Wedding Albums for Photographers
Up until this point in each lesson we have talked about the things that we do as wedding photographers. And now we're going to kind of head into the final stages of the client relationship. So we came on and we know how to prepare clients for an amazing wedding day. We know how to manage expectations. And then we learned how to deal with expectations when the day does not unfold the way we had anticipated. And then we also know how to deal with those unplanned events. So what I think I want to do is learn, is to talk about how we maximized each of those opportunities to in turn help our businesses by marketing and then help other businesses. So we want other people to market their services by way of our photos. So that is where we are up to now. And this brings us to, I'm going to get the keynote on, which is the post wedding client care and wedding album. So this right here is an opportunity for us to close out the relationship on a high. So I want to talk about how we go about doing ...
that. So I want to keep this presentation as linear as possible, which is kind of like my jooge. If you're anything like me, you like to take notes with different colored pens or highlighters, add stars, glitter, stickers, I mean this is how I do it. And in case you don't have that we're going to walk through this as linear as possible in three sections. One, I'm going to talk about email. How I prepare my clients for the wedding album. I'm going to talk about how I include my album instructions and what those look like. And three, I'm going to talk about a thank you gift. So that's the trajectory and that's where we are headed right now. So the thing I want to focus on is this process, this last process is done with intention. I have made the decision early on, and I'm going to talk about this in a future lesson in regards to pricing. But I have made the decision to be a service based photographer, not a product based photographer. We're going to dive more into what that means and how that looks like in a future lesson, but I want to say that this was done with intention. This mean that product for me is a part of my business, but it does not hinge. Me making money as a service based photographer means I'm getting paid handsomely for my services and if the client ops in for a product, then great, but I do not have a long product line. I do not have metallic prints or afghans with photos on them. I don't have mugs, I don't have key chains. We are laughing because we know that theses are options. We do know, right. So instead of me getting tied with the menucia of planning out these small things, I empower my clients with their images to get that. Now the things that they can't get on their own, like a wonderful, beautiful album, is where I want to take the reigns. Now the one product, the album is the only product that I am hands on. So remember through our gallery, my clients can order prints, which is fantastic, but again it's a hands off process for me. The only hands on product that I offer in my entire line would be an album. So let's talk a little bit about what that looks like. So the first part of this section is an email. Now what I want to do with this email is you guys know I love my template emails, so here's yet another template email. About two weeks after I release the wedding gallery, so I need to give my clients time to go through images, experience them. I don't want to give them a task to do because a lot of the time, my clients are on their honeymoon when they receive their gallery. Not all the time, a lot of the time, so I don't want to send an email saying here's your gallery, here's your album instructions. I simply want to say, here's your gallery, enjoy. Then they get back, they get settled into married life. And then I follow up two weeks after the gallery and I say, here is the album instructions for what is going to happen. Now here's my album instructions. And what I think I hear a lot of photographers get frustrated with is there's always some sort of miscommunication in the process. Maybe the bride didn't understand or you didn't do it effectively. So I vere on the side of being a little bit of an over communicator. I want to outline everything in advance so it's super clear. But this goes back to what we talked about in lessons two and three. You want to exceed expectations. So how do you exceed expectations, you manage expectations. How do you manage expectations? By outlining what's in store. Now I have email templates. You can find every email template that I have spoken about, you can find on JasmineStarstore.com. My exact album template is on JasmineStar.com, but if you want to write one for your own, then what I want you to do is walk through an outline. So I'm going to talk to you about my outline, and then you can fill in the pieces. Now in case you want to write one for yourself, the first thing you want to do is you want instruct clients to log in to the gallery and choose their favorites. First things first. Every gallery is different, but as you've seen me work through Pixieset, I tell my clients to use the heart icon to choose their favorites. So it might seem like menucia to be like let me teach you how to select your favorites, but listen, over communicate. Secondly, I want to give permission to choose photos that they like, not what they thing they should have in the album. I tell my clients this because a lot