Guest Tip • Shooting to Sell – Part I

November 16, 2015
TOTW Lori Unruh Part

Lori Unruh and Jeff Poole are award-winning photographers and owners of indigosilver studio, a portrait and wedding photography studio based in Wilmington, NC. Jeff and Lori also run The Shoot Space, an educational resource for photographers.


Learn to make more from your portrait sessions (and have happier clients) by shooting with the sale in mind. In this post, we’ll discuss what we talk about during our pre-session consultation to get our clients thinking about products, and how we structure our shoot in order to shoot for those products. 

The key ingredient in shooting to sell is that you have to know what you’re going to sell.

In Part II, we’ll delve into our sales process to choose images for the clients’ product goals, and the tools we use to design the products.


The Pre-Session Consultation

The key ingredient in shooting to sell is that you have to know what you’re going to sell! The only way you’ll know is by discussing this with your client beforehand. Before any portrait session, we invite our clients to the studio to discuss the location, wardrobe, and “feel” for the shoot. But on a deeper level, we want them to be surrounded by wall portraits, albums, and prints – and to start thinking about which of those products they want to have in their home.


It’s an important discussion to have. The simple question, “What do you plan to do with your images?” will often reveal that the client simply hasn’t thought about it. When they only know they want pictures, they often default to digital files because they don’t know what else to do. So show them wall portraits, show them albums. Remind them that Facebook isn’t forever.  This is where Jeff really excels – he’s great at shooting for the moon in terms of product suggestions, and it opens up possibilities our clients simply haven’t considered.  

The simple question, “What do you plan to do with your images?” will often reveal that the client simply hasn’t thought about it

If we can get our clients on board with the right products early in the process, we never have to do a hard sell. The consultation allows them to think bigger, plan their budget accordingly and be prepared to buy at their sales appointment.  And because we are not doing a hard sell, they are excited about their purchases. Win!


The Shoot

So you’ve planned your shoot, including location, wardrobe, the “feel,” and even the products.  Now it’s time to shoot with those products in mind. Truth is, different products lend themselves to different imagery.

For example, if a client’s goal is one amazing art piece to hang over their mantel (a common request on the East Coast), then you know you need to take your time to get “the shot.” This means careful posing, lighting that is spot on, tack sharp focus, and amazing composition. You work slowly and deliberately, because perfection is key when you’re printing large. On the other hand, if you are working toward a portrait album, variety and quantity are key, and you may need to work more quickly and loosely in order to deliver. 

Truth is, different products lend themselves to different imagery.


Stay tuned next for Part II, in which we share our product-driven sales techniques and tools that earn us bigger sales and happier clients.

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