Business + Marketing

How to Build an Associate Photo Team

December 18, 2019

By Michelle Harris

© Laila Chanel Studios

If you read my last article on how to build the brand around your associate photo team (and the article before that, on whether you should build one at all), this is the next step: pricing your team!

Regardless of whether you created an associate team to fill in on dates when you’re already booked, or to fill in the price gap between you and lower-priced options, your team is not going to be as expensive as your lowest collection. However, when pricing your team, it actually starts with pricing yourself.

Did you hear about that $150,000 banana duct-taped to a white wall? It sold three times! If the artist hadn’t charged that much, no one would have purchased it for that amount. You are the banana—the luxury good. If you haven’t already, give yourself permission to be more expensive during this process. I increased my collections by $600, $1,000 and $1,500 when I created my team, and you should too.

Now that we’ve addressed your pricing, let’s get to team pricing.

My current wedding collections begin at $4,900. My team is priced as follows:

Two photographers
Luxe engagement session (including professional hair and makeup)
Up to 10 hours of coverage
12 x 12 album

Two photographers
Up to 8 hours of coverage

One photographer
Up to 6 hours of coverage

There is an obvious difference between where my collections begin and where my team stops. Prices show value. When something is more expensive, it is obviously better, right? Regardless of whether we believe that, it’s the general consensus.

The options are endless for creating collections for your team. I have three because that’s what has always worked best for my wedding photography company, M Harris Studios. So, for my associate-team business, Laila Chanel Studios, I duplicated it and made it simpler. You also have the option of creating just one collection and pricing it lower than yours for your associates. 

If you create multiple collections, just like with your own offerings, the middle collection should include what most brides want. For me, that’s eight hours of coverage, and two photographers—and it would be a no-brainer for them if you included an album as well!

Upselling Albums to Wedding Clients and Playing the Long Game

The top collection should include everything you want to offer to the couples and be more expensive to make the middle collection look like an even better deal. And the smallest collection should be super small—not something that draws clients to it, but if they have a lower budget and still want your style, it’s there for them as a last-resort option.

My final tip for pricing is how to display them—I actually had a meeting with the incredible Melissa Jill to discuss the different ways that we do this. 

I chose to show my collections plainly and visibly to potential clients on my website. I have it this way because booking Laila Chanel Studios isn’t an experience like M Harris Studios; it’s for people who might value photography less. They aren’t concerned with which photographers I send. They trust me, and they simply want to send money in exchange for good photos. I make it easy for them to see the options available and inquire.

Melissa, on the other hand, only displays the starting price on her website. The reason she does this is because it’s her personal brand. She wants clients to inquire to find out more information, find the right fit for each client, and still provide them somewhat of a personal experience that represents her brand.

(By the way, I highly recommend her associate photographer program coaching package to get started!)

Regardless of when the prices are displayed, it is incredibly important to start your list with the biggest collection and work down to the smallest. Clients might be taken aback by the high price at first, but by the time they get down to the middle or smallest collection, your offerings will seem like a sweet deal!

I hope this has all been helpful—and I’ll see you next month when we review how to create a seamless workflow for your team!

Michelle Harris is a destination wedding photographer and educator based in the Washington, D.C. area. She is the owner and lead photographer of M Harris Studios, owner of an associate photographer company Laila Chanel Studios, and the creator of the wedding photography conference Hustle in Heels.