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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 06 Mar 2017 (Monday) 07:21
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Surreptitious requests for free pictures

 
banquetbear
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Mar 08, 2017 19:11 |  #16

Ralpho wrote in post #18293224 (external link)
First one I can remember was from Mary, a former college basketball player. She contacted me several years after she graduated, said a former teammate had died and she told family she would see about acquiring pictures of her late former teammate in action. I searched my archives, found a few pictures of Mary's former teammate, put them on my site (with a reasonable price), told Mary about it, and she ordered nothing. I could only assume she had been angling for free pictures all along.

A few weeks ago a college employee and Facebook friend asked via Facebook message if I had pictures of the former football coach there, who died two years ago. I had just finished building a gallery of coach pictures and sent her a link to ten of the coach she was interested in. She wrote back asking for a discount. I declined to provide one. And she bought nothing. As it happens, she was asking on behalf of the coach's widow, who wanted to make a collage with pictures of her late husband to hang in the football locker room. She said the widow cried, but I'm not sure if it was after seeing the pictures, or after I declined to give a discount. Anyway, no one ordered anything.

...surreptitious implies deceit. I don't see deceit here at all. These aren't typical photo buyers. I can hazard a guess your marketing plan is not orientated around the recently deceased. These are people in grief. They don't understand the "process." They asked you if you had photos of people that had passed away. You said you did: and you named a price. That price was too high: so they walked away. There is nothing surreptitious here. This is just the free market in action.

You can run your business how you want. I would have sent them the photos. For free. No obligation. I may have even done the collage for free and sent them a print. Life's too short to worry about $5.99. I make my money elsewhere. Do you want to be remembered as the photographer who made the the wife of the beloved coach of the local high school cry? Its a shame that this football locker room doesn't have a framed photo of this coach, kindly donated by Rod Cannon Photography, proud supporter of football at this school.

Then yesterday I received a message from another Facebook friend, this one a former high school basketball player I photographed more than ten years ago. She wanted to know if I still have pictures of her. She may yet respond and offer to pay for them, but I doubt it.

If you are "suspicious" that she wants free photos then tell her upfront that there will be a cost to search your archives, and bill her before you search. I think Scott's suggestion is very good.

This is all the more frustrating because sales have tanked in last two years even though quality of my pictures improved quite a bit this last season after I started using Lightroom instead of iPhoto. Are there any similar stories out there? Has anyone found a way to deal with these people and still make a sale?[/SIZE]

My event print sales are going down as well. I charge a higher fee upfront now, and don't cover events that I either don't enjoy, or look to be unprofitable. The market has moved on. You need to be talking to your client base: find out why they are not buying, and figure out ways to meet their needs. And if you can't change your business model to accommodate their needs (and make a profit) then walk away and find a new way to make money in photography.


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countryfarmboy
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Mar 08, 2017 19:53 |  #17

I no longer shoot on spec. If the parents are not interested in me taking pictures, then I don't show up. How many games are you taking pictures at Ralph? I wouldn't shoot more than 3 games. That should give you enough pictures from them to select from. My offer to parents is 5 parents need to signup for $30 each. If I do not get 5 parents, then it is $150 divided 4 or 3 parents. With my high school players, I send home a signup form in their picture package. When they order pictures, I will see the form filled out for action shots. I like the idea of them paying in advance and getting a certain number of prints. I've had customers contact me about older pictures and when I find them, they never ordered.




  
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Ralpho
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Mar 09, 2017 06:31 as a reply to  @ post 18295774 |  #18

No on your question, Jethr0. I've been using Exposure Manager since 2007. What you suggest, putting the most recent event gallery on the home page, could be done. I'd have to create the gallery on the home page, then move it at some point to the current season's gallery. But I'm not convinced that parents of players I give business cards to will give up when they see the latest game isn't immediately clickable on the home page. Hoop (women) and Hoop (men) galleries are at the top of the home page during basketball season. All they have to do is click on one of them, then on the current season (which is also at the top of its gallery), then find the game they just attended.

