Innovative Products Will Save The Portrait Industry

Found: One Possible Solution to Save the Portrait Industry.

Look out! There is a fork in the road ahead. Turn right or turn left? Soon a decision must be made.

~Professional photography is waiting for the next innovation in portraiture to launch a new era of consumer demand.


~By innovation we mean products beyond where the industry is today. For one major reason, we would certainly place our bet on technology leading the way. That’s because consumers under 30 years of age are totally engrossed in everything technology.

~Current product life extension of portraiture isn’t cutting it: even with prints on metal, print wraps and floats, images on ceramics, wedding albums with exotic leather covers or as press books (a.k.a. children’s Dr. Seuss books).

An all important question.

Are Seniors and Brides really waiting in lines to book appointments to get their hands on a metal print or a press book? Millennials are balking at such products as we speak, more so everyday. Ask any professional photographer, even the “home run hitters”, their answer is a resounding, no. If Millennials do call and book, they want that disk before they are willing to purchase anything additional.

Traditional marketing methods, Internet and Cloud Marketing are not producing hoped for results.  Apathy is just too intense, even with some Moms, which puts a dent in not only your income, but also greatly impacts photography vendors, suppliers, labs, Kodak and Fuji as well.

OK. What is the answer? Imaging technology seems promising.

Like the digital camera, imaging technologies are fantastic tools in the hands of professional photographers. New products must be developed by professional photographers who are willing to explore cutting edge “technology and software.” Such products must attract millions of apathetic consumers back to professional studios.

” Steve has an idea for you that uses current technology borrowed from advertising agencies to create immediate impact.

IMPACT is what professional photographers need right now. Steve recognizes his idea is just the tip of the iceberg. Brainiac pros need to explore my idea’s potential, he says, and run with it.”   Read on.

How so? First and foremost, photographers are on the front line. They should be conducting research for new product development ideas given they are in constant, face to face, contact with the buying public. This is where market research must take place given the numerous paradigm shifts caused by the digital age.

When we ask the big suppliers if they are in direct contact with the buying public, their answer is “minimally” at best. Why so? The major reason is nearly zero revenue in pro and amateur film sales and reduced usage of photographic paper no longer warrants extensive marketing research. What does that mean? Mostly that photographers, album suppliers and labs basically are on their own. There is no calvary coming to save the day. It’s up to us. We must team up.

Second, no matter what technology is going to be used, the professional must sell an “image.”  Any forth coming innovative process is still all about “image creation” that the consumer is willing and eager to purchase.

There are two parts to the long term solution: 1. image creation and 2. the medium by which the image is shown. Right now the millennium consumer is overly interested in the Cloud medium: Facebook, etc., while shunning anything hard copy.

A world wide problem has ensued. Far too many consumers have arrived at the conclusion that they or someone they know can provide all those important image creations, more or less for free. Uploading to Facebook is a simple task for them to accomplish on their own with wireless technology: cell phones, Ipads, etc. Also, an avalanche of free APPS is not making life for the pro any easier.

In summary:

What needs to happen is a major paradigm shift in the image creation process far beyond what the consumer can do for themselves, even right now, with or without major changes in technology. Results must easily create consumer demand. That is key.

Solutions are all around us right now, but they have not been assimilated into portraiture, just yet. Call to action: We all can help each other find the right direction with the right technology if we work as a team.

Here is Steve’s solution that must be explored more in depth: Live Pictures a.k.a. Cinemagraphs. You be the judge if cinemagraphs will renew consumer interest in professional portraiture.

All we ask is that you take a good look and consider all the possibilities of Cinemagraphs & Tutorials  before your competitors do.

Consider your website and Facebook page drawing renewed attention using the Live Pictures concept.

Your comments are welcome and will be appreciated by everyone. Sharing knowledge is a gift.

To your continued success, Pechman Marketing Team


Where Has All The Senior Portrait Business Gone?

Where Has All The Senior Portraits Gone?

Studios have misunderstood the shift in the market.

Less money to spend, more new exciting things to spend what money they have on and an increase in newbie wanna-be shooters are some of the causes that have gotten people out of the habit of having professional portraits made.

Studios have not yet I believe accepted the fact that in all their years of marketing their senior photography it is doubtful that they ever convinced a student or parent to have senior pictures made.

What they did was get a person who had already planned on having pictures taken (a habit, tradition began with the use of ego’s) to choose their studio for the work. That is not the same as getting someone to decide to have a portrait made.

