Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye to 2012 - Looking Forward to 2013

So . . . as I prepare to say goodbye to 2012, I'm taking a few minutes to reflect on what an incredible year it was in so many ways.

January saw a trip to New Orleans for ImagingUSA; who knew Kirsten and I would find our rings in "The Big Easy"?

February marked the one year anniversary of surgery and a year of being cancer-free. I proposed to Kirsten and she said yes!

In March, my family and I celebrated my mother's 89th birthday. It was wonderful to have everyone together for dinner with her.

April opened another season at Target Field . . . love going to see the Twins, no matter what.

At the end of May, I said farewell to the students I'd been working with at Hill-Murray School. Some graduated and moved on to college while others would stay, but when Mr Sherman retired, it brought an end to 2 years of volunteering as a bw photography /  darkroom instructor (for now, anyway.)

June opened a new year of high school seniors through the studio. I just love working with you all throughout the summer!

Wedding bells rang at the American Swedish Institute in July. Kirsten and I exchanged vows on the 7th in front of an intimate gathering of family and our closest friends. We then moved on to a party at Republic in Minneapolis where we were joined by over 70 friends and family. We truly felt all of your love and support!

August marked a trip to Atlanta for the annual PPA Charities Board Meeting, along with a busy month photographing hs seniors before school began.

September opened with a Labor Day trip to Duluth, MN. We visited Kirsten's sister and her family, drove along the North Shore of Lake Superior for a day, then came back and celebrated my son Joseph's 21st birthday with his friends. (It's been a long time since I've been at a bar with 40+ college kids!) It was a great weekend.

The end of September and beginning of October was a bittersweet time as Mom lost her 8 year battle with cancer. There were lots of tears and laughs as we saw family and friends who came to pay their respects before we laid her to rest next to Dad.

November . . . Thanksgiving with a new twist as we celebrated with my family at my sisters' lake home, then headed west about 45 mins to do the same with Kirsten's family the next day. I love spending time with family. I also became involved with a BNI business networking group; I'm now connected to a wide range of talented professionals in a variety of fields.

Which brings us to December . . . We opened the month another year older for both Kirsten and myself (both of us have early  December birthdays.) We enjoyed Christmas with both of our families, missed my mother dearly, and began to look forward to the changes that 2013 will bring to our lives.

What will those changes be? If I told you that, it would spoil all the fun!

Stay tuned . . . 2013 promises to be busy, exciting and better than ever.

Happy New Year!

- David Grupa

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012 - Day 5

We’re over halfway through the PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012 promotion launched on 12/12/12. I truly hope my stories will inspire you to participate; this is not only about recognizing those who helped me along the way, but doing something good for a great cause.

PPA Charities – the charitable arm of the Professional Photographers of America – was established back in 1997 at the urging of then-PPA President Bert Behnke. In 2005, PPA Charities teamed up with Operation Smile as its charitable partner. Since that time, PPA Charities has contributed $500,000 to the organization dedicated to repairing the cleft lips and palates of children in countries where this malady would otherwise go untreated.

At a time of year when gift-giving is appropriate, we invite you to give a gift of your own to help change a child’s life. Not only is this a great cause and excellent way to “pay it forward”, but also an awesome way to honor some of the very important people who helped to shape your photographic careers.

It’s time to add another name to my PPA Charities Photo Idol list. I was probably working print crew at the Northern Light Convention in 2005 when we first became acquainted. However, it was the 1998 NL gathering when this impression was first made. I was sitting in the trade show at one of the empty tables after the show had closed, writing a postcard to my sons. Bert Behnke walked into the room after the print judging and we began to chat. He smiled at the postcards on the table and said “I like to send a card to my son when I’m traveling, too.”

Later that year, when I was on stage receiving my Master and Craftsman Degrees, it was PPA President Bert Behnke who shook my hand after Helen Yancy had placed the ribbon around my neck.

When Bert called me in the fall of 2007 and asked if I would be interested in a position on the PPA Charities board, I was very flattered and humbled. The chance to “pay it forward” in this manner was an opportunity I welcomed. He has introduced me to so many people in the industry that have become good friends.

Bert and his wife Cindy have also spoken across the country helping photographers understand not only lighting and posing techniques, but sales skills and studio procedures.

Bert is also a big Chicago sports fan, which has made for some fun rivalries over the years.

My vote today for PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012 is Bert Behnke. In Bert’s honor, please vote Chicago-style (that means vote early and often!)

