Sunday, July 12, 2009

Get the Job Done: First photo booth a hit!

I had so much fun yesterday at my first photo booth hosted by my studio! It was a lot of work and of course my muscles were crazy sore and tired, but it was a great experience and I will be doing it again for one of my assistant's car shows on July 19 and for a local church event on July 26! I and my assistants raised nearly $100 in just a couple of hours, but storm clouds (and the threat of another batch of hail) scared off customers and closed down the fair early, so there's no telling how much more profit could have been made had we been able to keep the booth open until that evening. We had access to power! Yeah! Plus it was clear we caught a lot of people off-guard in that they didn't feel comfortable getting shots taken if they weren't well dressed, with their hair and make-up done, etc. :)

I couldn't have done it with my assistants, Jason Peckovitch, who runs his own studio called Illusive Dreams. Jason took all the shots, I helped with posing and did quick basic edits to each image. Inspite of all of my planning, of course something went wrong: my new iP100 Canon Mobile Printer was malfunctioning. Those annoying white lines kept getting scrawled across the image when we would try to print them straight through Photoshop CS3. Jason figured out that we needed to print the images through the software that came with the printer called Easy-PhotoPrint EX. When he did that, the white lines disappeared and we got some amazingly clear, crisp and beautifully colored images from the iP100. The printer is so tiny and easy to carry that it's amazing you can produce 8x10s. But the photos were gorgeous.

I was worried that the technical difficulties would make people hesitate about paying for the portraits. But I think the display I set up of several of my previous images spoke volumes about my abilities. It was such a thrill to see people walking by my booth and stopping to get a closer look at my photos. They were actively choosing to pick up one of my business cards and discount post cards. And they were asking if I was the photographer. It was amazing and humbling. I enjoyed being able to meet other small business owners from my neighborhood who had set up a booth (even the less than generous ones who fought over booth placement!). I got several new ideas for how I might grow and market my business from many of them. I felt like I was a part of something. It's kinda hard to explain, but we were all there early that morning setting up our work, putting ourselves on the line, hoping that someone would spend their hard earned cash on something we made or created. Several people who stopped at the booth said they needed family portraits, senior shots, a few boudoir images and some professional portraits for newly developed business websites. There was even one woman who needs photos of her horses shot!

I would like to give a special thank you to Cheryl Carter, who's public relations firm notified me about the event. I also do contract work for Cheryl at the Auraria Campus. Cheryl has been such a boon for my company since I shot her parent's rededication ceremony last year. Her faith in my abilities has helped take me to heights I would never have dreamed possible. And yesterday's event is testiment of your need to treat every client with courtesy and respect because referrals are the best advertising available. Cheryl helped me book my first wedding last year with a young couple you may remember, Tolisa and Jordan. At least half of the people who came up to my booth not only recognized several photos of the couple I had taken during their wedding on my display table, but each one had been personally told by the couple to choose me for their future photography needs!

I would also like to thank my photographer friend and colleague Christine Tydingco for arriving to assist during the late afternoon shoot, even though things were pretty much over by then. As always, she was extremely courteous and helped me break down all the equipment and pile it into my car. I would love to be able to do this at least two or three times a month because I think it's a great way to be out within the community and allow customers to have direct contact with the person they hopefully will be trusting to photograph their special moments.

One of the new things I was able to do this time was get contact information for each person who purchased photos yesterday. That allowed me to call them today, let them know that I had made their photos available for them to download from my website and give them a chance to ask any questions about the process. Their names will go on the customer list I'm creating. I learned another idea from a few vendors: many of them had products available for a raffle. When booth visitors signed up for a raffle prize, they gave the vendors contact information as well! I could raffle off a free photo session and get numbers for future clients too.

Maybe I could contact some festival coordinators and offer a deal: If they purchase my event coverage service, I could set up a photo booth at their event and take photos of their guests for free (free for them at least)!


Lisa Piellusch said...

Awesome job, Sheba. I think the part I love the best about your whole experience doing this is how much fun it sounds like you had. I wanna be you!! :) hehe

I'm so excited and happy for you and that this first one turned out to be such a positive experience despite some of the glitches.

- Lisa P.

Sheba Wheeler said...

Thank you dear! If you do it let me know how it goes!

Jeffrey Bennett said...

Sheba, you are truly a talented photographer! Keep up the great work and I know you'll go far. :D

Sarah Cutright said...

Yay Sheba! What a great experience and so much to build on from it! Congrats!

Tommy and Ashley said...

Could you describe what kind of lighting you used for you booth. I can't imagine that it was packed with umbrellas or anything like that. I've toyed with the idea of doing this same thing and was wondering how to handle the lighting. Thanks.

Sheba Wheeler said...

Tommy and Ashley, we didn't end up using any additional lights other than our flashes. Of course I took one my Alien Bees thinking we would need it, but we had plenty of light with the sunlight and a pop of flash for fill. It was so bright that day that we had to put up two backgrounds to block out the sunlight.

I set up the Alien Bee, but space did become an issue, with clients almost tripping over wires, etc. and there was very little room inside the 10x10 tent to put the lights up and have a display table.

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