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Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 05-18-2006, 02:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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We've been shooting digitally now for about 2 years. Being a small business it was a helluva investment to transition 25 photographers all over to 20D's. During this time we have stayed with showing our proofs as prints and now want to convert the sales end of things to digital as well. It's going to be another major investment and would like to make it as clean a transition as possible - hopefully drawing on some experience of others as to software that can be customized enough to provide the showing of proofs as well as entering of orders. Currently we send OzE discs to our lab with print orders and manually take handwritten orders into our digital department to make custom work. Ideally we would be able to shoot the sitting and immediately show the proofs, take the order, and create a lab disc from that data.

Ideas?

Thanks,
DP Ellis
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Re: Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 05-20-2006, 09:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Labtricity aka ExpressDigital
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Re: Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 05-22-2006, 11:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi DP,

I'm just starting out and am trying to setup a location portrait photography biz in North GA. Digital is all I know, and my day job is a data network engineer (my roots in all things electronic run deep).

Not knowing very much about how this business 'should' work, I went out and bought some decent equipment, did a few free shoots to start building a portfolio, setup a web site, and recently have done my first real shoot, 6 teenage girls heading out for prom night.

My lack of photography skills aside, I managed to produce 36 images that I'm proud of and set about selling prints from my web site, which I wrote a 'client proofing' and shopping cart system for. Much to my disappointment, I've not sold a single print.

All in all, my reason for telling this story is that I can't help but wonder if I had presented the families with printed proofs, would I have sold any prints? I don't think you get the same 'pop' from the electronic proofs, especially after I scaled them down to better fit monitors and 'stamped' my copyright on them.

Is it maybe better to stick with printed proofs? (or am I a victim of my poorly developed skills which run the full gambit from shooting to marketing).

Anyway, food for thought.

I'd love to hear others opinions of electronic proofing vs. printed proofs.

Thanks,

David, A.K.A. Stupid
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Re: Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 05-22-2006, 11:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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David,

Since it sounds like you don't have the photographer title established yet I'm not that surprised that you haven't seen a lot of action on your site. People respond to "percieved value" as much or more than they do to artistic or actual value. Since I don't know how you solicited them to get the shots done in the first place I can't speak from a view of your marketing efforts. We shoot about 200,000 people a year and have a known value to the people we photograph. We already have salespeople knowledgable as to what the people like and what direction the customers are generally willing to go with a purchase. When we make the transition from prints it will be with benefit of this history. We will most likely end up projecting the images for customers. I just need a good software interface that can be woven into the fabric of what we already do and still provide a good sales / presentation utility to eliminate the cost of proofs and provide sales opportunities that are otherwise lost. When the customer has to come back later to view the work they have lost some of the excitement of getting hair, clothes, and smiles just right and then immediately carrying those emotions over into the sales environment to get that instant gratification. Sell it while they're excited.

I agree that there is a difference in showing proofs via internet or by prints you lay down as you speak to the people. Furthermore I can see even more of a wow factor when you can actually project and enlarge the photographs when selling the work. It's all about the theatrics and personal touch when you're there with the work showing it. People will make more of a spontaneous purchase driven by their emotional reaction to the work. When they see it alone and on a monitor at home there is much less in that environment to fan that emotional fire. It becomes more of a logical and financial decision at that point. Figuring out how we can set up web galleries for customers will not replace what we do in the field it will only provide more opportunities not now available. It will only supplement our main sales stream. Now if I just knew a good programmer...

DP Ellis
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Re: Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 05-23-2006, 01:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you DP for taking the time to reply and helping me gain perspective, especially since my 'newbie' status is so evident. I can't really fathom the level of business you must be at to shoot several hundred thousand people yearly when I'm struggling with the basics and feeling overwhelmed with only one shoot a week (at best).

I could bore (or amuse) you with the long list of mistakes I've made in this endeavor but suffice to say I've made some mistakes that are probably 'classics', lots of them. Fortunately my hindsight is pretty good and I'm not one to repeat mistakes, so hopefully in the coming months my marketing and overall business will do better, for now I'm just frustrated with myself but trying not to let it get the best of me.

I'd love to know more about your workflow, your processes must be fairly mature and streamlined to handle such volume. I also can't help but wonder if my IT skills could be of some value to you, although I strongly suspect the way for you to go is not with custom developed software but instead using a well established service. Custom developed software often has serious drawbacks that far exceed the "have it my way" factor.

On that topic, I've read of several companies who provide various workflow and proofing software at little or no cost, their payback being the software interfaces with their own print services. Perhaps this is something of interest to you or something offered by your print house (I'm assuming you don't print in house).

Anyway, the heart of my message is your time and sharing of insight is appreciated. If I can repay the favor with some IT insight, I'd be happy to do so. I've been doing what I do for over twenty years and recently decided to give photography a try as it's always been a hobby, I'm very weary of working for corporate America, and I figure if nothing else, it's a great way for me to buy some good equipment without my wife killing me for spending what will surely be her inheritance...

Regards,

David
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Re: Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 06-09-2006, 04:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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25 Photographers is a SMALL business? Crickey!

Anyway, I didn't see reference to it in the existing posts but I just skimmed so may have missed the reference. If you want to go pure Digital then you really want to use Express Digital Darkroom. You can proof and print from remote workstations to a main server or locally. It will let you handle orders and accounts and pretty much everything you might want. Take a look at www.expressdigital.com. For your "small" business it would actually be a small investment for far greater return.

I hope that's what you were asking anyway.

Cheers!
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Re: Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 06-09-2006, 07:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Well, I've wanted to say this for all of the 12 or so years I've been active on the forums; Hey Stupid! But seriously, you wrote, "... I've made some mistakes that are probably 'classics', lots of them." Trust me on this, you have not made any mistakes the rest of us have not made. In photography, there just are no new mistakes. The same mistakes are made over and over, ad nauseum.

But one serious tip from an old fart retired commercial shooter, making a living is about 70% business skills and 30% photography skill, but 100% about our 'image'. We are in the business of selling our 'image' as one of competence, creativity and skill. With that in mind, I strongly suggest that you loose that "Stupid" screen name, to be honest it's an 'image' which does not inspire a lot of confidence.
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Re: Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 06-09-2006, 08:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi....
Having just shot two weddings in Negril Jamiaca (May 06), I noticed that the resort was using Express Photo. The resort simply connected two monitors so that the clients can see what the employees see. Then the clients made a list of the image numbers and size they wanted. WOW how simple is that..........!!!!

Additionally, I would like to recommend the newbie look for a photog assoc in his area. My rep was great and really helped me.


Ron
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Re: Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 06-09-2006, 10:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Give "acdsee Pro" a look. I downloaded the trial when I was looking for a quick and easy slideshow on the fly software. It looked like a great tool for managing and organizing your workflow with presentation tools.

<o></o>
I got side tracked with life and let the 30 day trial run out so now I may have to buy it to try it. If you do give it a try let me know what you think.
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Re: Digital Proofs & Ordering on location
Old 06-09-2006, 10:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Holy man, I must have been unconscious when I replied to this one. Where was my head? Although, I've just noticed that in this reply there are not only more posts showing than in the normal view mode but there is also more content in each post. For example, when I'm just reading the main post page, Doug Lester's comment ends at the exclamation mark at the end of Hey Stupid! Yet here in the reply page there's a lot more to read.

Anyone else have this happen?
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