Professional Photography Isn’t Just A Bowl Full Of Cherries

Ironically one of the tough parts of being self employed is one of the alluring features of being self employed, no boss telling you what to do. The downside, you have to be focused on goals, plan your time and follow through. You have to be responsible to yourself and make yourself do it.  Time Management is what I am getting at here.

Make a list of what you need to do and what you want to accomplish. Prioritize the list, review it frequently and use your appointment schedule to keep on track and do the steps that will provide you with the greatest return for your effort

Time management, goal setting, prioritizing your to-do list, there are multi-day classes on each of these topics. A lot has been written about them. The most important issue is that you first recognize you need to work on these skills. Then follow through by being honest with yourself and committing to keeping your schedules.

A key part of goal setting in addition to reviewing your goals daily is sharing these goals with a few key people in your life. This gives you a little more sense of feeling obligated to complete the task, sort of having to report to a boss. They aren’t your boss true, you still don’t want to look bad or lazy in their eyes so you push a little harder to complete the task you assigned yourself.


Jump Start Your Spring Portrait Sales

Live animals in studio for small children.

Pet promotion working with a local grooming salon.

Portrait fund raiser with church or civic group.

Business Portrait refresher trade in program. Offer past customer trade in, upgrade, renewal of their portrait at a discount. Special days only.

Police, Fire, EMT, Judges, Politician, Civil Servant promos. Roster boards / composites or portraits of retirees.

Sales calls on all nursery schools in your market. Spring promo portraits.

Reach out to all dance schools showing custom premium action dance photos. Also offer basic posed dancer and group photos. Two different programs for them to choose.

Contact me with your thoughts or questions. I would appreciate hearing any promo ideas you have. Usually these discussions bring out many new and improved ideas. Give me a call to jump start your Spring Sales.  Your blog comments are also welcome and appreciated.


Boost Revenue With Mini-Sessions

Why Mini Portrait Sessions?

Mini sessions are a great way to boost business anytime of the year. One caution, do not over do it, because consumers soon may expect it instead of a regular session.

When doing mini sessions, a photographer should have a defined set of goals while keeping in mind that these sessions are only 15 to 20 minutes long. KIS–keeping it simple applies given your time is valuable. Themes should closely align with the needs of your clientele. Think of these sessions as “Lite” or “Petite.” Market as such. Mini Session link examples: LINK 1  LINK 2

1. For portraiture keeping up with stages of a child’s growth or a cute phase.

2. For special gifts for grandparents.

3. Up dating a family portrait with new child.

4. Need current image for Greeting Cards.

5. Engagement sessions for brides on low end budget.

6. Not for seniors, except for last minute year book photo.

7. Mom’s or Dad’s recent promotion or wedding anniversary.

8. Fast and easy pet sessions.

9. Great for “theme style” portraits for children: fairies, Halloween, Thanks Giving, etc.

10. Some photographers have a special day theme each month just for mini-sessions. Great for infant photography programs–3,6,9 &12th month portrait.

11. Impromptu family reunions–group shots only.

Suggestions to help:

1. Keep images down to a conservative number: 1 per minute or max. 30.

2. Use outdoors when ever possible, same location. Have rain make up date set.

3. Reduce the customary session fee up to 50%, but not the individual print price. Instead establish unique mini session packages to establish a sale price.

4. Relying only on “Image Posting for proofing” will result in lower sales or aces.

5. Face to Face selling will result in higher sales averages.

5. Don’t like to sell or don’t have the time, sell packages so that lowest priced package + session fee is $200 minimum.

6. Mini session revenue average should not be lower than 50% of your regular sitting average. Example: $400 x 50% = $200. Yours may be higher or lower.

7. Use coupons for Greeting Cards to remind clients to place their orders early.

8. Token of your gratitude: Place several images on FB, etc. for them only after they make their purchase.

9. If some consumers don’t want prints: Disk is default at $200. They should know this up front. Editing for other than bloopers at additional cost.

10. Establish a referral program.  Keep all email address for future mailings.

Some of our clients are doing mini-sessions right now. It’s is a tradition for them.

Looking forward to discussing the pros & cons of Mini Sessions with you via comments or your phone call.

To your success,

Steve and Frank

PS: Mini Sessions–a great way to build up a client base.

PPS: Try our video-slide show program–Free for 30 days.

Future Proof Your Family Photo Memories

Trusting your families photo history to electronic storage only is a bit risky. Take Facebook as an example, most high school age students no longer hang out there. So all those pictures stored there  mean nothing to them.  One simple, inexpensive, highly reliable and very safe method for archiving a families photo memories is to select the most important milestone images and have a hard copy Kodak Photo Print made. Store these prints on a shelf or in a safe in an archival quality print box. Years from now any print can be rescanned and additional hard copy prints can be made for any family member. No need to search through folders of files, old cell phones that no longer work or some cloud that went out of business. A source for archival print boxes is the University Products Company. Your studio can create a product or service to clients by bundling a print box and say 25 5x7s to get them started with their Memory Collection. Place a retail price on the box, maybe have a discounted price with a package or print bundle purchase. You could also gift a box or small bundle of prints with a large order. There are a lot of ways to engage your clients in this idea of preserving their memories with the safety and reliability of hard copy prints.

