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First prom in 10 years tomorrow [Archive] - Event Photographer Society Forum

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08-05-2009, 01:00 PM
K, I'm shooting my first prom in almost 10 years tomorrow.

The nuts and bolts part of the night I'm pretty much covered, but the big change is now the ability for printing onsite.

Whats the best way to getting maximum sales on the night?

I've got flyers for the tables informing the kids that we are there (although setting up where they can all see us anyway - but still worth reminding them!) with call to actions on them (i.e prints cheaper tonight than online etc..)
I've been warned about the buy one and scan for group brigade.
Samples on view.

Any other tips for maximizing sales?

There will be 300 seated at the event so what sort of take up in percent should I be looking to aim for (year 11 prom)?

Cheers

Mike Weeks
08-05-2009, 01:12 PM
Alex,

it is the 'call to action' i.e. buy 2 get one free - only available onsite, type actions that help to achieve the results you are looking for.

Mike

08-05-2009, 01:15 PM
Cheers Mike - thought that might be the way to go

Andy Starkey
08-05-2009, 01:43 PM
Alex,

are you 'printing them all', contact sheets or view and buy?

With those sort of numbers for a year 11, i'd expect a 4 figure return on the night in my experience. Also don't panic if sales are slow to start off with. They want to get in and get a shandy or two, after that you should start to get busy and then manic after the meal. I've needed as much as 3 sales staff alone to keep up with the end of evening demand (of course by this time you've finished the main shooting, but expect some request for specific shots).

As for the samples, get the good looking girls and boys on display as soon as possible as people will 'go and tell their mates'.

Good luck, you'll enjoy it (and hopefully enjoy the financial side at the end of the night too).

Make sure you've got a drink handy and everyone has gone for a quick break before the meal finishes, because in my experience that's when you're going to be busiest and you'll need all hands on deck.

Hope to hear it went well in a couple of days.

Regards

Andy
Infinite Images

PaulM
08-05-2009, 04:14 PM
Alex

I may be stating the obviouse here but make sure you put the print in a mount and in a clear faced bag with the print facing through the clear part of the bag. I have been to an event, as a guest, where they were using slip in folders not mounts. Then they folded the folder over the print and put it in the bag... Sounds mad but it happens.

Do couples, individual full length, three quarter and head and shoulder. Should only tale seconds. Groups sell and so do the funnies. If you hvaen't shot it you can't sell it!

PaulM

08-05-2009, 04:28 PM
Alex,

are you 'printing them all', contact sheets or view and buy?



View and buy - two laptops as viewing stations running jalbum in server mode. (and IE in Kiosk mode)

Got openface strut mounts for prints

Thanks for the input guys - should be fun/manic and enjoyable. Will post back with how it went.

Andy Starkey
08-05-2009, 05:01 PM
Alex,

already a done deal I know, and I also know others may have differing opinions here, but for my and the way I work for Proms/social gatherings events of this ilk (and in particular year 11 proms). I pretty much always print'em all.

I have them displayed on boards which are pre-mounted with 8x6 clear slip envelopes. (in case anyone is interested the sort of thing b'day, xmas cards come prepacked in. It's just a case of taking them out of the printer and sliding them in. If someone wants to buy take it out, put it in a mounts and slipped in a paper backed clear front sleeve (as has been pointed out with the folder open to show off the picture).

Yes there is always wastage in terms of prints vs sales. But for this type of event I think you have a number of benefits.

1. You can't beat the 'print in hand' bags the sale.

2. Speeds up sales workflow as your not spending time with a customer trying to find their picture.

2. Speeds up sales workflow because you've already printed the image.

I've also found that quite often, and in particular for the groups and couples, they often ask for a second (or more) copy once they've got one in their hands (eg boy buys one for his girl and then she say's 'why don't you get one'. Of course sir/madam that'll be an extra £x please.

Whatever you do this or next time, I and I am sure other here wish you a good time and lot's of sales.

Andy

Mike Weeks
12-05-2009, 10:00 AM
Alex,

time to let us all know how it went in the end - hopefully you had a succesful time of it.

Mike

12-05-2009, 12:21 PM
lol - just recovered now :D

Generally speaking it went fine - a bit manic and hectic, but thats to be expected.

Print sales on the night were ok. Not stellar by any means, but I'll touch on that point in a mo.

After about 20mins I got into my stride and the photography side of things was motoring along pretty well - never had too much of a queue built up that people got twitchy. No problems on that side. Camera behaved itself and lights chugged along quite happily the whole night.

As I was in the main room I really felt my lack of IR trigger/skyports. Fortunatly the ambient flashes didn't cause me too much grief triggering my heads, but I did lose a shot or 6 due to shooting right after someone had triggered my heads, but once I made a mental note not to fire if I'd noticed a flash it settled down. So Skyports go on shopping list (which they were already TBH, but way down under more essential things).

Aside from that, the only things I noticed that I need to change from a technical stand point are:

Set a manual white balance - some of the shots are slightly cooler - possibly due to bright vivid colours on dresses. Not a huge issue, but enough to bother me.

Having groups ends curve towards me as opposed to slightly away from me. This causes a pool of light shadow in the middle as the ends creep infront of the center and block the flashes. I could also move the flashes closer to me to give even flatter lighting, so it's more direct as opposed to in line with each side of backdrop (more of less) and shooting 45 degs across.

The workflow was:

Shoot a batch or 10/15 couples - hand cards over for ingesting and display on viewing stations.

Had an issue with two of the three laptops not playing ball and seeing my network. Don't know what happened there as they were working 100% the day before. So ended up with only one viewing station :(

730PS pootled along just fine, however every now and then the print spooler would freak out and crash, or the 730 would print 5 copies of the same print, when only 1 was asked for (which aside from slowing the whole thing down, also wasted saleable media).

