First-Year Baby Portraits Win Lifelong Clients
“Tender Moments” Portraits Grow Business One Step at a Time
by Margaret Oeltmann
To help grow our studio, we needed a strategy for developing lifelong clients who would purchase enlargements and return for portraits throughout their family’s lifetime. We came up with the idea of a “Tender Moments” portrait as a gift certificate, which includes the option to apply the value of the gift certificate to a five-session Baby Panel package.
The gift certificate for “A Tender Moment Preserved for a Lifetime; Just You & Baby!” portrait session and an enlargement for new families can be won at silent auctions or charity events, or received from our studio for referrals from other clients.
Stunning natural-light images of loved ones in black-and-white and color are valuable keepsakes. Each gift certificate comes with a variety of affordable options for enlargements, such as value packages with free enlargements as incentives to purchase larger amounts.
I promoted the “Tender Moments” concept by actively seeking out silent auctions and charity events. We gave certificates to families we knew or to those my clients recommended. We offered current clients free enlargements for booked recommendations and offered scheduling to accommodate working families—either after work or on the weekends.
We offered at-cost frames or free frames with enlargements over the package price, and included outdoor garden settings with studio portraits for any or all of the package sessions.
We cleared a few obstacles and learned a few lessons along the way. For starters, we discovered the need to establish a high-end market price for my fine art portraits and point out the value of the multiple sessions and enlargement packages. We figured out a way to balance our participation in charities with time spent in the studio. We discovered the inherent problem of clients simply copying proofs from my website instead of placing orders with us. We realized that we needed to promote the package program more effectively on my webpage. And finally, we figured out how to make the transition from a successful wedding-package business to a family-and-children portrait package business.
I generally require a $350 deposit for a three-pose portrait package, or $550 for a five-pose portrait package (sometimes we offer more than one per sitting to include relatives’ wishes) per Baby Panel reorder, instead of only a $59 5x7 print per customer.
Aside from these portrait packages leading to recommendations from moms to their friends and relatives, we see a great reaction to the natural window-light portraits and the relaxing and elegant garden portraits.
Hopefully, clients feel that the images are truly worth the investment.
Margaret “Peg” Oeltmann is co-owner with her husband, Tom, of Oeltmann Photography (www.oeltmannphoto.com), in Franklin, TN. She held several positions as a medical photographer before launching her wedding photography business in the 1980s. She holds a B.A. in studio arts and art history from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in art history from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.
Transform Personal Work into Lucrative Marketing Piece
Blend Retiree Portraits, Food Images & Recipes for Coffee-Table Treat
by Rick Souders
I’ve always felt that photographers should have an ongoing personal body of work that keeps us motivated and excited about what we do. I’ve been working on a wide-angle series on retired people for nearly 12 years. The work originally focused on retired people around the globe, shot with a fisheye 37mm lens and Kodak Ektachrome film. The images were captured to encapsulate each person’s life, within the frame of the photograph.
I’d traveled from Colorado to New York and Austria to Australia to build this collection. Then one day last year, in an Australian bistro, I had an idea. My goal had always been to publish the work as an art book. How could we bring the work to the marketplace?
Since our studio specialized in food and beverage photography, as well as lifestyle photography, we decided that the book would give us an awesome marketing opportunity to highlight both. I decided to pair up food and beverage images with recipes from the various people and their regions, to feature with the individual people shots. I put together a crew, a design was created, recipes were researched and tested, food images were shot with a food stylist, and the book was created. The result is Retired and Inspired, a colorful, entertaining marketing piece in the shape of a 48-page coffee-table cookbook.
Once Retired and Inspired was produced as a soft, perfect-bound book in April, it was time to develop a marketing campaign around the book. Our studio team produced an electronic newsletter for a targeted readership, which has been very well-received. The book was referenced in portfolio solicitations, where anyone wanting a copy of the cookbook could obtain a personal copy by scheduling a portfolio show. This campaign resulted in numerous portfolio shows being scheduled.
The cookbook landed us a large cookbook assignment within the first four weeks of publication. Since that time, we’ve bid on three additional cookbook projects. The completed cookbook assignment more than covered the costs of production and printing. We’re currently working with a publishing company to get the book produced with a much larger page count, featuring more people and food images. The book also has helped us land a New York photography representative.
Recently we’ve started using the books to solicit new art buyers and magazine editors. By the time you’re reading this article, the book will be for sale—or almost ready for sale—on our website, providing additional exposure for our studio.