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How to Present Images to Client

Lesson 36 from: Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Kathy Holcombe

How to Present Images to Client

Lesson 36 from: Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Kathy Holcombe

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Lesson Info

36. How to Present Images to Client


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How To Price Your Products


Which Products Will You Offer


Methods For Pricing


Mark Up Factors On Products


What Is Your Per Hour Figure


What Is The Feasibility Of A Product


Target Sales Average


Session Fees Pricing Strategy


Minimum Purchase And Incentives Pricing Strategy


Bundling Pricing Strategy


Pre-Design Pricing Strategy


Album Pricing Strategies


Example Pricing List


Business Basics Overview


Tracking Product Lines In Your Business


Track Your Session Counts


Know Your Sales Average


Importance Of Data Analysis


Overview Of Costs


Professional Photographers Of America Benchmark Survey


Creating A Vision For Your Business


What Do You Want To Accomplish


Take A Leap Of Faith


Refine Your Vision


Products That Sell


Identify Pricing Strategies


Portrait Pricing Strategy Example


Album Pricing Strategy Example


Online Pricing Strategy Example


Fine Art Prints Pricing Strategy Example


Packages Pricing Strategy Example


Sales Strategies Overview


Portrait Sales Session Overview


Sales Strategy for Portrait Sales


How to Present Images to Client


Sales Strategy for Wedding Sales


Album Pre-Design


Marketing: Define Yourself


Who is Your Ideal Client?


Who is Your Ideal Partner?


How to Start a Partner Business Relationship


Marketing Strategies that Work


Product Lines: Business Plan Part One


Workload: Business Plan Part Two


Sessions: Business Plan Part Three


Expenses: Business Plan Part Four


Clients: Business Plan Part Five


Lesson Info

How to Present Images to Client

Sales, how we do it. It's really easy. And so, the thing is, I use ProSelect, which is a selling software. You can use the same process through a variety... You could do it in Lightroom. You could do it iPhoto. There are a lot of different opportunities to do the same process. There are a couple features I like about this one, but really, it's doable in a variety of formats. So, here's how it works. The client has been through the planning consultation. They've been through the waiting and the session and the waiting, and now, here they are in front of me. They walk in. They usually have some death-defying story to tell me about the session, and then I say, all right, so, are you guys ready to see the images? And they're like, oh my gosh, I've been waiting so long. Yes. And so I say, just sit back. Don't worry about choosing anything right now. I'm gonna show you a slideshow of the images. Enjoy. And so, this is the experience that the client has. It's a very clean, easy slideshow. It ...