The fix in 2014 to the senior photography market is learn how to persuade a person to have a professional portrait made of themselves and purchase photo prints. To convince someone to have a portrait made you have to discuss benefits not features. You need to appeal to their emotions and ego. They want to be remembered, not forgotten. Their graduation is a major accomplishment in their lives deserving respect from others as well as themselves. DIY efforts and part time disk only wannabees show no respect to the achievement. Cell phone shots and selfies are fun but they are also everyday routine parts of their lives. Everyday and routine are not in the same class as special achievement. These types of images are disrespectful of the students hard work.

In the beginning professional senior portraits were assembled into a beautiful piece of artwork, the class composite. If you get a chance to see some of these from 80-100 years ago they were truly beautiful pieces of art. These were displayed in schools for years showing later students those that came before them and had made the cut, got the grade and graduated. They accomplished something to be proud of and were remembered. We need to get this feeling back. Maybe we can’t do the class composite. We can however have the family preserve and enshrine this accomplishment in their own home showcase of honor. A picture wall with all the generations and achievements of the family.

As always, if this stirs up any thoughts or you have an idea to add or debate, please let me know. Comments and critique are welcome and appreciated. Everyone will benefit from your insight and contribution.  Steve

Living Portraits – The Future of Photo Marketing

Photography has always evolved along with advancements in technology. From plates to film, from black & white to color, from analog to digital and now from still to motion.

Living portraits evolve the art of photography by adding a seamless element of motion. The effect is simply mesmerizing.

Living portraits or cinemagraphs™ are a fun product that can be used to excite your younger clients and generate portrait sessions where you will have the opportunity to sell additional classic prints. Living portraits can be made with Photoshop or with specialized software (Flixel).

The design collaboration with your client will lead you to some amazing images. During this process you will have the opportunity to build a strong relationship that will lead to better sales, happier customers, less stress, fewer complaints. All in all, a good thing.


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.

Top 5 all Time Senior Picture Marketing Steps Techniques Strategies

  1. Reps or Ambassador Program
  2. Displays
  3. Direct Mail
  4. Word of Mouth – Referral Program
  5. 3rd Party Promotion

Any one of these techniques has generated sessions for senior portrait studios. Combining two or three or better yet all five will produce much better results.

Your Rep program is a key to get things started or the ball rolling. Your reps are the first to pass out info, get on their Facebook or Twitter and talk up the fun of senior pictures and very importantly ‘doing it right’  by having a real pro do the work. I doubt they would trust a friend to mess with their car or give them a hair cut. Since when do they let their friends sew up a new shirt or blouse for them? Your reps help you get a list of names you can send a letter and brochure of your services. This lets the senior know you are serious about their business and that you respect them enough to formally invite them to your studio. Reps are some of the first images of the year you can place on your website, blog and Facebook.

Displays help in a couple of ways. Being accepted to be part of a portrait print display is a big honor and ego boost for the student. They will want to be a part of this. We have written other articles outlining some ideas for portrait print displays and how to get locations to let you show your prints. A key point today with a print display is that is shows to potential customers the value and benefits of having real prints and having them in larger sizes that are enjoyed on a wall for many people to see.

Direct Mail is where you formally invite seniors and their families to visit your studio and discuss senior portraits. Their value and the many styles your can offer them. Show a few examples in your brochure of photography and pricing. Examples, not the entire story. Use the direct mail to drive them to your blog, website for further information. Here you can tell a little more but not everything. Enough to get them to book an appointment or call you to book. Be ready to properly handle this phone call.

Word of Mouth – Referral Program — After you have photographed a student you have a couple of steps you need to do. During and just after the session shoot a few video snippets capturing the student having a great time posing for their pictures. After the session during a sort of debrief you can engage them in a conversation that will get them in their own words to describe their thoughts on how much fun they had and how important they see this is for their family. The very people who have stood by them and loved them their entire life. After all, this photo gift can only be given by the student, they are in control. Use these videos on your blog and Facebook. Have links to these in your emails you send out to future inquiries. When you have students and parents carrying folios or proof brag books and showing them to their friends you should also have a Referral Program. As friends see these proofs they will be impressed and will ask where these portraits were taken. You customer can give this friend one of your referral certificates that offers them some kind of special discount. For every certificate redeemed your original customer gets some kind of thank you bonus. Everyone wins with this approach. You could create an electronic version of this as well. If you provide a couple of Facebook images for your customer to display do it with a request they send links or tweets to all their friends and have the friends also mention your name and special offer. When people call you, you can inquire if they saw you on Facebook or twitter and then give your first customer the bonus credit.

3rd Party Promotions – Here you work with another business to promote to the senior. This other merchant could provide a discount coupon you would include in one of your direct mail packages. Pizza shop, athletic shoe store, fast food restaurant, tux shop are a few places to check out. They could provide space for a portrait print display. You could offer them photo discount coupons they could use in marketing to their customers who purchase some special offer they are promoting.

