The purpose of this article is not to justify my fees, but to educate my future customers and to save time explaining about my price-list and offers to everyone who loves and appreciate my work.
It crossed my mind to post a question on my business facebook page (Olivera Rusu Photography) about “What do you think I answer when someone is asking me why my fee is higher than everyone around? The answers I got, melted my heart. I got emotional when I read my fan’s answers…we think alike and this is making me really happy!
First answer on my facebook page was “because you’re the best”…
1. I’m not saying I’m the best or even near that, but I’m competent, and I provide my clients with results that leave them happy. I’m doing my best to exceed their expectations and many times I succeed. Yes, my customers choose me because they like my work and they hope the same results for them. “Best” is a relative term anyway. The guys on the American Photo top 10 are really amazing photographers…
I like classic photography. I take my time getting to chat with my couples before weddings or photoshoots and if emails are not enough, we also meet in person. I’m trying to get to know them, learn about their life and then I inject their personality in their photos. This is “the secret” of my work. My customers look their best, but they are still being THEMSELVES.
For me doesn’t really matter if is your wedding day, if is your birthday, or if you just want “every day” photos, if you’re a senior or if my customer is a 2 year old. All my customers get the same attention and I care about each in same way.
One time I had a mom who told me “Oli, it’s ok.. Don’t really matter, she’s small… I just want some photos”. I told her “You choose me for my work and for the photos I create. I’ll give your daughter the attention I give to a bride and groom… she is very important for me and I’ll treat her the way she wants to dream”. My client was a 7 years old and she took it very seriously. So did I. I sent the mom away as she interrupted us several times with directions. The results… I exceeded the girl’s expectations, and also the mom’s. This is the way I always treat my customers and that’s the difference, one way I am best.
2. I also use one of the best and most expensive equipment for best results. One of my lenses costs as much as all equipment used by others photographers around this area. I have to charge more for this reason as well.
3. I do not want the entire market. Instead to work on 5 photo-shoots, I prefer to have one and do it right. I only want that part of the market that appreciate my styles. Also, please keep in mind that I don’t do “bulk weddings”, and I book a limited number of events/week so I can focus properly on my clients.
This is me… I create photos. I don’t just snap photos. I don’t just take you around and tell you “do whatever you feel”. You hired me to make you look at your best and if you’re not a natural in front of the camera, I’ll bring it out in you. Even if my shots look spontaneous nothing is there by accident. I’m thinking about every little detail and when I’m shooting a wedding, I design the album in my mind as I shoot…
4. Also, I invest in my education. I’m always trying to educate myself and learn new techniques. I went to a workshop in USA with one of the top 5 photographers in the world. That was not cheap and I got no discount. Did not even cross my mind to ask for a discount. I appreciate the artist and I have a great respect for his work. I won’t give you any numbers because numbers are relative, but I can tell you that everything I earned for the year went into paying for the workshop, and the results for the rest of the year showed that the workshop was worth every penny… and I want to continue to educate myself every year.
What I do have to tell you is that in the entire workshop group of 20 professional photographers, my prices were the lowest from far and my work compares very well with theirs.(Samira&Mark Wedding from Belize City, The Cave Photo-shoot, The Rain Wedding, beautiful bridal portraits… I remember what I learn there every time I put my hand on my camera and I definitely plan to go and do it again.
5. Time is PRECIOUS and you can’t put a price on mine. As you might know, I’m a wife and a mom. I also need to spend time with my family, time I’ll never get it back. I don’t want to be gone all the time and leave my boys alone. I definitely need to organize my time the way I want. This is making my time limited for travel outside Ambergris Caye. I only go few times/year outside my island…
6. And finally, but not at last, I post process all your photos that are part of your package. I edit every photo and that needs a lot of time for every detail. There is not enough to have a good equipment and a good eye. Photoshop give the last touch and feeling to the photo… Post processing is like salt for the food. Is actually another job that need to be made properly. I’ve spent a FEW YEARS learning how to do it correctly.
