Photographers are very fortunate to be living in the digital age where memory is abundant and not too expensive. We can easily take a few hundred photos during a photo session and hope to get some good photos. We work hard to nail our camera settings, find the right light, master posing and lead the session in a direction that will result in the best images possible for the client.
Typically I recommend taking taking two to three images per pose. Sometimes it gets windy or your client blinks. You want to have a few to choose from. The screen on the back of the camera is nice, but way too small to do on the fly reviewing. Also, you don’t want to put the session on hold to look through every image. Every session has a flow and you must maintain it, along with a positive attitude, to keep your client engaged.
So, you finish your session and let the client know that it will take you a few days to sort, select and edit the best photos from the session. The client walks away happy and you head home to begin the reviewing process.
Narrowing the choices – the proofing session
Let’s say you took 300 photos and have 70 that had sharp focus and great exposure. You think to yourself, “they are going to love these 70 images!” A few days later you present the images to the client in a proofing session. The client really enjoys seeing the images, but only really like 30 of the images, and love about 10 of them.
The possible outcome of showing too many images
They tell you that they would like to continue reviewing the images before they make their final order. You remind them about your online proofing gallery, which is password protected, and tell them to take their time as you don’t want to rush them. A few days later they contact you and say they couldn’t make up their mind, but just want a CD of all the images, as they’d love to share the images with their family and friends and social media. They don’t order prints.
What went wrong and how to fix it…
- Prior to the photo session you didn’t set an expectation on how many photos you would share with the client or how the selection process would occur. Explaining this will help.
- You didn’t make sure which photos were the most important to them. Make sure to ask what they are looking for, in a location, pose or outcome. And deliver those images.
- You chose the 70 images that were properly exposed instead of the best photos with an emotional connection from the session.
- By providing 70 images, the client had so many to review that they could not decide.
- Present only the very best. It hurts sometimes to remove some photos that you really loved, but it’s always best to put your best foot forward. By reducing the number of images you increase the chances of them picking their favorites. This means more immediate sales as they are emotionally invested in the images.
- A general rule that seems to work most of the time is 20-30 images per hour for portrait sessions. This makes the reviewing process easy and also cuts down a lot on your editing time. (For events and weddings, as a minimum, you can double the numbers of images listed above per hour.)
- Editing time is billable time, meaning that in your pricing you should always factor in your time editing, proofing and traveling to see your clients. By reducing the number of images you edit, and reducing your travel to only one proofing session you are reducing your cost of doing business per session. Which in the end means more time and profit for you.
- Finally, in the sales process, you directed them to your proofing site and told them to take their time with making an order. Statistically the longer the period is between the proofing session and the actual order the less the client purchases. Make a short window in which they must place the order.
I understand that this kind of scenario doesn’t happen everyday, but it might have happened to you when you were starting out. We all learn a lot from our first few clients and hopefully want to improve our service, time management and sales!
Tomas Haran is a Portrait and Wedding photographer based out of Massachusetts. He enjoys using natural light for his sessions and has a relaxed/candid style of photographing his clients. You can find him at Tomas Haran Photography or working on his blog.
November 11, 2013 | 1 Comment
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Some of the fondest memories from my childhood are recollecting the
hundreds thousands of stories that my mom used to tell me growing up. I HAD to have a story for everything – for drinking my milk, for eating breakfast, for patiently waiting for the school bus, for dinner time – everything! They were varied in nature – from fairies, to children, to animals. But almost all the stories had a moral at the end. As I eagerly listened to my mom weave the story through twists and turns and generations of characters, I was ignorant in my belief that the story ended just as I took the last bit of food or gulped the last drop of milk. My mom would triumphantly say “The End” and then proceed to talk about the moral of the story so that I would not catch on to her tricks.
This aura and mystique of storytelling makes it’s presence even now in many facets of my life. Of course, I tell similar stories to my kids. But more importantly, I see myself applying this principle in my photography. After all, don’t they say a picture is worth a thousand words!
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against posed family portraits or standard architecture shots of buildings and landscapes. But a picture that brings out emotion, mystery, mystique or relationships is so much better. Images that tell a story, that convey a message, that elicit an emotional response are more powerful and long lasting – much like the childhood stories!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to effectively become a “storyteller” with your images.
Capture the details
Whether it’s a family session, a wedding, or even your own personal pictures, capture the details. After all your clients and you (in case of the personal images) have taken the time and effort to dress up and look good. Capture those details – they add meaning to the story!
Capture the emotion
Even if you are looking straight at the camera, capture the emotion surrounding you – be it laughter, tears, anger or pure simple joy!
Add an element of mystery
Do you know the lyrics to the famous Ronan Keating song? One line in particular – “You say it best when you say nothing at all”…same concept here…Add an element of mystery and let the viewer guess what’s going on. In come cases it is obvious and in some it is a guessing game.
