After years of being known as the “Tattooed Bride Photographer Guy,” I’ve switched gears—just a little bit, anyway—to now establish myself as the “Couples Boudoir Photography Guy.” Yes, it’s a thing. And yes, it’s different from regular boudoir shoots.
With boudoir sessions, a woman seeks out a photographer to capture her most primal, romantic and sexy side. It ends up as a beautiful wall art canvas or album for herself or a lucky partner. With couples boudoir, it’s all about the connection the couple shares in the present. We take the love, feelings and emotions of the couple and make them come to life on camera.
One hurdle I faced in switching gears is that there’s still a stigma attached to couples boudoir, that people think you have to have your freak flag on display at full mast all the time in order to enjoy a session. But based on the experiences with my clients, that’s not really accurate. They are loving couples, dating or married, who are deeply and madly in love. Others are looking to feel that spark again that they had long ago when they made out in the backseat of their car or went out on their first date.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
Three main tactics that worked well for me in marketing this venture was securing in-person bookings at bridal expos, going back to past bridal clients to see if they wanted the next evolution of their story captured in images, and getting press—an article on my couples boudoir shoots ran in the Daily Mail at the start of this year, and I wrote a post online about the specialty for Offbeat Bride last year.
Having a media contact folder is something I highly recommend when trying to get the word out. I’ve built one up over the past ten years, and it really helped me when I wanted the Daily Mail to feature my new venture so that I could get international recognition and clientele as well.
Locally, I made a point to have booths at both my local tattoo and bridal expos, and at both locations, I showed only my couples boudoir images, not wedding images (my banners had them, but my books had the work I wanted to sell). The face-to-face was huge for me, and after that, I started booking three or four sessions a week.
SELLING ON THE SPOT
Another big factor in my “switch over” success has been in working with InTuition to Succeed founder and owner Steve Saporito, who coached me on how to book clients on the spot at these expos, instead of just handing out “leave behind” cards. Having on-site banners that says something to the effect of “Special deal, only available at expo” urges attendees to sign up for a portrait session before they leave the premises, and it really does work. It also helps to have a goal in mind; having booked 10 couples just at the expos, the next time I go, my mission is to book 20.
KNOWING YOUR MARKET, GROWING YOUR MARKET
As photographers, we don’t always look past our own potential. As Steve has advised me, try not to only look for one type of couple client, i.e. the crazy rockers or tattooed hipsters or whomever seems more open to the services I am offering. So, if I see a couple walking past me holding hands at one of these expos, I might say, “Hey, have you ever done a couples photo shoot?” The point is to not let them walk by me before giving them a chance to see what I can do for them. That said, I also am choosing to be in places like the tattoo expo, where I know the couples might be a little more adventurous to begin with.
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME
My main photo mission is to photograph connections, and that includes family portraits. On Instagram, I have two different feeds—couples on one, families on the other—and both fall under the same name: Allebach Photography. The icing on the cake is me adding a design consultation space to the third floor of the studio I share, where I can help clients choose how they want to have their images displayed—in albums, wall art and larger canvas pieces (up to 60 inches). And thanks to Steve Kurtz and Bay Photo, I have been able to have seven to ten sample images of my work on the studio walls to actually show clients real products they can choose from. Believe it or not, the couples sessions sell well as really large wall art pieces!
Mike Allebach, who is based in Philadelphia, was hailed by Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride as “the Original Tattooed Bride Photographer.” Since joining a studio, his focus has been photographing boudoir and family clients. His couples boudoir work has been featured in Daily Mail, Huffington Post and Inked.
Related: Vintage Vision