I'm not saying I don't lose potential customers because they can't figure that out, but it doesn't strike me as complex or time consuming to make three fairly obvious clicks to reach the game of interest. Anyone who can't figure out how to get from my home page to a specific gallery probably can't figure out how to order pictures anyway.

That said, any parent I have an email address for (mostly people who have already ordered at least once) get an email link to the latest game's gallery, bypassing the home page and seasons page and current season page. Once in a while, however, I get an email from a parent who says they lost the link to the latest game and would I please send another one. I know that makes them seem as dumb as a box of rocks, but I think they're just accustomed to getting a link.




  
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Ralpho
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Mar 09, 2017 06:34 as a reply to  @ post 18295775 |  #19

Thanks for your input, OhLook. You and others in this thread have convinced me to change digital negative to digital download. But I'll wait until after my March 15 price increase so as not to confuse parents who've been seeing digital negative all season.




  
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Firebot
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Mar 09, 2017 11:15 |  #20

Ralpho wrote in post #18295103 (external link)
You didn't convince me, however, that my potential customers aren't guilty of procrastination. It takes time and effort to order pictures on anyone's web site. You've got to put pictures in a virtual shopping cart and enter your name, address, email, phone and (most importantly) credit card information. Some people also want to wait until they can get input from their son or daughter the college athlete. Personally, I put things off every day, so it's not hard to believe that my potential customers do, too.

You referred to my telling customers that prices will increase on a certain date as a "threat." Is that really the word you want to use? I'm not saying, "You'd better buy pictures, dammit, or I'll raise the frigging price!"

I told them in an email that I don't want them to pay the higher prices and the only reason I established a two-tier price policy is to give them an incentive NOT to procrastinate. I figure I'm on solid ground here, as sale prices everywhere are temporary.

It's a warning of higher prices, which has a negative connotation. Think of it like flight tickets for a trip you may want to do, but on the fence. You are more likely to simply not buy the ticket if prices go up (even if you get told they may go up), versus buying them as soon as a ticket sale happens. Your customers are already not buying, they will simply forget about it and just not buy. They will still procrastinate, just now they will not buy for sure once prices are higher. Heck I just did it yesterday. Had a wish list to fly somewhere in the summer, but didn't buy tickets as prices were got a little high. Wouldn't you know it, a 24 hour sale came up yesterday for the destination, and I bought tickets to my flight. If there was no sale, my thought process would have been that prices are too high to justify buying tickets right now.

You suggested that prices for digital downloads and prints should be different, with prints being cheaper. That's already the case, as my current-season small digital download is $4.99, and 4x6 prints are $3.99. Do you suggest a bigger difference in price?

Yes, bigger difference in price is needed to separate the two. I can bet you that you are doing less print sales as soon as you put the digital download option, yet your sales likely are down overall. Lower price on the 4 x 6, higher price on the downloads (since they can print and use at will). You should also specify the difference between small and large download, that a non techie would understand, and make a bigger difference between the two also. Maybe make the smaller one marketed for social media, the larger one for high res print and market them with that thought in mind. 3$ for 4x6, 6$ for social media photo, 10$ for high res printable photo, something like that with a good discount on bulk ordering.

You made a few other posts I wanted to touch up on. Your type of business would benefit greatly from running a blog that posts samples of the latest game, along with a direct link to the photos to purchase for that game as part of your home page. You need to ask yourself why your sales are dropping (they should be going higher, not lower as you get better). Some more work may get those superstitious requests for free pictures to die down.

You have a niche market, and effectively are the exclusive photographer at these games, and people must buy from you, yet they are not buying as much as you like. You need to find out why.

Do you run stats on how many viewers you get, if they browse the photos, etc? Do they stop at the home page?




  
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Mar 09, 2017 12:30 |  #21

Ralpho wrote in post #18295609 (external link)
Do you shoot sports, Ksbal? How do you handle the pay-in-advance model?

A friend of mine will shoot a game if four parents each pay him $30, and he gives them a CD containing all pictures from the game.

But he does high school, and I do college. The model might not work on college parents.

It is slow going at first, people have to be retrained to seek you out in advance. I put up signs and try to stay in one spot, where they can sign up, camera in hand so I'm captain obvious. (big white helps here)

Once they figure it out, they see me and it automatically reminds them to come over and talk with me before their class. They can pay me before or after, but usually if they take the time to fill out the paper work, they will pay. I've only been stiffed about 3 times where I did shoot but didn't get paid... but they never saw the pictures, either. :)

I shoot horse events.

I've never talked with clients about a 'digital negative'. just digital images. I do burn to dvd and mail, but may have to change to a thumb drive model soon.


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Mar 09, 2017 12:38 |  #22

I have one thought on what Firebot has posted - I don't do a small digital file vs larger digital file price... editing/time/equipment isn't different, for me. So I don't price it different. I make sure the file will print to 8x10 in size, and call it good.


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Ralpho
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Mar 10, 2017 09:57 as a reply to  @ Firebot's post |  #23

I've told the customers whom I have email addresses for that small .jpg files are good for web use and 4x6 prints, and if they want to make large prints they should buy large .jpg files. Chance are that some of them are still confused, but I don't know what else I can do to make them understand.

As for blogging to promote my photos, I started to do that (after a fashion) this season by uploaded watermarked photos from every game to Facebook, tagging everyone I can tag, providing links to my own site and writing captions for every photo. There's no telling how effective (or counter-effective) that practice has been. (And the watermark is big, bold and centered, in case you were wondering.)

You said I need to find out why parents of players aren't buying as much as they used to. I agree. And I asked for their input via email two months ago. No one responded. In retrospect, I wish I had sent an email to each individual parent instead of all at once. I'm now convinced that people are far less likely to respond to an email that was obviously sent to a number of people at the same time, as opposed to them only. (As it would appear if I sent the same message to 50 people individually.)

Even with family members this is true. Two to three years ago I was sending quarterly updates on my activities to family members, suggesting that they do the same so as to keep abreast of each other's activities. Response was almost nonexistent. I blame it on the form letter aspect of what I was doing.

You asked if I run stats on how many viewers I get, etc. The answer is sort of. Exposure Manager's system lets me see viewing stats for each gallery, so I can see how many people visited the gallery and how many views each image got. But without feedback I can only guess as to why they don't order more than they do. Procrastination makes more sense than anything else I can think of.

I also think digital photography is to blame, in part. People have far more photos than they used to in the film days because there's virtually no cost to taking them. So when I come along offering photos for sale they think, "I've already got a zillion photos of my child and don't want any more."

Before I went digital (2001-04) I sold 4x6 prints person to person at games. When I wasn't taking pictures I was going though the stands in search of parents. When I found one I'd show him or her the 4x6 prints in my pocket, and he or she would buy some or none. That method has the advantage of providing instant gratification with no troubling web transaction involving credit cards that probably keep many people from ordering.

It would probably be best to sell using both methods, but it's too time-consuming for me to do alone. Ideally I'd have an assistant selling in the stands or at a table in the hall while I took pictures. But any extra money I made would have to be used to pay my assistant. And I'm sure the college and university where I do most of my shooting wouldn't permit me to set up a table.




  
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Dan ­ Marchant
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Mar 10, 2017 21:19 |  #24

Ralpho wrote in post #18295103 (external link)
You referred to my telling customers that prices will increase on a certain date as a "threat." Is that really the word you want to use? I'm not saying, "You'd better buy pictures, dammit, or I'll raise the frigging price!"

While you may not be using those exact words that is what you are saying. There is no actual economically valid reason why the price would go up after X time. That is just a classic pressure tactic used by double glazing salesmen the world over, and people recognise it as such. Worse, because the price rise isn't real the "discount" being offered will also be seen as not real. The whole situation creates a negative feeling. It doesn't encourage people to buy it discourages them because they are looking for the catch. Why does this guy want to rush me to buy.... what is it he doesn't want me to realise.

Offering discounts to new customers (or on new product) doesn't work because, if they have never experienced the full price the discount price isn't a discount, it is just the price of the thing. It makes it much harder to get them to pay the real price later and encourages bargain hunters not loyal customers.

You need to construct discounts that are positive in nature. That add value in the mind of the customer and which drive more sales. The first image is full price, the second one is 20% off. That establishes the full price value of your images while encouraging extra sales by offering a discount off the actual established price of the item.


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Mar 10, 2017 21:52 |  #25

When ever i get that --buy it now and its x amount but if you buy it tomorrow its more ,, i know for myself its a bit of a turn off, does make me feel like my arm is being twisted into it ..and normally it makes me pass on the deal


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Mar 11, 2017 10:03 |  #26

rantercsr wrote in post #18297791 (external link)
When ever i get that --buy it now and its x amount but if you buy it tomorrow its more ,, i know for myself its a bit of a turn off, does make me feel like my arm is being twisted into it ..and normally it makes me pass on the deal

Yes, I react the same way. In fact, whenever I feel like someone is trying to manipulate me I walk away and do not buy. By "manipulate", I mean "try to influence my behavior". If someone is obviously trying to get me to buy something, then I will not buy it. If someone offers something for sale, but doesn't seem to give a damn whether I buy it or not, then I do buy it (if I want it).

But the one thing I always do is to take a good long while and thing things through before I buy anything. Why? Because I only want to spend money on things that really truly matter and will provide long-term value. I do not ever want to spend any money on things that seem cool now, but may not matter to me in a few months or a few years.

"Impulse" purchases are something that just don't happen with me - not even with things that only cost a dollar or two. "Rush" or "hurry" tactics such as the OP is suggesting would never work on me in that type of situation.

Before I spend $4.99 or $5.99 on something, I need a good long while to think it through and determine whether or not a photo of a loved one at that particular event is really that important, and whether or not it will provide lasting value throughout the coming months and years. I also need to consider all of the photos that I can take myself, and then mentally compare them to the photos that the OP has taken, and think through my intended usage, and spend time contemplating the merits of both my photos and the OP's photos, in regards to that specific usage, and then make a determination as to whether my own photos will do what I want to do just as well as the OP's photos will.

In other words, I insist on procrastinating, when it comes to making purchases.......and if someone tries to force me not to procrastinate, then I will feel like I am being manipulated, and definitely not buy anything.

.


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Mar 11, 2017 14:07 |  #27

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18298063 (external link)
Yes, I react the same way. In fact, whenever I feel like someone is trying to manipulate me I walk away and do not buy. By "manipulate", I mean "try to influence my behavior". If someone is obviously trying to get me to buy something, then I will not buy it. If someone offers something for sale, but doesn't seem to give a damn whether I buy it or not, then I do buy it (if I want it).

But the one thing I always do is to take a good long while and thing things through before I buy anything. Why? Because I only want to spend money on things that really truly matter and will provide long-term value. I do not ever want to spend any money on things that seem cool now, but may not matter to me in a few months or a few years.

"Impulse" purchases are something that just don't happen with me - not even with things that only cost a dollar or two. "Rush" or "hurry" tactics such as the OP is suggesting would never work on me in that type of situation.

Before I spend $4.99 or $5.99 on something, I need a good long while to think it through and determine whether or not a photo of a loved one at that particular event is really that important, and whether or not it will provide lasting value throughout the coming months and years. I also need to consider all of the photos that I can take myself, and then mentally compare them to the photos that the OP has taken, and think through my intended usage, and spend time contemplating the merits of both my photos and the OP's photos, in regards to that specific usage, and then make a determination as to whether my own photos will do what I want to do just as well as the OP's photos will.

In other words, I insist on procrastinating, when it comes to making purchases.......and if someone tries to force me not to procrastinate, then I will feel like I am being manipulated, and definitely not buy anything.

.

Questions I ask include: Will I really see a difference in the products I'm actually producing? And even if I see a difference, will my clients see a difference? And will they be willing to pay me more for that difference?

Like most of us, I've bought loads and loads of equipment that made incremental differences, or just made me feel better. I can point to two purchases that actually changed my world and bumped my income so significantly that the purchases paid for themselves almost immediately.

The first was the purchase of a Mamiya TLR back in 1972. That was my first medium format camera, and that purchase gave me the power to make really acceptable professional enlargements for weddings and portraits from Ektacolor film. In the years after that, I moved up to a Mamiya C330 and then to a Mamiya RZ67, but those purchases did not have a comparable immense impact of that single purchase of going from 35mm to medium format for print enlargements.

The second was the purchase of a Canon 5D in 2006. Up until then, I'd gone through a progression of Canon DSLRs to the 20D, and they were immensely more pleasurable to use in so many more ways than color film...but my bread and butter were large wall prints of family portraits, and the 20D did not cut it compared to my Mamiya RZ67 cameras. That was despite the fact that color film required me to go through the significantly different process of working through a lab for proofs and the very different photographic techniques necessary when retouching is going to be economically unfeasible. So what happened was that I usually took the 20D when I didn't expect much out of the client, but took both cameras when I had higher hopes.

Then I got the 5D. This is the test that changed my world:


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Notice the brand name imprinted on the edge of the contact lens. The Mamiya image is still slightly sharper and has slightly better gradation, but the difference wasn't noticeable even in 30x40 family portraits. The 5D meant I could retire those heavy Mamiya howitzers and go fully digital. Being fully digital saved me money and "cost of sales." Also saved my back.

And that meant I could offer large prints to everyone all the time. The 5D paid for itself in 60 days.

So I look at new purchases with those two purchase being my bar: How much is this really going to change my world? Oh, that doesn't mean I don't make incremental improvements, but I am certainly more clear-eyed about it.



  
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Ralpho
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Mar 13, 2017 11:52 |  #28

I just wanted to throw this out there for those who opined that my system of having higher prices for photos from past seasons, as opposed to photos from the current season, is likely to antagonize my customers and have the opposite effect that I intended.

My small town, St. Louis, Michigan, sends me a bill every month for various services. If I pay by a certain date the cost is, say, $100. And if I pay after that date the charge is $110. In discussing this with my mother last night she suggested that many other companies follow the same plan. Pay later and pay more.

So it seems possible, if not likely, that my customers will see nothing new in my pricing policy and therefore not take offense and punish me by buying nothing.




  
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Mar 13, 2017 12:00 |  #29

Ralpho wrote in post #18299807 (external link)
I just wanted to throw this out there for those who opined that my system of having higher prices for photos from past seasons, as opposed to photos from the current season, is likely to antagonize my customers and have the opposite effect that I intended.

My small town, St. Louis, Michigan, sends me a bill every month for various services. If I pay by a certain date the cost is, say, $100. And if I pay after that date the charge is $110. In discussing this with my mother last night she suggested that many other companies follow the same plan. Pay later and pay more.

So it seems possible, if not likely, that my customers will see nothing new in my pricing policy and therefore not take offense and punish me by buying nothing.

But you are paying St Louis $100 a month for services that you actually need, whereas no one actually needs a photo of young Tarquin running around a football pitch.


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Mar 13, 2017 12:19 |  #30

Ralpho wrote in post #18299807 (external link)
My small town, St. Louis, Michigan, sends me a bill every month for various services. If I pay by a certain date the cost is, say, $100. And if I pay after that date the charge is $110.

This may not be quite comparable. You get the bill at a fixed time without making a decision about timing your "purchases." You may not even have a choice about buying the services if they're things like water and trash removal. Depending on how a price schedule is described, a charge for paying later can look like a penalty. Paying a tax after the deadline incurs interest and penalty charges. Or a charge can look like an incentive to pay early (buy now, not later) if the offer is framed that way so that buyers feel positive about acting. For example, a store might advertise "Sale ends March 31st." Customers then think they're being offered a discount rather than being threatened with a penalty.

The difference between deciding when to pay and deciding whether to buy is important.


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