You enter a restaurant and are immediately impressed by the rich carpeting and painted walls that make you feel as if you're in the Mediterranean. The maître d' welcomes you and shows you to a table that's set with a fresh floral centerpiece and encircled by soft leather chairs. Your server introduces himself, hands you a menu and wine list enclosed in leather folios, and describes the specials of the day, the chef's favorites, and his personal favorites. For two or three hours, every detail is attended to by your server at your pace. At the meal's conclusion, the check is presented in an embossed leather folio.
The preceding scenario is what a group of restaurants in Madison, Wisconsin, have started to call the "Slow Food" experience, the polar opposite of eating at a "Fast Food" restaurant. It may be eight to 10 times more expensive, but for celebrating the special events in your life, such as a wedding anniversary, important promotion, special birthday. it's well worth the additional cost. The service exceeds expectations; no lines and no waiting. A peaceful, relaxing atmosphere enhances the occasion.
Now, review the above scenario and substitute a professional photography studio for the fine restaurant. The analogy fits perfectly, all the way to calling your style "Slow Photography," where success is all about the experience and presentation.
Slow the Right Way
In Slow Photography, presentation plays a key role in the package. Think about your marketing and presentation style. Do you personally welcome every client into your studio? Is there a neatly landscaped drive leading to your studio? Is your marketing literature printed on quality paper with an elegant font, and enclosed in leather-like folios?
Do you sit down with clients and plan their upcoming session a week or two prior, explaining your various portrait styles? Do you show portraits in frames to match their home décor and folios that will become family heirlooms?
In our studio, we've been doing what's now called "Slow Photography" for 101 years. Styles and equipment have changed, but since the beginning of our grandfather's photography business, we have used TAP products to create the final presentation of our portraits.
For example, we use TAP folders and folios from Wn albums & frames (formerly Wooden Nickel), for our high school senior business. When seniors inquire about graduation portraits, ours sales associates greet them with a warm, friendly voice, and invite them to schedule pre-portrait planning consultations and visit our website, www.photobyjd.com.
At the consultation, portrait styles, clothing, backgrounds, and locations are decided. Large prints are displayed in frames and small personal images are shown in TAP folios, folders, group mounts, and wallet boxes. We also offer TAP folios that hold a DVD containing a client's favorite images in a multimedia show and an image. Together, the image and DVD entice the viewer to want to see the entire DVD presentation, which also helps to keep our work on display, rather than hidden in a desk drawer.
Focus on Folios
Over the years, folios of all shapes and sizes have been the mainstay of our high school seniors' and children's portrait presentations. They have brought in thousands of dollars to our bottom line. When Mom can't decide which of her baby's poses to choose, we sell her a multi-opening folio, then add one for Dad's office, and two more for the grandparents. People who say they can't afford a 20"x24" portrait will invest far more in a collection of folios. Folios fit everyone's home or office. There is always room for a folio on the shelf, desk, or in an entertainment system.
All the folios we sell feature our gold-embossed logo, which makes them effective marketing pieces. Folios have become an even stronger marketing tool since we started entering folio competitions. When we win an event, we bring the subjects to our studio and photograph them with the winning folio, the awards, and our photographer. We give them the folio, the ribbon, and take them to dinner.
Word spreads as they share the news with friends and family. We follow up with a newspaper ad thanking them for helping us create another Best in Show, and display their images on our website.
Despite predictions of a decline in folio sales with digital capture and paperless image presentation, we're seeing the opposite. Digital allows us to offer seniors so many must-have images that 8-up folios are no longer the standard; 12-up and 16-up folios and books with 20 images have become the norm. Folios displaying 22"x11" composites are getting the most attention. The incremental sales of folios and composites have raised our average significantly.
Packaging presentation items have become an asset to sales, rather than a business expense. We have raised our annual gross, in spite of the population decline. More income, less work: a formula that works for us.
"Slow Photography" separates you from the soccer mom shooters and weekend wedding warriors. Sure, some clients still go to the mall for pictures of Little Johnny with Santa.