Sunday, September 29, 2013

Making a Sales Presentation? Don't Make These Mistakes!

Lord have mercy, where did the summer go! The leaves are turning color, falling off the trees, and messing up my 2.5 acres...which I now have to clean up! Fall often means quoting church directories, school directories, school and/or sports photography for next year (yep, it is normally done this far in advance), and other photography events...All prime candidates for Photography for Income.

As photographers, we don't normally have to have real sharp presentation skills, but when you are doing Photography for Income, the time may come where you have to put them into play.Years ago, I was doing a presentation for a church. We were pitching a church directory.

There was a photographer from a local studio, and a representative from a national church directory chain. The local guy stumbled and bumbled...he was CLEARLY out of his comfort zone. The guy from the chain outfit was slick and polished. He went through his presentation smoothly. 

Amazingly, BOTH presentations were very close in content! 

1. Who is "Our Studio?"Company and what is our history?
2. Overview of Our Studio Products and Services.
3. What Your Church's needs are.
4. The solution and how Our Studio can help Your Church.
5. Display of portrait samples.
6. How Our Studio will deliver results.
7. The support Your Church will receive
8. How we will manage your account
9. How Our Studio Innovates! (the future of Our Studio & Your Church)
10. Benefits of working with Our Studio.
11. How we will launch Your Church Directory:
  • Program and launch planning.
  • Recruiting congregants as appointment setters.
  • Scheduling portrait sessions, photography, and sales
  • Target Delivery Date.
  • How Our Studio will deliver portraits to Your Church.
12. Your Church's feedback and results
13. Our Studio will now open this to Your Church for Q&A
What a snorefest! The board making the decision was bored just 10 minutes into the thing (no pun intended, by the way). Here's why: they didn't give a rat's ass about the first NINE topics of discussion! What they WERE interested in were items 10 through 13...and I am being kind by including #12.
Here is what needed to be done: they needed to focus on the prospect’s issues and concerns (and their studio history sure as hell isn't one of them!). So why didn't these people speak directly to the prospect’s concerns? Well I am only guessing, but I would guess that they felt the still had to sell the church on their company, and by talking about their company they would sell the church on their business and eliminate any nagging concerns the church board had..
I have yet to encounter an executive team or decision making board who was interested in a person’s company--decision-makers don’t care! All they want to know is:
1. That you understand their problem/concern (or want/need/desire), and
2. How you can help them resolve that issue.
I walked in and said, "Wow! You asked for a drink of water and you got Niagara Falls! (chuckles and guffaws). Look, you know who I am, you know what I do, and you know I am the best at doing it. I am going to get your church directory appointments set in one week using volunteers from the church. I will photograph all 600 families in one week. That's right, one week, not three like the people before me stated. The photography will be finished before October 15th, the viewing and sales done before Halloween, and the finished portraits delivered before Thanksgiving. 
"Your finished directories will be delivered before Valentine's Day, barring any unforeseen events such as mechanical breakdown or labor disputes...I have no control over those, so I'd be lying to you if I said I could guarantee it 100%. Now does anyone here have any questions, or do you just want to authorize my studio to get this going? (again chuckles and guffaws)
"Why are you laughing? You want to stretch this thing out until Memorial Day with these people, or do you want things done right, done right the first time, and done right now? Does anyone have any questions?"
I answered 4 questions. After that, it took 7 minutes for the board to make a decision.
Afterwards, the guy from the big chain outfit offered me a fairly decent amount of money to come work for the place he worked for. "Thanks, but no 44 weeks out of the year doesn't appeal to me."
The other studio owner didn't talk to me--he was pissed. It didn't matter...his studio didn't make it to prom time the following spring.
Look, the next time you have a sales presentation - or even a sales call - invest some time finding out what your prospect wants and focus your efforts on those things. Skip the yadda, yadda, yadda about your company and tell them exactly how you will help the prospect achieve their objectives.
This approach saves time and really sets you apart from you competition. Not only that, but you will never hear someone complain that you took two hours to explain what could have been done in fifteen minutes. And if you are doing Photography for Income, that is a big plus.
Until next time!