Elicit a response
This is very similar to capturing the emotion in the image. Once you successfully capture emotion, a response from the observer is sure to follow – be it laughter, grins or even tears! – I really want to know what father and daughter are discussing
Create a finale
Just like a great story or a good book, it is very important to have a finale to your story. In most cases it is a parting shot, that shot before you switch off the camera. In some cases it is very apparent and in some cases it is inferred – like the view on top of this mountain!
So the next time you have your camera with you, take a more documentary approach:
- Does your story have a begin, middle and an end?
- Can you decipher the who, when, what, and where within the single images?
- Does your image tell a story and better yet, can you tell that story within a single frame??
Karthika Gupta, guest blogger for this article is a Lifestyle, Wedding and Travel Photographer and avid photo storyteller. You can see more of her work on her website Memorable Jaunts and follow her on her Memorable Jaunts Facebook page.
Want People to See Your Updates on Facebook? Want to see ours?
As you probably have come to realize, Facebook continues to make changes that make it more difficult, without advertising, to reach your intended audience. By “audience” we do not mean complete strangers that you want to know about your photography, we mean your fans – people who LIKE you and want to read your words and see your images. It almost seems counter-intuitive. If someone clicks LIKE on your business Facebook Page, they probably want to see your posts.
We post multiple times a day, asking thought-provoking photography questions, providing photography and editing tutorials, and sharing images of our customers. Yet, many of you rarely see our updates. Social media experts now say to try a new method, but we need your help to see if it works…
Though this is not a “100% guarantee or your money back” kind of offer (since it is just free advice), it cannot hurt to try… So if you can please take a moment to do this on our page, we’d be grateful. Then you can click PIN and SHARE this unbranded graphic on your own social networks so that you can ask your fans to try it.
If you LIKE US on Facebook but realize you rarely see our posts, you may need to adjust this one setting.
Step 2: Hover over the LIKED button – choose “Settings”
Step 3: Choose “All Updates”
While on our Facebook Page, make sure you enter to Win MCP Inspire
. Contest ends Friday. And if you already have it, you get $129.99 to spend on something else in our store. WIN – WIN!
I once saw a conversation about RAW vs JPG going on in a photography Facebook group. The question was, “Should I shoot in RAW or JPG?” And the photographer in question was stating that he only shot in jpeg – not only did he get more shots on his card, but he felt RAW gave no benefit to him.
Large files – are they worth it?
I have a particular fondness of my work. I have several drives that save every photograph I’ve ever taken, and sometimes I sift through older works and edit them with my MCP Photoshop Actions, just to see how they look. Other photographers have a time limit and delete files after a certain length of time. I could never do this – that work is, a part of me. Storage is a little tough for me since I shoot in RAW. Each edited image has four copies – The RAW, the PSD of my editing process, the high res jpeg saved out, and the low res for internet use. Sometimes there is an extra copy where I make a collage of several images together. Each image folder from a session is a gigabyte or more in size.
I shoot in RAW even though it takes up more space. It allows you to do things after the fact that a jpg won’t… In short, it provides photographers with flexibility and a margin for error.
Raw saves the day…
In June of this year, at a session I did for free, I decided not to set up lights. It was a mistake as there was not enough light, even at a higher ISO. This is the RAW image, SOOC. It was the darkest image from the whole session, as her placement in this pose put her off the ground and at a different position from the window than the others. As you can see it is way under-exposed and really should be a deleted picture. But…it is fun to push the editing limits.
If this was a jpg, this would have been the result in Photoshop or Lightroom after increasing the exposure. Not acceptable.
This image isn’t useable. It isn’t even worth saving – it’s the kind of image I wouldn’t feel bad about permanently deleting because no amount of Photoshop wizardry on any level can enhance data where there isn’t any. This simply isn’t saveable.
UNLESS…. I shot in RAW… which I did. Here is the same image with exposure increased in ACR (Lightroom would get the same results). This is the image that comes out of it.
Not the best image by any means. I had better images from the session, but this ended up being one of mom’s favorite images of her baby girl. Once I had this image, I applied edits to it with MCP Actions.
- Number one, I applied One Click Color from the Fusion set at 50% opacity.
- Number two, I masked Hush the Reds and Hush Jaundice onto the face from the Newborn Necessities Photoshop action set. Reds at 29%, Jaundice at 42%.
- Number three, I applied Natural Vignette from Newborn Necessities at 53%.
- Number four, I masked Increase Opacity to Darken onto the wrap from the Newborn Necessities set.
Here again is the final image:
If you shoot RAW, and accidently underexpose (even by a lot), you can see how Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Photoshop can get you great results. Those little tweaks in color balance, exposure and contrast help your images in ways you wouldn’t realize until you tried it! Every once in a while, a shoot turns out some darker images. I am glad that I have a raw file and MCP Actions to help it.
