5 Cute Photo Album Ideas

When trying to set up a photography business, one of the key aspects which gain most of your attention is, of course, your technique and equipment. There’s almost no end to the constant strive to improve your skills, learn more about how to use various tricks to obtain stunning effects, and to the desire to invest in the next best thing as far as equipment is concerned. This is all very well, but maybe you should spend a little more time considering the experience your clients have after working with you. This isn’t just about the so-called bedside manner, or making your subjects feel comfortable during the shoot, but it should also be about the mementos they’re left with. Of course, they’ll all order digital photos and a few large portraits, but not all of them will think about photo albums. Maybe it’s time to consider surprising your large-order customers with a custom made photo album featuring their best shots. Since there will be some clients who’ll think about it themselves and order one, having the skill to create beautiful photo albums will help you even more. Here are our top 5 suggestions.

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1. Center the photo album pages around themes and sub-themes

Even if the album is basically one big splurge of photos from a certain event or photo shoot, you can still organize them by the feeling they give you. Pair 2 or 3 photos per page either by what people are doing in them, either by seeking to create a funny effect by matching them together. Such a funny effect could be, for example, someone making a sad face, then a photo of another person appearing, and then another of the first person looking all bright and cheerful. You get the idea – just play around with the photos in order to create a funny and delightful walk down memory lane for the people who will receive it.

2. Handwrite labels for each photo, page, and cover

Handwritten labels look way better than printed ones, and an album without labels on its cover and pages looks like it’s missing something. Fill in the labels on the cover or inner covers yourself, and let the recipients fill out the rest of the labels from underneath the photos. They’ll surely appreciate the opportunity to caption it with funny or witty or simply emotionally significant things, and grow fonder of the album you compiled with each passing year.

3. Personalize the photo album with fabric and little insertions

You can get most of the props you can apply over a photo album in any large general store. You can start experimenting with decorations by gluing a large piece of fabric over the main cover, and cutting out a piece of its center so you can still feature a photo on it. Careful at how neatly you tuck in the pages so that the fabric can’t easily be torn off afterwards. Feel free to add all sorts of creative insertions on it afterwards, according to the theme you want to highlight.

4. Take it even further with metallic monograms

If you think you’d be willing to take the personalization even further for a couple of special customers, you could consider decorating the photo album with metallic monograms on the cover, or even on each page. The technique is pretty much a classic and won’t actually require that much skill, but it will look impressive to your more sober clients.

5. Try making a photo card as well, scrapbook-style

If most of your clients don’t really place such large orders as to justify the business decision of gifting them a scrapbook, maybe just apply the same idea to a stand-up photo card. Decorate its frame as nicely as you can, maybe even include two photos on it, and send it with your compliments. Your photographer renown will benefit from these small moves as well.

To maintain inspiration, it never hurts to keep an eye out for new photo album ideas which pop up around the web, gathered together in a growing collection like this one on Pinterest.

The One Trick to Get Your Wedding Photography Clients to Follow the Rules

Have you ever had to deal with those kinds of nightmarish wedding photography clients that you just couldn’t convince to follow the rules, no matter what approach you took? You tried sweet talking them and they just got even more relaxed about the rules. You tried to be more firm about your principles (think punctuality, clear-cut decisions about locations, make-up, etc.). They failed to take you seriously – or, conversely, gave up working with you altogether, because you had turned ‘dictatorial’. If such conundrums sound familiar to you, you’re probably also wondering if there’s a way out of them. We’re here to tell you that there is: you can get your wedding photography clients to become more rule-abiding, with the aid of this single simple psychological trick.

Reverse that psychology on your wedding photography clients

wedding-photography-clients-rulesIf you’ve ever visited Trafalgar Square in London, you may have noticed the big signs that say “Please, don’t feed the pigeons – they cause damage and nuisance to the square”. Even if you have, even if you haven’t, try to imagine what such a sign would rouse in you. Be honest about it. Would you be tempted to do the exact opposite of what the sign would ask you? If so, it’s not because you’re particularly naughty or have a penchant for disobeying: it’s because rules like this one tell you two things. 1. That it’s not good to do a certain thing. And 2. That a lot of people are doing it anyway. So, the basic takeaway from this lesson, is that if you want your wedding photography clients to follow rules, you need to word them right.

