Families and newlyweds today have a different mindset when it comes to hiring photographers. Expectations are changing in both terms of content and, even more profoundly, in how photos are distributed.
Part of that difference is reflected in the style of photography that appeals to them. From the beginning I've been obsessed with offering shots that capture the emotion of the moment. I now insist on having two photographers at every wedding, because it's the only way to guarantee that we get our signature candids as well as the classic images.
One of my photographers is devoted to the traditional portraits that every bride wants. I've learned, however, that down the road, clients really appreciate the emotional power of good candid photography. That's not to say that people today want snapshots; my objective is to deliver photographs that I call "casually elegant." With one photographer dedicated to portraits, I'm free to roam and capture the special, impromptu moments that might otherwise be overlooked or forgotten.
Perhaps a more significant expectation, however, is the emphasis on using new means of sharing photos. Our customers don't see a website as an option--it's high on their list of expectations from a photographer. Offering my clients easy tools for posting, viewing, sharing, and purchasing their images online is critical.
The success of Hagerty Photography relies heavily on a solid partner for building my online business. I worked my way through a number of services before coming to rely on Printroom.
Printroom's Event Website tools demonstrate their knowledge of today's clients. It's simply not enough to just post pictures to a gallery on the web. Printroom helps me work with my clients to give each their own personalized, professional website. I can give clients access so that they can actually update the related content themselves, posting information about their pre-wedding parties and events, news from their honeymoon, their latest sonogram--the sites really take on a life of their own. Many use the website tools before I've even taken a single photo. The best part is that there are no technical hurdles to overcome--the site's wizards and tools require no technical skill.
Building custom websites for every client could easily become a costly and time-consuming proposition. It would also mean passing along a considerable expense to clients.
When using Printroom's Event Website Builder, I can put together a website for a client in minutes. The web address is unique to each client, named specifically for them or their event. It's password-protected so that only the client and I have access to make changes. Most importantly, the look is polished and refined enough to satisfy the most demanding clients.
This approach helps us to develop long-term relationships with our clientele. Our family portraiture business reflects this perfectly. We launch a family's website when their baby is born. Then when they want us to take more photos at six months or a year, we add those to the website. The site then continues to grow to tell a family's story in a meaningful way that our clients love.
The Event Websites are invaluable tools for marketing and selling our services. Each client acts as a referral and endorsement to their whole circle of friends, family, and colleagues who would prefer to hire a photographer whose work they already know. We also do a fair amount of pro bono charity work, and the sites we build for those events bring in a surprising amount of traffic and referrals.
A web presence means that potential customers can see your work any time of day. Printroom provides extensive automated email tools that ensure that people are contacted when photos are available for viewing. We also hand out cards to eventgoers. Together, these vehicles drive customers to view and purchase photos related to the event, while also giving them an opportunity to learn more about our photography services.
The effectiveness of this approach is very real. Printroom provides comprehensive web and sales reporting tools as part of its suite of business tools. For example, we posted a wedding on September 2nd, and we were able to track that 155 people accessed the personalized website within the first week.
At this point, I don't consider a website to be a "premium" option in my packages--I include it with all of them. When we meet with a client, we present the website up-front, often showing them a mockup of their own site to give them a sense of what's possible. The web is a fundamental, everyday element in my clients' lives, and it offers a unique opportunity to develop an ongoing rapport with clients in a way that was never before possible.
Sarah & Nick Hagerty (www.hagertyphotography.com) are the founders of Hagerty Photography, a fast-growing boutique studio based in Chandler, AZ that specializes in capturing the casual elegance of its clients' private and social experiences.