This blog post has been a long time in the making. It’s directed towards my clients and potential clients, but some of you photogs might benefit from it too.
It took me about 3 years to figure out what kind of photographer I wanted to be – not just what kind of pictures I wanted to take, but what I wanted to offer my clients. After a lot of trial and error, changing my products, changing my pricing structure and studio policies, and discovering what MY perspective is, what MY values and strengths are and ultimately what it is that I want to be able to achieve for each of the families I work for – I’ve finally created an experience for my clients that I’m in love with. (And I’m pretty sure my clients love it too.) I’m sure I’ll do some tweaking as the years go on and adjust with the ever-changing range of possibilities, but the foundation for the purpose of my business remains the same: To provide my clients with beautiful art of their beautiful families to be displayed in their home in beautiful form to enrich their every day. AND as an added bonus, those beautiful pieces of art will turn into keepsakes for future generations.
In the first couple of years of my business (going on 4 years now, WHAAA?) I was very often frustrated by the things my clients chose to purchase from me. Which, I realize, is dumb. Considering, I was the one to offer those products in the first place. And I was offering them for reasons like “this is what everyone else offers” and “this is what my clients seem to want”. The first reason being terrible, and the second reason, while less terrible – still very misguided as I came to realize they only wanted those things because that’s what they were used to purchasing. I knew that my clients weren’t being fulfilled in the way I wanted them to be – they didn’t seem to know it, but I knew that there could be more. Every time they’d come in for their next session they’d make a comment about how their last session was still sitting on their computer, they printed some for family members, but they’ve yet to hang any on their own walls. OR, they did purchase 1 or 2 pieces from me or printed them on their own, and now they can’t figure out how to display their current session with their old session, so they just don’t because they’re overwhelmed and can’t figure it out. And I was left banging my head against my desk wondering why they couldn’t take responsibility for getting their images into a form they could really enjoy, especially after having spent so much money on them! And then, *cue lightbulb*–>…. I realized that it wasn’t their responsibility. It was MINE. I couldn’t expect every client to be an interior decorator, I couldn’t expect every client to have an easy time making decisions, and I couldn’t expect every client (especially mine who are parents to small children) to be able to just sit down and get it done. It was MY responsibility to follow through to the very end, with their pictures hanging on their walls to tug at their heart every time they walk by.
And so I began piecing it together…taking every problem scenario that I’ve heard from my clients and starting to figure out a better way to go about this whole thing. I won’t take you through every pain-staking detail, but I’ll explain some of the problems my clients were running into and what we’ve done to remedy them. By “we” I mean, myself and my clients. The way I do things isn’t wildly popular, especially in this area – so it does take some open-mindedness and trust from your endBut hopefully this blog post will help you understand a little bit better.
So, one of the things I was running into was when a client had absolutely no idea how they wanted to display their images. They weren’t getting their pictures taken because they had wall space to fill, they were getting pictures taken because their family had reached a new milestone – maternity, newborn, birthdays, what-have-you. And after their session, because they had no plan for displaying their images in the first place – they just didn’t get displayed at all, save for maybe a 5×7 on the end table and an 8×10 awkwardly placed by itself in the hallway. So the biggest thing I’ve implemented is the “in-home ordering session”. This is the cure for most everything. I bring all of my product samples (canvases, boutique-framed prints, traditional framed prints, collage frames, etc) to your home and show you what they look like on your own walls. I walk through your home with you and give you suggestions of a.) where to hang frames/canvases, b.) how many of them in which sizes, c.) what configure to hang them in and d.) what colors of frames and images to use. Because of my experience and because I’m looking at your home through fresh eyes, I will be able to suggest things that you’ve never thought of doing, and I have special software to show you exactly what it will look like on your walls before you decide (for all you visual learners out there like me – and I have some examples of this software in use below.) Another great reason to do an in-home ordering session is to combat the hodgepodge look. Listen, I love eclectic style as much as the next person, but there’s got to be a line somewhere. What was happening with my clients is that they were (and had already been for years) taking away one or two random pieces of art from each session and then trying to put it all together and it just wasn’t working. Nothing was the same style, everything was from a different photographer (which is ok, and even necessary at times, I’m just saying it added to the differences), and the sizes weren’t complimentary to each other. An in-home ordering session can give you a fairly clean slate to work with. We design your wall galleries and layouts to compliment your home and your personal style (and I’m all about versatility, and getting the most bang for your buck, so I’ll cover that with you, too) and we design for as many spaces as we can so that your home feels complete and in order. You might not want your entire home decorated from this one session, but the beauty of framed prints is that you can switch out a few prints every time you have a session, or even add in some old pictures (you know, from those hodgepodge areas). So, with my help, your home can be always complete, always decorated – no half-way done, mismatched picture galleries, and you simply update your prints as you go which is inexpensive to do.
