Sometimes I get asked by other photographers if I ever offer discounts. Every once in awhile -- it used to happen even more when I was lower priced -- I get asked by clients if I will be flexible on price. Here's my answer.
The only type of discount I offer is my "super-close friend/family discount." Super-close friends are defined as friends I would have in MY wedding. I just can't offer discounts to everyone. I have to draw the line somewhere or I would be shooting every weekend for less than what it takes to run a business. My "super-close friend/family discount" is my services for free and any products they'd like at full price.
If clients or others who don't fit the "super-close friend/family" description ask me if I'm willing to negotiate based on price, my answer is no. If you are a vendor in the wedding industry, I would recommend you do the same. Here are the reasons:
1. I'm not desperate for work. Offering someone a discount admits that you are.
2. It devalues my brand. I've worked hard to set myself apart from the pack based on many factors -- quality is one and price is another. I am not a photographer who is affordable to everyone. That's a choice I've made and I've built my brand around it. If I were available to everyone, my brand would not be seen as a premium.
3. Clients who ask for a discount generally don't value what I have to offer and will continue to try to negotiate at every turn. I would like to work with clients who value their photography and are willing to pay for premium service and quality. I understand that clients are working with a budget. But budgeting is all about prioritizing. If you truly prioritize one area of your wedding, you are willing to cut corners in other areas.
4. I value my time, experience and expertise. I've decided what my value is and if a client doesn't agree with that value, we're probably not a good fit.
5. I only want to work around 20 weddings a year. If I give a discount to a client for a specific date I will possibly have to turn away a client who is willing to pay full price for that same date.
6. I just think it's yucky and isn't a good practice to perpetuate in the wedding industry. In what other industries is it acceptable to negotiate on price? Not many that I can think of. I don't think price negotiation and bartering should be acceptable in our industry.
This post isn't a fun one that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy but I feel like it is something that needs saying. I am a kind and soft-hearted person but I also think it's important to set a standard and stick to it. Realize you are not the right photographer for everyone. Figure out what type of photographer you are, what kind of client you serve and be the best you can be at it. Believe you are worth what you charge or just lower your price across the board to what you are willing to work for.
I found this video circulating on Twitter and it is just a hilarious portrayal of the vendor/client negotiation process: