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Thread started 01 Jan 2013 (Tuesday) 10:27
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Festival photography tips?

 
Lonnie
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Jan 01, 2013 10:27 |  #1

My wife and I are seriously considering trying out a portrait booth at a local festival. There are two festivals per year, and the turnout is very good - always lots of kids too.

The idea is simple. Make a portrait setup that is unique and hard to walk by without stopping. Spend no more than 5-10 minutes shooting each person.

It was my thought that we should be printing on site, both to lock in the sale, and take advantage of our target audience's desire for immediate gratification. My wife thinks that will be too costly and complicated. We should charge a small sitting fee, then email the customers a link where they can order prints.

I can see her point - if we are busy, I will have to concentrate on shooting and may not have time anyway.

Any of you that have done this kind of work, I would really appreciate any advice you may have regarding pricing and method of image delivery.


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Old ­ Coot
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Jan 01, 2013 11:06 |  #2

Though not a festival, a local flea market that I visit from time to time has a friendly couple that sets up to take portraits with a green screen background. They let the customer pick a custom background, or multiple backgrounds and print on-site. Many times, they have several people in line to have their picture taken. I am not sure how much they charge, but if I happen to venture out there, I'll ask. I feel that optional on-site printing where they customer can decide if they want the print or the digital image (or both) would get you the most business. Just make sure your printer can handle the volume and has the speed necessary to keep your customers from becoming frustrated.


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Black ­ Mesa ­ Images
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Jan 01, 2013 11:46 as a reply to  @ Old Coot's post |  #3

Woman in my photo club does this from time to time. She has a background setup that includes a bench and she prints on site. I don't remember what size, either 4"x6" or 5"x7" and I don't think she charges more than $10 a shoot. She said the last time she did this during the county fair she made $500, which I don't know if that was before or after the booth fee which was about $100.


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JacobPhoto
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Jan 01, 2013 16:31 |  #4

Here in LA, there's several companies who do photobooths on site at festivals and sporting events where they have cool backgrounds and fun props (feather boas in neon colors, oversized sunglasses, etc). Everyone gets a printed 4x6, and the prints have a sponsor on it. The sponsor pays for everything and it is free to the end user. I've done photos with friends / etc at events in these booths at several events. The only enticement was the free memento from the event, and the photos hang in my cubicle at my day job. I think you'd lose 90% or 95% of the participants if there was a fee associated with it, unless it's somewhere like a theme park where parents are willing to pay for the memories.

This is the company that does many of the photo booths in LA - http://politeinpublic.​com/ (external link)


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glumpy
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Jan 01, 2013 19:58 |  #5
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To make something like this work it needs an angle. Greenscreen is the best approach as mentioned with a selection of backgrounds. You could have something like the eiffel tower, Pyramids, Standing on the moon or things that they very obviously can't do themselves and are fun and entertaining.

I'd put up signage indicating they choose their Background BEFORE they are photographed as it will allow you to best position them for some shots but more importantly, in case you do get busy you don't want people standing there procrastinating about which BG they want and wasting your time.

As for onsite printing being slow or difficult, Why the hell do people always think that?
I do onsite green screen setups and printing for corporate and Charity events and shoot 700 people in an evening . We usually do in excess of 400 6x8" prints with extras for groups and people who double up with friends etc.
Sometimes my wife will do crowd control/ direction ( which you wouldn't need) and then it's just my son and I. I shoot and he prints. Never had a problem keeping up yet,It's neither difficult nor time consuming

The GS Software composites the pics in seconds and you send the pics to the printers. You pre ajust the GS software so you rarely if ever have to ajust it thereafter and its a matter of import the pic, position the image of the people and print it.

If we want to do a pic package I have them setup in PS so we import the image, hit the preset action key for the layout desired and the thing spits out the printer.

In honesty, I think you are going to have to come up with something pretty out of the box to get run off your feet so I wouldn't be worrying about keeping up. It would take a line up of extremely unlikely proportions for this to happen -IF- you are set up right in the first place.

I usually take 3 printers to a job and only take 2 into the venue. Had things bugger up where one went down so we have done them on one printer only. I recommend taking 2 machines however and them printer pool them. This way if you get asked for 2 prints ( and I'd Include that as a value added option) then you can print both copies in seconds more than it takes to print one.

As for what you offer, I have a hatred for 6x4" prints and it defies my understanding why professionals even offer them. People here carry on about never letting their files out in case a client gets a bad print made yet they will happily sell a print size that is as amaterurish, least profitable and hides as much detail in the image as possible.

I have always done 5x7"'s as a minimum size and now I am doing 6x8's. Because of the amount of prints I crank out these days with my regular work I have got a fantastic deal on 8x12" paper which I buy at 3000 sheets at a time and then cut it in half for the event work. It's much cheaper than me buying pre-cut 5x7 and doesnt take long to cut up a couple of boxes to cover one of these events. Anything left over just goes back in the kits for next time.

Since doing the 6x8's we get so many more comments on the larger print size and although I put the price up $5, people are telling us what good value it is. I thought I was pushing the price but anyway... :D

You have to realise this is a numbers game. I would NOT count on low prices bringing in hoards of people. In my lengthy experience this doesn't happen. You have to divide what you want to make by the price to see how many customers you are going to need. If you want $1000 ( which I would) and you are selling at say $10 per pic, then you are going to need 100 customers.
Divide that over the time the fair runs, ( 10 hours per day?) then you are going to need 10 customers per hour ( 1 every 6 min). Firstly thats easily doable production wise, 2ndly that sounds reasonable to pull the people in.

IF you go to say $5 per print, the dynamics change and suddenly you need 200 clients. That sounds like a BIG ask to me just to get them in. The low price is not going to double the amount of people that want what your doing that's for certain.
Plus you are going to be run off your feet and people will probably walk away.

IF you go to say $15 per print then the Dynamics change a whole load more favourably the way you want.
You will loose very few people with the extra cost particularly if your samples and presentation is right ( and there is no way you are going to loose 50% of those that would have bought at $10) and you have a lot better chance f pulling in the lowered number of clients that the higher.

And that's what I'd be worrying about, getting enough people not worrying about getting too many. If you are meeting your sales target and then can't keep up and people walk off but you still did double what your goal was, who cares? If you go in thinking you are going to get run off your feet and are not, then you'll be dissapointed.

Myself, I'd be going for a $15 base and then having options for upselling. My base package for my main work is $20. My average SALE value is $32.50. It's the $35 and $50 sales we regularly do with the add ons and options that really make me money.

I'd be doing a multiple print option ( 2 prints on an 8x12 sheet is real easy if your using 6x8s to start with) and I'd also do multiple backgrounds of one pose. In that case I would offer 4x 6x4's all on the one 8x12 like the famous Andy Warhol image.
You might also look at a picture package like 2 x5x7's and some wallets on an 8x12 sheet.

This is all very easy to set up with one printer loaded with 6x8 paper and another with 8x12 and preset the actions in PS or your greenscreen program.

Something you need to do with this and I would go so far as to say much of your success in this event will depend on it is SIGNAGE. You need to make it plenty clear what you are doing and attract attention with it. Make sure you do an overhead banner of some sort and have that up high where it's not going to be blocked by people standing in front of it etc.

If the fair goes into the night, make sure you have the banner lit up like Christmas. I'd also have some bassy music playing with upbeat tunes. You don't have it loud, but the bass will carry and pull people in even over the rest of the noise. Lighting and Music are my 2 secret weapons when I do trade shows and they allow me to buy the cheapest/ most undesirable stand at the event and pull more people than the guys right up the front that paid 3-4 times more.

One more idea that just came to mind is the possibility of something like a petting zoo you take pics of kids and families with. If you can get some lambs or baby Chickens, Piglets, ducklings etc and set up a scene with them and take pics, maybe that could work if there is no opportunity for the people to do it else where. I don't know, never been to one of these things, just a an idea I'm throwing out.


From RDKirk: First, let me check the forum heading...yes, it does say "Business of Photography" and not "Hobby of Photography." Okay. So we're talking about making money, not about hobbies. By "business" I am presuming activities that pay expenses and produce a profit over the long term.

  
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Lonnie
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Jan 01, 2013 20:46 |  #6

Glumpy,
Thanks very much for taking the time to share this detailed experience.

We are planning on doing one seasonal set, not a greenscreen. The particular festival I am referring to now is positioned well for Easter pictures in the Spring. We have talked about the live animal route - it'd be a PITA, but it'd also be a big draw. I don't know what the public health implications are though, since the town is the entity putting on the festival.

I didn't even think about setting up PS actions for the different print configurations. That would make it really fast. With just one set, PP would be non-existant.

Lots of great info here for me to digest. Again, thank you very much for sharing it. :)


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Lonnie
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Jan 01, 2013 21:24 |  #7

Glumpy, what kind of printers and paper stock do you bring with you?


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glumpy
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Jan 02, 2013 06:37 |  #8
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To me, having one seasonal set limits you.
If you are looking at Easter, then with GS you could offer a variety of suitable backgrounds and I believe widen your potential client base and interest levels.
For me, I'm a bit bah humbug on a lot of these things and I find many others are too. By using GS you could offer something that is not Bunny rabbits and eggs but put the people in front of a fighter jet or out the front of the Moulan Rouge or whatever.

Don't mean to ram the GS down your throat, it just seems to give the best opportunity for the best Return on investment to me and that always my first and foremost consideration.
:D

The beauty of PS actions is exactly that, Speed. With what I do I offer a 3 page package which is 2 sheets of Multiple pics and a full size image. I bring the pic to be printed up in PS, crop it if needed, hit the action button and all the levels, colour balance, resizeing and compositing of the images is done in seconds and I'm handing the people their order in literally 2 minutes flat.

Some of the actions I have written for things are quite long and even have stops built in where I can reposition the image as in doing mag covers etc ( something to offer at your fair!) but in seconds and with a couple of presses of buttons the images are being printed and on their way.

As for paper and printers, I use a no name brand of paper that is broght in here by one company and is the equal or better of any Kodak or Ilford paper I have used. Matter of fact when I first tested it, I used it on the existing Koderk profile I had the printers set up for and it was still bloody perfect. I calculated just the other week we used something like 30K sheets of the stuff this year and I never had a problem with any of it.

