MAY NEWSLETTER 1981
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION AT LAS VEGAS
He also stressed that the position of bodies and heads and the angle of heads were terribly important. By tilting the body the wrong way or angling the head the wrong way you changed a "love photo" into a disinterested photo. If the head is tilted away from the bride instead of towards the bride, the pose itself says "Hey I'm not interested in this person". It relates very easily to the situation whereas if you turn your back towards somebody, you are snubbing them. If you turn your body away from them, you're not interested, you turn your head away, you're not interested, and the opposite applies every bit as strongly. The closer you get to a person, the more you are showing your interest. If you pose your photos with somebody turned away from somebody else in the picture, body language says that person is not interested in the other person. If you have two heads touching, that says this person is fond of that person. It's as natural as ABC, yet how many times do you observe this cardinal rule when you are posing people?
One can keep on talking all day about the basic examples of this if one wished.Bill Brown then went on to talk about special effects, and he opened his address by saying they at Bill Brown Studios in Toronto use a professional lens hood for all their special effects.
They use a Bronica ETR and all of their photographers have three lenses. They have the normal lens (75mm), they have a wide angle lens (50mm) and they have a tele-photo lens (l05mm). They use the professional lens hood for their special effects because it will work on any of these three lenses. He says you can adjust the lens hood to suit any focal length lens you are using and so you have more versatility. They used the wide angle at the house where they don't always have sufficient room and they use the tele-photo to get slightly better perspective when they're doing close-ups. They use a wide angle lens for 90% of their special effects. He said that most people have been through the fuzzy blob stage that some people get with their special effects. He says what their customers want now is a more recognizable, evenly exposed, believable photo montage. He said the photo montages should obey basic rules of composition. That basic rule is that a large image should be balanced by a smaller image further away. It should also have a theme. For example, you might have on the left a head and shoulders of an engaged couple, and on the right a photograph of the same couple walking hand in hand . you should not be able to see the line between the two photos. It should be blended in perfectly. This, Bill said, you can do much better with a wide angle lens than with any other lens.
Bill said a lot of people get the impression, that because he talks so much on special effects most of his weddings consist of photographs that have had special effects used on them. He said nothing could be further from the truth. Most of his photographs that he does on weddings are conventional type photographs. The special effects are just something to make the wedding look different. You could say, just the icing on the cake. They only produce about three or four special effects on each wedding. Their style of photography is very conservative and they are going back to the old basics -clean, clear photography, with mood and feeling and the modern look to it.
He then spoke on vignettes and his contention was that the vignette should blend in with the background. This meant that if you had a black background you'd use the black vignette If you're photographing outdoors and there are a lot of green trees around, you'd use a green vignette. I personally feel that the new Leon vignette may overcome a little bit of this problem in so much that it does let light through the mesh in the vignette and this would then therefore make the vignette just that little bit more subtle. Bill said the principle of a vignette is not to lead attention to the vignette itself, but to lead the eye to the centre of interest by blocking details at the edge of the photograph. Therefore the eye moves to the centre of interest, which of course is the subject. When you're doing multiple exposures, or photo montages you should always change the poses and the expressions. . . if you are going to use the identical pose of two different people, you might as well use a prism as you'd be able to do it a lot faster and a lot simpler.Bill then went on to speak about professional pro-hoods and why they use them.
He gave a brief history of professional pro-hoods, how they were first used in the very early movie industry, and he traced it right through to today. He then showed illustrations of two different pro-hoods. The popular one, the Hassleblad pro-hood, and the smaller, more compact Bronica pro-hood. He said there was basically one major difference between these two pro-hoods and that was that the Hassleblad rails project backwards and can interrupt with your focusing or fitting of a wide angle lens, whereas with the Bronica one, the rail projects forwards and so does not interfere with any lens.
He then went on to show some insert rings which worked equally well with a Hassleblad as with a Bronica. This insert ring can be purchased to fit the filter size of your lens so the Bronica or Hassleblad pro-hood can be used on a Nikon, RB67, Canon, Mamiya or what have you. In the States these adapter rings are available from Bronica. Bill Brown went on to say that when you're starting to do photo montages you should always use an aperture of F8 or larger. He said this helps the subjects to blend together much better.
The whole secret in doing good photo montages is to get them to blend together and to push the preview button before you shoot. By pushing the preview button, it stops the lens down to your taking aperture and allows you to see exactly what you're going to get on the negative. Photo montages work beautifully with a random background in the form of a lot of leaves, the same colour wallpaper, a black background . . it does not work quite so well if you blend a indoor photograph with an outdoor photograph, for example a church scene with an outdoor scene of the same couple in a park.
Bill Brown then went on to show many samples of his work in the photo montage field and did stress again to remember that he only did three or four of these photo montages per wedding.
