by Nate Peterson, CPP, M.Photog.
As a traditional portrait photographer, we do a lot of work “on spec.” Meaning, we usually charge a nominal session fee and then spend hours of effort in hopes that our client will place a large enough order to make our overall time spent worthwhile. But what if we could guarantee a desired outcome before we pick up the camera? Ever gone on a vacation where the price of the food and drink was included?
This is a concept I moved my studio toward five years ago. I noticed that all the successful wedding photographers I knew were including an album with their minimum package. As in, “I don’t shoot your wedding without you getting an album.” I admired this business model because they were never going to come to the order session later and have minimal sale after all the work they put into the wedding day. Furthermore, knowing they were going to be printing an album, they were able to take the storytelling detail shots to use as enhancements to the photo album. I figured why not try this all-inclusive approach with my high school Senior portrait clients? And so the Grand Experience was born.
In the beginning years of the Grand Experience, my clients had their choice to pay for a traditional session fee and then order whatever they wanted at the order appointment – OR – they could pre-commit to an album and essentially not pay for the session fee. It was an all-inclusive bundle in which they were saving 25% off the a la carte price from the start. And if they committed to this bundle, they would additionally receive 20% off whatever else they ordered during the order appointment.
This all-inclusive approach was quickly realized to be a win-win for both the client and myself. They were able to get a nice collection of story-telling images put together in a high quality, custom designed album that would last generations. I, as the artist and sustainable small business owner, was able to have a consistent sale that rewarded my efforts, both financially and creatively.
It only took a couple years to make the jump to this Grand Experience being my studio’s exclusive Senior offering… Yes, you heard me right, the only Senior session we offer is our Grand Experience, that includes an album in the base package. Gone are the days of spending 3-4 hours on a session and another couple hours editing, and another couple hours in a viewing/ordering appointment, only to come up with a small order and a sad feeling inside. Our clients are all-in from the beginning and it goes without saying that when you find the clients willing to do that from the start, they don’t stop at the album. They finish strong with consistent wall art orders – making the studio successful and everyone happy.
I don’t suggest you scrap your current session offering right away today, but rather adjust your mind-set to consider this option as a short-term goal to aim for. Set up an option for the client to choose between an a la carte offer or a pre-commitment bundle. I can tell you it won’t take long for the clients to realize the value in buying something up-front that they’re more than likely going to want in the long run anyway. The bottom line is, this is really just an alternative to having a minimum purchase or a print credit built into your raised session fee. This spin just creates an expected outcome that is simple to understand and allows the client to know what they’ll be getting from you in the end. And best of all, as an artist/creator, it gives your images purpose, knowing the majority of the images created during the session will live on in printed form and will be passed down as a family heirloom for generations to come.
If that sounds lofty to you, imagine your parent or grandparents being able to show you a hard-bound album of who they were at that monumental time in their lives. How would it have inspired you? This is what I believe we can do for our clients. And therefore, my clients believe in me to do this for them. It’s an all-inclusive win-win!
Nate owns and operates NP Design & Photography with his wife, Teresa, in New Richmond, WI. He specializes in High School Seniors and their families; along with volume sports and business/ commercial work as well. Nate has been a TCPPA member since 2009.
Don’t miss Nate Peterson who is one of the featured speakers at Summerfest in Conroe.