doesn't have a lot of effects. It really focuses in on the images. Each image shows up long enough that they can take it in and view it, and then it moves to the next one. In the client theater, we have music playing while this is going on, and I crank it up really loud so they can't talk to each other. I want them to just sit back and take it in. So it goes through the slideshow, and then I just sit there and I say, what'd you think? Put your hand over your mouth and be quiet. What did you think? And usually, they go on and on and on and they're excited about it, and then I say, okay, now we gotta get down to business. And this round, we're gonna go through all of the images again, and I want you to get rid of the ones that you don't like. If there's something in the image that you don't like, we'll just take it out of the mix, 'cause there's so many great ones. Our goal is to cut the number of images in half. And that's really important, because it gives them permission to eliminate an image without offending me. I have to tell you guys a funny story about this. So, there was a point in our business where Peter did all of the sales. And I would stand on the other side of the door, not to be nosy or bossy or neurotic, and I would wait. And I'd be like, okay, how'd you do? And he would come in and he's like, well, I did pretty good, except I gave 'em this four-by-six that they really wanted. And I was like, why did you do that? We don't give away anything. And so this went on for about a year. And eventually, Peter was like, all right, enough, already. If you're so good at sales that you can tell me how to do it, why don't you go in the sales room, and we'll see how that goes? And so, I walk in the sales room. I'm like, all right. I got this thing. I know this price list inside and out. I walk in. First thing I do, I open my mouth and give away an eight-by-10. And I'm like, what just happened? And so, it's hard, because our work is personal, and we want people to love it. And then a really... So I got over that, and I was like, okay, I can't do that again. That's just embarrassing. 'Cause Peter was on the other side of the door, and he was like, how did it go? And I'm like, well... And then, I started doing my own sessions. And the things that I could say about Peter's work, I couldn't say about my own work. And then, so I had a really good sales process, and then when I started showing my own work, I walk in. I was so nervous to show my own pictures. All I wanted them to do was love it, and that was good enough for me. And so all this business person information, I threw it aside, and I got emotionally involved, and I blew it completely. I was so tied to it. And so what I had to learn when I sold my own images was that I've got to put up this wall between me and my images, and I have to know that they are gonna eliminate 'em. They may not even choose my favorite image, which is crushing, but I have to go through the sales process, and I have to trust it, because I have to make a living doing this. So, I feel your pain as you go into this sales session. I get it. It's scary, and it's hard, but it has to be done to stay in this business. So, with that in mind, knowing that I've been in your shoes, knowing that it's scary, let's go through the next steps. So, the next thing I'm gonna do is say, okay, let's get rid of the ones that you don't like. And so I say, what do you think about this one? And it is an immediate thing. They're gonna hesitate, because they don't wanna hurt your feelings. And if they hesitate, I'm gonna say, well, you know, I really like the composition of this one. I think this one's pretty good. Is that okay if we keep it? And they're gonna say yes, and I'm like, great choice. And I move onto the next image, and it's done. And what do you think about this one? And they may hesitate again. I'm gonna say, well, you know, I really don't like how her hair is covering her face. I can't see it very well. What do you think about this one? And they're like, oh, yeah, you're right. Yeah, let's get rid of that one. And so the neat thing about this software is it's very simple. Down here in the lower right corner, there are smiley face, medium face, and frowny face. If they don't like it, you hit the frowny face button, and it goes away. And I tell them that we can't get it back out of the frowny face folder, because that complicates things. I really can if it's really important, I do, but I like those to be gone. And so then we go through all of these steps, and as we're going through this first round of images, here is psychologically what happens. This is where you build trust with your client. The first one, you'll ask them questions. What do you think of this one? What do you think of this one? What do you think of this one? And we'll say yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, maybe. But what happens if you're an artful salesperson is you can start throwing interjections. Oh, I really love her smile in this one, but that right elbow, that's a little bit awkward. So I would stay get rid of this one and stick with the previous image. And they'll either disagree, or they'll agree with you. And at some point, when you're going through all of these images, you're gonna see something in your clients change, because you are the expert. You are giving them good advice. And pretty soon, whenever you have control of that sale, they're gonna say, I don't know, what do you think? That's when you've got the sale. That's what you wanna have happen in that sales room, and this is the time when it happens, when you're going through and you're getting through the yes and nos and the maybes, okay? So watch for that whenever you're in the sales room. Whenever they start deferring to you and saying, oh, what do you think about this image? That's when you have 'em. And so you go the rest of the way through the images, yes, no, and you try to make it fast. You really want it to go click, click, click, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no. That's round one. If you don't get the sale in your hand in round one, don't panic. You have round two. So, the next step is we are going to pull up similar images. And so, let's see. I'm gonna pull up this one and this one. And I can pull 'em side by side, and these aren't particularly similar. But I can say, we were talking about this particular product. Do you like this one or this one? And again, you can do this in a variety of different softwares. And they'll say, oh, I like the one on the right a lot better. That's a lot more playful image. Oh, yes, I agree. I think that's gonna be perfect for this product. And I keep driving back to the product that we had talked about earlier. And so, once we get it down to the best of each set of images, so here would be an example. And I joke all the time. I'm like, okay, this is like an eye test. Do you like number one, number two? Number one, number two. And I flip back and forth between the images, 'cause sometimes when you flip fast, you can really see the differences in expressions if they're very, very similar, and then they're like, okay, either I like number one, or what do you think? And so, then, after you get down to the best of each pose or the best of each series, then if I know specifically what they want, I can say, all right, we talked about a canvas group for the wall. Typically, whenever I go into a sales session, if I know that's what they want, I will have pre-built one, but let me show you if we go by the seat of our pants, which I don't usually do in a sales session. This particular software has a bunch of templates. You can design a custom. You can buy 'em from other photographers, or there are a few that are built-in. So these are a bunch that I have built, and my favorite product that I sell is this one. And it has three squares at the top of it, a vertical on the right, and a larger one on the lower left. Typically, I size the main image, the lower left image, as a 30-by-40. So when you think of this piece, it's a big piece. Those top images are like, 15-by-15 squares. So it's a pretty big piece. And so if I haven't pre-designed one or if I see that they have selected images that I didn't anticipate, almost always, they pick the images that I have pre-chosen and pre-designed something for. It's really easy. I can just drag and drop these images into the template, and I can create a piece for the wall right like that, and then I have a fun one. I can drag it here, and I can see exactly what this finished piece is going to look like. Oh, my goodness, a beautiful, custom piece for the wall. Is this what you were thinking for that space that we talked about? And they'll say, I love it. And if I know that they have a lot of room for their walls, I may have pre-designed three or four different pieces of different shapes and different sizes and different images. I'm planting seeds. Again, I know they like the canvas group. What's better than selling one canvas group? Selling three canvas groups, right? So, I wanna show them different options. And sometimes, they add on. Sometimes they stick with what we originally talked about. No pressure. I'm just throwing out the opportunities, okay? So, then, all I have to do is click on the little shopping cart. It's a custom product. Let me show you the price list for that. We call it modular art, and basically what it is, it's a list of different sizes of canvases. You add up how many different canvases of the various sizes, and that's the total for this product. It's very simple. I do all the math for them. And then we just add it to the shopping cart. That's a done deal. And I tell people when I sell this particular product that I don't know what the final cost is going to be. They start at about $1200, and they go up from there, depending on the shape and the number of images that you choose, and I won't know that until you see the images, but I'll have a couple of ideas laid