Stand Outs – A Modern Alternative To Canvas Wraps

Stand Outs –  What are they? A modern alternative to canvas wraps. Stand Outs feature crisp clear images, brilliant colors and sharp edges.

Sell Stand Outs in groups of 3 or 4 images as a cluster arrangement. People want to use multiple images vs just one large print. Later you can show your client how they can add other events in their family life to create a family photo wall tribute. Some examples could be a photo restoration of great grand ma you made for them. One of their children had a super year in little league and won an award. Graduation portraits of course. Fluffy the cat should have a spot on the wall.

You could create a loyalty club program for customers purchasing ‘Stand Outs”. They receive special promotions and discounts for repeat visits and purchases. Always include a coupon or reminder in every package you deliver.

Sell Benefits Not Features

Insurance Sales, The Memory Insurance Kind, with a portrait policy. Yes, professional photographers are really in the memory insurance business. This is “the benefit” you provide your portrait customers. The beautiful portraits are just a physical means to the emotional benefit.

Enjoy, the most powerful and effective word you can use in your portrait discussions. Ask every client where they will enjoy their portraits.  They very likely will be a bit puzzled, explain that during their busy day when they have a brief moment to catch their breath and look up and see their family portrait, where would that be? During this simple exercise your potential customer has imagined themselves in the future with the portrait you have not as yet been hired to make.

Sell Emotions, work on peoples pride and satisfy their ego.

Some thoughts to remember and discuss with your customers.

People have been using pictures to preserve memories, today’s important events for tomorrows generations, for thousands of years. (think cave drawings, they lasted)

Photo prints can be held, you can touch them and feel them. In a way it’s like touching the memory. Prints are the method of preserving these moments and allowing you and your children to enjoy your memories for many years.

It seems today’s high school senior is heavily into themselves. Present your services to them in a manner that shows them how photography and prints (just like cave drawings) will take their lives and existence permanently into the future. They are and will be relevant.

Remember, emotions, ego and benefits sell things, Logic and features (maybe a special sale) keep the deal done and allow the customer to save face when explaining their purchase to friends.

iPhones Save The Modern Portrait Studio

Smartphones have been disruptive in the professional photo industry. Two techniques to use your smartphone to fight the disruption.

Each time a client is kind and generous enough to pay you a compliment do thank them for the compliment. Explain you are pleased to be able to offer them your exclusive services and how the assignment was special. Make them feel special. Then ask them if they could help you. Use that exact word, help’. People like to help others. Now pull out your smartphone, hit the video record button and ask them to please repeat the kind compliment for a testimonial video. You can edit out their pauses, keep asking some questions and get the content you need. Put the video all over your website, blog, social media, your customers social media, any and everywhere.

Start making Pocket Albums for each of your finished orders. Send them as a small thank you gift to previous clients from a few months to a year or so ago. They will pass these around to their friends and since you included studio information and a referral or preferred customer coupon with the Pocket Album you should get a few new sessions.

Should You Include A Frame In The Price When Selling A Wall Portrait?

Reasons to include a frame in the price of the wall portrait:
1. It gives more control of how the photography leaves your studio.
2. From a customer service perspective, the client is able to make all of their decisions when they place their order and they end up having a finished product in a few weeks that is READY to be displayed.

Many photographers who do not include a frame in the price still present the print to their clients at delivery in a suggested frame that is then available for purchase at a discounted rate.

1. Makes the print look much nicer.
2. Easy for client to just pick it and not have to make another stop at a frame shop.

You need not stock nor should you many different styles. A couple of basics will do nicely. Place the print in the frame, make the presentation. Your client gets the idea of how nice the print will display when placed inside what ever frame the finally choose. At the moment they can take an easy step and accept your frame or you can remove it and they can make another stop at a frame shop. Either way they are happy, you offered a convenient service that is appreciated.

What is the best marketing tool for staying in touch with your clients?

Email and Phone is considered by many to be the best methods. The handwritten note is rare today but for the few portrait photographers using them they are seeing very good results. One of the keys in sales is to get your portrait customers attention. The personal handwritten note sent via the US Postoffice, due to it’s rarity, does an excellent job of getting your clients attention.. The more personal your communications become, the more results you derive. A combo of all methods is required to be successful.

Sell Wall Portrait Groupings – Boost Photo Studio Profits

Show groups of 3 photo prints as a portrait bundle. Offer 2 or 3 print finish options. Classic Color, Techno Color, Silver Tone. (Note: make up your own product names. Research other industries for trends in naming.) Present a choice of one large and two smaller images and a grouping with 3 identical size portraits. Show two frame style choices with your bundle, Classic / Contemporary; Mini / Bold, just use names that are current, catchy and  that draw a customers interest.

Selling tips:
Have actual display samples of your photo bundles with a couple of the options.

Make a Black and White set (Silver Tone) that has clean bright highlights and detailed black shadows. If your Silver Tone images don’t pop search for some help in getting this look. Lighting is also important for these images.

After your client has selected the poses they prefer you can ask which of these samples you have showing they like the best. They can just point to a display and you can then make their order ‘just like the sample’. Next step is to write up the order and collect the money.