As the old adage goes, people are social creatures. If a group of people does a particular thing, chances are others are going to follow in their footsteps. It’s the principle of social proof, deeply ingrained in our mentalities, which tells you that if other people are doing it, you should probably be doing it, too. Psychology has countless examples in this sense: for instance, when the IRS announced it was hiking tax penalties because tax evasion had been rampant during a particular year, tax fraud actually increased the next year. Because, hey, “if everybody else is doing it, why can’t I?”, right?

How to formulate rules your wedding photography clients will actually respect

If you’ve been following this post up to now, it’s probably quite clear to you. Combine reverse psychology with the principle of social proof and you’ve got yourself a good rule on your hands, which people are going to want to abide by. Here are a few examples and counter-examples.

Example #1: Late bookers

BAD: Don’t book me two weeks before your wedding! It’s annoying, unprofessional and messes up my schedule!

GOOD: Most clients I’ve worked with successfully in the past had booked me right after setting the date. This gave us a lot of time to get to know and understand each other, figure out all the details and come up with great ideas for photos.

Example #2: Sharing photos with no watermark

BAD: Do not share my photos on Facebook without a watermark on them!

GOOD: All clients receive a set of watermarked images, which they are more than welcome to share on Facebook. In fact, I love it when wedding photography clients share my work, because this basically works as free advertising for my business!

Example #3: The chronically late

BAD: If you’re always late for shoots and appointments, I’m going to become really annoyed and frustrated working with you.

GOOD: Most clients do their best to respect the set times of our meetings and this helps us work better together, since we’re all more relaxed.

How NOT To Market Your Photography Business To Women

I read an interesting statistic the other day.

85% of all brand purchases are made by women

No shock there. Women are in control of most household purchases.

Yet the next statistic makes you react a bit differently.

Only 3% of advertising agency creative directors are women.

Which means that on average, men are the one’s advertising to women – as a whole – throughout every industry.

Which means there is a lot of room for improvement, as men and women just think differently.

Photography is predominately a woman’s consumable. Meaning if you aren’t gearing your marketing almost exclusively towards women – your main client – you’re missing the boat.

Yes, you can copy ad campaign after ad campaign that some other photographer created. But what are you missing if you do it that way?

How NOT To Market Your Photography Business To Women

Mistake #1: Marketing on a generic level

Think of most marketing materials we’ve been subjected to over the past 50 years. They contain surface material. They are fluff pieces that attract attention and go away. There is no real meat to the material. [Read more...]

Wow Me, Impress Me, Dazzle Me

“Hi how are you?”

“Fine thank you and how are you?”

“Fine thanks.”

Have you ever thought about most of the short conversations you have during the course of a day?

Most of them have very little meaning. Or relevance.

Do we honestly care how someone is doing when we’re standing in line at the coffee house picking up coffee for the day? Nope not really. Just small talk.

I mean, what if someone actually said “lousy” instead of fine. Would they even hear that? Would they pay attention?

We tend to walk around on autopilot, moving from one task to another with little thought to how we’re doing it. Task one, check. Task two, check.

Customer service skills for photographers

Which is also how most customer service relationships work as well.

“Debit or credit?”

“Paper or plastic.“

“Have a nice day.”

Think automation. Think robotics. Very little is happening between the sales team and the customer. It’s all automated. A smile is simply out of training.

Which is why you take notice if someone does something different. (And trust me, in this world, very few people do.)

Want to stand out above your competition? Simply upgrade your customer service process. Here are a few questions that can help you look at things differently.

1. Look at your sales process, beginning through end, through the eyes of your customer. How are you different than your competition?

2. What do you like most about the businesses you shop at or use?

3. What annoys you at your favorite stores? At the places you spend the most time?

4. How would you change your favorite businesses customer service? (Sometimes it’s easier to tell someone else how to improve – then take those same suggestions yourself.)

5. How could you improve the first contact you ever make with a potential customer?

6. How could you improve the last meeting you have with your clients?

7. How could you connect with your past clients six months after your final meeting?

8. What would make your photography look better when a client picks it up?

9. What could you tell people about your photography that would make them love it even more?

10. What don’t people know about you (or your business) that if they did would completely change their perspective?

11. How much do you listen to what your clients are saying?

12. What do you do to stay in contact week after week?

13. Do you offer little surprises that aren’t expected?

14. Do you go above your promises and always offer more than you state?

15. Do you talk about your customer service?

16. Do you learn more about customer service and discover ways to make it better?

17. Do you find yourself on autopilot every day or do you pay attention to how to improve?

18. Have you asked your past clients what they like most about you?

19. What can you do to add excitement into every day?

20. How can you motivate yourself before every conversation with your customer?

You May NOT Use My Images Online

I recently saw this comment come through on Facebook.