up for you whenever you come in, okay? So this is for our high-end buyer that wants what they want when they want it, how they want it. So, that is a wonderful way to sell to that consumer that wants the best, and they want that personalized service. They don't wanna be jammed into a package. See how we've given our clients so many different opportunities to buy in the way that they're comfortable buying? We have something for everybody. So now, let's just say that this particular piece is $2,000. It's a custom product. I have the option to enter the specific sizes. Whenever I print out this order form, let's see. Let's do it here. I can choose that the main image is gonna be a 30-by-40, and then it automatically calculates the sizes of the additional portraits surrounding that, so whenever I print this out for the client, they know exactly what size and shape it's gonna be. I hand the order form to Peter. He knows exactly what the size and shape is gonna be so that he can order the product, and then it keeps a running tally of how much the total is. The other really neat thing about it: I'm gonna put this in, I'm gonna add it to the order. I see this little box on my screen. The only thing that the customer sees on their screen is the image in the center. They don't see any of the toolbars there on either side. And so all they're looking at is this big, beautiful piece that we've just designed. So I'm keeping a running track whenever I click that shopping cart icon of what they're ordering and how much they're investing. So I know that, but they don't. And then, we talk about other products. We go through and we say, oh my goodness, you have all of these images remaining. We've only used these four. What would you like to do with the rest of the images? We have books that we could offer. I'd love to make you a custom book. Wouldn't this particular book be beautiful? This is our simplicity book. It's just small and simple and wonderful. Peter custom designs every single spread in this book just for you using your images. It's 12.99, but it's a great opportunity to be able to have all of these images from your session that are left that you love. And one of the things I really like to do with this particular book is get a cookbook easel and set it out in your living room. It's a really nice display piece that changes. It's like, changing art. Whenever you get tired of one, you can change it to another page, and it's a great display piece. So, I give 'em another option. And then be quiet and see what they say. Maybe they want it, maybe they don't. But at this point, all of this is just gravy. You know you've got the sale. You know you've hit your target sales average. Anything else is just celebratory. See how easy it is? Piece of cake. You can be your client's best friend in the sales theater. You can help them find something to do with all of these amazing images that you captured. And that's it. And then you say, thank you so much. Your total is. Would you like to pay by check or credit card? And then close that mouth again. Do you have questions about how to do this? I promise you, it's gonna be scary at first, but it will work, and you will be amazed at what your clients do. I was just wondering what you actually do if they don't choose your favorite image. Do you still keep all of the images yourself for your portfolio? Do you share them on your website, because then they do get the images they wanted? What do you do? That's a great question. So, we actually have every image that we have ever created, even me shooting my feet occasionally. We archive everything, which is funny, 'cause we live in an RV, and we have a huge storage room full of old files and even slides, things like that. So we don't ever get rid of anything. And that's come in handy so many times. I've had so many people call for one reason or another and say, I know you did this session like 10 years ago, but is there any way that you still have these files? We've lost a family member, or something like that. And so, and we always give 'em images. Just, we want you to have these. Please take them. So, we keep them. We tell our clients that we will archive them as soon as we're finished with their order. If they don't order anything, those images, we get rid of, we delete. Now, we don't really delete anything, but we tell our clients that they do, because they need that motivation to move in some instances. So, we use that as a motivating thing to make a decision, 'cause it's really hard for some people to make a decision. And the first part of the question was about what happens if they don't pick my favorite images. That hardly ever happens, because in the sales room, I've really looked at the images, and I look for the best images of their expression. And by this time, I've met with them several times. I know 'em. I know what they like. And so when I have them in the sales room, I'm really guiding them, and I'm saying, I love this image because I love the graphical designs of it. I love the expression. And when I explain it to 'em in that way, they're like, oh, yeah, I love that, too. And so, I mean, it does happen occasionally, but really, the more I do this, the more our clients trust us, and the more masterful I've become at controlling that sale, and they pick that. Every once in a while, they don't pick the very best image from the session. It kills me, but they don't want it. And it's their image. So you might discuss this at another point, I'm not sure, with blogging. You've got your favorites, and this is what you wanna blog, but they might be images that the clients haven't chosen. So do you just go ahead and blog what you love? Yeah. It's our content. It's what we wanna show people. We would never show an unflattering image. It may not be their favorite one, but our clients are gonna share their favorite ones, and we get to share our favorite ones, and we've never had a problem with that. If someone was bothered, and we always tag 'em in it, so that they can see it, and if they had a problem, of course we would remove it immediately. But we've never had that happen. Several people are asking again if you are showing images that are straight out of camera via ProSelect, or have you done some retouching to them? Absolutely straight out of the camera. And so the images that you saw are straight out of the camera for Peter. He is a master at lighting, and what he captures is really good. He has to do very little work. Sometimes he does facial retouching and things like that, but we show them straight out of the camera, and we tell our clients that. Now. The caveat to that is, there's always an exception. If there's an image that Peter is so excited about, and I mean like one image or maybe two images, he will take those then, because that's his personal project and he wants to work on 'em and if there was some kind of vision that he has whenever he captured that image, he will do whatever that is to that image, because he's excited about it. And I'll put that in there in the ProSelect, and we put the original one in, and we put the enhanced one in so that clients can see the difference. And this is where it's really nice having someone that's not the photographer doing the sale, because as I go through the images, they'll see the first out of the camera image and then they'll see the enhanced image, and I can say, oh, did you see that? Did you see the difference between these two? This is one that Peter loves. This is his favorite image from the session. They'll buy it every time, because Peter did it. He enhanced it. He showed 'em. And so, that is a really powerful tool if you have that luxury of having a separate salesperson. But even if you're the photographer doing the sales, you can say, this was my favorite. It might even be more powerful that way. This is my favorite image from the session. This is what I was thinking. What do you think? It'd be worth trying, for sure. About how much time do you spend on average with clients in terms of adding up the consultation, the shoot, and then the sales session? 'Cause you still have time that you're gonna spend ordering with the lab, and I assume, and, additionally, do you drop-shop directly to clients, or do you inspect everything first, spend time to repackage it and ship back out? So, different business models for different seasons in our business. When we had our home, we had everything shipped to us. We worked with custom framer that was about a mile from our house, and he would take everything over to him, he would frame it, and we would pick it up, and our clients would come back to our sales theater. Now it's a little bit different process. We have everything drop-shipped to our clients, and then they take the images to our framer, who still custom-frames everything. This is for our Colorado clients. And then we figure out other solutions. It's harder with framing, but most of our clients are buying canvases and books anyway, so it's not so much of an issue. And then the clients work directly with the framer. What's been really neat is we give the framer a budget that we will pay this much towards the framing, and if the client wants to get a $6,000 frame, they absolutely can. And what he's seen is he has seen a huge upsell in his business where our clients are coming in and upgrading their frames and paying an additional amount to them. So, that's a really interesting side effect that has happened since we moved into the RV. One more question, you may have covered this earlier, from Meg, who said if you offer a long, spread-out payment plan, do they have to wait until everything is paid to get the products? Absolutely, yes. We don't deliver anything until it is paid in full. So, not any piece of anything.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Business Plan Worksheet
Expense Worksheet
Sales Averages by Product Line Worksheet
Sales Projections by Product Line Worksheet
Session Count Worksheet

