Online proofing vs proof book?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by EvansMomma, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. EvansMomma
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    EvansMomma New Member

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    Which do you prefer, if you have a preference?

    I've seen photogs go either way, and I'm wondering which is "best" (I realize by using that term, I'm opening up for a lot of biased opinions :p )

    I've been researching, and I like the idea of a private online gallery where clients can view their images, and order what they want, without the pressure of me being there, trying to sell...but at the same time, it loses the personal touch that I feel is needed in photography.

    I've also thought of offering a proof book, but having the gallery for the actual order, then hand delivering the prints...But that seems like a lot.

    I just can't decide! *sigh*

    What do you use/prefer/suggest?

    TIA :)
  2. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    I use on-line proofing & ordering, but I know there are better ways. A proof book can be OK, but I think that the key is the face to face interaction with the client, as that is really where you can exercise you sales muscles. So I think the proof book can work, but if you are just going to give them the book to take home, you might as well do it on-line.

    The best techinique is what we call projecting. You bring the clients in, but rather than a book or just a compute screen, you project the images up very large (or use a large TV). Along with this, you set up the environment and play music etc...all in an effort to put them at east and ready to spend money. You let them know that this is the only time they can order prints etc. Many of the photographers that's I've heard from, who use this technique, average several hundred to a few thousand dollars per job. Of course, you have to be good and you have to be a good salesman...but that's certainly the best way to go.
  3. flea77
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    flea77 New Member

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    I use an iPad. Sometimes you cant hook up to a TV and there is no suitable wall to project on, the iPad works everywhere, outside, the coffee shop, etc and it presents a sense of technical savvy that the clients really seem to like. They also really like holding it in their hands.

    Allan
  4. EvansMomma
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    EvansMomma New Member

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    I do like the idea, but don't have a studio I can use readily for that :(

    Eventually, though, I like the idea!!

    Why do you use online proofing & ordering? Easier? Do you deliver the prints or have them shipped to the customer?
  5. Zandermover
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    Zandermover New Member

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    I recently opened a store front for my studio. We have a main website (because we are MORE than just a photography studio!) with a link to our "photography" site, which is hosted on Smugmug. I used to give my clients a disk with a print release but soon had it brought to my attention that the chain stores wouldn't take my print release, were harrassing my customers over copyright infringment (which I would appreciate if there really WAS infringment going on!) and a lot of the prints looked far less than satisfactory! When a customer got a print that looked bad, the store person would tell them it was MY fault it looked bad! So I did away with giving my clients the choice of where to get things printed.

    I have converted solely to online ordering. I prefer this because I honestly think it makes things easier for my clients - they can order any time they want - even at 3am in their jammies! They can hand out the password to family so that my client isn't saddled with high printing costs. Best of all, I KNOW they are getting top-quality prints!

    We haven't been doing the online thing for very long and of course some people are a bit reluctant to accept this method, but I like it!
  6. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    It also means a lower average sale, and unless you set some time limits and/or offer some attractive incentives it will take forever for clients to order anything, if they order at all. With properly honed salesmanship skills, there is no pressure on the client, and you save them from making poor buying decisions. I highly recommend proofing in person and not using an online gallery.

    With an online gallery everyone they know gets to look at the gallery, and has the opportunity to right click or screen shot the images, rather than buying anything from you.
  7. Christie Photo
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    Christie Photo New Member

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    I've been at it for quite a while... long before digital imaging.

    What I've found, is things are quite different now. This is what we USED to do:
    The thinking was, EVERY time you communicate with a client is an opportunity to build enthusiasm which leads to a larger sale.
    1) The initial call - "We can get you in right away."
    2) The planning session/clothing consultation - "This will work out great."
    3) The session - "I really like the last one we did."
    4) Call to advise proofs are ready - "There are too many good ones."
    5) Delivery of proofs - Review with client.
    6) Return of proofs/order - Do this is a week or less. As time passes, enthusiasm wanes.
    7) Delivery of finished order.

    Years ago, I went to online proofing... JUST proofing. Sales still done in the studio. The thinking for this is lowering the cost of production... no lab bill for printing, no folios or presentation boxes. And, speed... I can post a web gallery much quicker than producing paper proofs. Also, more people could view the proofs from more locations.

    What I realized however is without a "proofs due" date, orders came later and are much smaller. I suspect this is due to me leaving the gallery online too long.

    I too have been considering how to proceed from here. I think the best next step for me is to be more vigilant about closing the web gallery sooner.

    -Pete
  8. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    The application that I use, Photocart, allows for an 'early bird' discount. I'm thinking that a good idea might be to raise the regular print prices quite a bit, but then give each customer a good early bird discount...motivating them to make their purchase sooner.
  9. CCericola
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    CCericola Well-Known Member

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    Like Pete, I came from film and proofing is still done in person. However, the proofs are online. They are shown to the customer and the order is placed. After the order is placed we send them a thank you e-mail with the password to view the proofs again online or let family and friends look and order as well. This leads to some additional smaller orders. Now, if the customer is unsure and does not want to order right away, I print out the proofs as a contact sheet on a color laser printer. Good enough for the customer to remember which poses they liked but not good enough to scan and reprint on their own. I would say 99% of the time they order at the time of proofing.

    For events I post right away, give the parents/director the password and they go nuts. What I loose in bigger sales I make up for in quantity (dance schools, sports leagues etc...)

    Weddings I still print proofs. The 5x5 proofs are part of their package. It just doesn't feel like a wedding to me without giving them the cute little proof boxes tied with ribbon. But that is just me.

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