A lot of people spend their free time photographing the world around them, but what sets hobbyists apart from professional photographers? Money. Keeping a business afloat in the absence of cash flow would be next to impossible. In today's piece, we'll talk about retainers and other forms of payment for wedding photographers.
This is the main factor that turns wedding photography from a pastime into a profitable profession. To kick things off, We discuss why retainers are necessary for booking almost all wedding photographers and why they are non-refundable and why this is the right thing to do.
Then, We will discuss the various methods for arranging payments, including details such as when the remaining balance is required and how to account for overtime worked. In addition, we discuss the choices you have. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
Two people have reached out to a wedding photographer and had a consultation with her. They couldn't be happier with her portfolio and reviews, and they want to book her as their wedding photographer immediately. In what ways should we proceed? They must first agree to the terms of a written document (the contract) outlining the services they've chosen and the associated costs, and they must then actually pay for those services.
What Exactly Is a Retainer Fee?
Whether you're booking a session or a wedding, you'll need to pay a retainer charge up front, which is a deposit that isn't refundable. This fee is negotiable and might vary in price based on whether it is for just a wedding or even a photo session. Portrait sessions that include travel may demand a deposit of up to $100, depending just on photographer you engage. The same might be said of marriages. Photographers usually request either $500 or half of the total cost of a photography services before they agree to shoot a wedding.
Some customers are confused by the circulating remarks and inquiries on this topic and may not understand its significance. This type of payment is technically known as a "retainer fee," albeit it goes by other names such as "deposit" or "booking charge." It is the sum of money which is agreed upon in order to retain the help of a reputable for a set period of time.
There are legal repercussions to the discrepancy between these two phrases, and it implies that a retainer charge is nonrefundable. Deposits and fees may be recoverable by legal action; however, the costs of litigation and legal representation are likely to surpass any savings realised as a result of the action. Avoid putting yourself in that precarious spot.
The great majority of the time when unexpected circumstances occur, retainer costs are reimbursed, or they should be refunded just for compassion and charity. That's why it's so important for you, D.O., to be a caring and considerate person.
A number of things are included in the retainer fee:
- A vendor that reserves a specific date and time for you will not be able to take on any other customers for that time period. If you don't show up or cancel at the last minute, it causes us to lose money. Early on, They learned that if a client paid a retainer money, no matter how small, they would show up for their scheduled session.
- The service of your photography is also covered by the retainer charge. We have come to our work and want to be compensated for our time regardless of whether or not you pay for the session or the resulting photographs.
When Do I Have to Pay the Retainer Fee?
Wonderful enquiry! as soon as possible under the circumstances. The worst possible scenario is scheduling your session or function for the same day that your photographer has another commitment.
Even if it most often takes the shape of a postponed event, it is still important to be aware of the potential of not being compensated for finished labour. You can significantly lessen the amount of risk you are subject to if you plan the payment of balance in a sensible manner.
Whether the wedding is a month, two weeks, and seven days away, the remaining balance should be collected before the big day. It's not good idea to have guests go through their pockets for checks or cash on the wedding day, as this could produce uncomfortable circumstances and make visitors angry.
It is highly discouraged to take payments after the event already has taken place except in the case where the client requested extra the day of the event. If there is a lingering debt or overtime compensation owing after the wedding, that must be settled before the photos are released.
Though the possibility of clients defaulting upon payments is smaller than likelihood of customers cancelling well before date, the entire economic hazard is larger in the former situation due to opportunity costs including uncompensated labour.
Clients face dangers too, such the photographer not showing up for their scheduled session. A wedding photographer's financial risk is decreased when the client's financial risk is increased, however this is an inverse relationship.
You should keep this in mind while writing up policies for your company. The most effective approach is one that finds a happy medium between various concerns. In spite of this, you should be ready to lose at least one client because of a dispute about when payment is due.
There is no one right answer. (It's important to remember that the risk is always greatest for the business owner; unlike their clients, wedding photographers don't have the benefit of referrals, evaluations, or samples of their work to use in determining if they can trust a prospective customer.) Credit card users also have the option of disputing fraudulent charges if they so want.
Check out our range of wedding photography for your wedding day.
How Will I Pay the Retainer Fee?
Photographers' retainer fees can be paid in a variety of ways, depending on the photographer. Some people still choose to use traditional payment methods like cash or checks rather than digital ones like Ebay, Square, Stripe, or Paypal. You may be charged a three percent convenience fee if you choose to use a credit card to pay. This cost is subject to change based on the photographer you end up hiring.
Photographers who accept payments using services like PayPal or Square have three percent of their earnings withheld to cover transaction fees charged by such companies.