(by Kodak USA)
DID THESE WEDDINGS HAVE PHOTOGRAPHS?
HOW WERE THE PROFESSIONALS CHOSEN?
HOW MANY PHOTOGRAPHERS WERE CONSIDERED FOR THE JOB?
WHAT MADE THE BRIDE MAKE HER FINAL CHOICE?
Quality and personality. That is what is important . .
WHAT WERE THEY OFFERED?
So offering your customers some choice of standard package seemed to be the way in which to market your services. 61.4% of those who ordered only a standard package, ended up in ordering extra prints.Getting your customers to buy extra prints is the easiest way to increase your profits or getting them to order bigger prints . . . according to the brides the vast majority said the largest print they were offered was an 10 x 8. That is what they thought they were offered. So if that's what they thought they were offered, you have to do a better job in marketing larger photographs.Here are some additional points on some of the packages. 88% of them looked at previews of some sort. On an average, they looked at 95 photographs and took 38 of those photos for enlargement. 22% said that after several months they wanted to order extra photos.
51.4% were offered quantity discounts. That means, if they bought a quantity of photographs the unit price would be less. However, 55% said they would have bought extra prints had there been a price advantage. In 73% of the cases an album was offered as part of the package.
Now one of the most important factors. How much did they pay? The average total amount expended on photography with a professional photographer was $350. This covers fees, photographs and albums, etc. 82% of the brides said they were satisfied with the quality.
Now for those who did not choose a professional photographer - in other words they chose Uncle Max. They considered the price was the second most important thing in choosing a photographer. Number one most important thing was still the quality. That is why they probably chose Uncle Max because they knew him and they knew what his quality was like. It also means they would choose you if they knew you and if they could be convinced that the extra quality and service would be worth the extra money they would pay. 28% of those who did not engage a professional usually did consider two or three professionals just like the brides who did hire one.
The average that it cost these girls whether they paid or Uncle Max paid in the form of wedding presents etc., was $75.for all prints including albums. 75% of the brides were satisfied with their results, but then of course, their level of expectation was not quite as high as it would have been with a professional.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO IMPROVE YOUR BUSINESS
THOSE WITH NO PHOTOGRAPHER
You start projecting that image the minute someone walks into your studio, if you have a studio. In fact you project it whether you are there or not. So your studio should reflect a high quality and professional atmosphere. It should be attractive and tasteful to look at. And of course, it should be clean and uncluttered. What counts is not the quantity of prints on the wall, but the quality.You should also watch that you don't have a too expensive look as it may scare away some of your customers. However, if you deal with what could be classified as the carriage trade then your image should look expensive.
Also if you wish to handle a broader range of clients, you should look expensive.In your studio you are really selling yourself! No doubt about that. Show you are worth what you are asking!You are also selling service. You must show the bride that you care about her wedding. You must show the bride you are concerned about her needs. So therefore the first thing you can do is to accommodate the working woman, this means you should have your studio open two evenings a week.Then, you must indicate to her that you will not treat her wedding like just another job. It is special to her, and you must show that it is special to you. You must show that you are not going to order either her or her guests around. . .
You are not going to insist that things are done your way, or else you will throw a tantrum at the reception.Although you've photographed a lot of weddings, you must show you will not be bored by hers, and of course the fact that you have been to a lot of weddings means you have a lot of professional experience and can offer her the kind of service that comes with it. And remember you can offer it to her. You can also offer her understanding. You know she will be nervous and excited and you will know just how to calm her down.
You can offer her advice and sympathetic cooperation.Sure Uncle Max can take pictures cheap, but he can also take cheap pictures! And he can also poke his lens at all the wrong people at all the wrong times and generally make a nuisance of himself. Creating a professional positive image of yourself can be beautiful, even if you don't photograph the wedding.
Remember, many of the brides that don't hire a photographer do shop around and they can be convinced to sit a formal studio portrait.If you are worried about prices and that they do shop around, then they will learn that a bridal portrait in a studio does certainly cost less than the complete wedding. And bridal portraits do make beautiful presents to parents and friends.On the other hand, the image of you and your studio can convince the bride to buy up. . . buy a more expensive package or extra prints.
For example if you use your studio to show how they can display large prints in their home and if you use a print projector to show selected poses enlarged up to 25 x 214 or bigger, then you can easily sell large prints to the bride.
A lot of the brides interviewed simply never thought of photography in the form of large prints and a large number may have never thought about decorating with photography. Remember, they must however have some poses that they can decorate with. So, pictures rather than record photos are a requisite.
A visit to your studio can be an education to her and it can mean increased sales for you.When you show a prospective customer your work, make sure they are in albums. After the wedding, when you are showing the bride her originals again show them in an album. Certainly a thick album is a lot more interesting to them than a thin stack of photos that you pull out of a box. And of course, it makes the bride aware of the importance of placing her own photos in her own album. An album should be made part of one of the packages you offer, and you should offer it as soon as the bride asks about your prices. Remember only 73% of the brides said they were offered albums. And this is far too low a number.