of times in the beginning I was getting brides who were saying, oh well my mom really thinks it should be this or do you think I should have this traditional photo? And I started thinking, if I'm not giving my clients permission to choose what they want, I'm going to lose them in the process. Thirdly, review how many images are included in their album. Review the size of their album and review how many pages in the album. Because when these clients booked you, there's a good chance they had booked you a year in advance. They might not remember what exactly is in there. So instead of them being disappointed when they said, oh I thought I had a 12 by 12. And you said, oh no it was only 10 by 10. You run the risk of disappointing them. So out the gate you tell them, this is what was included. If a client, so in my albums I tell my clients that they can have anywhere from 60 to 65 images. Then I say, if you would like to add more images, it will be $15 per image. Now I know that people will say, oh it's $60 a spread or it's this. I have found that if I'm not very specific with my clients, I run the risk of misleading them. So if I say it's $60 a spread and a client comes to me and says oh I want to have these 12 photos on this spread. Then I feel like I've compromised the integrity of the overall album. So I say if you would like to add 15 photos, it'll be $15 at each of those photos. And I'm not that quick at math. So, but I use my calculator and I'll send that to her. Now then what I want to do is fourthly, I want to explain the design process. We cannot assume that our clients know what they should be doing. First things first, how long it takes. So I say once you choose your images, I will get them and make sure they are edited to perfection. And then I'm going to loop in my album graphic designer. Yes, I tell my clients I work with an album designer, and then I explain she's amazing at what she does. She's one of the best in the industry and my job is to be a photographer. And her job is to be a designer. And she's a better designer than I ever could be, so she's going to be a part of this process. When I tell clients that, they're just like, oh great, awesome. Then I tell her once I have the images, how long it will be before she sees the first draft of her album, and then I explain there's a total of three drafts only. So I'm doing all of this work in advance so that there's never any questions after that. Fifthly, when the client is done, I tell her to please email me. So when she emails me, then I know she's ready to officially get started on her album. That is the outline. Then you can plug and chug and put things as you so choose and add things that you think would make it stronger. So now what I do is I want to show you a sample of my back end for my client, this is a recent client album. This was my favorites folder on Pixieset. Now this is Kate and she married John and the things that I like is that I can download individual photos or I can simply download all of the photos that she's chosen. So I simply scroll back up to the top, it says download all, I press that download all, and it downloads directly to my desk top. This makes it beneficial for me because there's never any discrepancy what she chose. She was the one who navigated the gallery and chose them, she now knows how many images are in this gallery, so now we're clear. Everything's open. There was a point in time where I actually had to write down numbers of photos that people wanted. I know. We kind of laugh because we've all been there at some other point in time. This just makes life so much easier. So now what I want to talk about is the bests advice that I have when it comes to the album process. Because for some photographers, especially me when I first started, it was frustrating. I found myself very frustrated. Now I tell my clients to start in the favorites folder. The reason, anybody want to take a guess as to why I'm asking them to start in the favorites folder? Anybody, there's no wrong answer. Yes, they're already retouched. That's why I'm saying, but I don't say start in the favorites folder because they're already retouched. I say start in the favorites folder because it's the best curatorial perspective of your day. Included in your album are 65 images, but if you start there and choose the majority, it'll help you tell the narrative and then you can add photos that you think I might have missed for sentimental reasons. So I'm coaching her to get what I want. Which leads me to my next point, you have to explain why. If you're saying choose from the favorites folder, she may or may not adhere, but by me saying from a curatorial perspective, these work well when it comes to design. Add for sentimental reasons. And all of the sudden it's freeing her to say yes, I agree, you are good at what you do. I trust you, I will defer to you. If we don't explain why, we're just going to assume that maybe she wants to go through 800 photos and choose what she wants. What I want you to do is focusing on what this advice means. Is it that you're going to start educating clients? And it's going to prepare them for success. Because what happens is when a client has to go through all of her photos, what you want to do is make the process less daunting. By simply saying start here, add this, good, I'm hoping that I'm going to make it as easy as possible. Now I think that the more you educate your clients, the