Musical Slide Shows Generate Enthusiasm and New Business
by Cyndi Smith
I love technology and how it has affected the photography world in the last 15 years. We’ve embraced a unique way to get our clients and their guests excited about our photography while it’s being created. In early 2006 we began showing clients several images of their wedding day at the reception, complete with music, transitions, and a large projection screen.
We were inspired by Jerry Ghionis of XSiGHT Photography and Video in 2005 when we saw a slide show of his at a wedding. What a fantastic way to get people excited and create buzz about our images! For the 2005 season, we created slide shows and showed them (very low-key) on a Mac PowerBook with a looping slide show through ProSelect. We saw the marketing opportunity and the sheer enthusiasm that the guests had. In 2006, we started showing the presentation on a large projection screen.
We began shooting small JPEGS along with RAW and found that the workflow was so fast we could add an image seconds before the presentation, making it much more fun to try and create winning images at the end of the event. Chris and I have specific jobs on the wedding day. We both capture images up until the meal is served, then I go into edit mode and begin downloading the small JPEGs into our Mac. Then I use Photo Mechanic to select the ones I would like to include in the show. With about 1,500 images by this time, I try to edit down to 140 for the show, including several creative, unique, and funny shots in the presentation, staying away from group formals and portraits.
After I’ve selected the images, I transfer them into ProSelect, cropping them and making some black-and-white. Once I select the music tracks for the show, I’m ready to go. When Chris brings over his fantastic late-night dancing shots, I just add them to the show.
When the DJ or band plays the last song, we roll out our cart, pull up the screen, and begin the presentation. It lasts about five minutes, and by this time we’ve talked with the music provider, as well as the event coordinator, about our finale for the night. I can’t tell you how excited the guests and the wedding couple get when they see themselves on the big screen. It can be very emotional for the couple, who have invested so much time and effort into the planning of their wedding, to experience it as their loved ones have.
I have booked several weddings on the spot after showing the presentation. Many vendors have commented not only about the innovation of immediate projection, but also on how we photographed their venue. It has created many great relationships. I always have cards on hand that direct people to our website, where they can go and see the slide show and order images from the event.
We had some problems early on when we relied on the band or DJ for musical accompaniment, so we purchased a Mackie speaker, which a lot of pro DJs use. Now we control the volume, knowing the presentation will have the impact we’re looking for.
We’re excited to start the 2007 season with our projection show and have found it a major booking point with potential clients. It’s getting a bit harder to differentiate our business from the competition. Projecting the moment is our niche.
Chris and Cyndi Smith, owners of CA Smith Photography (www.casmith
photography.com), of Kennebunk, Maine, have been photographers in the New England area for more than 15 years. Specializing in weddings, events, portraiture, and commercial work, they also own and operate Ocean Exposure (a full-service camera shop), Village Framing, and Ogunquit Camera Shop in Ogunquit, Maine. They are members of WPJA, PPA, DWF, WPPI, PMA, the Professional Picture Framers Association, and the Kennebunk/Kennebunkport Chamber of Commerce.
Home-Based Portrait Parties Something to Celebrate
Candid Photo Sessions Boost Client Base and Revenue
by Jeremy Dodgen
Motivated by the boom in home-sales parties, our studio began offering portrait parties two years ago. In the beginning, we saw this not only as a means of increasing our exposure in the marketplace, but also as an opportunity for our clients to introduce their friends to our portrait style by offering them the opportunity to sample our product.
The concept of the portrait party is similar to those of other home-based business gatherings, with the hostess inviting several friends and their families for a “play date.” Portraits of each child and family group are taken while the participants mingle. The session fee is waived, and the hostess receives credit based on sales.
We decided to move forward with the parties, with modest expectations and a little trepidation. The potential positive impact was clear. Thanks to digital photography, the up-front costs were low, and sales for a two-hour block with six to 12 clients, versus those from a traditional session, were likely to be larger.
Pictage would handle order-taking, processing, packaging, and shipping to our clients, so once the proofs were posted online, our work would essentially be complete. It seemed likely that our client base would expand and our exposure would increase.
As for possible negative effects, we had to be prepared for the potential loss of paid portrait sessions—would people pay for a full session if they could receive a similar service free of charge?—as well as the perceived reduced value of our work—if we gave a “session” away for free, would clients still understand the value of paying for a portrait session?