I’m a shoot and share photographer. My favorite part of the job is photographing and I want to share my digital photos with my clients. I’ve discussed it quite often on this blog. However, at the same time I want to find a balance to offer professional print options to my clients.
I’m a big fan of doing a gallery review with my clients after their photo session or wedding and have always used this as an opportunity to make print sales, offer discounts and ensure that my clients have great archival memories of their photos after all is said and done. I do want their photos to last both online and offline. I want my clients to have their digital files stored for a lifetime online, which is why I use PASS, but I also want them to walk away with heirlooms to pass down to their family, like an album.
So, I wanted to tell you guys a story about something I’ve learned lately. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve come in business – I’m always learning and trying new techniques to try to be better at this job. When I learn something new and find out what’s working for me I like to share it here with you. Of course, my techniques are not always right for everyone, but they work for me and that’s why I share them.
The story goes that I was talking to a photographer friend of mine over the phone. We were talking about how the demand in the industry is getting higher for digital photos and we want to be able to provide that, but how we also believe they need to have something hanging on the wall. Somehow pricing products came up and it just dawned on both of us how much the photography industry marks up print products. We mark up our products more than most any industry in the world. I was telling my friend that for some reason the last year I’ve noticed my print sales decreasing and I couldn’t figure out why. I was still selling, and I wanted to provide the digital files, but I wanted to find a balance to do so.
That lead me to last December where I started thinking about how we, as photographers, not only have to compete against each other in this industry, but how our print prices now have to compete against the likes of Walmart now too. I wanted to check out some of these crappy print options for myself and compare them to some of the professional labs I’d been using and see if I could use that as a marketing tool. I had done the same thing years ago, but with how fast technology grows I figured it was about time to check it out again.
I have to tell you that Costco’s print lab beat out several of the professional labs. A lot of the other labs like Walmart, Shutterfly, etc. (I tried them all) didn’t look great and had color problems, but man Costco caught me off guard. Of course I doubt that Costco uses the same sprays and tools that a professional lab does, but it makes for some legit competition.
The big question was, how can I compete against the likes of Walmart’s prices, still sell high quality prints, and meet the demand by my clients for digital files? So, I’ve been sitting on this idea for several months, researching, thinking, and planning.
I realized that we as an industry don’t have any set standards for professional print prices. They are all over the place. When I first priced my products I did so by looking at what other photographers were pricing for theirs. I have learned that I may be over valuing what I thought my prints were truly worth.
That led me to experiment. I wondered what it would be like to drop my print prices a little bit to compete with the likes of Walmart, but still make sales and a small profit off of what I sell. So the last several months I cut my prices on my prints a lot. I was surprised because I worried that no people would still print elsewhere or that I was devaluing my own work. However, my print sales have increased hugely. My clients are loving the new prices and the ability to get professional quality prints, and products at affordable prices.
I guess I didn’t expect it to work well, but I was willing to try it out. I’m making more off my print sales then I ever have before. I think my clients are happier. I’m happier too. This is an experiment I’m going to continue throughout this year to see where it leads me as wedding season begins.
I just wanted to share this story, and my thoughts with you. I think one of the most important things we can do as a business owner is stay current with what is popular with our clients and find a way to do what works for them in a way that we can also still benefit and be happy. Like I said, there are so many methods that work for different people in different ways. Mine isn’t always the right path for everyone, but I’m here to share and help if I can.
Awesomesauce Store & Carrie Swails Photography
1. Lightroom Basics Class – for beginners and those new to using Lightroom >here< The class is live online Wednesday night and the fee is $15. If you can’t make it live, the class is recorded so you can watch it later.
2. Posing Class – This class is next Wednesday (the 10th), live online and is also recorded. This class we’re going to go over basic posing tips for couples, individuals, families, and weddings. >here<
3. Wedding Photography Workshop – This is Week 2 of the wedding photography workshop. The workshop is recorded so you’re welcome to join in late – you can still watch last week’s episode. After this week I will be taking no more registrations since I’d like everyone to keep up with us! Read more >here<
4. Off Camera Flash Workshop – This is not something I’ll be offering, but if you are a frequent traveler to the Denver area this workshop is going to be hosted at my studio so I’ll be there. Keith Powell is an amazing photographer and he’s doing this introductory workshop at a SWEET price of $125 per person! I was able to meet him recently at the United photography conference out in Santa Barbara. Check out more >here<
5. The last bit of news is this week is our last week for the Photography Awesomesauce Winter Photo Challenge. We’ve been challenging ourselves to create one new photo each week for a theme to keep everyone practicing and working in the Winter this year. Many of you guys have asked me to extend the photo challenge all year, but it’s very important to me to dedicate any extra time I have to my own wedding and portrait clients now that we are starting up the busy season. The winter photo challenge is something that will likely happen every winter. The goal of the challenge was for us all to take photos every week and have something to post, share and blog about to our fans so we wouldn’t lose momentum even if we had fewer clients.
