Guest blog post from Jennifer Tonetti Spellman, a New York-based photographer specializing in in-home, documentary-style family photography.
Previously, I wrote a guest post for Artsy Couture about how to approach clients (or potential clients) about booking in-home photography sessions.
Once you educate clients on the value of these sessions, no matter where they call home, many understand that filming in the place where memories are made is really one of the most beautiful “locations” one could offer them.
With so many photographers offering digital files these days, it’s also important to communicate to your clients that the goal of a session isn’t just to get a set of images to keep on their computer.
As artists and family photographers, we don’t want their history to end up forgotten in a drawer or device somewhere. It’s important that these images come to life in one way, shape, or form.
Here are a few ways that products can help tell both your and your client’s family history a little louder and prouder:
Documentary-style images are perfect as wall art because they stand the test of time.
Sure, this isn’t a new concept. Offering up wall art is somewhat of a given if you have a product list for clients to choose from.
However, if you want them to continue to love and adore your work as more than just a portrait, it’s critical to help them choose the right image of their wall art – an image that will make a big impact on their lives for years to come.
Even the term “art” should evoke something in you. Think about what “art” truly means. Art is subjective. Art can be non-conforming. Art can be abstract. Most importantly, art is personal.
What comes to mind when you think of the word “art?” For me, it’s a painting. I’m always wondering what the artist was feeling when he or she painted the piece: What was their mood? What was the original scene like, and what compelled them to freeze and interpret that moment?
I’d like the same emotions to apply to both my client’s wall art and to my very own.
I look for the artistic element in the everyday images I provide my clients, and tell each and every one of them that those are the images to blow up. Big.
I never advise a client to get a huge Canvas Gallery Wrap, for example, of a posed family shot. I usually tell them to save those for a 5×7” frame.
The main reason? I don’t want the image to look dated as time goes on, and posed family shots tend to look just like that after a year or two. I want people who walk into their home see a story on their walls – one that makes them stop and take pause.
Be it a spontaneous moment captured , a candid shot, an “environmental” shot or a “detail” photo, these are the images that help in-home session images make such a strong impact on clients.
One thing you may hear when suggesting they print an un-posed image is, “But I can’t see their faces in these!”
My response: “Right. You may not see their faces in every image, but it is through these nontraditional types of images that you can really remember your family as it is in this moment. These are the images that stand that test of time. These are the memories that you’ll miss when they’ve passed you by – memories of your child’s life right now.”
Remember, your client will be looking at this shot almost every day of their lives. Let’s not make it boring. Let’s not make them feel they have to “replace” it after a year because “Emma looks so different now,” and “Mike no longer has braces.”
Another thing to keep in mind is, if you are shooting in their home, it’s great to pair images with the rooms or areas they are shot in. Canvas Prints of the kids baking in the kitchen look great in the kitchen. Photo Print Wraps of the children playing with Legos by their bed are perfect for the entryway to their room. A shot of the kids outside makes the mudroom area feel instantly more personal.
Talk about bringing a story to life…
Sell them on the importance of capturing these moments in an Album.
The way I have my pricing set up for my clients is as simple as can be: They choose from three digital packages, with the session fee rolled into each.
Since my goal for clients is to tell their family’s story in the place that means the most to them, it was only natural for me to include an Album in my most popular package. I did this intentionally, to almost “force” folks to do something with their images.
Yes, I use the word force, but really, is anyone going to run screaming saying “Nooo, I don’t want an album of the people I cherish most!”
This truly allows me to sleep at night by ensuring that something has been done with the images I worked so hard to create. That being said, it isn’t just about me (obviously).
In fact, it’s all about them, and these two facts: (1) They paid good money for this session, so they should explore all the options to get the most out of it, and (2) Most importantly, years from now they are going to be looking back on this album saying, “Wow, that went fast. I’m so thankful to have these moments documented.”
The ability to pull together the images from a session into a storybook of my client’s life as it is now means the world to me. It’s something they will come back to time and time again. It’s a product that will be passed on for generations. It’s a “tangible” reminder of the fleeting moments of life.
In my opinion? It’s a necessity.
This was never demonstrated to me more than with the passing of my Grandmother in 2014.
Months before her death last year, my daughter and I visited her nursing home and I documented the visit. As a Mother’s Day for my mom, I pulled together all the images from that day and made them into a keepsake album. I also made one for myself, knowing I would one day pass it down to Emma. Images of her and her Great-Grandmother, a woman who meant the world to me and my Mom, and a woman who she sadly won’t remember by the time she hit her teen years.
The mind is funny like that- it doesn’t allow us to remember some of our greatest loves when that love occurs so early in childhood.
When she passed away, that was my go-to book. I was so very happy I shot those images and even more happier that I DID SOMETHING WITH THEM.
Photographs are the most powerful piece of history we have, and it’s something I regularly communicate to my clients. I encourage every photographer to do the same.
The next time a client wants to solely buy your digitals, I hope remember these two ways that you can make those images come to life for them and give them so much more for years to come.