The day a £500 party turned into a deposit for a house!


By Emily Hancock


I wanted to share with you a rather exciting little event that happened over 10 years ago, and kick started the photography business I went on to create.


I was a recommended supplier (back in the days where I photographed weddings) at a very nice 5-star hotel. One day I received a phone call from the wedding coordinator. She said they had a regular client who would be hosting his 80th birthday party at the venue and wanted a photographer for a couple of hours on the Friday night of his big birthday bash.


Initially I was a bit put off because it was a Friday night (and I had decided that I didn’t want to work evenings anymore!) Anyway, I agreed £500 to turn up for the 2 hours, and included a medium-sized framed image for the client to choose after the party.


I met with the client and had a coffee to discuss details and what he would like to achieve. It turned out that he wanted me to photograph all 80 guests performing the art of sabrage (if you’re not familiar with this, check it out on YouTube- the short version is they chop the top of a magnum bottle of Champagne clean off with a sword and then drink it all!). He requested a sequence of each of his friends doing this, and lots of candid images of people enjoying themselves etc etc.


I felt confident that I could produce a beautiful set of images for my client.


The party went well, I was there for just over 2 hrs and I managed to shoot about 2000 images, ranging from the enormous birthday cake, the beautiful opera singer, the sabrage, the dancing, the dinner and much more. Overall I was very happy with the results.


Next came the viewing – here I was ready to show the images off and get prepared in case the clients wanted to purchase more images. Slideshow set, price guide out, nibbles and drinks at the ready.


The client loved the images, and the first sentence that came out of his mouth was “I want them all” – all 700 images I was showing them. I was a little shocked to be honest. Ok great, I thought, sounds good.  In a very calm manor, I said “ok, so if you would like the digital high res versions, they are £20 each”. I picked up my calculator and tapped in 700 x £20 = £14,000… believe it or not, I actually kept a straight face! The client didn’t flinch, but he said “I’ll give you £9000”… I kept my cool and came back with £12,000. He said “ok, let’s call it £11,000”… I said great it’s a deal.


OMG what just happened?? I just sold 700 digital files for £11,000….whaaaaat! I was feeling a little bit giddy and calmly said, is there anything else you would like. To my complete and utter surprise, he he wanted all the images put into big albums. My chin nearly hit the floor, I was surprised I didn’t pass out at the is point but yet again, I kept my cool and told him the albums would come to £6000. He said “great, can I give you a cheque?”.. Ummmmmmm YES!?


As my client walked out the studio door, he turned to me and said “Emily, I suspect that was the best mornings work you’ve ever done?” Bearing in mind I was in my very early twenties at this point. I smiled and chuckled, almost child-like.


I very clearly remember phoning my now-husband and saying “I have a check in my hand for £17,000… The Chinese is on me tonight babe!”