Cast your vote at

Monday, December 17, 2012

PPA Charities Photo Idol - Day 4

I hope you’re enjoying the “Photo Idol” stories and thinking about your own mentors throughout your photographic career.

I’m posting these snippets as I make my nominations for the PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012. I truly want to encourage everyone to participate, not only because it’s a great cause and excellent way to “pay it forward”, but also because it’s an awesome way to honor some of the very important people who helped to shape your photographic careers.
PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012

So . . . here’s another of my own stories. Watch for them on my Facebook page as well as on my blogs. Of course, all the vote tallies will also be shown on the PPA Charities website and Facebook pages.

Now, it’s time to reveal my fourth PPA Charities Photo Idol.

I first joined the Professional Photographers of America back in 1977, but for a number of years I was what you might call a “checkbook member”. Although I paid my dues regularly, used the logo and told clients I was a member of PPA, I never really rolled up my sleeves and did anything with the association.

Until 1993. That was the year I first ventured onto the internet. I used this new software called “America Online” and after joining, ventured into a chat group called “PPA”. It was in that group where I met Helen Yancy for the first time. Helen was the PPA President and I was just starting to get a feel of what actually getting involved with PPA associations could do for me and my photographic career. Helen encouraged me to stop standing by as a spectator and take a more active role in the groups to which I belonged. It was scary – I didn’t know anyone . . . but I went to a few local meetings and liked what I saw. After one meeting, I swallowed hard and walked up to the President to ask if there was anything I could do to help out. The rest is history.

Helen Yancy is a talented photographic artist. Many of you have taken her classes on Painter and photographic enhancement. While we know of her talents within the industry, she’s also a very giving, caring woman. I’m proud to know her and call her a friend.

When I received my PPA degrees in 1998, I asked Helen to be my “sponsor”; the individual who would hang the medallions around my neck. It was a proud moment for so many reasons . . . (but you’ll have to come back to find out the rest of the story on a different day.)

Thank-you to my dear friend Helen Yancy. Without you, I’d have never enjoyed my PPA membership to the level I have. You put a face on what it means to serve other members in a leadership role and set an example for everyone you touch. I know you already know this, but you are truly one of my “Photo Idols.”

Please vote for your own Photo Idol. Go to

Sunday, December 16, 2012

PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012 - Day 3

PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012
It’s time to reveal the third of my “Photo Idol” votes. (We’ve got 12 days of voting . . . there are lots more to come!)

By now, you’ve probably seen the PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012 promotion launched on 12/12/12. I want to encourage everyone to participate, not only because it’s a great cause and excellent way to “pay it forward”, but also because it’s an awesome way to honor some of the very important people who helped to shape your photographic careers.

I’m sharing my own stories so that you know where I came from and who’s important to me. Watch for them on my personal Facebook page as well as on the studio page. Of course, all the vote tallies will also be shown on the PPA Charities website and Facebook pages.

Have you ever noticed that there are some speakers you could hear over and over again, and each time you listen you learn something new? Hanson Fong is that individual for me. His classic style of wedding portraiture and ability to flawlessly pose couples is among the best I’ve ever seen. In an age where so many wedding photographers use a “spray and pray” mentality, Hanson Fong’s ability to capture elegant, timeless images is still second to none.

He’s also responsible for a philosophy I use when purchasing equipment. So many photographers go crazy buying every latest gadget only to find them collecting dust on a shelf in a short time. I remember sitting in one of his programs early in my career, agonizing over the thought of spending $125 on an accessory. There came a point in his program when he began talking about what was in his camera case (yes, we used cases rather than bags back in the film days!) and he was talking about buying new “toys”. He seemed to look straight at me in a crowd of over 400 people and said “It’s not expensive as long as you use it. Close your eyes and write the check.” To this day, those words go through my head with nearly every purchase of photographic equipment. “It’s not expensive if you use it.”

He was always approachable and willing to answer questions. I think by now I’ve heard him speak well over a dozen times . . . and I still take something away.

Number 3 on my list of people who influenced my career is Hanson Fong.

It’s time for YOU to vote for your Photo Idol. Do it at

Saturday, December 15, 2012

PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012 - Day 2

PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012Yes, it’s David Grupa . . . many of you know me from involvement in PPA and affiliate groups, while others just know me from places like Facebook or networking groups. Perhaps I photographed your wedding or high school senior portraits!