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Art of the Sale Book
Creating a Vision Workbook

Ratings and Reviews


I started my business a year ago with little formal technical photography education. It's hard to admit but I've been winging it, figuring out each small task that goes with photographing a session, editing one, and working with clients as I go. I may be doing things backwards, but now that I feel like I'm more comfortable in those small, specific parts of business, I need to figure out how to make this business sustainable and profitable. Kathy's class felt perfect for this time in my business to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what I want to focus on and where I want to go (and how much I want to pay myself!). She uses realistic, specific numbers: something that's SO helpful and I feel like I rarely see in the photography community. And she breaks everything down in an organized and easy to understand way. The classes were easy to follow along with and Kathy's positivity and patient manner is inspiring and motivating. The fact that she used to be a school teacher is clear. Thank you so much Kathy (and the rest of the Holcombes)!

Jenny Farrell

I am so glad I was able to attend this course in person and receive all the wonderful and practical information Kathy shared with us. I also really enjoyed the connections with other audience members and side conversations with Creative Live peeps as well as the Holcombe family. What an inspiration this family is--lots of practical info, but also a great pep talk to not sell yourself short and get out there and do what you love, but use sound business practice while doing it. Thanks so much for these incredible two days.


Fantastic course! Very helpful instruction and how-to guide for anyone considering starting up a photography business. Kathy was an excellent instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I gained a good understanding of the practical everyday aspects of running this kind of business, and how to create my own vision.

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