6. Photography Awesomesauce Facebook Group – I’ve started a support group for our community on Facebook >here< This group is for asking questions, sharing photos, and finding a supportive community! We’d love to have you!
7. Finally, I have some exciting things coming your way this week! I can’t wait to share them with everyone. This Thursday, April 4th, will mark Photography Awesomsauce’s 1 year anniversary!
Because I know that when blog posts go live they all get emailed to all of you who subscribe the post you all read this morning did not include a way for you to sign up with PASS. Low and behold I sent the link to the blog post to one of the PASS support studs and they hooked all of the Photography Awesomesauce fans with a way to sign up for PASS! I’m posting this little blog post reminder (not my usual style) because I wanted it to go out in all your emails so you wouldn’t miss out on an opportunity to sign up for PASS.
I went and edited in a sign-up link in the previous post about PASS… So you can check it out all over again >PASS Blog Post<
Send those PASS dudes some thanks!
If you’re at all into the photography industry, then you’ve probably been hearing about PASS. http://pass.us People have been talking about them on Facebook, Twitter, and they’re all the rage. I’ve been getting hundreds of emails from you guys asking me for an invite to use their software, but the problem is – I don’t have any left, each user was given 3 invites. Some of you guys have even emailed to ask me for invites and ask about what exactly the software is, what it does, and how it works. So this post is going to be the who, what, where, when and why of PASS.
*Later Edit* I just scored PASS invites for everyone who reads this blog!!! The link is in the post below – so go on read.
What is PASS?
PASS is a company that is owned and operated by the same studs who run http://showitfast.com. I’ve talked several times about what Showit is and why I use it. Showit is website software to help photographers create awesome unique websites. PASS is their software to create online galleries for your clients.
PASS is part of the “shoot & share” mentality, so if that’s not how you like to run your business than this post might not be for you, and that’s okay. PASS’s online gallery system is all about downloads and getting rid of that CD and using something far more sophisticated in its place. CDs and DVDs are about to become a thing of the past now that computers are no longer being made with a CD/DVD drive. Everyone is streaming video, tv, and music content online, so there’s no point in having a disc anymore. That’s what PASS is all about, a place that displays your photos in an amazing and unique way and makes it easy for your client to store their photos and download them all at once in one easy button.
This is the part that confuses a lot of photographers new to PASS. The pricing. Rather than pay monthly, quarterly, annually or one big flat fee PASS charges per gallery, which is usually referred to as an “event.” To see how PASS explains their pricing go here >> http://pass.us/#/free-upgraded/
PASS has two different options for price, one is free and one is $29 per gallery. The free option allows individual photo downloads and can only be hosted for 30 days. The $29 upgraded gallery allows you to turn downloads on and off, hosts the gallery for 1 year, and allows your clients to download all the photos at once instead of individually. Beyond those things, the upgraded $29 version also stores your photos for 10 years. Consider them ‘cryogenically frozen.’ After the 1 year is up they get archived and the best part is that you or your clients can access them later if something ever happened to you or them.
Now, I know the price seems steep. Believe me in the old version of PASS I couldn’t justify $29 per gallery for what they had to offer. I’ll admit that I wasn’t very impressed. They’ve spent the last several months (probably more) completely rebuilding their software from the ground up. It is nothing like what it was before. Before it was only a gallery with downloads and your clients had to individually download each photo. Can you imagine passing a wedding gallery to your clients and they download thousands of photos one at a time? Yuck. I have to say the old PASS didn’t have much to offer to me, but I am one-thousand percent happier with the new version and this article will definitely dive into why that $29 is worth every penny.
PASS Invites & How to Sign Up
Since PASS is releasing their new software version they’ve been working up a clever marketing scheme and not allowing just anyone to go sign up for their new software – you must be invited. Kind of like how gmail first was years and years ago. Everyone who uses Showit for their website and/or is a current PASS user can access the new software. Every user is given 3 invites to send to their friends.