I hope you’ve seen the PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012 promotion launched on 12/12/12, and I want to encourage everyone to participate; not only because it’s a great cause and excellent way to “pay it forward”, but also because it’s an awesome way to honor some of the very important people who helped to shape your photographic careers. As someone who has a special place in my heart for PPA Charities, this is a great opportunity to do something really great for someone else during the holiday season.

So . . . I’d like to keep the coins jingling with my own stories. Watch for them on my personal Facebook page as well as on the Camp David Photo Facebook page and blog ( Of course, all the vote tallies will also be shown on the PPA Charities website and Facebook pages.

The second of my “Photo Idol” votes goes to my father, Leo Grupa. He rarely touched a camera and sometimes grumbled about having to stop the car so mom could get out and take pictures during a family vacation. As a man who worked hard to support his family over the years, he really stressed that I go to college and get a great education so I could “get a good job and not have to worry about money.” When I started a photography business in 1976, he thought that was a fairly resourceful way to make a few dollars on the side to pay my college tuition by “snapping pictures”. When I got busier photographing weddings, the auditor side of him came out and he showed me how to keep accurate records so I’d be prepared at tax time. When I quit school 2 years later to open a photography studio, he thought I was crazy to want to own a business. Yet, he supported me through the entire effort. Even though he didn’t place a high value on photographs, there was a part of him that wanted to make sure my expenses and revenues were properly aligned so I would be profitable and successful. (Although he still thought I should get a “regular job.”)

Unfortunately, dad died over 23 years ago and never got to see me receive my degrees from PPA and MNPPA. Still, I like to think he looks down every once in a while and is proud that I’ve “made it” this far.Dad, even though you would have shied away from any public recognition, your support and examples make you one of my “Photo Idols.”

Who is your Photo Idol? Share it with the world and honor them with a donation to PPA Charities. CLICK HERE to vote.

Friday, December 14, 2012

PPA Charities Photo Idol - Vote Today!

Hi Gang, it’s David Grupa . . . many of you know me from involvement in PPA and affiliate groups, while others just know me from places like Facebook.

You’ve probably seen the PPA Charities Photo Idol 2012 promotion launched on 12/12/12, and I want to encourage everyone to participate; not only because it’s a great cause and excellent way to “pay it forward”, but also because it’s an awesome way to honor some of the very important people who helped to shape your photographic careers. 

So . . . I’d like to get the coins jingling with my own stories. Watch for them right here on the Camp David Photo blog, as well as on the Camp David Photo and my person Facebook pages. Of course, all the vote tallies will also be shown on the PPA Charities website and Facebook pages.

PPA Charities Photo IdolMy very first “PPA Charities Photo Idol” is my mother, Gloria Grupa. She was an artist and photography hobbyist, and it was because of her that I first wet my fingers in Dektol and “developed” a fondness for the smell of fixer. While she never pushed me to get into photography, when I became interested back in high school she was there to help me dig her darkroom equipment out of storage at my grandmother's house and set it up in our basement. She often provided gentle (and sometimes pointed) critiques of my work; while we all want to hear praise and positive commentary, she was straightforward with me when I needed to hear those words as well. At a point when so many people sugar-coat their words to protect another's feelings, mom was honest without being harsh. She made me realize that I need to be serious about my work and the techniques I employed. Even as a hobbyist, she took pride in the pieces she created and wanted them to be finished properly. Today, it's something I keep in mind with every portrait session.

Mom died the past September 28th after a long battle with cancer, but through it all she maintained a positive attitude and remained fiercely independent. 

My first vote goes to Gloria Grupa. Thanks, Mom, for all you did for me over the years. You are truly one of my “PPA Charities Photo Idols.”

To vote for your Photo Idol, go to

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Facebook Privacy Notice You've Seen is a Hoax

Have you seen the "privacy notices" posted on the Facebook pages of some photographers over the past week or so? Guess what? It's a hoax.

You've most likely seen people posting something like this . . .

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention.) For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times! 

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute). 

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

This new notice started spreading after Facebook posted its new privacy guidelines. In them, Facebook announced it would let users comment on proposed changes, but not vote on said revisions to their policy documents. A similar set of postings took place this past summer when FB revised privacy guidelines.

The "purpose" behind posting such a notice on one's page is that the privacy of its users will be affected because Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. This is not true.

Here's the bottom line: Back when you signed up for a Facebook user account, you agreed to their "Terms of Service".  Posting a "disclaimer" on your Facebook page(s) does nothing to change or alter that. You and Facebook are still responsible for abiding by the same terms and conditions that you accepted at that time.