Monday, September 23, 2013

RAW vs JPG: Round #2

Several years ago, at the request of moderator Sue Chastain,  I published an article on ABOUT.COM that spoke about using RAW vs JPG. The article elicited a lot of discussion when it was published. As expected, many of the comments were simply stupid, to wit:

From Guest Seth: "Part of photography was always darkroom work or lab processing. Now RAW files are replacing physical negatives and darkrooms. Shooting in JPG is like Ansel Adams letting the teenage boy in the One Hour Photo process his images. Are you a photographer or not?"
It is NOTHING like Ansel Adams letting 1 Hour Photo process his're an idiot, Seth.

From Guest Kate: What's seen on the camera's LCD is a camera-generated JPEG "thumbnail" of approx. how your image will look when it's opened, and even that depends on factors such as color spaces, settings, compression level which--contrary to some opinions here--does matter because when JPEGs are compressed, data is tossed. Data=pixels and the camera decides which pixels to toss, not you (if you shoot JPEG). Lost pixels=lost resolution. While it's true that med. vs. high Q JPEGs printed at the same size are almost indistinguishable, what IS lost in higher-compressed JPEGs are all those precious pixels you'll wish you still had if you heavily crop an image. Why have a 12mp camera if you're only going to use 6? Regardless of mode, capture all the data you can, using best exposure practices.
Kate, you are wrong. Lost pixels do NOT equal lost resolution. The JPG image comes off the same sensor as the RAW file, and if you use medium compression, you are actually OVERSAMPLING the image...not throwing data away as you state. The statement underlined above is ludicrous! You do not cut resolution in half by using JPG compression! And dear: images photographed at medium quality and printed are not "almost indistinguishable"...they ARE indistinguishable!

But my favorite was from Guest Gordon: This concerns anyone holding a camera and says that shooting RAW is a waste of time and storage. First of all, storage is cheap. Second, you have no clue about pixels and how to get the very best out of them. Clearly you are not a professional photographer and need to be saving your money on a P&S. Enroll is some type photography class and learn the technical side of photography because you sure as hell don't know it now.
Gordo--you are a total douche. I have forgotten more about photography than you will ever know. I hold both degrees from the Professional Photographers of America, and hold several Court of Honor Awards for my photographs. And I beg to differ, but I have ALL the clues on pixels and how to get the very best out of them. So maybe you might want to pick up that photography class...

It is one thing to disagree with a working professional is another thing entirely to insult him, especially when you probably wouldn't know the difference between a RAW file and a JPG file if one of them bit you on the a$$! The whole RAW vs JPG thing has kind of become an elitist battle cry, and I really don't play that game.

I reprinted the article here on Photography for Income last year, and all of the comments were positive. Most of them went similar to this: "Thanks for clearing that up for me...I was working my butt off trying to post-process these RAW files and it was taking me forever. I read your article and it makes sense...THANKS!"

So I am not trying to change any one's mind. If you like shooting RAW files, and have all kinds of time, by all means, stick with it. But don't lie to me and tell me you get better images when you shoot RAW, because you don't. And don't give me this line of crap where you tell me, "It doesn't take me that long to process my RAW images." Really? Take a look at this letter sent to Shutterbug Ads in December of 2012 by John Frederick:

    "I have been shooting RAW format for many years, but I have an issue. I have yet to find a quick, easy, reliable way to process the images. I spend an average of an hour or more of post-processing time per image before I have something worth printing. That's just not acceptable and it has gone a long way toward frustrating (disgusting) me with digital photography.
    What I really would like is as piece of software that will take my RAW image and show me a quick "best guess" as to how the image should appear, then allow me to either accept it or tweak it slightly. I fully agree with the advantages of shooting RAW for serious work, but I cannot spend my life post-processing the images. Any recommendations and suggestions will be very much appreciated, probably by a huge number of "Shutterbug" readers."