better your albums will look. If you are telling them why, if you're explaining the process. Sometimes I read from photographers how disappointed they are at the way their albums are being designed because the photos that the clients are choosing aren't the best photos. I have to ask you, what are you doing to prepare them? What are you doing to tell them that this is what you need? Now here's the beauty of this, feel free to be as specific as you need. I have now, my business has matured, that I don't have to be as specific, but if you're getting brides who just want you know 25 formal pictures at the church of family members, there's a chance you should start crafting your outline to say, anywhere from five to seven family formal pictures is great, like make your template email what you need it to be to start attracting the type of client who's going to produce albums in the way that you want them. Now the harder that you work in the beginning, the more enjoyable the process will be. Now once the client chooses the images, and then I edit those images, the way the edited would be what I showed earlier in my post processing, how I edit in Photoshop, I'm removing fly aways, I'm doing skin retouching. I'm replacing bouquets or flowers in areas that did not have bouquets or flowers. Now once I'm done with that, I will get the 65 images and I will send them to my album designer. So again you guys have noticed, I outsource my post processing and now I outsource my album design. So early in my career I had a made a decision to work with an album designer. And a lot of the times people ask me why. I may have mentioned this earlier, I had so much to learn. I had Photoshop, I had Quick Books, I had Camera Raw. I had to learn how to shoot. I had to learn how to pay taxes. I had to balance my job. There were so many moving pieces that I decided I needed to play to my strengths not my weaknesses. And my strength wasn't really a strength. I was trying to learn photography, but I wanted that to be a strength. I knew I never wanted to design albums. If I could just focus on what I wanted, I knew that that thing would eventually come back to me. Now the thing that I wanted, my focus, was freedom. In a previous lesson we talked about success. One of my key components of success is freedom. Now I could focus on my business or I could focus on how to design an album. I wanted to focus on my business. I wanted to focus on photography. I didn't want to get better at something I felt was a distinct weakness. This is what I want to explain a little bit deeper. One of my key components for success is freedom. One of my key components for success is being able to travel the world. Here's a story where both of those meet and it benefits the client, it benefits me. I hire a graphic designer. She works, her name is Amie with Albumesque We're going to talk a little bit more about the role that she plays. So JD and I took a trip and we were in Australia. And I'll never forget, we were sitting on the Gold Coast. The ocean was blue, the sand was hot and it was white and there was Australian lifeguards. None of them better looking than my husband, but they were there. And I'm thinking this is enjoyable, this is the life. And I promised JD that I would not check my email on the beach. Well he was in the water and my phone was just like there, and I was like he won't know. Because I internalize my business. I take it with me. And I said in Australia boo, we're on the beach, me and you and that's it. And then all of the sudden it was like ding, ding. I was like okay. So I went over to my phone, and I got an email from a bride. And she had seen her first draft from her album. She's like I love it, but I forgot to tell you that this happened and this happened and this happened, so here are a list of changes that I need made to the album. And when I looked I was like. There was like 20 changes to the album, and then I realized I don't do my album. I forwarded the email to my graphic designer, and I said I'm in Australia, here are her changes. And I went back to reading on the beach, and my husband was none the wiser. I want to be a photographer. I don't want to be an album designer. That stress that I would carry with me for the next five days of our trip, having to get home and be like wah wah wah, gotta do my album design. Gotta catch up with email. Gotta do this. That's not the business I want. I want to play to her strengths, I want to play to my strengths. Am I as profitable on my albums as I could be? Maybe not monetarily, but time wise, heck yes. Let's talk a little bit more how that looks. What I want to do is I'm going to get online right about now and I'm going to show you. So here's the thing. Once I send the images to Amie, what she's going to do is she's going to arrange them chronologically. Now I asked Amie because she's amazing. I got the images back, and I said Amie, let's put together, let's put together an album for the Knot Dream Wedding. Let's show people what it would look like. So when I client comes, when I get the images, Amie will design them for me, and she uses a tool called Album Exposure. Album Exposure is fantastic because this is way to keep all the client comments and amendments organized in a single app. Now a couple of things I want to point out is that when Amie sends it to me, I must first approve it before I send it to my client. So I will go and I'm going to walk you through