Shooting for Sales: Enriching Your Clients’ Lives with Printed Products with Christine Yodsukar
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Sales is a dirty word in our industry. What’s even worse is having no idea how it’s done. While there are many factors that go into providing amazing service to our clients, the actual act of photographing them with product in mind is one that is most often overlooked. You may be surprised to read that shooting for sales does not involve creating the most epic photos anyone has ever seen. In fact, it’s much less important than the things you cannot see at all.
Know Your Product Offerings
To stay in business and continue providing your clients the amazing experience that you do, you have to be profitable. The first time I wrote out all of my costs, I was surprised to find that I was not profitable. You need to know your cost of goods, retail pricing and net profits on each product. You also need to know the answers to any question your clients ask, like sizing, materials used and how to install. As the studio owner, you need to know your products inside and out.
Now that you know your pricing, show only the products you want to sell. In my studio, I show four custom wall art collections in canvas, a stunning acrylic cover 12×12 album and a hand-crafted timber portrait box with a glass window that holds up to 20 matted prints in its plush velvet interior. That’s it. I do not show single prints, smaller albums or smaller print products. Because I love my products, I am able to sell them.
Give your clients pricing information well before the photo shoot. I give them general product pricing before they even book their session to ensure there are no surprises during the design consultation.
Know Your Client
Now that you know what products you are shooting for, the next most important thing is to know your client. Clients are going to be investing in this experience with you, so you need to invest your time in them. Talk to your clients. Find out what is important to them. It can be as simple as asking them, “What would you like me to capture for you?” And it can be as deep as finding out about the special details of their relationships with their loved ones.
Make this experience special for them by focusing on the things they reveal to you. For example, a father I photographed recently told me how he loved roughhousing with his son. When it came time to photograph the two of them together, I whispered into the son’s ear, “Want to go jump on your dad?” Of course the son wanted to. At my cue, he ran over to his dad and their play ensued. I gave zero direction after that, and captured beautiful photographs that show what is special to them. There is nothing more meaningful.
Photograph Like a Cinematographer
Cinematographers shoot for the edit. They film multiple angles of each scene so that when they are bringing it all together into one final film, they can cut between camera angles to tell their story. For photographers, our final “film” is our clients’ artwork that will hang on their walls and be displayed on their coffee tables. These wall art collections and albums should tell a story just like a film. To be able to tell a story for our clients, we need to capture multiple angles of each scene. For that father and son who love playing together, I took photographs that captured their play from wide, medium and tight perspectives, at opposing angles. This gives me so much freedom when I design the artwork later.
In addition to photographing each scene from multiple angles, I photograph each client in many different ways. This means that for a family of four, I am photographing them all together, the mother with both children and then with each child individually, the parents together, then the father with both children, then each individually and all together. That is eight different scenes for that family. Then I do a few more of the whole family along with any requests they may have.
Having all of these options makes it easy for me to design artwork for them, and puts the focus and energy into each relationship. That’s meaningful to our clients. It’s a reminder and a celebration of those relationships, and it’s what makes our job so special.
Preparing Your Design Consultation
The design consultation is probably the scariest time for photographers. Feeling like we have to sell to our clients is daunting. In my studio, I don’t sell. I guide my clients through what could be an overwhelming experience if not done correctly. I create beautiful heirlooms for them that will be handed down through the generations. Having this artwork in their homes will remind them of their closeness and happiness. I see it as giving them a gift rather than selling them one.
Now we need to design artwork that we know they will love. You should already know where in their home they want to display their artwork so you can create predesigns that you think will fit in those rooms. Put your cinematographer hat back on as you create your predesigns. I design a wall art collection based on each relationship. For my family of four, I create a predesign of each child, each parent with the children and the family as a whole. One family may not end up buying that many collections, but by showing them what is possible, I have opened their minds to all of the possibilities.
I have two sizing options for all of my wall art collections, a large and a medium. This allows me to predesign a collection for my client knowing that one of the sizes will fit perfectly on their walls. Keeping my wall art collections down to only four designs makes decision making simple, and offering two different sizes for each collection makes it customized for their home. A confused mind will not buy. A confused mind also will not sell. If you are confused by the long list of products you offer, your clients will be confused too.
The Design Consultation
This is the most exciting part of the experience, both for my clients and for me. It is the culmination of all of the hard work, planning and fun leading up to it. I get so excited knowing that my clients are about to design their dream artwork for their homes, and that once this session is over, they will have it on their walls in just a few short weeks.
I start my design consultation by showing them a highlight of the photographs we created together at their photoshoot, followed by the predesigns. They always have an instant favorite that they want to start designing with me. Our job during the design consultation is to be a facilitator. We are the experts on photography, artwork and design. They are the expert on what is meaningful to them. If we combine those, the result is over-the-top-happy clients, which results in an over-the-top-happy photographer.
Once you have designed your client’s artwork with them, confidently remind them of the price. Be prepared to design more artwork if they want more. Once they have created all of the art that they want, build their order into your client management software, take their payment and put their art into production.
We all have a print packed away somewhere that instantly fills us with emotion the moment we pull it out and hold it in our hands. Imagine if that photo were in your hands every single day, filling you with that pure happiness and comfort as you power through each day’s triumphs and hurdles. This is what I give to my clients. I give them a way to celebrate what makes their lives beautiful. I give them a way to choose happiness every day.