Now, either John here is an incompetent idiot (which I totally do NOT believe), or these people who say they can process a RAW image to perfection in 3 minutes are outright liars...which I definitely DO tend to believe! If you take 25 images for a senior portrait, that is 3 full workdays just to make ready images to show the customer...ONE customer! And the last wedding I did was 300 images!! At one hour per image that is SEVEN AND ONE HALF WORK WEEKS to simply process the images. Gut Gott in Lieben!

Editor David B. Brooks' answer was for John to check out a service called Organic Imaging. You do not purchase software, you pay per image. As this is written, the price is approximately 15 cents per image. David wrote a short blog about Organic Imaging that you might want to check out.

I never cared for the time it took for post-processing even in JPG. I think I'd kill myself if I had to post- process 300 RAW files from a wedding, but hey, whatever turns your crank. In any case, do what works for you, but remember: the image is no sharper off the sensor, and all of that post-processing time puts no $$ in your pockets, and that's important when you are doing Photography for Income!  Till next time, may all your highlights read 245 and all your shadows read 10!

Monday, September 16, 2013

#10 -Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...


"My minister (accountant, plumber, landscaper, dog groomer, doctor, window washer, etc.) does some photography and he says you should have done [this or that] differently."

Okay, this is the one that hastened my retirement from photography full time. I had done senior portraits for a young lady, and the girl's mother came in and told me all the things I did "wrong". When I asked her how she figured I did them "wrong", that's when she said, "Well, my minister does a lot of photography and he said these things could have been done better."

I had to stand there and count to ten...then 15...then 20 before I answered.

"You know, I own a Bible but that doesn't make me qualified to lead the sermon at your church this
Sunday." I walked her over to the wall that had my Master of Photography Degree and my Craftsman of Photography Degree on it and said, "Please take a look at these two degrees awarded to me by the Professional Photographers of you know what they signify?"

She replied she did not. I answered, "This means I know what I am doing. Less than 1000 photographers worldwide have both of these degrees. This means I have FORGOTTEN more about photography than your minister will ever know. I'll tell you what: you tell your minister when he has both degrees, he can critique my work. Until then he needs to keep his comments to himself."

I then asked, "Why did you select ME to do your daughter's senior portraits?" She replied that I had an excellent reputation and her daughter liked her friends' portraits that I had taken. I then said, "Exactly. So why are you taking advice from your minister? Why didn't you have HIM take your daughter's senior portraits?"

The daughter was visibly embarrassed. I said to the mother, "I think it would be best if I just return your money and you can have your minister take your daughter's senior portraits, because right now I cannot tell you how much you have insulted me."

The daughter went ballistic! She told her mother, "You had better apologize to Mr. Bohne right now! I LOVE those pictures and I want them for my senior portraits. If you have pissed him off so much that he won't make my senior portraits I will NEVER speak to you again!"

The mother apologized and asked if I would please take her order.

Dear readers, please understand that if you are involved in ANY creative endeavor, you will face criticism...most of it from people who don't know the first damn thing about it! Again, I caution you, do NOT get into a pissing contest with a customer, because you lose - regardless of the outcome. Remain calm and discuss things in a professional manner, but don't take any crap. If someone is not happy, tell them one of two things:

1) "I am very sorry you were not pleased with the portrait studies I did for you. I will be happy to do some additional poses at no additional cost to you. You may order from both sessions, but please understand that if you decide to order from poses from the first session, an addition session fee will be added to your order." By adding this last sentence, you will KILL 80% of the requests for additional poses. By the way, NEVER say you will do a "retake" - in my opinion, it says you have done something wrong.