Extra nuggets of important info:
1. I do also have several clients who are canvas lovers – the thing about canvases is that they are permanent, forever, you can’t change the picture, BUT because of that – they do make the best keepsakes. So once you run out of room for updated canvases, you simply store them away and someday you’ll pull them out and sob and sob and sob over your beautiful, grown-up baby. Canvases are less expensive (from me – I’m not sure if this is an across the board photographer thing, so you’ll have to research your photographer for yourself), but it will be a consistent cost to keep updating them. Whereas framed prints are a more expensive investment upfront, but the upkeep of just switching out the prints is very inexpensive. So it all pretty much evens out no matter which way you go
2. Some of my clients express concerns about, “what if we get sick of these frames a few years from now? Or, what if we move and they no longer match our color scheme/style?” – The boutique frames I offer are very easily repainted, and while I recommend purchasing them in semi-neutral colors to make them even more versatile – sometimes a bold colored frame is exactly what you need for a particular space in your home. So, down the line – if you move or just rearrange your home or repaint, you can always repaint and reuse your boutique frames. For my traditional style frames – I usually sell these in collections. So, you’ll get a few or several frames in different, but complimentary sizes – these collections, or groupings might all fit perfectly on one wall when you purchase them, but even if you move or rearrange, these groupings are easily broken down to fit into smaller spaces, and even mix and match with different colored frames or other decor elements. Also, whatever you pick in the first place will most likely reflect your personal style – and your personal style will likely not stray too far.
3. Maybe you do have amazing plans for creating beautiful wall galleries in your home, and you think you’re going to get to it. Listen – I work for mothers of newborns. I KNOW that taking time out of your day to plan a wall gallery isn’t going to fly, at least for the next 18 years. So if you have an appointment set up to do it, with someone that can actually help you achieve what you want (and help you figure out what you want), THEN it will get done. And I’m perfectly happy to tote your babies around and keep them occupied while you sift through samples. I know, so selfless right?
4. When my newborn clients place an order for tangible product (framed prints, canvases, loose prints, etc) of over $800, they receive the gallery of digital images for free, which is a $500 value. My child/family clients receive the gallery of digital images for free (regularly $350) with a $600 product order. I do this because I WANT you to have the digital images for safe-keeping. I can’t keep everyone’s images forever, but each individual client can. BUT I want you to have printed product MORE.
There have been a few really great blog posts written recently about WHY it’s important that you have printed pictures in your home. One of the most recent I’ve seen is by Chris Cummins of Glow Imagery called “Can Family Pictures Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem? The Experts Speak” – you can read her whole article here - but the gist of what they’ve found is that when a child sees their picture in their home, on a very basic level they know that they are important, they are loved, and they have a very special place in their home, and even more profound – with family images, they know their place in the family unit. When they actually see themselves with their family, they know they have a place. Especially with the things going on in schools today, I know that for me personally, that will be a most important foundation to ground my children to.
Another great article that I LOVE is by Mike Yost, titled “The Most Photographed Generation Will Have No Pictures in 10 Years!” Definitely take a minute to read this one in full as well – you can click here to get to it. This one freaks me right out. He explains how pictures have lost their value because we take them every second of the day – and then we delete them to make room for more, new ones! Parents especially, are taking dozens and dozens of pictures of their kids with their cell phones and because they are instant, and digital, they hold no real value. Think about how much more likely you are to delete a digital image to make room for a new one as opposed to DESTROYING, THROWING OUT a canvas of your children to make room for another on the wall. You would NEVER throw it out! You would always, always keep it because it’s tangible, irreplaceable, and thus valuable. Tangible images hold more emotional value than digital, always. Ahh, he talks about so many more things – so definitely read through that one.
Okay, back on track – are you still with me??
