I encountered an interesting question in reference to our boudoir photography pricing the other day. A potential client asked why we no longer have a $99 special like those seen on Groupon and other daily deal sites. "Don't you want to compete with other boudoir studios?" she asked. I decided to write an in-depth reply to this question as I felt it deserved a legitimate answer that can clearly explain why it may not be a good idea to engage in such a price slashing strategy.
My reply was edited to protect the identity of the client:
We strive to make our services as affordable to our clients as possible, but there also needs to be a feasible way to provide a quality service that is upheld by our professional integrity and commitment to deliver premium products. Such bargain pricing trivializes the importance of capturing exceptional photos, as one must take into consideration that to deliver quality images a photographer requires a specific amount of time. We are not in this business to make you feel rushed by treating you and our studio as if it were an assembly line.
It's important to us as professionals that our clients unwind during their shoot and experience boudoir photography the way it's meant to be experienced; relaxed, and engaged with the camera lens, all while creating wonderful images that will be cherished for many years to come. It's never our intention to rush you through the session while you are nervously looking at the clock realizing there are just minutes remaining.
While other boudoir studios may offer enticing specials via group shopping websites like Groupon or Livingsocial, the truth of the matter is that about half of the package price goes directly to those services in the form of a hefty daily deal listing fee. This leaves studios with a very thin, if non-existent profit margin making it difficult to make ends meet considering the costs of running a photography studio. Thin margins require photographers to sell as many of these sessions as possible for their campaign to be worth while and thus fitting dozens of discounted photography sessions into each business day. This ultimately translates to a generally poor experience for the customer, and burned out photographers that feel overworked and under appreciated.
With essential business costs like advertising fees, studio rental fees, professional staging, hair styling, makeup application, and time consuming activities like outfit preparation, image organization and optimization, gallery creation, image uploading and hosting, photo editing and 24/7 customer service — it really is difficult to imagine offering such services at daily deal prices. While I'm sure there are many very satisfied customers that did try a Groupon special, the one question that remains on my mind is...
Do they have anything to compare their experience and resulting images to?
It's my intention to bring light to the practice of photographers selling their soul to daily deal sites only to realize when it's already too late and those papers are signed. My goal is to bring attention to the profession that is boudoir photography, and the amount of work that goes into creating those final images we deliver to our clients. We feel that there are many talented photographers that undervalue themselves which ultimately leads to burn out caused by being too competitive.
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