I'll illustrate with an example. Let's pretend your retainer charge is $100. After an automated fee of three percent, meaning three dollars, was removed from of the sale price of a hundred dollars to pay for the cost of using internet services like Square, the photographer would receive $97 rather than $100. As a result, photographers may tack on a service charge (say, 3 percent) to the final total to cover administrative expenses.
So, what's the deal with the retainer fee?
What a fantastic enquiry! Simply put, a retainer fee guarantees that the photographer will be available to shoot your session or function on the specified date and time. When first started out as a photographer, We had to deal with a large number of clients who flaked at the last minute. Clients were regularly late or couldn't be reached when I drove an hour or more out of my way to meet with them. We wasted a lot of petrol and a lot of time that could have spent doing more productive things, like editing, but never got paid for it.
Retainers and payments Work together
Most wedding photography contracts outline a payment schedule for the photography services in detail. The number of instalments and their due dates are specified below.
Assuming she is a conscientious businessperson, our wedding photographer will demand a retainer payment from the couple soon after they sign the contract. The wedding photographer's fee will be partially covered by this donation. The great majority of situations call for the initial retainers fee to be the first payment.
Wedding photographers usually charge a retainer fee.
The idea of a retainer fee could be unfamiliar to you when you first begin your search for a wedding photographer, but it is common practise inside the best wedding industry.
Other Professions Using Retainers
The term "retainer fee" certainly brings up images of lawyers, so you may be familiar with it already. This is the outcome of ingrained societal beliefs and practises that originated with media portrayals of lawyers in prominent roles.
There are several different types of retainer fees to choose from when working with lawyers, such as "security," "advanced fee," as well as "evergreen." However, We would like to include a few more types of professions which collect retainer fees for the purpose of discussion. The following is a condensed version of the list:
- Learn more about the usage of retainers by doctors who practise "Boutique Medicine" here.
- Bankers charge retainers, which are up-front payments from customers regardless of the outcome of a business.
- Retainers are used by freelancers in a variety of fields, including software development, web design, copywriting, and consulting, to help them make ends meet between projects.
Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.
Why are wedding photography retainers non-refundable?
It is important to clarify a wedding photography retainers and explain why most wedding photographers view retainers as non-refundable at this time. As part of the wedding photography contract, the couple will ante up a retainer to secure the photographer's services for a specified time frame.
A retainer is sometimes wrongly referred to as a "deposit," while the proper term is "retainer." In exchange again for retainer fee, the wedding photographer promises to focus solely on the customers at hand within the agreed upon time frame. This is true even if a more lucrative opportunity arises during that time.
The purpose of the retainer fee in wedding photography is to mitigate financial losses incurred as a result of lost revenue in the case that the marriage is postponed and cancelled. Simply explained, an opportunity cost is "what a person gives up by picking one choice over another."
Marriages might be financially supported for a variety of reasons. The reality remains, however, that the photographer has given up her most valuable resource—her time—to photograph the wedding of one couple at the price of all other potential income.
If a wedding photographer does not require a retainer, turns down other possible clients, and then finds out that her contractual clients had cancelled the big day, her opportunity cost seems to be the cost of getting married. The loss of this opportunity prevents her from generating any further income. This is a classic example of a flawed method commonly used in corporate settings. They're taking a chunk out of her potential earnings with a retainer for wedding photography (and making it clear that this payment is non-refundable and giving their reasoning for the policy).
What Does it Mean to be Retained?
Once you have retained a service expert, you are deemed BOOKED (which typically involves paying the fee and signing a contract). They will then "take yourselves off the market," or stop actively seeking employment for a set period of time, during which they would not contact or otherwise interact with possible employers.
Once we received your retainer and signed contract, We will not be able to discuss your wedding date with anyone else that contacts me. If your wedding date is the same as theirs, they will not be able to accommodate any other customers who might have wanted to book an even larger (or smaller) package from the one you picked. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Why is it non-refundable?
Think about it: if the customer decided "at the last minute" to get their money back from the retainer because something came up and the wedding was called off, the professional photographer had no income for the agreed upon date. You can bet that professional photographer will go out of business if this happens a number of times.
If you've ever hired a professional photographer, they probably gave you a contract and asked for a retainer before starting the job. Different businesses may require different retainer amounts, but mine is $100 for standard sessions & $750 for weddings. Almost every agreement includes the phrase "retainer payment is non-refundable."
The situation seems a tad lopsided, no? For my part as a client, I can see why. There is nevertheless a solid reason why photographers, and many other appointment-based businesses, require retainers to secure your scheduled time.