2) "I am very sorry that you have lost confidence in my skills and expertise as a photographer. Please allow me to give you a full refund, and you may select another photographer." I normally would use this response when the customer had been a royal pain in the ass, and I didn't care if they ordered from me or not. Again, many times this causes the customer to backpedal. If they say, "Fine, I'll take the refund," then give it to them with a smile on your face and wish them the best of luck with their next photographer.

I would actually send a thank you card to these people. I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to be their photographer, and I regretted that I did not measure up to their high standards. I hoped that I might be of service to them in the future. And about 4 out of 10 called me back a month later and asked if I still had their session available for them to order from. It seems they weren't happy at the other studio, either. Hmmm, imagine that! Yes, I would make the order, but they would forfeit any specials or discounts they would have received. No exceptions.

Now, in a few instances I had a third response. There were cases where customers made a scene (with other customers in the studio), used foul language, or made disrespectful comments about me or the studio. I didn't give them any choice. I gave them a refund. Most of the time this was NOT what they wanted. They were thinking if they complained, I would give them a discount or free photographs. Oh, dear...they picked the wrong studio for that gambit, I fear!

I had one lady who made the mistake of pulling this stunt 2 weeks before Christmas. This was during the film days. I had photographed her and her siblings and their children for a gift for Mom & Dad. She was just a total flying bitch, complaining about the poses, the background, not enough of this, too much of that, etc. My sales consultant came back to my office and asked what she should do. I told her to give her a full refund.

She handed her the check and said, "Mr. Bohne apologizes that you were not happy. Here is a full refund, and he hopes you have a Merry Christmas." THEN THE REAL FIREWORKS STARTED! "These were going to be Christmas presents for my parents!" she sputtered. "What am I supposed to do now?" she yelled.

My sales consultant simply replied, "I don't know. Have a nice day!"

Of course, about 40 minutes later one of the other siblings came into the studio hat-in-hand to apologize. "Steve, the rest of the family is mortified. PLEASE let us order these for Mom and Dad. They have wanted this photograph for such a long time. Please don't disappoint them. My sister thinks if she makes a fuss, she will get a discount...she swears it works most of the time."

I told the woman that I would take the order. However, the first woman was not to place the order, she was not to pick up the order, and they would NOT receive the special that they came in under. I said, "Once I refund money, any additional business is at full price--no discounts, specials or coupons apply." She replied she understood completely, thanked me very much, and gave me the order. Her sister's shenanigans cost her and her siblings an extra $125.

Understand that some people are so unreasonable and insulting, we don't want them as customers. I did a young man's senior portraits many years ago. His mother picked the photographs up, and was delighted with the results, and placed a very nice order. She told my sales consultant, "His father and I are divorced--I am just back in town to make sure my son had proper clothing for his senior portrait. Can I keep the originals out another few days so that he might order? He is responsible for purchasing the yearbook photograph." She told her she could, and asked her to tell her ex-husband to please call for an appointment to place his order.

Well, "Wild Bill" comes in a few days later - without an appointment- and with a reception room full of people, he proceeds to go on a rampage...

"These are the WORST photographs I have EVER seen! They are LOUSY! Doesn't your photographer know the first _ _ _ _ _ _ _ thing about his job? These poses suck, his expressions are terrible, and the clothes the photographer selected for the kid to wear are stupid [gee, I didn't know I selected his clothes!]. Where is the owner? I need to speak to this dumbass right now!"

I walked out to the reception area and asked if I could be of assistance. He was about to repeat himself when I said, "Please, Mr. Customer, I've heard your concerns. In fact, I think the people at the Subway across the street heard them as well."

"Well I wanna know what the _ _ _ _ you are gonna DO about it?"

I had a refund check all made out. I took the originals from him and said, here is the refund for the session fee, which your ex-wife explained was paid by you. Please feel free to take your son anywhere else and have the portraits taken by someone else."

He nearly had a cow! "But...but...the yearbook deadline is two weeks away! How am I going to get his picture in the yearbook?"