Any advice on how to respond to a client who has just booked me for their wedding, and doesn’t want any images used on blogs etc? I get where the couple is coming from, but we all wouldn’t have much of a business if we couldn’t blog/publish/share what we do. The wedding may not even be ‘blog worthy’ anyway, but keen to hear people’s thoughts. Thanks!

And it reminded me of a client we had many years ago.

When we first started putting our clients’ images online, it was a big deal. Because very few were doing it, the one’s that were almost went into a “celebrity” status. It was cool and amazing, so that became one of our big selling points.

Yet fear was rampant at that point as well. Because very few were doing it, you can bet things went “viral” in a much easier manner.

So we added a clause to our contract – separate from our model release – that said we had the right to share their images online. Even though they signed off on it by signing the contract, we put an extra signature line with a yes/no by it to make sure they understood what they were agreeing to.

Most people loved it. They hired us because we were savvy technology and business owners.

Yet one client came in that made us realize we were doing it the right way. The family had recently adopted a child that had gone through all kinds of custody battles. They wanted a family portrait to solidify the family in the child’s eye. Yet the thought of the birth mother maybe seeing it and being able to identify every family member was chilling.

You May NOT Use My Images Online

At that point we realized that there are always extenuating circumstances in every situation.

This mother didn’t have to tell us her story; the fact that she didn’t want her images online should be sufficient enough. But because she did, it opened our eyes to the fact that you may not always be aware of things going on in your clients’ life.

If you’re shooting dozens of families (or whatever field you’re in) in a season, you’ll have more than enough people say “yes” to being online. Most will love their images on your sites, your blogs and your Facebook accounts.

And when you occasionally get the “no” from a client or two, respect their wishes.

There is more than enough business to go around.

Not only will you have one happy client, you’ll also build up your integrity and your own internal ethics.

You Screwed Up. What’s Your Next Step?

Guess what? We’re human. And because we’re human, we’re going to make mistakes along the way. I wish there was a way to avoid it, but inevitably it will happen. You’ll make a mistake. Your customer will get angry. And you’ll have a big decision on your hands.

The good news is that almost all mistakes are fixable. You have to act quick and decisively. But when you do, not only can you fix the immediate problem, in some cases you can come through it with an even more loyal fan on your hands.

The biggest mistake companies make is ignoring the situation and not having a thought out plan in place for when the inevitable occurs. If its just you, you can make split decisions based on circumstances. But if employees are involved as well, its especially important for them to understand action steps and what they can do to fix the situation.

So what do you need to consider when creating a customer response strategy?

You Screwed Up. What’s Your Next Step?Start by assessing your customers’ feelings.

When someone is angry or disappointed, the first thing they want is a listening ear. They want to feel like they are being heard and that their feelings are recognized as acceptable for the situation. Don’t burst in with solutions or counterpoints. Instead, listen to their complaint all the way through. When they start repeating themselves or come to a lull in the conversation, only then should you break in and move things forward.

Choose your words carefully.

If you truly made the mistake, admit it. The first words out of your mouth should be “I’m sorry”. Your customer has been analyzing the situation for quite some time, and their biggest fears will be that they will have to live with the problem and that you won’t help fix it. “I’m sorry” can literally relieve 90 percent of the tension.

Even if you feel your customer shares in the responsibility of the problem, “I’m sorry” can change the dissatisfaction your customer is feeling, and put you on the road to making amends.

Dig Deeper – Are You Going to Ruin 2013 Too?

What’s next?

Every situation requires a slightly different outcome – think about these outcomes before hand. A customer unhappy with the final images will have different issues that someone you “forgot” to get their images to them on deadline. Will you reshoot the portrait? Provide the images as fast as possible? Offer a discount on the final bill?

In some cases, it is best to hear what your client expects before you make suggestions. In one case, we were prepared to knock several hundred dollars off the final bill for a mistake we had made. But when we asked the client what we could do to make amends, she stated she would be happy with the 11×14 image she really wanted but couldn’t afford at the time. That saved us a lot of profit – and she was much happier with her final solution.

