Additional fee for large group sessions?

I have just been asked to do a family photo session for 17 people ranging from grandparents to 2 years old.  I have never done such a large group for a session and was looking for some opinions.  I have seen many times that there is an extra person charge over 4-6 people and I have seen where they just get charged for additional time.  What would/do you do and why?


TIA!

Posted on October 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm
caribear
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(4) Comments

yelppuppy
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yelppuppy

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As a customer, I'd be pretty pissy if you charge by person.  What if grandpa doesn't want 15 solo shots as the baby girl?  I think it's reasonable if the photographer tells me that with that many people, we need more time and she has to charge accordingly, otherwise there may not be as many small group shots.  This way it's up to me to decide if I need extra time or not.

Posted on October 11, 2011 at 6:07 am
plumcrush01
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But yelp, wouldn't you agree that it's more work to organize that many people despite the amount of time you shoot for?  17 people to get looking at the camera, smiling, eyes open, etc. is harder than 4 people even if you shoot for the same amount of time.


I would say don't charge *per* person, but just say "my large group fee is $xyz".  I don't personally like putting strict time restrictions on shoots & like to finish when I feel the job is done.  Plus, if you leave it up to the client of course they are going to try and pay less & say they don't require the extra time.  Just my opinion :)

Posted on October 11, 2011 at 6:33 am
yelppuppy
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Yes, I know there'd be more time spent just to organize people.  And I expect the photographer educating me about that up front.  Obviously I'm so into photography, these things are common sense to me.  I'm just pretending I'm an average client who imagine any photographer can whip up 300 photos within 2 hours no matter how many people are in the group.


So assuming the photographer told me that there will be additional time coordinating that many people, and she strongly recommends that I extend a usual 2-hour session to 3 and pay 50% extra.  I think that's reasonable.  If I'm really frugal, or if I know my family is a well-organized bunch, I'm free to book a 2 hour session and know the risk that I won't have as many photos.  Or, I can play by ear.  If towards the end of the session, baby girl Emma needs a diaper change for the 3rd time, and cat Snowball is still nowhere to be found, I am free to extend the session by an hour or two.


That's just my 2 cents though.  I may be weird, because I passionately hate boilerplates that don't fit everyone's needs and unfair.  For example, I get livid every time I am charged extra for hair coloring, just because my hair is slightly long.  Hey, my hair is so fine and thin it doesn't take them extra time to color my hair.  They really should charge by time.  I know people who have short hair but has 5x more hair than I do, and that's exactly how much time the stylist spends on them, yet they get charged less.  It's neither fair for the stylist nor the customer.

Posted on October 11, 2011 at 7:24 am
doolittlebride
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Fair is in the eyes of the beholder.  Obviously this is true because let's face it, so many girls on here think that photographers charge an outrageous fee for weddings without really having a clue what it takes - skill, patience, and editing their 3,000 wedding photos. Not to mention dealing with their bridezilla moments. ;o)


OK, so back to groups.


I would handle this as if I was doing several different families as they probably want some big groups but also want to break it down to smaller groups. You'll have to be the one to organize their time to make the most of it but also to manage expectations (not spending too much time on family A or family B).  I would also strategize the families with the youngest to go first since they have the least amount of attention span (small children) with grandparents going last.


Let's say out of 17 people in the whole family, you have four families.  My normal one family rate is $350 for a two hour session. I could see breaking that down by approximately 50% for each additional family considering the amount of post processing you will be required to do.  Change the numbers to suit your pricing but I'm giving you an example here based on what I would do. If I were required to do ONE big group shot of all 17, that would be my first fee of $350 (which is my minimum). Then I would charge an additional $175 per family "session"(50% off standard fee) to do a mini-session with each family to get their combinations (mom, dad & kids, just mom & dad, just kids, individual of kids).  My entire fee for a session like -$1,050-that will seem outrageous to some of you but it would be based on a LOT of work, a lot of organization on my behalf and a guarantee that I can deliver quality images that they will love of their families and children.  SO, scale that to whatever you think your prices should be but I'm telling you, that's a LOT of work. I've done this session about 5 or 6 times myself.


Sure, this is NOT Walmart prices but you are not a large chain store. You are an individual coming to them and providing a premium service and product.  If they want Walmart prices, they can go to Walmart.


I'm not saying you should charge what I'm charging either but use it as a guide.  Even if you charged HALF of what I charge - $500 - you will quickly find that if you spend more than 10 hours total on this job, you are getting paid less than you should to cover overhead and maintenance.


I'm afraid I completely disagree with charging by time. Yes, I can take 300 shots in an hour but editing those to usable, viable images is completely different.  Portraits have a much higher and intensive labor for post processing than photojournalism or candids. I spend twice as much time on my portraits from a wedding as I do on the dancing or ceremony shots.  After slaving over portraits from sessions in the past and making less than minimum wage after I added up all the hours spent prepping, traveling, shooting, editing, you do yourself a disservice if you don't factor in everything into your price. 

Posted on October 11, 2011 at 9:05 am

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