As I said before, I’ve received hundreds and hundreds of emails asking me for PASS invites. Mine are gone. But guess what? Since posting this blog this morning I’ve managed to score a way for you to sign up! All you have to do is go here >http://passpromo.com/awesomesauce<
PASS Marketing Features
Okay so I wanted to talk about the reason that $29 gallery upgrade is worth every penny.
It’s all about how we share photos in the digital age. You know how you’re having dinner with your BFF who you haven’t seen in a few weeks. You’re sitting there chatting over wine. Maybe your kids are crawling all over you and you’re really having apple juice in a Chuck-E-Cheese place, but you get the idea. You’re talking about all the fun things that have happened in the last couple weeks and you want to show your friend a photo, so you take out your phone and pull up the photo on Facebook or in one of your apps and pass your phone to your friend to look at. This is the way people share photos now. No more whipping your wallet out of your back pocket, guys, and letting a row of wallet sized photos of your kids and dogs photographed at Sears unravel down to the floor.
With that in mind, PASS seems to be the ideal solution so when your clients are sitting there sharing photos of their wedding, new baby, family photos, or Spot the dog they take their phone out and what do they do? They go right to the PASS gallery installed on their phone, which looks all cool and professional. Your client’s friend is impressed and wants to know who the photographer is and BOOM – referrals. That $29 per gallery, sure it has some cool features, but really you are paying to make your clients into walking, talking billboards for your business.
I have to say that I’ve been able to share PASS galleries with several clients this past month and they LOVE it. They love they can have their photos as an app right on their phone. I’ve already received referrals from my clients talking and sharing about it.
What else is in store for PASS?
PASS will be adding auto-fulfilled orders through WHCC’s professional print lab this spring into their software – super awesome. Your clients can download, share, order, and market for you all in one place.
Right now the new version of PASS is still in its beta/testing stage. Although it works there are still a few features they are adding in. I can’t wait! The awesome thing about being able to use it is the customer service behind the program. People are suggesting ideas to be added into the new PASS and the company is doing it.
How does PASS Look and Work?
Each image below has a caption explaining what it’s about and how things work. These are all samples of my own photos and galleries.
The gorgeous new layout of PASS. Rather than the look of a traditional gallery this has a look similar to Pinterest. I think it’s very visually appealing and really shows off your photos in a totally new way.
The view when you pull up an individual photo. Keep an eye on the menu off to the right. When you press the plus sign several options for sharing the photo will come up.
The view when the menu is open on the right. Your clients can share straight to Facebook or Pinterest, download and more. PASS also builds your copyright into the metadata of each image so every time it is shared, you get credit.
Another view of the gorgeous style. The little black box on the top left with three lines is the other menu with options to download all the photos and see other collections within one gallery. When you click on that button you can see this menu. Even though you’re paying $29 for one gallery, that gallery can have multiple collections within it so if you have repeat clients you don’t need to purchase a new gallery.
I like to keep all my black and white images within their own collection in my galleries. When I put them all in one collection the black and white images line up with their color counterparts and that sometimes makes the “Pinterest” style look a lot more traditional.
With PASS, as soon as you’ve uploaded your photos they are ready to share. PASS will give you a direct link to your galleries online. They can be accessed on any mobile device easily. When your clients type in the URL this is what shows up, the same style gallery and a little notice to help them create their photos as an “app” on their phone. It basically creates a URL shortcut they can access straight from their phone.
Once your clients download their photos as an app, this is what it looks like. Again, this can be done on any mobile smartphone or device – not just Apple products.
Galleries all look the same and have the same options from your phone or mobile device.
Your clients will have the same options to view all the collections within one gallery and download and share them.
They can share, download and order prints right from their phone. Pretty sweet.
The share menu on a mobile phone.
For mobile options, it’s still so awesome that photos have that same gorgeous look to them that stands out.
Carrie Swails Photography & Awesomesauce Store
By Jenna Clark
>Follow Jenna on Facebook<
>Read more of her personal stories on her blog<
>Check out her website<
While I careened at a full gallop across a lush field on my pony, I screamed my head off, knowing that the end of this situation would end in pain. This was supposed to be an easy ride, because I had been bucked off the day before and Charlie was supposed to be a breeze. But as Charlie went faster and faster, with me clutching his mane in fear, I realized this was going to end badly. Sure enough, he came up on a fence that he realized he didn’t want to jump, so he spun to the right.