It will be deducted from your final bill, but if you back out, I'll keep the cost. When you schedule a photo shoot, the photographer will dedicate that time and day solely to you. Therefore, it's possible that they're turning down work from other clients and missing out on time with their own family in order do photograph own. Being a photographer may appear glamorous, but it necessitates a significant amount of time away from one's home, especially because many sessions take place just on weekends despite the reality that this is a prerequisite of the work.
Most couples book me 12-18 months in advance for weddings.
If a photographer's main source of revenue is weddings, the cancelation of a wedding would likely come as disappointing news. In the event of a wedding annulment, regardless of the reason, you are responsible for compensating your photographer for any costs incurred as a result of cancelling the ceremony. Remember that they've ceased saying that this date is open, thus they've probably turned down other couples who wanted to go on it.
Wedding photographers have two distinct seasons: "wedding season" (or "busy season"), and "booking season" (the slow season). They probably won't be able to reschedule for another time, and the other couples who were informed they couldn't attend have probably already made other plans (you know, since we said we were unavailable).
Photographers put a lot of time with your date before the wedding.
E-mails, in-person meetings, schedule assistance, engagement photo sessions, client gifting, and working with the wedding planner are just a few of the items that keep us busy. We won't be the ones who show up to the wedding day unprepared, just hanging around with a camera. Even if a woman chooses at the very minute to postpone their event, we will still have to pay for the investment we have made in your experience.
It's less likely that a couple will cancel their wedding plans after signing a retainer, even if they find a cheaper choice or decide to hire a buddy who is only starting her new business and is prepared to complete the task for $200 less. Oh, trust us; seen it with my own eyes.
Wedding Photographers Have Different Retainer Payment Schedules
A maximum number of instalments is left unstated, but the minimum is one (which, whether she's smart, will be the complete sum paid up front). Most wedding photographers We know require two, three, or more evenly spaced payments before the big day. Depending on the specific needs of each business, this could occur anywhere from 3 months apart.
Payments made in addition to the initial retainer will be treated in the same way (i.e., they will not be refunded). The idea behind this tactic is that the nearer the wedding day gets, the higher the opportunity cost will be. Cancelling a wedding a month before the big day makes it considerably less likely that the photographer will be able to rebook the event than if the cancellation had occurred six months beforehand.
A wedding photographer's decision on how to divide and schedule payments is usually informed by their professional background. For this reason, they must strike a compromise between limiting their vulnerability and maximising their consumers' ease of use.
Looking for a Mornington Peninsula wedding photographer? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
A private conversation on wedding photography retainer payment schedule
A year ago, We had an email exchange with a potential client concerning wedding photography retainers, but included a screenshot of that exchange at the end of this piece. They put off hiring me for two months and now there are only two weeks till their wedding day; when they found out that Was require full payment before signing the contract, they were taken aback. Unfortunately, We must tell you that you did not select me.
Potential Customers: "[I] Needed to Ask About the Fees Once Again. We wouldn't feel totally comfortable paying the entire sum in advance, even though it is what is required. And the same holds true for getting those pictures. It was hoping you could provide me more background on the pricing you're offering.
The day before the wedding is the most difficult moment to collect any payment, as P.K. explained. When people get all hurried, nervous, etc., they often forget important details. Before Having made this policy standard, Often often found myself in bind where You needed to write a check on the spot or rewrite one that had been forgotten. All of this resulted in our being required to stay later than had planned, as the folks signing the cheques didn't would like to spoil their evening by worrying about how they going to pay me.
"The vast majority of my clients are honest people who wouldn't do anything careless, and We know that they wouldn't. However, after a string of unfortunate events, They changed approach to business entirely in order to minimise my vulnerability. Similarly, if the couple asks for extra time on the wedding day, the photographer may hold off on releasing any images until they are paid in full. was relieved to say that my system works well; ever since it was established, We have never had a problem with a payment being late or not being made at all.
To avoid the embarrassment and uncertainty of being asked for payment on the wedding day or, worse still, after the photographs have been released, We have already paid all of the costs [in advance of a wedding day]. You and your loved ones can enjoy the celebrations without worrying about interrupting us in my work, and vice versa. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
This is, however, one of the few areas in which I am not willing to budge.
The Retainer Fee Serves to:
- You're paying us to keep our word and show up to photograph the wedding (plus any pre-wedding engagement session or post-wedding after-session).
- The date of your wedding is so important to us that we willing to sacrifice other opportunities.
- You acknowledge that the retainer is nonrefundable in the event that the wedding is postponed or cancelled.
A professional will only issue a refund if they are truly unable to complete the contracted service due to circumstances beyond their control.