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  1. #1
    Member wedding photographer's Avatar
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    Kickbacks to Wedding Planners?

    I have had some experience when wedding planners expressed their desire to receive kickbacks from me, the wedding photographer. I am kind of hesitant to give kickbacks because brides should hire me based of my wedding photos rather than on how well I "bribe" wedding planners.

    (I refer to kickbacks, or commissions as they are more commonly referred to,which are often paid by the vendor to the planner for the "privilege" of getting to work with them. Most often, the vendor will pay it because it essentially guarantees that the planner will continually refer them and send future business their way. )

    What is your experience? I find it a little bit unethical. Have you ever given kickbacks to wedding planners? How do you deal with these situations?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Sports photo junkie jorgemonkey's Avatar
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    Re: Kickbacks to Wedding Planners?

    I haven't ever been asked, but if I was I'd tell them sorry, I don't work like that. Maybe I'd even turn the tables and ask them for a kickback if I referred them to a couple & they were hired to get their reaction.

    I'm on another forum with a lot of wedding photographers, and I must say, they are strongly opinionated against it.
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  3. #3
    drg
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    la recherche de trolls drg's Avatar
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    Re: Kickbacks to Wedding Planners?

    It's called extortion and is illegal. I like jorgemonkeys comment, and yes, I've told wedding planners they needed to pay me to assure my availability. Of course I tell brides the same thing. It is called a reservation. If you don't charge a deposit up front and sufficiently in advance, you will be left hanging until the very last minute. The last wedding I photographed where I or my partner dealt at all with the 'planner' was three days notice. Double charges, cash, money order, or certified check in advance!

    Commissions are only if the wedding planner hires you directly and charges the bridal party a markup or 'commission' for handling all the details such as payment and insurance. I've yet to meet a wedding planner in 30 years or so of wedding photography who would guarantee payment. It doesn't come out of your pocket. Once you get started paying for the opportunity to work (what an oxymoron) you may not be able to stop for a long time.

    Not too long ago the photographer was the highest paid expenditure of a wedding. Hands down. Then caterers started to have extra expenses for legal reasons and hiring halls became more expensive. The photography/videography services are still going to be a double digit percentage of the overall wedding expenditure. Wedding planners add a significant cost to an event for usually little added value and in this economy they are struggling to find new source of revenue.

    Generally I avoid weddings that have freelance or professional specialist wedding planners. I've had too many experiences with them that are not pleasant, and I've been around and done more weddings and for lots longer.

    Now event or location organizers that come with a country club, a facility, or the like are an entirely different story. They know where the outlets are, can get you a secure room for gear, and it is their facility and they can change lighting, move furniture, and all the things that need to be done. If you shoot in a church, get to know the custodial staff! They can be your best friends. They are pro's and don't hold you up!

    The bride and her father, not mom believe it or not, are the real customers. Mom may pick out which photos to purchase, but it is her daughter that is the focus (pun intended) and traditionally Dad pays the bill. Of course that's changed too! Then it is usually just the bride who is the customer in the end!

    Talk to a few 'successful' photographers who specialize in weddings in your area. Go participate in a Wedding Fair or two and have a booth. It will emerge very quickly the 'state of the business' locally. Photographer's exist who really like working with planners. Those photogs pictures all look the same or like what they've been told wedding photos are supposed to look like. The wedding planners who are more interested in selling your services are not interested in quality photography. Just something out of a can that looks like what they want, not what 'the bride' or any bride might want.

    Also get to know the caterer's in you area. It is amazing the number of referrals that go back and forth between the service providers in this industry. Plus if the caterer likes you there's always an extra steak, lobster, etc. waiting for you! I've put on weight this summer as a matter of fact!

    Good luck! Just be ethical and if you have trouble getting work, keep at it! Quality work and service will win out 99 time out of 100!
    CDPrice 'drg'
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  4. #4
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Thanks, drg!

    That was a hell of a reply, drg! Thanks a lot for sharing. There's a ton of information in your reply and ovbviously no shortage of experience behind it. I love it when the Photo Business & Law forum pulls a super informative response like this!
    Photo-John

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