In a previous post, we talked about the necessary first steps to getting your photography business online. If you haven’t read Part One, please scroll to the post just below this one, and read it, then return here.
We have been using the example of a wedding. You shot the wedding, and Saturday. On Sunday, you made a collage and posted it on your blog. You sent an email to the bride and groom, and as many family and friends as you have email addresses for. You will want to collect these email addresses, either throughout the reception, or before hand (in the case of the bride and groom, their parents, and members of the bridal party.)
If you clear it with the bride and groom, prior to the wedding day, you can print inexpensive ‘business cards’ that say something like:
Jane & Tom’s wedding photos online at
Log on tomorrow, for a surprise!
If the bride and groom agree, you can add one of these to every place setting, at each table. You also have a stack of cards near the guest book.
If you want to save money, you can get larger quantities and have a generic first line:
“Today’s Photos Available At”
If you really want to impress, add one of the engagement photos to a custom card.
In Part One, we told you where to get the software to design you wedding collage. You will use that same software to design a proof wedding album. Yep! You are going to design the proof album before your bride and groom even see their proofs. Hey, it’s a proof album, it is online (you don't have to pay to print it), and you are the professional storyteller. Oh! Did you think you were a professional photographer?
Sorry, Bubba! The only reason you capture those images it to tell a story. In fact, you will soon learn that the best way to decide what pictures to take – and how to take them – is to shoot with the album in your mind. Every time you take a photo, you should have an idea how you might use it in the album. Of course, you won’t actually use every image, but you will always have a reason for releasing the shutter -- and you’ll do a better job of setting up your shots, rather than just reacting to what happens.
Don’t get all-uppity and tell me that you are a ‘purist” – a photojournalist and you capture events – not set them up. That’s not what I’m talking about. You see, you have options: Flash or no flash, bounce or direct, diffused or not? What angle are you going to use? Are you going to print is in color, black & white, sepia tone? You have lots of choices, and we will discuss them at another time. Right now, we are just trying to get an effective web presence for your business.
Now that you have your proof album all designed, you to do two things. First, you want to get it to your bride and groom. Secondly, you want as many other people to see it, as possible.
You can use Photoshop’s Web Photo Gallery. While that is an option, it is not a very dynamic one. There is a better choice – one that will take you album design and turn it into a Flash movie. First it will place your 2-page spreads into a frame that looks like a real book. It will allow you to put links to your blog or web page, a link to your e-commerce site, so the family and guests can purchase prints (without bothering the bride and groom, or you), and it will allow the bride to email the link to her album to everyone she knows. Whoa! What are you going to do with all THAT free marketing? Do you think she has any friends that might be looking for a wedding photographer, in the future? You just got a free, unsolicited recommendation from a satisfied customer!!
So, you ask, where do I get this amazing software that will all me to become a well-publicized and highly recommended photographer, almost over night? Dude, if I know that, I wouldn’t be writing this blog at 1AM! Wait a minute – maybe I do. Yes, you can use a program called Web Album Showcase. You can get it from Gary Fong. It’s neither cheap nor expensive, for what it does – about $150. If you are just starting your business, you might not want to spend that, right away. There is an option – a service that will take your album design and create a Flash movie for you. If you are shooting less than a dozen weddings a year, it may be more cost effective to have the service create your online ‘shows’. If you shoot more than a dozen weddings a year, then you should probably purchase the software.
Purchase here. Contact the service here.
To be really successful, you have to WOW your customers. You have to do things that almost no other photographer can do, or is willing to do. Putting up the collage on Sunday (the day after the ceremony) was the first step. The second step is to have the proof album ready and online by Wednesday or Thursday. Expect that the bride will want to make changes, but have her album online before she even gets back from her honeymoon. Oh, and remember all those email addresses that you collected? You got it: email them a link to the proof album. Of course, when you emailed them about the collage, they came to your blog. On the blog, you mentioned that the proof album would be up by Thursday.
Put the cover, or one of the album pages, or 2-page spreads on your blog and link from there to the actual album.
Now are might be wondering where you put that album, for all to see. After all, you only have a blog, not a full-blown website. If you do have your own website, and have the capability to create folders and upload files to those folders, then you can host them, yourself. If you can’t yet host them, yourself, you can use the same service that you used to create your show. They will host your shows for you. Details here.
There are two more steps to getting your photography online. 1. Setting up an e-commerce site. 2. Developing a website to complement your blog.
The next post will cover both of those issues.