This coupled with the viewing station problem reduced the capacity for quick turnaround of print sales and resulted in me falling about 100 quid under my personal goal for the evening.

Places where I can speed up the workflow:

Shoot on a camera with autorotate (still on a 1Ds which of course doesn't autorotate), not a huge issue as bridge will rotate batches quickly, but even saving a minute or so makes a difference.

Prepack all the envelopes prior to event (each sale got a print, voucher towards portrait session and business card in envelope), this would also significantly increase workflow speed.

Pep mounts for prints - the strut mounts I'm using are great, but VERY tight (loik a toiger), running a ruler along top and bottom makes sleeving the print MUCH faster. Again saving time.

Ideally I'd run two 730PS's - more people who can get prints = more sales.

It was a buffet 'dinner' so no real point where we weren't shooting couples as most people from what I noticed didn't really eat.

So yeah, a few hiccups, but nothing major. All the teachers were complimentary, the prom comittiee happy and photographed pretty much everyone who wanted pics.

Had my online gallery already in place so had also placed cards on tables with address and access code. Got home at 2:30 and crashed.

Up at 9 and wanting to upload shots to server - interweb is only synching at 3500kbps and my upload speed has died totally to 5kbps! Took me 6 hours to upload shots! :(

Still, had 450 odd views of gallery and 11000 images served on Sunday alone. So certainly the cards worked and people coould find the shots. So far I've taken more online that I had on the night (though of course we should have had more sales).


So, all in all a good starting point. I feel with a tighter workflow (which also comes from experience) we would have done a very good trade with prints served quicker.

A lot of the fact that it went smoothly is down to the advice from other event togs here, especially Gary and Mike, so I'm indebited to you all.

Mike Weeks
12-05-2009, 12:49 PM
Alex,

if you had attended one of my seminars I would have told you about the Lastolite Ezybalance and setting the white balance. A wireless transmitter on the camera is a must as well as the wireless triggers for the flash.
This is not a portrait session but an event so try to keep a flat wall of light where you will stand the clients so that light is event right across the background.
Auto rotate is a must - I do not know what the Canon equivalent is but a Nikon D200 with WT3 wireless can be had for about £600 and add a 17-55 lens so maybe £1000-£1100 and you have the perfect prom/social camera.

I have had emails at midnight on the night of a prom asking when the images will be up so I try to set the process running when I get home and then wake up to find it done and sometimes orders.

Mike

gary evans
12-05-2009, 01:23 PM
Auto rotate is a must - I do not know what the Canon equivalent is

Its called auto rotate :lol: :lol: :lol:
and its in the camera menu!




Interesting reading Alex, couple of points I would make are about your WB and your printing.

Canon cameras give the best JPEG results when you set your WB to cloudy day, not flash. Have I ever told you how to get 245 whites in shirts etc without upsetting all the other colours?

Card shuffles waste time, so consider shooting tethered if you cant justify a piece of WIFI kit.

Yes, two printers will halve your printing time, but I'm afraid the wasted copies are down to you as the printer menu will always ask how many copies but doesnt default back to one each time. If you print 5 copies of an image it will assume that you want 5 of the next image as well.



Glad to hear that it went for you though :D

Mike Weeks
12-05-2009, 01:30 PM
Gary,

nice editing but you could not answer the question :lol:

Mike

Graham Gott
12-05-2009, 01:37 PM
Had an issue with two of the three laptops not playing ball and seeing my network. Don't know what happened there as they were working 100% the day before. So ended up with only one viewing station

Is your network using a dchp server or are you using manual addressing? I've found manual to be more reliable and faster to connect.

If you've been through all the settings and there is still an error trying to access a networked computer check out this link,
http://winhlp.com/node/40. It solved all my random folder share problems.

Graham

12-05-2009, 04:51 PM
Thanks for the feedback guys.

Yes, wireless is certainly the way to go both file transfer and flash operation.

All in all I'm pretty happy with how it went for a first event in a long time. Obviously a lot of things have changed (onsite printing/viewing being the biggest), so there was always going to be a learning curve.

In terms of wireless options for shooting I've got two - either use my 40D and buy the 700 squid WFT-E3, or stick with the 1Ds and try out the eye-fi option. This would obviously speed up the transfer of images to viewing station immensely.

That sorts out one bottleneck (getting images from camera to PC)

Something that crossed my mind in terms of what some people have said regarding taking payment for larger groups before you shoot them. Why not take payment for all prints upfront?

For example - you want a picture, then while in the queue you pay the 'teller', move on to have a pic taken, that gets transmitted direct to PC and printed, prints in hand for couples a minute or two after their shoot. Instant print for them, no 'redundant' shooting for you.

This is how we used to do it back when I last did proms - all couples wanting a pic prepaid their money and were issued with a ticket. That was then redeemed on the night for the 'session'. If you wanted a group of friends etc.. it was cash up front and only after the 'booked' couples had been shot.

Mike Weeks
12-05-2009, 05:52 PM
Alex,

the problem with that approach is that you are putting the amount of images in the customers mind before they see i.e. 'you would like a photo, £10 please and wait for the photographer' - I am selling one image whereas 'thats a really nice image of you both, how many would you like?' is setting no targets. The difference is since you last did them is that it is not a roll of film that you are processing and getting one image back from the lab, now we can get what the customer wants when the customer wants it.

mike

14-05-2009, 12:48 PM
Alex,

You mentioned your images were slightly cool looking for WB. Do you have the .tcd files that's available? It warms up the images slightly because as you might know the 1D is CCD chip and the rest CMOS.

If you want it please email me as it won't go through the PM system.

Nice to know you had some success - gives a real buzz doesn't it!