Or think of it from this perspective:

As photographers, we expect our clients to follow copyright laws already in place. Even so, we place logos on our images and inform them of copyright rules in advance. Your client cannot write something on the back of a print you're created that negates the copyright logo you've placed on the front!

- David Grupa

Need some additional reading on this subject? Look here:



Monday, November 26, 2012

What are You Doing With Customer Email Addresses?

You get email addresses from your clients, right? It's time to start USING them.

Facebook marketing has become spotty at best. To put it bluntly, it simply sucks. They've tweaked things so much that half the people who like your page never see the things you post on it.

I went back to what worked for me before; direct mail and email.

Up until this month, I was using another email service for my marketing emails, but realized they were one of the more expensive ones out there and I wasn't really getting a good value. I switched to a company called MailChimp which offers some pretty cool options, even on their free plan.

MailChimpIn addition to their paid plans, they have a free plan. Up to 2000 names and 12,000 emails per month. After reviewing the options, I have decided to cut the cord with my old service when my paid subscription runs out at the end of the month. Currently, I'm in the process of migrating over to MailChimp. It's easy to use . . I've already done a couple of things with it. I also like the way their lists and groups are set up, which makes it easy to email a smaller subset of a larger group.

Why use a direct email service like MailChimp?

I like to use it just to "keep in touch" with people. If I don't keep my name in front of the faces of my clients, they don't have any reason to think about me. If they're not thinking about me, I run the risk of them being distracted by another photographer or their friend with a camera and a Facebook page who "wants to be professional".

Not everything I send out is direct advertising. Like a blog post, some of it is purely informational, like a newsletter. You can include seasonal items, recipes, tips for taking photographs at certain types of events, etc.

If you do mini-sessions, this is a great place to let clients know about them. I run a gift card sale on Black Friday, so this is how people get notified.

After an event such as a Bridal Fair, I will drop a couple of emails to those names/email addresses I collected inviting them into the studio or letting them know of a "special offer to show attendees."

You can create a signup form to put on your website or Facebook page so people can "opt-in" to receive it. They can also "opt-out" if they no longer wish to hear from you.

And . . . you have to be consistent, but not overbearing. Once a month with a newsletter . . . maybe once more a month to select groups with a targeted offer. Don't turn it into something where the reader just wants to delete you because you're in their mailbox every day like some companies' ads that just won't go away.

If you've not set anything up yet for email marketing and management of email addresses, give them a try. Click the Monkey above, or go to

- David Grupa

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fun Facts and Thanksgiving Thoughts

Is Thanksgiving Day Just the Day Before Black Friday?

We have all been taught that the first Thanksgiving Day celebration occurred in 1621, when the Pilgrims sat down to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. It was their first here in the New World, and it was said to have been attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans and lasted three days!

While the 1621 events were probably not of a religious nature, the colonists of that day were accustomed to regularly celebrating "thanksgivings"— days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as a bountiful harvest, the end of a drought and other occurrences.

Years later, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed November 26, 1863 to be a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens". Since that time it has become the official beginning of the "holiday season" in the US.

Yet, the focus seems to have fallen from Thanksgiving Day and being thankful for what we have, to Black Friday. Getting up in the middle of the night or camping out days in advance has become as much a part of the weekend as the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. It has been said that "Only in America will people trample each other for sales, exactly one day after being thankful for they already have."

(I know, the post right before this one is a Black Friday special as well . . . I still have to make a living, ya know!) ;-)

So . . . let me offer a few options for giving thanks and being grateful:
  • Consider volunteering. So many of us have talents for which we should be thankful; let's spread that wealth around and teach our kids that it's not always "all about me."
  • Share things where you have extras. There are lots of places looking for warm clothing this time of year. The Minnesota Twins and Justin Morneau sponsor a coat drive in the Twin Cities; I'm sure there's something in your area as well.
  • Donate items to a holiday toy drive. I always approached this as another opportunity to teach my kids about the importance of sharing and being thankful for what they do have instead of what they don't. They were responsible for setting aside a percentage of their allowance for a charitable purpose. We'd go shopping and choose items that would make great gifts for kids their age. (As a bonus, it clued me in to the things that they wanted for themselves; it made my Christmas shopping easier.)
Michael Symon, Cleveland restauranteur, chef and co-host of "The Chew" said about Thanksgiving Day "My restaurants are never opened on Thanksgiving; I want my staff to spend time with their family if they can. My feeling is, if I can't figure out how to make money the rest of the year so that my workers can enjoy the holidays, then I don't deserve to be an owner."