Jenna Schwartz is a newborn and senior photographer in the Henderson, Nevada and Coshocton, Ohio. You can find her on Facebook or her website.
A magical experience, through a Santa photography mini session!
A lot can be said for mini sessions. They are stylized, fun, and more affordable for your clients and a nice way to make some money in a day!
Here’s a really exciting way to do some Holiday Portraits in a lifestyle fashion that speaks to the kids and families like no other.
I knew as soon as I laid my eyes on this Santa I wanted to use him for mini sessions. I’ve worked with him in the past when I worked for a portrait studio and then he came to my husband’s company holiday party to pass out gifts to the children. If his looks aren’t enough for you, his personality tops it all!! So, I asked him for his card, let him know that I would be in contact, and the rest was history . . .
This was an ASTOUNDING success and will definitely be a tradition for years to come! Here’s how I did it, my thought process, pricing, what I learned and things I’d do different next time.
How to do a Santa Photography Mini Session
Really, the sky is the limit on what you can do with these types of sessions. Get your inspiration jiving and let’s see what you come up with! Let us photographers unite and give these children a magical experience to NEVER forget!!!
Step 1: Book Santa. Ideally book one early. He is a busy man. I booked on September 1st for early in November ensuring time for holiday cards and such. Once booked the spots filled up fairly fast.
Step 2: Market the photography mini sessions to past customers, through social networking, etc.
Step 3: Find a location. Look for a good indoor environment as you don’t want to risk bad outdoor weather. Since I found it was rather pricey, I decided to do them at my house and utilize the natural light and fireplace. I have very large windows along the whole backside with gorgeous light.
Step 4: Decorate. Can you believe I didn’t even use a Christmas tree? I wanted an earthy, organic feel to it. I browsed the stores for Holiday décor inspiration and I came up with making yarn balls, purchased some moss balls, wrapping my presents in the tones I wanted, making my own banner, and found a friend with an awesome Santa chair! Everything really was just falling into place.
Step 5: Just do it. For more day of tips, keep reading.
Step 6: Promote the sessions after the fact for more business. After the first round of sessions, 2 days later, I posted ‘teasers’ on facebook. One shot of each child(ren). The response was overwhelming! Everyone started asking when I was going to do these again, if there was another round they wanted in, please do more, etc . . etc . . etc . . So, I called Santa and scheduled him again. This round filled in just 10 hours. Again . . . people asked for more. So, I scheduled a third day and it filled up again.
Above: I loved getting a shot of all of their hands. Who gets cookies straight from Santa’s hands?
- Above: These are my 2 kids. Dad was getting ready to take them out for the day, but how could I NOT give them the opportunity to see Santa himself in THEIR house! The expressions on their faces say it all . . .
- Above: They were all telling Santa what they really, really wanted the most.
How It Worked: Day of. The process went pretty smooth. It was actually like a revolving door. I had an assistant with me, which I felt was a necessity to make this run as smoothly as it did. It allowed me to stay focused and not get caught up in other tasks. My assistant, Patti, let people in, help them get ready if needed, had people pay (who didn’t upfront), sign a model release, help the kids smile if needed, offered snacks (clean finger foods of course and it was important to keep Santa happy!) Basically, kept them out of my way and happy while I was shooting.
Schedule: We booked every 30 minutes. No wiggle room like I usually allow for mini sessions. Each family/child got 30 minutes with Santa (WAY better than the tradition mall experience). We had cookies and milk, went over their list if they wanted, they got to ask questions, take pictures with him, tell secrets, do a story . . . the possibilities are endless. I also offered a plain backdrop for variety of something to give as gifts and not be so ‘christmas-y’.
Money – What to Charge: I said I would talk about pricing. My favorite topic . . . not. I learned the hard way, after the fact. I only charged a wee bit more than my typical standard mini session fee. I normally charge $100 for a mini session. For Santa sessions I charged $125, to help cover the cost of Santa. I didn’t think of all the other costs involved. Maybe this was a good move also to get people in the door and get the hype going, but I’m going to do it differently next year though. This isn’t your standard session. For one, it’s 10 min. longer, faster paced and let’s not forget, MAGICAL! Nobody had any issue paying that fee. In fact, people said they were surprised. So next year’s price will be higher as I need to factor in the costs of everything… decorations, santa, assistant, cookies, snacks and any other misc. costs, and a location if I decide to rent a space. I’d love to hear your thoughts on pricing also.
In the end this is a very exciting event for all! The families love it, Kids love it, Santa loves it, and well…
I LOVED every minute of it.
Wendy Magee is a photographer in the Cincinnati, OH area working with mainly children, families, newborns and seniors. She’s a Canon girl and has been shooting for 4 years. Visit her on Facebook and let her know what you think about her first ever blog post… This article ran in 2012 here on the MCP Blog – but we ran in in late November. This year we want you to get an earlier start!