Here the best I can get Koderk or Ilford paper for is around .80C per sheet. I get the one I'm using for .16C a sheet. BIG difference.
The paper is a full gloss, 260 GSM. That's all they offer unfortunately as I'd love to be able to get the stuff in matte and A3 size as well.

The printers I use are Canon Inkjets with Bulk ink systems. I have 13 of them in 3 different models now (The last ones I bought were 4x ip4950's at the beginning of December) but they all output the same and do the same great quality despite 5 years age difference.

I bought an EPson 730 the other week and hate the thing. I bought it because it feeds and delivers from the front therefore making it a lot more compact for building into the rolling workstations I'm in the process of building.

The thing Clunks and grinds and makes noises for literally 7 minutes at certain times when it's setting itself up and despite supposedly twice as fast as the Canon ( Fk they take some liberty's with their speed claims!) it's far slower than even my 5 yo canons.
I have only taken it onsite twice and the thing was bloody painful compared to the canons. There was no way I could keep up with the orders with the thing where I would have comfortable got by with any of my canons. Lesson learned.

The quality I find is OK, no better than the canons and for the most part, no worse.
The software is no where near as versatile as what canon has however and some tasks we take for granted on certain jobs and use the canon software for just aren't there with the Epsom.

I told my crew that it was a matter of getting used to the epsom because I wanted to use them but it's clear the things just are not practical for what we do despite having the paper path that's far better suited to what I want to do. The girls hate it too and find the thing annoying to work with in loading the paper tray which only holds 25 sheets and spitting out a half finished print whenever it thinks it's run out of ink.
I'm going to have to figure something out with the canons because there is no way the epsoms are up to the jobs we do.

One thing I highly reccomend are the Bulk ink systems. I have been using one brand for the last 5 years but recently found a company near me ( instead of interstate) and I have tested their system and ink and it's as good and in some ways better than the other mobs. The Systems themselves are about half the price and the ink about 40% cheaper.

It literally costs me 1-2 Cents for ink per 8x12 sheet where as using the OEM cartridges was costing over $1 by my calcs over many hundreds of prints. If you are doing any sort of volume work, you can't afford not to use the bulk systems IMHO if you want to maximise your profits.

There are loads of people that talk crap about the bulk ink systems and given how much money the printer manufacturers make from it, I'm sure they have shills on boards like this perpetuating the BS rumors and innuendo.
I saw in a computer mag here a while back where they said they had tested dozens of CIS's and had not experienced or even had reports of a single one stuffing up a printer.

I buy each colour ink for about $55 per litre now and get on average around 8000 8x12 prints per set of 4 colours/ bottles.


From RDKirk: First, let me check the forum heading...yes, it does say "Business of Photography" and not "Hobby of Photography." Okay. So we're talking about making money, not about hobbies. By "business" I am presuming activities that pay expenses and produce a profit over the long term.

  
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juicedownload
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Jan 07, 2013 21:48 |  #9

Thanks for the information, glumpy. I am also potentially involved with a festival photo session for kids with prints on the spot and additional options available on the website. Pricing is key. It's tough as I don't know the market very well for this type of event.


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golfecho
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Jan 08, 2013 14:55 |  #10

glumpy wrote in post #15434156 (external link)
The printers I use are Canon Inkjets with Bulk ink systems. I have 13 of them in 3 different models now (The last ones I bought were 4x ip4950's at the beginning of December) but they all output the same and do the same great quality despite 5 years age difference.

This is where the Print button on the camera comes in . . . ?? :rolleyes:


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Fester
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Jan 09, 2013 20:30 as a reply to  @ golfecho's post |  #11

From the clients perspective,
I'd want a print or CD to take with me, I don't know you or trust you to deliver a product later as promised.

I like Glumpys ideas about having a gimmic.

Remember everyone has a camera on their phone and that pic can be on Facebook faster than you can swipe their credit card.

There has to be a "wow" factor to get me stop and spend more money. Every booth is after my wallet. And I'm there looking for something cool or unique.

Good luck




  
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HughTFall
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Jan 10, 2013 03:03 |  #12

The festival is the perfect time for local photographers to earn money. As what I have notice during this occasion, photographers are putting up a booth, bringing the members of their respective family. They enjoyed the festival and earning money at the same time. I think they ask for $10 per 5"x7" photo.


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glumpy
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Jan 10, 2013 04:44 |  #13
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HughTFall wrote in post #15469460 (external link)
The festival is the perfect time for local photographers to earn money. As what I have notice during this occasion, photographers are putting up a booth, bringing the members of their respective family. They enjoyed the festival and earning money at the same time. I think they ask for $10 per 5"x7" photo.

You'd want to be selling a lot of Pics @ $10 ea to make it worth your while.
Hope they have a plan for upselling.


From RDKirk: First, let me check the forum heading...yes, it does say "Business of Photography" and not "Hobby of Photography." Okay. So we're talking about making money, not about hobbies. By "business" I am presuming activities that pay expenses and produce a profit over the long term.

  
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Festival photography tips?
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