Sponsored by Simply Color Lab
Digital files may dominate the sales of wedding and portrait photographers, but print still has an important role to play. As photography has increasingly grown more digitized, print products have become more specialized. Two photographers, Teresa Berg and Sara Harris, operate separate photography businesses in the U.S., but share similar ideologies when it comes to cultivating relationships and incorporating print sales.
Berg is based in Dallas, Texas, while Harris splits her time between Yorktown, Virginia, and Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They both cover a wide range of specialties, including portraits of high school seniors, babies and families. Harris also extends her services to engagement sessions and weddings, while Berg also photographs pets.
Specializing in multiple photographic areas means shooting for a diverse range of clients, which tosses a blanket approach to print sales out the window. "I really enjoy getting to know my clients and discovering their unique preferences, styles and tastes," Harris says. "We work hard to make sure that shines through not just in the imagery itself, but also in the presentation and quality of the physical products we offer."
Being proactive about customizing their photography businesses has been key to each of their approaches. Here are a few steps that photographers can take to strengthen their print offerings.
Make a personal connection with your clients.
Clients will be looking for different products based on their personal needs, so get to know them long before they are in front of your camera. "I make the most out of every touch point I have with my clients," Harris says. "Building a bond and earning their trust during the initial consult is critical, and you have to be able to carry that through the ordering meeting to the delivery of their beautiful portraits."
With her clients, Berg says, "We try to make our service very personal and treat each session as an individual assignment, and not lump them all in to a category." She adds: "Pay attention to their body language and practice good listening skills."
Make print products a key item in your packages.
"We won't sell a digital file without at least a 5x7," Berg says. She knows she can't stop her clients from attempting to make cheap prints elsewhere, but they are less likely to do so when they see what quality looks like. Most of Berg's collections also include something for the wall—such as Simply Color Lab canvas prints, which come as large as 56 x 100 inches in hand-stretched Traditional Gallery Wraps or solid-surface Canvas Blocks—and a handcrafted Simply Color Lab Image Box, which holds up to 200 paper prints.
Find the right products to fit your clients' needs.
Both photographers are loyal Simply Color Lab customers, thanks to the company's quality and service, and the sheer number of available products means unlimited options for their clients. For clients who want a unique twist on wall prints, Harris likes the ImagePops—Canvas, Fine Art or Metal prints in which an area of the image "pops out" for a three-dimensional effect. "[They] literally bring photos to life," she explains. For clients looking for something to keep at the office or send to grandparents, she suggests Album Blocks, wood bases in different colors and stains that hold up to 20 prints on display instead of in a drawer.
Have samples ready to show.
It's the photographer's job to guide each client toward products that best fit their needs, home and budget, and closing the deal is much harder without an in-person meeting. "Clients buy what they see, so invest in good samples!" Berg says. "Invite the client to walk around and ask questions about what they see on their walls." Harris stresses this point as well: "If you don't have beautifully finished products that your clients can see, touch and feel, they will be less likely to buy." This includes, she adds, bringing products to on-site meetings held outside of your home or studio. "It is all very much worth the effort."
Become a quality connoisseur.
When Berg is ordering products such as a Traditional Canvas Gallery Wrap, she knows what to check for to make sure the quality is 100 percent. "We look at how tight the weave of the canvas is, how neat the corners are and what the sheen, or surface luster looks like." With canvas prints, Berg says she's "tried them all," and that Simply Color Lab is the most reliable. "The last thing I want is to deliver a product and have my client ask to have it redone. They're busy, I'm busy—and remakes cost us both time." Harris has adopted the same attention to detail with the products she invests in, and looks for similar quality markers. It's not just the color quality for her, "but it's all the other details as well," she explains. "It’s the tightness of the paper backing, the fold lines on the corners, the hangers and bumpers being in just the right spots. All of these details contribute to the overall quality that a client can just feel and appreciate."
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