How not to sell photos
Sometimes life hinges on the most insignificant things. For example, my life could’ve been very different but for one sturdy lunchbox.
When I was 9 years old, I was run over by a bus. While playing around with the other kids at the bus-stop, I slipped and fell under the wheels of the school bus as it arrived.
Lucky for me, I had a chunky D√©cor lunchbox in my backpack (remember those?). Talk about tough! The lunchbox took the force between me and the bus, and instead of life-threatening internal injuries, I got away with just a broken pelvis. (The lunchbox didn’t make it.)
Like I said, insignificant things can have a big impact. Another apparently insignificant thing in my life was a certain Excel spreadsheet, an ordering sheet for photographs following an event shoot.
OK, I’ll back up a bit ¶
A few years ago, I was hired as the photographer for a girls’ College Ball. The College was in Brisbane and I live in Sydney, so all my contact with the customers was done remotely. When it came time to get all the girls to order their photos, I sent them an Excel spreadsheet and asked them to enter what they wanted into one sheet and email it back to me.
I got 250 copies of the Excel spreadsheet in the mail!
Last time, I talked about the real cost of workflow. The time I spent on this particular job ¶ if we added it up, I think I almost paid the girls to let me shoot them. Here’s how it went down ¶
I took all 250 orders and collated them into one order. Given that there were often 3 or 4 people in any one photo, I had to figure out whether the same photo had been ordered more than once ¶ and of course, there’s not much to differentiate 250 girls in formal dresses!
Having finally put together an order sheet, I ordered the prints ¶ and received 1500 shots back from the print house. I then spent more hours trawling through the photos and the order sheet, trying to figure out who ordered what.
Of course, I spent other time ¶ organising the postage, editing images, communicating with the print house. It all adds up.
And it wasn’t just costly for me ¶ thinking about it, I understand why each one of those girls printed off the sheet. I’d sent up a single CD and they all passed it around to see the photos they wanted. Of course, it was easier for them to have a hard-copy paper in front of them to record the image filename, rather than having to switch windows and type it all out.
That little Excel spreadsheet unleashed hours of trouble for me, and I didn’t see it coming. However, on the positive side, it sent me on a quest. That experience got me thinking about how to make photography òworth it’ ì without having to be a big-name photographer, or work weddings every weekend through spring and summer.
Since then, I’ve been on a quest to improve the way I work ì working smarter, òcheaper’, and more customer-friendly. Next post, I’m going to talk about what makes a good photo-display website, and consider some of the online options.
But before we move on, have you got any stories to share? What’s your worst tale of òworkflow woes’? Leave me a comment; I’m looking forward to commiserating!