November 8, 2011

Live blogging PartnerCon 2011: Digital vs. Physical

By: Wendy Roe

Hey everyone!  It’s day two of PartnerCon and everyone is looking cheery.  Live blogging is a little bit of a social experiment of sorts, so all your feedback and comments are welcome!  Joe McNally opened this morning and the entire audience was in awe.  His honest and candid approach to his photography, sharing and obvious gumption radiated throughout the morning session.  It was the kind of session you couldn’t blog, you just had to be there and absorb his work, stories and adventures.  Next up is the panel on digital vs. physical products with: Samuel Lippke, Kevin Swan, Jody Gray, Ed Monahan, Michael Giordano, Jim Collins.

You can also follow on Twitter at #partnercon or @pictage.

There’s a recap of Day 1’s posts here:
1) Here’s a summary of the opening keynote from Jim:…of-partnercon/
2) Communicating Social Luxury with Lawrence Chan:…lawrence-chan/
3) Systems are Sexy with Leeann Marie:…-leeann-marie/
4) Creating a Client Focused Business:…used-business/

Session Topic: Digital vs. Physical

Are product sales dead? Do prints matter any more? These photographers will share the ways they’ve incorporated (or steered away from) physical products in their business as well as explore new ways they’ve found to take advantage of digital technology. Listen in to these solidly different viewpoints and be challenged to examine how you’re currently approaching digital and physical product sales in your own business.

*** Just a note that panels discussions are paraphrased and not direct quotes.


Panel Introductions….

Q: Can you provide and overview of how you provide digital and physical products in your business?
A: (Sam) I do both; I give them an iPad with their images preloaded.  What happens when your iPad dies though?  I love printed, physical pieces too (for grandma too).  (Kevin)  You have to decide how to stage the story.  Every client gets an album, it’s just a matter of how many pages.  My clients get a 20 page credit to get started.  I just bring one or two to the initial meeting but until it’s their event, there’s a disconnect.  After the wedding within the first few days, we share the album layout to the clients and publicly.  Now there’s a connection and ownership.  Typically my clients edit 10% from the original design.  You can make the digital happen quickly and hook the physical product. (Jody) We want to give our clients a reason and a tool to talk about us in order to create brand evangelists for us.  We do an onsite wedding edit to build buzz and then the next day or two, we post images on Facebook (a sneak peek).  We always get the full party wedding names ahead of time and friend them after the wedding.  We’re sure to upload a photo of the bridal party so everyone can tag themselves.  We also create client sites with Showit.  For physical products, we offer smaller, little KISS album duplicate books as a gift that arrives after their album.

Q: How has the print media and image consumption changed recently?
A: In 2002, print production was at its peak.  In 2010, print consumption (image taking and viewing) has tripled; however print production has halved.

Q: Do you tell your clients ahead of time about sharing a reception slideshow? (Audience Question)
A: (Sam, Kevin, Jody) Yes, I do…but I don’t really tell them and don’t include it in the contract. The goal is to under promise and over deliver.  (Michael) Yes, and I charge extra.

Q: What about prints? (Audience)
A: (Jody) We only sell canvas and albums in studio and say ‘go online’ for Pictage prints.  We focus on the bigger ticket items that make the most of our time.  (Michael) People still buy a lot of prints and it’s all about the education you give your clients ahead of time.  We provide a digital thank you and ask for email addresses in order to send out notification when images are available. (Ed) Photo merchandise is growing through the roof (acrylics, bamboo, metals and unique products).  Prints aren’t going away but they are just not going to double.  Your job is still to document and show the emotional memory and use the new products to do so.

Q: Do you sell digital individual images?
A: (Sam) Yes, I sell digital download images on Pictage.  (Kevin) Yes, it’s a part of our customer service.


Thanks so much for commenting, Michael! It was valuable to have you on the panel when so many are only focused on boutique weddings. I have to admit that this session was so much discussion that you really had just to be there to absorb it all! Cheers and thanks again!

Michael Giordano - Life Long Studios

Thanks for live blogging the panel. It was a great topic that I was pleased to be a part of. As a non-high end wedding photographer, focusing on the mass wedding market, my views are so different. The other panelist’s were amazing Photographers, serving a narrow niche of the economic class of weddings. The important thing to remember is that there are different business models and not just one definitive way to be successful.