For any of these techniques, you must have a plan in place in your studio to answer the phone and convert the call into an appointment. (See a previous blog post for a suggested technique) You also need to work on an email response that will convince email inquiries to call your studio or go to your website and book their appointment. Consider some of the styles of emails you receive after visiting a website and requesting some information. Have a series of short emails ready to send to the parents of students or short text messages you can send the student that will convince them they need to act now for senior pictures.

How To Get JR Class Officers To Be Senior Reps

Adrian Michigan Senior Portraits

Senior Portraits, Adrian Michigan

Your goal is to get them to come to your studio for mini sample sessions and get their opinion on senior pictures and current senior styles and fashions. Get these images and their comments on the class officers FB and Twitter. Post the same information to your studio blog. Do some video snippets of these sessions and interviews and yes, put them on FB and your blog. Tweet the links.

How to get started. You are going to send them a letter addressed to Junior Class President, ABC High School. Your letter should present the idea that as a class officer their opinion and thoughts are important. This letter must be flattering to them but also sincere. You would like to show them how much fun pictures can be and how much their loved ones will appreciate having a professional photo prints. You get to show their family, them and their friends how much fun and how important senior pictures are in their lives. During the session and pose viewing you want to get their opinions of senior pictures. Take some video featuring their comments and experience. After they get a few prints and present these to their families get some more reactions from them and their parents and friends. All of this can be edited tastefully and placed on your blog, Facebook and Twitter. Later these officers might be able to create a small mailing list of their friends for you, you just need to ask. You should now have samples of the next senior class online to show and stir up a little action. You will also have testimonials explaining the value and importance of senior pictures on your blog and social media pages.

End of Year Seniors


Phone calls to your studio — be prepared to respond with a special sale offer. Every phone contact you receive is valuable. You can not afford to let a potential customer hang up without making an appointment.

To get some ideas to help writing up your phone presentation, watch late night TV infomercials. Learn the techniques of presenting the products features by explaining the benefit of each feature. Have a total value price that is on special and even discounted a little more for those who act now. And oh yeah, almost forgot, “But Wait There’s More”, have an extra special bonus for them if they book right now and give you a credit card. You could even offer a two for one special, just like late night. They bring a student friend and both get a session.

Your offer needs to be tested and tuned until you find one that is irresistible. Try to make a package that does not exist with other photographers. This eliminates direct comparisons if they are shopping. Be able to explain the compelling benefit of each feature. Use emotions, get the caller involved with the fun, excitement and memories possible with quality portrait photography. This is a once in a lifetime event being preserved. Why would they trust this to just anyone getting started or learning on their time and dime?

Print package special would likely include a session, mention it has been very popular and is the one they have seen most of their friends have. Talk about the different poses and outfits and locations. Let them know how each will make them look great, handsome, beautiful, intelligent, what ever the mood or feeling of the shot. Oh yeah, almost forgot, part of the super spiffy special this session includes some extra shots, poses or outfit changes that are great to include a friend if you like. Next talk about some of the photo prints in the package. Explain how much each family member and friend will appreciate every print they receive. Different sizes and poses for different people. There could be a bonus here as well, an extra pose and print in the super spiffy special not in regular packages. People want lots of poses so a brag proof book would be a good thing to include. Explain they likely will want some poses for their Facebook on a disk. This and/or the brag proof book could be the “but wait there’s more” closing offer. After you go through the package in detail and before mentioning the price run through the package again quickly outlining all the products and services and then mention the low special price. Pause a bit and then ask how this sounds to them. Way to high, About right, Can’t believe I get so much… then wait for response. Have some answers prepared and some extra things you can add at special prices.

One of the best opening lines ever for incoming phone calls to your studio just after the customer identifies themselves and states the reason for their call you reply…  it’s great you called today.  Pause a bit, they will be surprised to hear this. Then continue with, We are right in the middle off, or Just getting started with, or In the final few weeks off, our super spiffy special.  Replace of course super spiffy with the Name of your special.

To help make your phone ring a little more–

Use your studio Facebook page to post some pics and mention your end of season sale.

Ask your friends and previous customers to post something similar.

Tweet about the special and all the fun kids are having with the sessions. Describe how glad they are that they decided to have senior pictures taken professionally at a real studio.

The word is… It’s not to late to get in on all the fun and excitement of senior pictures.

There’s still time to get in on creating a lifetime memory and they are the only one who can do it.

Senior portraits costs less than you think.

Coming up, a tip on how to get class officers to brag about your studio and a blog post detailing The Top 5 All Time Senior Picture Marketing Steps.

As always your comments and suggestions are welcome.