this process. I will go through all the images and if I have notes for her, I write them here and I press add. And then I will tell her to revise. Once she revises those, then I send it to my client. Like I can't, I hardly make any revisions because she does such a great job. So once I see this, I say accept. And then what I'm going to do is I'm going to send it to my client. We're going to talk about what that process looks like. This is what a client would get. Once I've already approved, then we send this link. And I said, my graphic designer and I finished it. Here's what you have to do. Just leave comments. Now Album Exposure has a template email built into the system. I simply just personalize it with their name, and it's like here's your album. And it outlines all of everything you have to do. So if Samantha wanted to change this picture, like please change this picture, add, and all of the sudden once she aggregates all of her details, she presses send. We get email. Amie gets an email, I get an email, about what those changes are. So let's walk through what this album would look like for Sam and Taylor. This is a 12 by 12 album. They would open it up and this would be once they turn the cover over, this would be the first page. And we could set this to music, but I decided that it's just better for effectiveness. I really, I have told Amie that I prefer stylistically a lot of white space around my albums. And if there's not white, I want full bleed. I don't like a lot of mixing of patterns. And I don't like more than four pictures on a full spread. That's my max, unless we're doing a dancing grid. So you'll see the patter. Here are four pictures. Three pictures. Two pictures. You guys get the point. And we have noted, I have noted that I like to keep the color and tonality the same within pictures. So let me back it up one tiny bit. See how this, this pictures is lighter than these pictures? That's why it's on its own page. I have a hard time mixing those two. It's just a personal preference and she knows that. When it comes to bride and groom photos, I really just like one on each page. Again, it's a personal preference. So those are the pictures that I wish I could do over, but at the end of the day, will the bride like them? And I believe, I believe that she will. So average amount of photos are about 65 photos. If I client gets 800 images, they're putting about eight percent of their photos in a wedding album. So on this page you'll see that there is more photos, but usually for reception photos we might add more to kind of create a vibe and what that would look like overall. Amie produced that for me, and her timeline, I'm going to pop back in to the key note. I'm going to talk a little bit more about what that looks like. You want to play to your strengths. You want to focus on your specialty. And you want to focus on freedom. Okay, so what we want to do now is we want to make sure that we want a complete the experience. So now we have shot the enga&gement sessions. We've shot the wedding. We've turned around timeline. We have done emotional marketing. Now my album designer has the album draft for me three days, three business days after I have sent it to her. So I am turning things around quickly. I'm turning around the edited photos quickly. I'm turning around the album design quickly. My clients feel like they're being very well take care of. Now when a client makes revisions, the client will get revisions back in 36 hours. Now working with a designer has been reflective of my brand. I know that there are other album editing software. I know that people can do it on their own. That's awesome, and I want you to do it if it plays to your strength. Album design did not play to my strength. Therefore, I hired somebody to help my brand improve. Now once Amie designs the album, Amie is fantastic because she orders my album for me too. It is a completely, am I spoiled? I am sure I am. I pay her for it. I consider her a part of my business. And that's great because I don't have to do it. So she orders my album and then she has the album drop shipped to the studio. When I get in the studio, I makes sure I go through it. I package it, and I send it with a hand written note. Now for all intents and purposes, this officially concludes our experience in the business transactional sense. I'm happy with it. I'm proud by it. And I stand by it. But I have a surprise for them. Later on that year, I plan to send them a personalized gift. And so I want to talk a little bit about what that looks like. Now these are wooden boxes that I ordered from White House Custom Color. This is my print lab of choice. I absolutely adore the quality that they produce for prints and products. And they're a perfect fit for my brand. Now in early November, I start getting all, like I usually will shoot my last wedding of the year, most of the time, the second week of November. And truth be told, that's how it's ending up for this year. So around the second week of November, I'm aggregating all my clients' information. I'm ordering these boxes in the middle of November, so that I can get them in early December. Let me show you about one of sneak peak about one of the boxes look like. Now this is a five by seven personalized box, and it has their photo on top. And inside it has six five by seven prints, and they are mounted on five sixths of an inch styrene. So they're thick. You can wave them, they