, Nikon's current lineup of digital SLR cameras now includes the new D3, D2XS, D300, D200, D80, D40x and D40.

“Nikon's D200 digital SLR camera was a runaway success for because it embodies everything that performance-conscious photographers demanded. With the D300, Nikon has raised the bar with remarkable new features, greater resolution and speed, and even higher image quality. The D300 delivers an unmatched combination of quality, performance and value that's hard for discerning photographers to resist.”

If you buy one, I’d love to hear your ‘review’.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Retouching Portraits

No matter how well lit and composed a prortrait is -- and no matter how well the make up is applied -- most portraits can benefit from a little retouching. Depending on your intended use of the image (an 8x10 on the mantel, editorial content in a magazine, inclusion in a wedding album, or even a magazine cover), you will retouch your images to a greater or less extent.

For most uses, you want to 'improve' the image, but not make it 'perfect'. The subject should remain recognizable and natural.

Last week, I took some shots of a pretty girl with lots of freckels - lots of them. I asked a friend of mine, Chris James, to apply his magic touch to the image. Chris is an accomplished digital photographer and retoucher (Photoshop wiz), on the East Coast (USA). If you are a professional photographer, and you need some images retouched, Chris is an excellent resource. Even if you are just shooting for the family album, you might have Chris work on a few of your most 'special' shots.

Above, is the original image, and a link to what Chris did to it. Take a look. It was published on August 26, 2007.

Contact Chris James

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

How to Book and Shoot a Wedding -- Step-by-Step -- Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1 of this Guide, please scroll down to the post immediately bellow this one, and read it first.


Now I should say something about my fees. My basic fee is $3,000. That includes a $1,000 print credit. Sometimes, a couple will ask what they get for the $1,000. I tell them that I don’t know – I haven’t even taken the pictures, yet. I say that with a smile. The truth is, until the bride sees the images, she doesn’t know what she wants – and I will go into that more deeply when we discuss albums.

If pressed, I will tell them that it includes a 20-page, magazine-style, flush-mount album. That’s not what I want them to end up with, but I can nicely tell the story of their wedding and produce a 20-page, 10x10 inch album for about $180-$350. The money represents my hard costs – what it costs me to have the album printed. It doesn’t consider my design talents, nor my time.

OK, let’s break down my fees. With $2,000 towards the shooting fee, I make $250/hour at an eight-hour wedding. Some jobs are longer and some are shorter. I don’t care. I am only booking one wedding that day and will give them as much time as is necessary to tell their wedding day story.

Another $1,000 is a print credit. If my hard costs are $250, I have $750 available to cover my time. I can layout a typical 20-page album in about three hours. That’s $250 an hour.

So – you see where I am: About $250 an hour for the shooting time and basic album. Now, that’s not what I want to make -- $3,000. I want to make about $5,000 from each wedding – and I can consistently do that. I will show you how.

Before we go on, let me tell you that the numbers are not important. What I will show you will work in any area, city, state, or country. The numbers may be higher or lower, for you, depending on your talent, experience, and local economy, but the principles will still apply. Whatever you are currently making, from each wedding, you can expect to nearly double that, or more – and you will be able to do it with the same type of clients that you currently have.

If you are charging $600, expect to make $1,200-$1,500 from your very next wedding – while still charging $600. PLEASE don’t charge $600. The kid next-door, who just bought a DSLR, last week, can do that. If you intend to do a good to great job of telling your couple’s wedding story, don’t lessen its perceived value by shooting and burning a CD and charging $600!

There are several key elements in this process. The first is album pre-design. I’ll have a special article on album pre-design, soon.

Back to what you charge: I assume that you are working in a developed country. If you in a developing country, then you will have to be guided by local economics. However, the process will not change. Do what I will teach you, and you will double your wedding income – or better.

If you charge more, or if you do destination weddings, you will also be able to double or better your wedding income.

Remember – they first important factor is album pre-design. We'll talk more about this, soon.