Grass-Roots and Given it away!

When I first started into this profession I, like many photographers would do sample sessions to try out new poses, lighting techniques, backgrounds and scenes.  As my business expanded, I found I had paying sessions for all the hours I wanted to photograph, so sample sessions were reserved for illustrating specific ideas in my books (using past paying clients)  or video projects. In doing these sample sessions for my publication needs I found they were a huge source of revenue.  When we do a sample/publication session we don’t charge anything for the session and the subject gets a 3 image template for their time.  They are told they don’t have to purchase anything although they can order during the viewing after the sessions is over.  Between a book deadline, a video project and getting a display at a local fair ready, we did 5 sample sessions over a week period of time.  Those sample sessions brought in over $2500 in sales, (not nearly as high as our average sale but a nice payoff for portraits we didn’t plan on selling and needed to be taken for own purposes).

I really had never noticed the sales from all my publication sessions, but I had the book-keeper pull up the sales numbers from the sessions marked as samples in the computer and the total added up to quite a some of money over the course of the year.  Sample/Publication sessions turn into sales because we select the right people for these sessions.  There are way too many people willing to do these sessions to deal with people who are not outgoing, love to be photographed and will work within a normal time frame of when you need them to be photographed.  If anyone is less that enthusiastic, no matter how beautiful they are, its thanks, but no thanks.

The benefits from these sessions are not just in the sales they generate, but also in the grass-roots, word of mouth advertising these sessions produce.  When these people are done with their session, viewing and ordering, most of them are so excited about the experience they turn into a walking, talking billboards for our studio.  We track many friends of the people who have done these sessions as new clients. We just did one of these sessions for a Christmas campaign we are working on around the theme of, “it the mother’s turn to have this experience”. The one comment I always hear from mothers in the sessions with senior girls is, “this looks like so much fun, I want to do a session for me!”   We selected a mother who was perfect, she was attractive, but looked like the all American Mom.    This mom was having so much fun being photographed, when the session was over, she asked if we could keep doing more photographs!  We have already had several of her friends call for sessions!

For these sessions to work as a benefit for you studio, you must select the right people, meaning people who are willing to miss work or school for these sessions, so you can fit them into cancellations or a time slot that never filled.  If you find yourself having to come in early or stay late to accommodate a session like this, you are working with the wrong people.  Another way to find the right person for this type of session is to look for attractive people, not “drop dead gorgeous people”.  Attractive people will look at this as an exciting experience  and tell their friends, gorgeous people will tell you of all the “shoots” they have had with different photographers.  In today’s world very beautiful people are always being asked to be photographed, so your session will have little or no impact, while attractive people will look at this session as their 15 minutes of fame.

The session itself will have major impact on the benefits to your studio.  I make the session an experience.  I am good and I want everyone to know how good I am.  I demonstrate each pose, fix the hair and fix everything to make sure the person looks perfect.  While each session is going on we are videotaping the session to add to the excitement and have footage for our advertising. The music is loud and the session moves fast.  It’s fun for them and me!  It’s their 15 minutes of fame and I don’t want them to be disappointed!

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on August 27, 2010.

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