Don’t make excuses.

Your customer doesn’t care if your car died or your son was sick. If there is a problem, the only thing they focus on is how it impacts them. If you truly had a misunderstanding, make sure you clarify your policies so the same situation isn’t repeated in the future. Then move on, and avoid the blame game.

Increase communication.

Once a problem exists, its better to give 110 percent throughout the rest of the process. Call or email with updates. No matter how long it takes, make sure your customer understands the process along the way, and is brought into the loop if anything affects it.

A memorable gesture.

Now is the time to go above and beyond with your customer service skills. This is the critical step because this is where you can turn lemons into lemonade. Do something above and beyond what they expect as a small token of your regret. It may be a frame for the wall portrait they purchased. Or a few extra prints they held off buying. Or even a basket of flowers sent to their home. Make them feel like you not only said you were sorry, you meant it too.

Nope, your customers aren’t perfect. But neither are you. Just letting them know they will be taken care of and that you think enough about who they are to make things right even when things go wrong.

The #1 Secret To Becoming A Great Photographer Is

Being so good at photography the people in your sphere can’t ignore you.

Sounds simple enough. Yet who defines “good” or “great”? That term is questionable, which is why we ultimately refer to our sphere – the marketplace that loves us and is willing to help us grow our business.

The 1 Secret To Becoming A Great Photographer Is

You can’t define great photography by what you think is great (or even what your family/friends tell you is great). The world is full of starving artists whose mother/father/girlfriend/husband thinks they have the best eye in the world. Instead, we must define it by looking at the trails that others have left before us.

Why Professionals Follow Other Photographers’ Footprints

In every field in existence, in every niche you can imagine, someone has been there before you and created success around it. Those are your models. That’s where you gain your inspiration. [Read more...]

What Should You Be Trying For: One Big Customer or Many Small One’s?

Imagine your business in this manner. You have one great client that you love. They love everything about you and they pay you dearly for your services. Whatever you need to survive each month ($1,000? $10,000?), that’s the fee they pay you to photograph for them.

Sounds pretty impressive right?

What if we imagine your business in another light. Instead of one great client, you have 100 great clients. Every single month just enough of your great clients come in to give you the perfect amount of income you need to sustain your lifestyle. Your pricing is set up perfectly and they are happy to pay what you charge.

Now here is the question.

Which one of these situations is better?

I bet you instantly went one way or the other. And for good reason. There really is no right or wrong answer. Everyone has a different customer philosophy. Every business is built a little differently. Let’s look a bit further into the big client philosophy.

Some photographers head out looking for that one big client they can work for week after week, relying on them as their primary income source. Yet when you rely on one customer, that one customer becomes your world.

The one that pays the most towards the bottom line has the most control over you.

If that one customer decides they want to try something new, they can let you go literally overnight. Your income source drops out of the picture in one swoop. You lose it all instantly.

While the one big client may seem to be your “meal ticket”, it can also cause the most stress in your life.

Big clients can be a great way to run a photography business. Yet they also put you at the most risk, and can ultimately cause you the most stress, especially during hard economic times.

There really is no set rule to the number of clients you should shoot for in your business model. However, I’ve found to reduce stress, I look for no more than 20 percent of my income from any one source. So for my monthly income, that would mean I would need at a minimum 5 different sources to supply my income. Here’s why.

If you lose one big client and they supply you with 100 percent of your income, you literally can go from having a business to being out of work overnight. You can’t afford your bills if nothing is coming in.

If you have five clients each supplying you with 20 percent of your business, if one client decides to leave, it is still a 20 percent hit to your bottom line. But its much easier to absorb that shock for a few weeks while you find a client to take over that position. You can tighten your belt and spend quality time looking for your next client.

For me, that’s less stress.

Sound better to you? Or does the thought of losing 20 percent of your income still make you a bit queasy?

What if instead of having 5 clients provide you with 20 percent of your income, you went with 10 clients providing you each with 10 percent of your income? Or 20 clients providing you with 5 percent of your income?

The more clients you have, the less meaning each will have to your overall bottom line.

Before you get too excited with the numbers here, its also worth thinking about how your stress will move up on the other side.