I replied, "I really don't know...and I really don't care. Besides, after your earlier statements, I'm surprised you would even consider putting one of these lousy photographs in the yearbook. Goodbye and have a nice day." And with that, I turned on my heel and walked away.

He started to launch another tirade, but my sales receptionist stopped him cold. "Sir, your business here is completed. I will ask you once to leave. If you refuse to do so, we have 911 on speed dial, and the City Police will be here in just a few minutes to escort you out." The man left, and you could hear him a block away as he called us everything BUT Christian!

Now before you think I am a total ass, I sent a photograph to the school for his yearbook since his mother had such a nice order. But make no mistake about it: if the mother had not placed an order, there would have been no yearbook photograph sent! I always told my employees to let a customer vent, then express regret, and then see if we can help them be happy. But under NO CIRCUMSTANCES were they to deal with ANY customer who became profane, threatening, or abusive.

Never forget: this is Photography for Income. Enjoy the summer while you's slipping by fast. See you next time!

Monday, September 9, 2013

#9 - Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...

Number Nine:

"I need a photograph for a magazine article (or book cover/press release/President's Wall/ etc). I know you had some extras of my last session. Can you just send one over to the newspaper. You already have it made...why do I have to pay?

 It is AMAZING how many people think I'm in business to make friends. In fact a lady told me that just a few years ago.

I had taken her portrait for the local hospital. She was elected president of the Ladies Auxiliary, and the hospital paid for her session. I made images in black and white and color, which we of course tried to sell to her. She declined.

A few months later, she needed a photograph for another use, and called and said the above just about verbatim. When I told her there was a charge she was incredulous! I told her, "You know, Lydia, this is how I make my living."

Her heated reply? "Well it certainly isn't to make friends! There are some very important people waiting for that picture, so you had better send it out today. Send it by Express Mail so it gets there overnight!"

Whoa! This takes MAJOR cahones: you not only insist I give you the picture for free, you also expect me to send it via Express Mail at my expense. Unbelievable!!

I informed her that I would be glad to do so once I had the price of the portrait PLUS the cost of mailing via Express Mail in my hand. She haughtily refused and said that she would complain to the hospital and I would NEVER do business there again.

This attitude is not held just by your regular customers. I have businesses and PR firms ask me for the same thing. The answer is always the same: no dough, no photo.

Look, you don't owe anyone free photographs, ESPECIALLY if you are doing Photography for Income! Stand your ground and get paid what you are due. See you next time!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

#8 - Ten Things You Should NEVER Say to a Photographer...


"Hey, mom! Look at that picture of looks just like the one you downloaded and put in the family room!"

I used to have a booth at the county fair, and I actually heard this comment while I was manning my booth. The customer who did the illegal download told me her daughter's portraits were "terrible." This is the reason she gave for not placing a very big order.

I had a friend who was talking to me at the time, and I told the copyright infringer, "This person is a witness that you have committed copyright infringement. This is punishable by a $10,000 criminal penalty plus damages. Would you like to settle this out of court, or go to court?"

As it turns out her husband WAS an attorney, and she told me, "_ _ _ _ you, my husband IS an attorney and you can just go _ _ _ _ yourself!" Wow! And to think she kisses her kids with that mouth!

It seems that she went home and told her husband...who called me and started to tell me that they were "innocent infringers." I stopped him and said, "Mr. are an ATTORNEY! No court is going to swallow that story, and you and I both know it.

He wondered if we could come to an "agreement." You see, as an officer of the court, committing copyright infringement is not looked on kindly by the court. It's the kind thing that can get a lawyer reprimanded, censured, or even disbarred in extreme cases.

This is why you need to register your copyright. If your image is not registered, you can't get spit for someone illegally copying your work. You can do it yourself, or you can use LegalZoom. You gotta get paid! After all, you ARE doing Photography for Income, aren't you? Til next time!