won't bend. You can even stand them up on their own. Now I order the boxes in the middle of November, so that I can have them delivered to me at the beginning of December. And then I send them off to my clients. Why am I sending them at the beginning of November? I want my clients to have them on display when their friends and family come over for the holidays. This is another opportunity for marketing in a printed capacity. And the best part is that when my clients receive this, it's not too close to Christmas so that they're receiving other gifts, but it's not too far away from Christmas. Any time that they receive a gift after December first, they are stoked and it makes them feel like it was personal and it was special. So what we do is we get these boxes, we order them, we wend them to our clients along with a Christmas card. But the best part of the situation, which is what I always hope for in an ideal situation, is that they share this box on social media. If they are getting the box and they can show the box to their friends and family, that's a win. If they share it on social media, it's a double win. Now a lot of the times, my clients are tagging their spouse in the Facebook post. And most of the time people have their Facebook and Instagram linked up, at least my clients do. So if they share on Instagram, nine times out of ten they're sharing it on Facebook too. I want to show you a few of what those examples look like. So this was from Adrianne, and she writes, came home tonight to this beautiful printed wood box full of pictures from one of the best days of my life. My photographer and sweet friend, Jasmine Star, surprised me with this gift. My photographer, hashtag, my photographer is the best. Hashtag, the gift of friendship. Hashtag, love my Scott. With her husband and me. That's powerful. So between Scott and Adrianne, they had close to 1,000 friends. So to be able to run into those networks was fantastic. And not only is she saying she had a great experience, she's actually taking a picture of the box. That is a commercial for me. Rachel Farley, admiring the lovely gift I received today. She tags me, she tags JD. She tags her hashtag from her wedding and includes her adorable dog. This is exactly what I want because when my clients are updating their status, they're tagging me too. Total win. Now this guy Brian, guys are a little more shorter with words. Thanks for the awesome gift, we love it, high five. With me, and he tags my business page. And that is okay. I'm totally fine with that, but are you guys seeing the pattern? That this is marketing. Okay, here we go. Let's talk about this one, look at the date. December 20th, 2013. About two years ago, cool. Here we go. Thank you so much Jasmine Star for the most beautiful wood box filled with some of our favorite wedding pictures. What a wonderful surprise for the holidays. You never cease to amaze us with your talent and creativity, love it. Cool, look at this. I did a screen capture of this and I didn't realize this until a couple of days ago. Kirsten Barish Schloss liked this. I shot Kirsten's wedding in December of 2014. That wedding that I showed in the previous lesson of the KeyHo Design's card, that was her wedding in Chicago that will now be featured in the Knot Magazine Chicago. Can I say that this box booked me the wedding? I don't know, but I think it helped tremendously. How much was this marketing investment? It's about $100, depending on what you get. Depending on what you get, anywhere from 100 to 150 dollars. If I book one wedding as a result of this social media cue, I've covered my cost and then some. This is the action of what we do and how we do it. We tie things up with bows. So I want to round out this lesson, and I want you to see the pattern. The pattern is one, we want to set our clients up for success. The pattern is two, we want to manage expectations. And the pattern is three, we want to educate clients to get what we want. If we are not getting what we want, we are not educating our clients in the way that we need to. So once this is done, once we follow the pattern. You want to personalize the album delivery. And if possible, after the album delivery, you want to send a personalized Christmas gift as a way to drum up end of the year marketing. What to know what happens at the end of the year? Any guess about what happens around the holidays between boys and girls? Proposals, that's right. When do you want your marketing naturally as a coo to happen? In December. When are most people, photographers, not shooting all that much? December. So what can we do? Create the jooge. So I think this is an action that will guarantee success. Not one thing, all we have gone through, all of these processes through this boot camp. It is not one piece, it is a litany of hundreds of pieces that are all working together. I think that this litany, the process, this Patrick Quill, all of this is working together. It's priceless for what we can do with our businesses. Tell me if there are any questions that you guys have in regards to this right now.
How do you make your client interesting about wedding album? And how to explain the value about the good quality of wedding album compared to one creepy and more cheap. Because a lot of time I hear, I don't care about good quality, I take one like a magazine, it's fine. But I want to try to explain that about the value of a nice wedding album to her.