Someone on facebook said: “…everyone else does not charge enough, the photography does not quit when you put the lens down…it continues in your office…through editing, creativity and final product … you are not expensive when you place a value on your craft equal to that of your skills”
I want to go with a limited number of events/month and yes, so far, my price-list is keeping me happy. Once in a while, I do change my packages, based on amount of work, so you might want to hurry to book before to raise my prices and change my offers.
I do not want to extend my business, I do not want to depend on someone else. I’m doing most of the weddings and editing by myself and I love my workflow. So “get someone else to help you” is not really working for me.
I’ll have soon a sample of resorts shoot (complete, start with the rooms, restaurant, food, activities around the resort, stock photography from Belize), sunrise, sunsets, vacation photos… everything they can think of, I have in my price-offer. I probably need to spend at least a weekend at the resort.
So, any time someone is asking me for my price-list, I strongly suggest to book as that might be the lowest price they’ll get.
I don’t know if you know, but I’m also working with hotels. Every hotel who’s giving me a job, get the best photos for advertising the resort and also my work. They don’t have to pay for the photos, unless they want them without my logo.
And few answers from my Facebook fans on this subject and I can’t agree more:
“… it is a free market and they get what they pay for. Talent, increases prices; a photographer who is passionate about her work, increases prices; skill and vision, increases prices. Add that up and you are worth your price. Time is your only commodity and you can price your work based on demand. You simply leverage your commodity based on demand. I think that’s clear enough. It’s their choice. Your work speaks for itself.”
- “Well just be honest, you can not put a price on talent. You can make anyone famous, your photos are stories not just a snap shot”
- “…because you worth it!”
- “I can say that your pictures are authentic, real, abstract, creative, impressive, breath-taking like I’ve said before and one of a kind…”
- “…if you are going all the way to beautiful Belize and all the other costs of that trip and get married (you can’t redo your wedding) one should have this photographer who goes beyond the boring typical photos of a wedding and also includes the beauty of where one made their special day. simple.”
- “Supply and demand. If you’re totally busy you have to raise your prices till it levels off. Just business. But you probably say “you get what you pay for”.
- “You capture the true essence of the couple and the environment. Their natural beauty, their vibrancy, their mood, their spontaneity, their passion, their life, their emotions, their expressions, everything in a single photograph. You think outside the box and mass trends, instead you look for the simplicity of natural states. You have a keen eye for beauty and perfect moments, and as such capture it. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, obviously they haven’t seen your work, yours speaks volumes. You and your work is genuine and real, and your photos are not just pictures, they are works of art.”
- “my grandmother used to say if you buy cheap, you get cheap. “
- “You can tell them your American/Canadian customers were thrilled how LOW your prices were compared to the rest of N.America! And then give them my name as a testiment to the value of your service!”
Colin Brown ” Honestly Oli, Rhonda and I didn’t know how your fees compared to others available there. We saw your work first, and just “knew” that it had to be you. Once we met, we knew for certain! It’s not about the money – it’s about the results. Wedding photography goes through fashion phases, where certain kinds of shots are popular, but I think you’re fresh enough, that you’re less influenced by popular trends, and more apt to seek a couple’s true and unique look. Thank you again for our wonderful photos!” (Colin & Rhonda Wedding, may 2011) -
One very important detail you need to know about me, and this strictly applies to me, I do not like to bargain my prices or my offers.
If someone can’t afford my prices, tell my your budget and I’ll be more than happy to try to help you stay within the budget. If you try to bargain my price down I’ll feel that you don’t appreciate me and my work. If you don’t appreciate it there’s no reason to take your photographs. I won’t feel comfortable around that person and I’ll avoid working with them. It takes away from my creativity.
Just like Tony, a great professional photographer, said on my facebook page, “my work has three characteristics – quality, time and cost – pick any two that are most important to you – the third will adjust accordingly”.
Thank you for taking an interest in my work and appreciating what I do!
And here only few of my favourite photos. If you want to see more, please visit my website.
I look forward to chit-chat with you!