A lot of times my clients will choose to do an in-home ordering session only after they’ve got their pictures taken and viewed their gallery, which is fine and we get great results doing it that way as well, but here are some reasons why we love to do it *before* your session. 1. I give 15% off on any pre-ordered items up until the day of your session. (A lot of my clients find it easy enough to order their product on their session day (while getting their 15% off) – I’m usually able to help them choose the perfect pieces just by looking at pictures of their home from their cell phone – but many others are much more visual and need to see it actually on their walls.) 2. While we’re in your home and planning out your wall galleries – say we know that we want to put a large horizontal family picture and 1 vertical close-up of each of your children on either side over your couch because that would be the absolute best scenario for that particular space in your home. If I know that ahead of time, I know to get those specific shots for you during your session for that purpose. Another great reason is to plan your outfit colors – if you have turquoise accents in your living room where your couch is, we’ll know to put turquoise in your outfits to coordinate. *All of this prep-work might not be important to you for many different reasons (like, you’ll be moving soon and you have no idea what you want) – and that’s ok, the most important thing is for you to HAVE pictures. But if we can create the ideal session flow, why wouldn’t we do it?
Okay, after all of that – can you book a session with me and still only purchase the digital images. Yes, you can. But I might call you every week and stop by your house just to make sure they’re up on your walls. Okay, just kidding – but I will do everything I can, every step of the way, to help you make the absolute most out of your session with me because I believe it’s important, and I believe it’s my job. I know you’re not used to having your photographer come to your home and help you fill your walls, but it is *awesome* and fun and so rewarding. Not to mention an in-home ordering session is no extra charge, even for my out of town-ers. So, just think about it
Here are some testimonials from my clients about their in-home ordering experiences, I hope you find them helpful! And if you’re looking for another great resource for your upcoming session with me, you can read my “How to Get the Most out of Your Child/Family Session” post here - and there will be a Newborn version of that coming soon!
“We had Lindsay come to the house to help choose frames/colors, and thank goodness we did! We had started a wall with colors and styles that we thought fit perfectly, and once Lindsay came we realized had we kept going on our own, the wall would have looked like it was put together by a child. Thankfully, our wall wasn’t too far along so Lindsay helped save us before we were at a point that was too far to recover. Also, I had ideas for other areas in the house, and she was able to come up with the right size and frame, which far surpassed what I even had in mind. We are loving what she helped us pick out!” – Danielle T
“We absolutely loved having an at home ordering session. Lindsay we so incredibly helpful in suggesting what products and sizes worked in different areas in our home. I have always struggled with what to place where and it was helpful to know what sizes worked in my area. Having actual prints and canvas to view made it so much easier to make our selections. I highly suggest having Lindsay come out it made the ordering process so much easier we even were able to plan canvas/ prints for future sessions. We had an in home viewing session previously with another photographer and it was such a high pressure experience I was hesitant but felt zero pressure from Lindsay my only issue is her sessions always provide the most adorable images I want them all.” – Melissa P
“Lindsay did such an incredible job with our pictures!! We chose to do an in-home planning session before the picture day and I am so glad we did. She came to our house before the photo session to help us plan where we wanted to hang prints. She helped me decide where they would look good and had lots of samples for us to see exactly how it would look. Then she made sure to get all the right shots at our session to fill the frames we picked. Another bonus with the in home session was that my son got to meet her so he was more comfortable with her on picture day. On picture day she was a total photo ninja and somehow got dozens of great pictures of our rambunctious 19 month old and a ton of the whole family as well! She had a preview for us to see within a few days and then had all the pictures edited and ready to go just a few days after that! When it came time for me to pick which pictures to put in the frames we’d ordered, she was again really helpful and patient with me. She even put together a preview so I could see how the pics would look hanging together. I just picked up the finished products and I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve- I won’t be able to sleep until we get them hung!! I am SO glad I chose Lindsay as our photographer and am very thankful I chose to order prints and frames from her as well. The finished products are absolutely incredible!! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Lindsay!!! I look forward to working with you again when the new baby comes :)” – Lauren J
“Lindsay has a unique talent for capturing love, fun and laughter. Before our first photo shoot I had her come to my home and help me design my vision for a family mantle and picture wall. Then she took the most amazing photos/works of art to fulfill the vision. I recommend to have her help you with all of it….it is the gift that gives back ever day, seeing the beautiful, special family and child that is *yours* alone. Oh, and your husband and kid (s) actually like going to see Lindsay…no convincing required. Our family loves her and her amazing gifts and talents!!!!” – Michelle S
Here are some examples of the software I use to design your wall galleries:
I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and found them helpful! I’d love to talk with you about how we can create the ideal session experience for your family.
xoxo – Lindsay