When you have one client providing you with 100 percent of your income, you spend all of your time thinking of ways to satisfy that client. You provide them with top quality customer service. You look for the best products and services available to please that one client.

Everything you do is built for that client.

When you add other clients into the picture, you have more to think about. You no longer have to satisfy one client, you have to satisfy 5 (or 10, or 20). The more you have, the more you spread yourself out. Instead of focusing your energy on one thing at a time, you now must be good at multitasking. Client A may be coming in for a photo shoot, Client B may need a sales presentation, and Client C’s work may be in production mode requiring editing in Photoshop.

Each client demands your attention in a different way, every single day.

So what is the best answer? Big clients or small clients? The choice is yours. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I good at multitasking?
  • Do I get bored easily?
  • Do I enjoy working with lots of people or seeing the same person again and again?
  • What are my stressers, money or tasks?
  • What do I prefer to do every day?

There is no right or wrong answer. Only the best answer to suit you. Yes you may end up leaving money on the table. And yes, you may have the occasional problem along the way with either choice. But the key is in your overall strategy. Doing what’s right for you means you’ll always approach clients in a manner best suited for you. You’ll be able to give them the right amount of attention to fit the situation. They will love your business because you deliver what you promise.

And that’s really all we can hope for.

The 5 Heartaches Every Photographer Should Have (only once)

1. The Time You Lost An Important Bid To Someone Else

You want this job. You’ve been working towards building your business in this field, and this job will be perfect for your resume. You know you could instantly walk into a dozen other places and start photographing … when you can tell them you’ve done this job. So you spend hours on the bid. You make sure its perfect in every way. You stay in touch with the decision makers. You promise everything you know they want. You send the bid off. And you wait. And wait.

Nobody likes the feeling that comes with not getting the job. Yet in some aspects, it may be the best thing. Maybe you were meant to take on a different job. Or connect with a different person. What did you learn from this? If you know the person you applied to, ask if they can give you 5 minutes to learn why your bid wasn’t accepted. Yes, it may be because of your lack of experience. But it might also be because the boss’s daughter has decided to try photography and they gave her the job without any experience. Learning the real reason can help you move forward and plan for the next opportunity. Don’t take it to heart – in every case there is something to learn.

2. The Time You Lost An Entire Project

One of the reasons Andrew and I ended up pursuing wedding photography was due to the loss we incurred at our own wedding. Our photographer was there from beginning to end, capturing things from a variety of angles. Yet when we picked up the proofs, the entire section at the church (ceremony and some formals) was missing. She lost several rolls of film – and a big chunk of our memories.

What would you do if your last wedding was stored on your computer … and it was stolen before you worked with the images? Or the flash card with every image from your last shoot fell out of your bag as you made your way through the airport? Losing the entire project is much harder to salvage than a piece of a project. But in either case, it pulls everything out of you. You learn people skills when dealing with your client. And it gives you “systems” skills for making sure that never happens again. [Read more...]

5 Steps To Talking Your Way Into Clients Hearts

Last week I picked up the phone and called a woman I’m working on a project with. The phone rang several times and went to her voice mail.

“Hi, you’ve reached ‘Sally’. I hope you’re having a great day. I can’t get to the phone right now, so leave a message. If its important, I will be checking messages when I get back. Oh, and by the way, I do a variety of things. I’ve been helping people as a virtual assistant lately, so if you have any work you’d like me to help you with, I can do that. And I’m with a great MLM company that sells this juice you’re really going to love. And I’ve been working with a company that lets me do spa parties in your home, so I could set up a party with you and your friends soon…”

On and on it went for well over two minutes, describing all the different things she can do. I was calling her for a completely different reason – a personal project we are working on together – and I was overwhelmed with her message. Imagine if you did want to use one of her services – would you really have her full attention no matter what you decided to do?

Have you listened to your own phone message lately? What are you saying to callers? Do they leave a message because they are excited for the opportunity to possibly work with you? Or are they leaving a message grateful to not have to listen any more?

Even the smallest things like re-recording your voice message can have lasting impact on your business.

Tip 1: Is it about you or them?

Does your message say more about you, or give them the information they need? “I’m not here” is obvious so why state it? “I offer these services” is just confirming what they already know if they have reached the point of calling you. Instead, turn it around and tell them what’s in it for them – “Are you ready for a unique portrait experience?” [Read more...]