When I started out my wedding photography business, I was not a very albums-focused operation. I made the assumption that my clients would be more interested in taking their DVD of images to a photo lab themselves, now that the magical age of digital photography was upon us and allowed for that sort of thing.
Although I did offer albums as an option on my pricing list, I didn’t promote them in any way, and only one couple out of 90 in those first three years ordered one. At the time, I thought I was saving people money – that I was giving them the gift of DIY-ing to their heart’s desire.
Then I read an article saying that 95% of couples hadn’t done anything with their DVD of wedding images when interviewed five years after their wedding. It was still sitting in a drawer somewhere, just another stressor on their ever-lengthening to-do list. The thought that there could be drawers all over the country that hold thousands and thousands of dollars worth of wedding images in them, hidden away, seemed like an unfortunate misappropriation of funds (to put it mildly). This is not even to mention all the memories that could be lost when these couples find out their DVD has started to degrade over time.
So I set out to re-evaluate my business model and to come to terms with the idea of having to “sell” something to my clients. I realize that, theoretically, I’d been doing this for years: after all, I’d been selling them my wedding photography services. I hadn’t, however, been selling them something they hadn’t already come to me in search of. This was a huge stumbling block for me, as I can spot a salesman from a mile away and loathe those interactions.
I mean… wedding albums – the really high quality ones – can be a bit of a hard sell. They’re beautiful, but they’re a hefty addition to what already amounts to a serious investment in a luxury service. When you’ve budgeted $3000 for wedding photographyand you find out that an album will add another thousand dollars, it’s very easy to say ‘no thanks’ in the interests of maximizing your current wedding budget. And, as a business already vying for such a big percentage of their wedding investment, it’s easy to apologize away the price tag and immediately agree with the first conjecture that it’s probably not something they’re interested in.
That said, EVERY married couple that I’ve shown my high-end albums to have stated how much they wished they’d invested in something like it when they had the chance. Even those to whom a thousand dollars is a huge amount of money.
I can only speculate as to why, but my guess is that we grow more sentimental as we travel through our lives. The more challenges we face with each other and the more the romance and passion give way to stability and routine, the more we want to look back and remember how we felt when we looked at the future with bright eyes together.
It’s not that we can’t do this with our dvd or flash drive of images, but it’s that most often, we don’t. After all, 700 or 800 images take a long time to peruse. Even if you only spent five seconds looking at each image, it would take you over an hour just to briefly look at them all! This makes it an endeavor that, with a busy life and the commitments of a growing family, you have to consciously schedule time for.
On the other hand, when your favorite 75 images are printed in a book that is a pleasure to hold, takes only seconds to pull off the shelf, and requires almost no time investment to re-live your favorite moments and replenish your appreciation of each other, it is enjoyed again and again for a lifetime – repaying its initial investment in spades.
So, to all the wedding photographers out there that hate promoting your albums, I encourage you to come to terms with your fear of selling. Make your albums something you’re excited about and share that enthusiasm with your clients. It doesn’t matter if they’re not interested in one at the get-go. Most couples nowadays aren’t thinking about the long-game when they’re planning their wedding. They’re thinking about place settings and bridesmaids’ dresses and DJ’s and honeymoon plans. Give them the chance to see their future selves in your enthusiasm about these beautiful books.
Even with the most glorious albums and all the enthusiasm in the world, some people will still say ‘no, thanks.’ And some might regret it while others might DIY their hearts out. But by being confident and enthusiastic about the value and the quality of your product, you will help more clients walk away with something that makes their photography investment really valuable for the long-haul. Because, after all, that’s what marriage is all about.
The Wedding Album: Selling It and Loving It by Mhari Scott Photography