Displaying your originals in an album makes them look better, and increase the possibility that the bride will order extra prints.Paul suggests you should edit your negatives and show 70 to 80% of what you photograph in the 10 x 8 size . . . however, that if you do offer 10 x 8s you should have a contract for 30 to 36 10 x 8s. People will be more willing to buy 10 x 8s when they see 10 x 8s. And if you only show them 5 x 4s they may not appreciate the added value and the added impact the 10 x 8s have on their wedding.The easiest way to increase your profits is to sell more prints, and larger prints. You should consider offering extra prints at a discount price.
Perhaps the Lisle Ramsey Brides Dream Package. Remember, 55% of the brides said they were not offered quantity discounts and they said they were interested in purchasing more. It's probably an almost sure way of increasing your sales. . . also, perhaps you should develop a direct mail piece that you send out to the brides a few months after the wedding, offering them one more offer to get extra prints. . . one out of five of the brides interviewed said they did want more prints a few months after the wedding.
A letter to them combined with attractive prices may be all that is necessary to keep them interested in your services.Be sure you promote to the bride the idea of giving photographs as presents. Perhaps in the folios that are now available in New Zealand they could be made to look like very attractive, beautiful presents.Thank you cards are another use for photographs. You can offer Wallets at special price so they can be used on the thank you cards. This is an additional item which would not normally sell.You could also use the wedding to develop other portions of your business. By collecting names and addresses, you can with direct mail, or even a phone call, invite these people to come to your studios for a free portrait sitting for display. They will be flattered, and a large number will accept the invitation.
STRAIGHT BUSINESS ADVICE
He then covered the Lisle Ramsey principle of good, better and best, and said that this was a standard business practice. You should therefore stick to three or four packages, then customize those for your customers. Remember, your best wedding package should only appeal to a few of your clients, because of price.
If it appeals to too many put another package deal at the top and slip the one off the bottom.You could also include in the various packages a certain number of hours, with extra time at so many dollars an hour.Credit cards are moving into New Zealand, with Visa and Bankcard, so make sure you offer these. (1999 Join the Retail Assn and your credit cards will only cost you 1.9%)
It costs you a certain percentage but it will also help increase your order. The people with credit cards are given up to two years to pay for the items that they charge on the Visa. Doing this, they never have to admit to you, the photographer, that they can't afford to buy their photographs at the moment, because charging it to their Visa means they could either be paying it immediately or over the next 24 months.
Offer them a hedge against inflation. . . offer them a guaranteed price if the they pay in advance. If you're booking a wedding twelve months ahead, and you're quoting a guaranteed price without any monies being paid, think carefully. What else can you buy in this world for a guaranteed price without paying any money over? Everybody today understands inflation so use it to your advantage.
Well, almost, because the job will still only 29 hours and your overhead costs for those extra prints will not be 55%. Now let us say that it is 55%. You will still make an extra $90, which will put your gross profit up to $332, or $11.34 an hour. By selling an extra $200 worth of prints you have given yourself a salary increase of almost 45%. And of course as your overhead for those extra prints is not 55% your actual personal increase in income is much higher.
So do your sums. Keep accurate records for each wedding. Find
out if you are only in weddings for the sweat. Remember there
is plenty of room for growth in the wedding business. In America
1.3 million weddings were not covered by a professional full-time
photographer. You will probably find the figures are very similar
on all these things here in New Zealand.
The conversation should go something like this;Brackets indicate your customers conversation (We just want the 5 X 4 photograph thank you) Fine that is quite OK, do you mind if I ask a question?(No what is it) What are you going to do with this 5 X 4 photograph?(We are going to put it in our photograph album) Great a good Idea but wait....
Have you ever considered what Johnny is going to do for a family group, he won't know what his parents looked like at this particular age had you considered getting an extra photograph to go in his album? Let me ask you another question before you reply to this. Do you have a photograph in your album of your parents
Do you have a photo in your album of one of you Grandparents Most occasions you will find that people have photographs of neither and so this is a very strong selling point for getting a photograph for their child to go into the childs photo album. If the child does not have a photo album sell them the idea of starting one for them now so that when they reach their age and have family of their own they his parents are not forgotten by their Grandchildren and great Grandchildren.
If they say he can have ours when we die your answer to this would be... now just when will this be ? if you live till you are 90.... and there is no reason why you shouldn't .... and your son marries at 20 and they have a child within 5 years that child will be 45 by the time you are 90 and will probably have no idea with todays jet-age mobility what his grandparents looked like in 1981 think about it todays memorys can only be kept with photographs.