Before you gorge yourself with everything delicious this Thanksgiving Day afternoon look around your table and give thanks for the people with you, the food in front of you and the memories of those who are no longer with you. Don't forget to say a prayer of thanks for the blessings afforded you over the past 12 months.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

- David

(featured image: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Teach Your Clients to Refer You, and Reward Them for Doing it!

We all use some sort of referral program in our business to get new clients. However, are you educating your client on how the referral program works, or are you just stuffing a certificate in their bag with the hopes they'll actually read it? It's a shame to have invested your time, effort and money into printing beautiful referral cards if they're not even getting noticed.

It's a bit like the grocery store receipt. There are coupons on the back, but unless you actually look at them, you probably can't name more than 1 advertiser. Why not? You know what you bought, so why look at the junk in the bottom of the bag? It's probably just advertising . . .

In order for our clients to be good referral sources, we first need to ask them for the referrals and let them know the WIFM factor (What's in it For Me?)

"Mary, when you show your portraits to your friends, they're going to ask you where you had them created. Now, I know you always tell people that I'm your photographer and I hope you know I appreciate your referrals, but I want to do something more than that for you. So . . . for every person you refer to me (and uses this referral card) they're going to get $50 in print credits when they reserve a session with me! AND . . . for each one of these that comes back to my studio, I'll reward you with a $50 studio gift card as well!

When you get home, please take a minute and think of 1 or 2 of your friends who might be in the market for beautiful portraits of their family . . . and then pass these cards along to them. It's a win-win-win for all of us!"

I'm simply using the print credit as an example, but you can substitute whatever offer works best in your own studio or scenario.

You're thinking "But I could never actually ask people for more business . . . I think it makes me sound desperate!"

First, asking for business doesn't sound desperate in a situation such as this. You're simply reminding them to let their friends know that you'd like to be their photographer as well, and dangling a little carrot as incentive.

However, if you're not comfortable with actually saying the words out loud, you can always drop the certificate in the mail a couple of days after they pick up their completed. It gives you one more opportunity to thank the client, and your thank-you note can ask / explain the referral program.

It doesn't matter how you do it . . . just THAT you remember to ask! 

- David

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No Matter Who You Choose, Just Vote.

The day to cast your vote is finally here.

We've endured the constant focus of politics on television, radio and in our mailboxes. Some of it has been upbeat, encouraging people to vote their side for the good things that will happen. Others target a particular candidate or issue for you to vote against. Rather than say "Vote for X" they tell you to "Vote against Z". (In my house, we've gotten to the point where we turn down the sound when commercials come on. We've made up our own silly versions versions of ads which are far more entertaining than the real thing . . . )

All this mudslinging isn't new. There was an interesting spot on this past week's "60 Minutes" featuring a history / political science professor discussing campaigns of the past all the way back to Thomas Jefferson / John Adams era and how dirty they became. Suffice it to say that what we're hearing today is rather mild compared to the rhetoric of their days.

VoteEither way, I hate it. I want to go back to being friends with my Facebook friends who've been spewing "their side" for the past months. I want the misinformation that we see on TV to just be done.
So . . . after months and months of campaigns, the day has come where we have to "put our money where our mouth is." The facts aren't difficult to find, but they're not in television commercials and campaign flyers. If you haven't done so already, do a little homework before you go to the polls. It will be worth your investment of time.

Most of all, please make sure and get out and cast your ballot. I was floored a few years ago to hear that a friend who had very political leanings in their area was not even registered to vote, even though they had lived in that town for over 15 years!! You can register at the polls in most places and it only takes a few minutes.

You DO make a difference.

Let your voice be heard.

Just vote.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't Destroy Great Locations with "Cute" Graffiti

You've seen the images, perhaps you've even done them yourself. High school seniors want to feature their graduating year, engaged couples want hearts and their date, while expectant couples want to announce their pregnancy.