I flew to the left.
I landed on a cement road along the barbed wire fence, slamming my head so hard my helmet had shattered in the back. If I hadn’t been wearing that helmet, I’d be dead right now or vegetable in a hospital.
This is how I lived my life,: quickly, fearful and usually, I hurt myself. I always got back on the horse, but I kept the same mindset, the same fearful attitude. Eventually, the fear became so intense that in January this year, I dreaded riding. Every Wednesday, I would get a pit in my stomach, churning fear settling into my gut. Finally, my best friend and riding instructor yelled at me, after I couldn’t even get our smallest pony into a canter, because I was terrified I’d fall off.
“Jenna, you can’t be afraid of falling off. You’re going to fall off. It’s going to hurt. But you should love riding enough that you do it anyway, regardless of risk. Either you make this canter happen or stop riding.”
She’s my best friend for a reason. I swallowed my fear and damnit, I made that tiny pony canter. I shattered through months of built up fear, through sheer determination and frankly, I didn’t want to feel or look like a damn pansy. After I got off , I contemplated what this moment in time meant for me. I realized that this is what 2013 was going to present to me, whether I wanted it to or not. 2013 has been one of the hardest years ever, throwing curveball after curveball. I had a boyfriend dump me, I got laryngitis on the weekend I had a three day expo and a wedding, I started doing school full time with my business full time and I’m in debt up to my eyeballs. Yet, I knew that living in fear of the unknown was not how I wanted to function anymore.
I wanted to be honest. With everyone. About everything. I wanted to go balls to the wall, tell you about me and risk judgment by anonymous strangers. See, horses weren’t the only thing I was terrified about, it was/is people in general. I grew up abused, socially awkward and too weird for others to tolerate. As a result, I turned into an outwardly happy adult who told you nothing, nadda, zilch, about myself. I realized that this is probably why I have so few good friends, because I just don’t want to be hurt over and over again. Then I realized that I’m not alone. I’m not that damn special in this world, so if I felt isolated and afraid of the world, others probably did too.
So at the beginning of March, I wrote a blog about myself, where I told the whole world that my father had abused me as a child and that he was in prison. I told them I’ve been in jail, even if it was for the most ridiculous reason. And I was frightened out of my mind. Terror settled in my stomach for two days after I posted that blog, the urge to just take it down so unbelievably strong. But I feel I have too much to offer, too much compassion to share, to be another one of those photographers who shows you nothing but their highlight reel of butterflies and rainbows.
You know what happened after that blog? Nothing. Nobody came to me and said, “oh my word, thank you Jenna for telling the world you’ve been abused. I was raped too and you’ve given me the hope I’ll be a millionaire one day and perhaps have a circus of dancing dogs.” On the other end, no one noticeably judged me for it either, although I’m sure it happened in closed chat rooms and texts. And that’s okay because that wasn’t the point. Living authentically has nothing to do with notoriety. Living authentically is alllllll about you, baby. Let me tell you the personal outcome of telling the world I had been raped.
I am happy.
It’s simple: if you open up to the world for yourself and with no ulterior motives, you will become happy. A switch had flipped for me. Suddenly, I dealt with stress better, I no longer feel like I need a man to make me happy and I have even stopped dating for a while, when before, I went on two a week. I go out more, I reach out to people more frequently and hell, I relax more often. I had been heavily drinking but suddenly I didn’t feel the need to have a drink every single day.
I think when I decided to say, “Screw you, I’m sharing myself, whether you like me or not!!!!!” I think I realized I can be comfortable with who I am. Haters gonna hate, might as well give them a juicy topic to complain about!
My weirdness is still here in all of its glory, but I smile bigger when I dance in a grocery store. My dog and I have more educated conversations (just kidding, he isn’t educated). I’m not terrified if someone judges me for being raped, for going to jail, for having a GED or for being a freakin WEIRDO. But if sharing myself with people helps even just one person take the leap into living authentically, then awesome. I want to help people, to help this world become a better place, because you deserve more than surface Facebook updates and “what’s up” texts.
I know I’m not special. My story is far from original. So if I can do it without repercussion, you can too. You won’t lose as much as you think. Just try it this week. Write one blog about you, for you. Don’t think about who will read it, because remember, that isn’t the point.
By the way, I ride every Wednesday with a smile now. I have no fear of falling anymore.