So here's, I don't think that this is going to be the answer that you want to hear. But I'm going to say it. If I were to go in and I were to buy a car, a very nice car, right. I already think that by me buying a designer car is enough. If the sales person is trying to say, but you really need the extra horsepower and you really need, I was going to say eight disc CD player, but who has that. I mean, the eight track is amazing. If they try selling you on 22 inch rims, it's kind of like if I don't find value with it, please don't try to sell me on that. If my client wants to make a magazine of her images, do I want that, no. But it doesn't matter what I want. It's her wedding, her curation. Will I facilitate in the magazine making, no. Will I facilitate in a less than amazing, perfect album experience, no. You could do that on your own. If you want a high end album and when my clients see this, and here's the thing, if you're not meeting with your clients in person, I have done this heavily because I am now booking a lot of destination weddings, I blog w at least twice a year what my albums look like. When a client is deciding I don't know if I should have an eight, sometimes we have what we call our studio fee, our shoot only collection, which is us to shoot and the client gets the digital negatives. And then later on she's like I'm not sure if I want an album, I will send her links to all of the albums so she can see them online So she can see what she would be purchasing. I do as much as I can on the front end, but at the end of the day it is my client's choice and I will absolutely adhere to that. I know there are a lot of people that disagree with that. It's your first family heirloom, these are the things that stand by you for the rest of your life. We can say this until we're blue in the face, but I would rather maintain the integrity of my relationship with my client by education her, than giving her options and saying you can make the decision that's best for you.
In your experience, are there more of the client pick the album compare to the client that said I don't care, don't want.
Oh yes, yeah. I mean I would probably say nine out of 10 clients are choosing an album, yeah. And even when the clients choose to start off because of maybe budget considerations, they'll hire us for a shoot only. At a later point in time, like six months later, once finances have kind of regulated, they will order one. And I'm more than happy to facilitate. Awesome, I think we're going to go here and then here if that's okay.
I'm curious if you do any parent gifts, like if the parents are paying or if you include them into the gifts at all?
That is a great question. The general answer would be that due to my, in the beginning we talked about defining who your client is and I know who my client is down to a T. And I also know that my client, the vast majority are paying for the wedding on their own. So no I wouldn't be sending. I send gifts to where the money comes. If you are in a younger demographic, so traditionally brides between around 19 and 25, they're having their parents pay for the wedding. And if the money tree, that source is the parents, then absolutely I would send something small. Absolutely, absolutely. You want her parents talking to her friend's parents about what they paid you and how great of an experience they had with you. So generally no, but if you feel like it's a benefit to your business, absolutely. Does it have to be as extensive as the wood box? No, but anything thoughtful will really go a long way.
How do you manage expectations about albums where you have a client who's ready, they've got their favorites, but yet you're working on the last two weddings that you have. And I feel like that's my priority to get those finished, edited, returned to the clients. And this client's wanting you to start working on their album.
Okay, let me back that up, so I am a total, I am like a nerd, I'm like the president of the nerd club. I listen to podcasts all the time. And one of these podcasts I was listening to a very interesting interview about a psychologist who talked about relationships and experiences. And you can go and the story he had said was you can go to Europe and have a fantastic trip with your spouse, two weeks of insane moments and delicious things and sweet smells and beautiful visions, but if on that last day your flight gets delayed and you're sitting in the airport and you're upset and you missed a meeting. And the babysitter is late. You're going to look back at that vacation and remember the end. Do not drop the ball. This is the tying of the bow. If you had to choose a priority, my first thing would say outsource. If you can't stay above water, get a life vest, get a life saver thing, right. Is that what they're called? I wanted to just go, I wanted to start preaching. You're drowning, I see you. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome. The longer you wait on that album, the less satisfied that client will be. And a dissatisfied client, again another statistic that I learned, a dissatisfied client tells eight people. And a satisfied client tells two. It is worse to keep somebody upset at the end of the game. Let me give you Amie's information, Albumesque. Yeah, it's Albumesque, a-l-b-u-m-e-s-q-u-e.com. And you will see she has a 50% discount for people who want to try her services for the first time. If you're buried, at least try her once. I mean get a little bit of your life back at a minimum. That's a great questions, and I'm glad that you're open to reveal those struggles because you are one of thousands of photographers who are trying to balance it all. You have to ask for help, you do. You absolutely do. Are there any other questions? You guys, thank you. This section is always kind of like we're in that last little kind of like sprint as we tie this up. I want to thank you guys from the beginning to the middle and the end. You guys I appreciate you. I hope when you guys design your albums it's now a joyful process and an opportunity to create lots of marketing opportunities and happy clients, thank you. (applause)