They do it using colored sidewalk chalk on the walls of old brick buildings. However, while what they're doing is creative, it is certainly unethical, if not illegal. If you as the photographer promote this as a "creative" idea, the responsibility now falls on you to clean up after yourself. The problem, however, is that most people simply walk away, assuming (incorrectly) that the rain will just wash it clean.

graffiti destroys great locations
Actual photograph taken in an area used regularly by photographers. Note the dates, hearts, etc. on the wall. Thanks to Jeanine Pohl for use of her image.
What is left over are the remnants of a portrait session that end up making buildings look trashy and create extra work for building owners. This also succeeds in spoiling potential backgrounds for other photographers who use the area. It also leaves plenty of people thinking photographers are simply vandals who come and go as they please, destroying property in the process.

We're not vandals. Most of us do our best to treat the places we photograph with great care, knowing that they'll be there for us another day as well. Yet, there are those select few who either don't care what others think of them or the industry as a whole, as long as they can "get their shot."

Harmless as it seems, chalk isn't something that just washes off every surface. As stated on, "The surface of brick allows substances such as sidewalk chalk to enter into its tiny pores. Once trapped inside these crevices, the chalk becomes difficult to remove. Wiping the brick with a damp rag does little to remove the chalk stain. The brick requires a cleansing agent along with abrasive action to loosen the chalk and allow it to be released from the brick's surface."

When you think of what we can do in Photoshop, why not find a great brick wall background and add your own personal touch later on? You can surprise the couple with your creative talents without defacing private or public property.

Maybe the best way for a fresh start would be to get a bunch of photographers together armed with buckets, brushes and graffiti remover (if not a power washer!) Even if it's not your handiwork, spend some time cleaning up after those who have not only defaced someone else's property, but disrespected our profession in the process. Maybe a group outing to "Pay it Forward" is in order!

We are talents artists, not mercenaries who are simply after a buck or vandalize property.

- David Grupa

(PS Note: As pointed out by a colleague who owns one of these brick buildings, power washers are not the best idea either. The force of the water stream can loosen or damage the old mortar between these aging bricks, causing even more issues. Be smart . . . bring a small chalkboard!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Are Your Blogging and Facebook Habits Sabotaging Your Sales?

Do you blog your sessions or post images on a Facebook business page? Many of us maintain these sites, but have you ever wondered if the number of images that go online are killing your sales?

I visit a number of Facebook pages and blogs when I have time and am truly amazed to have learned a few things in the process.
  • First, many blogs aren't maintained regularly. People begin them with pretty lofty goals of regular posts, but then quickly run out of things to say or time to create the actual post itself. Hence, you see a lot of photographers opening their blog posts with the line "I'm so bad at keeping up on this blog . . . "
  • Second, there are FB albums and blogs with what seems like the entire session's images posted! It makes me wonder if people are using the blog as an online gallery, are indecisive and can't simply select a few good images, or just have the thought process of "I'll show everyone all the good ones and everyone will think I rock!" 
Let's address the frequency issue first. Rather than try to blog every session or do it once a day, set an attainable goal for yourself. Maybe once or twice a week is more realistic. If it means you can keep up with that workflow more easily, then schedule at least one day a week on your appointment calendar for blogging. Wednesday mornings at 9am may be the perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and get caught up. It's more about being consistent.
As far as the number of images go, it's entirely up to you. Realizing that many photographers use their blogs as their websites, I completely understand the desire to "show lots of variety." Yet there are those who toss anywhere from 6-10 images from a single session online regularly, and a few photogs who really load up with even more!

Is it a bad thing? Well, from a technical standpoint, using larger images on your blog post will cause it to load slowly. Multiply that times the number of images you use, and you're risking losing a viewer before your post has finished loading. Some less patient folks will simply click out before that process has completed. In cases such as this, a multi-image collage may do the trick much better than a dozen full-sized images.

However, it's something Charles Lewis used to say in his seminars that I think of most often when it comes to blogging. He was referring to online proofing, but the same principle applies.

"Once you put the images online, of course your client will share them with their family and friends. Great, right? However, it 'uses up all the memories' and your client now has minimal incentive to purchase them because everyone who they wanted to show the images to has now seen them."

And . . . if they're big enough on the blog to copy and save, why would someone need to purchase more? There are plenty of people out there who could care less about your logo across the middle if it means not having to pay you for the same image. These same people are content to print the images on their home inkjet printer and call it good. After all, this way they're "free".

Of course, this may vary depending on your final product. I'm not selling a disk of images; my final product is physical prints in 99% of the sessions I photograph, but that means this is completely critical to my income. I'm very conscious of my marketing and if I'm helping or hurting my sales with what I am doing. Whether it's Facebook or a blog site, I don't want them to "use up all the memories" before the sale.

Food for thought.

- David Grupa