Back in the day, wedding albums were the big thing. In fact, they were the only thing. My sister’s wedding album contains her 40 favorite images and…that’s it. No proofs. No negatives. Definitely no cloud storage. Just one leather-bound album with gilded pages and a handful of matted portraits.
Needless to say, things have changed a bit. Now, 40 images would be typical for a family portrait session, while wedding clients expect to walk away with hundreds and hundreds of images -- preferably stored on a tiny USB drive, ready to be posted instantly on social media. We want to share everything right now, and we want to share it with everyone we know. And that culture can make it difficult to convince gotta-have-it-all clients that a handcrafted album is a timeless treasure, not an archaic relic. Of course you already know that albums -- like the feel of classic books or the sound of a vinyl record -- can’t ever truly be replaced by technology. Here’s how to help your clients see that value.
1. Pre-sell your albums.
Start building the buzz for your albums before clients even book their session or wedding. Don’t just list an album in your packages -- explain why they’re a priceless investment. Take some dazzling product shots of your sample album and include them on your info page. Describe the craftsmanship and the customized design. You can even include a slideshow of sample spreads so they can see that they’ll be getting a work of art, not a stuffy old photo album. (Don’t have time to do all of this work yourself? We’ve done it for you in our Album Sales Catalog & Look Book.)
2. Sell while you shoot.
No, we’re not suggesting you rattle off a sales pitch while you’re clicking away. But think about your album while you shoot. Gather details that tell a complete story. Create those epic images that beg to be displayed across a full spread. Let them know as you’re shooting how amazing those images are going to look in their album. Get yourself in the mindset, and get them in the mindset: Someone’s going home with an album.
3. Emphasize the story.
A huge canvas print might show the bride’s stunning dress, the groom’s wingtip shoes, and the epic location. But they don’t show the handmade centerpieces, the thoughtful favors, the signatures drinks, the guests laughing, the blackmail-worthy dancing photos. Those details are a huge part of the story -- and if they’re not hanging on your client’s wall, where are they? Without an album, they could linger on a USB for…well, forever. If you shoot documentary-style weddings or lifestyle portraits, you’re not selling images -- you’re telling a complete story of their life at that particular moment. Albums are a natural extension of that. “I sell albums because my shoots tell a story,” says Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman of JellyBean Pictures in New York. “Shots of bookcases, hair ties, and favorite stuffed lovies wouldn’t stand alone. But sew them in with the child they represent, and you have that child’s story -- a story that deserves to be placed in a book and not just on a hard drive.”
4. Help them see the long-term.
We’re used to everything being shared in real-time, so naturally clients will be focused on getting their favorite files loaded onto social media to show (off to) their friends. But where will those images be in 10 years? How about 25 years? Will you still be using Facebook? Will your computer still read USBs? Not too long ago, we were using floppy disks and dial-up internet, so who knows what the next quarter-century will bring? Technology is constantly changing, but a tangible album can never be outmoded.
5. Make it part of the package.
When albums are sold a la carte, the splurge can be difficult for budget-conscious clients to justify. Including them in the package drives home the point that the album isn’t just an extravagant “extra” -- it's an integral part of the service you provide and an elegant way to store and share the images you’ve created. Some photographers include a standard size in their packages, with plenty of room to upgrade; others suggest providing an album credit instead. You know how you take a $25 gift card to Target and end up spending $172? With an album credit, clients are more likely to spring for upgrades, leading to better album sales.
6. Let them touch it.
There’s a big difference between seeing a pair of jeans online and actually trying them on in the store. Likewise, you can describe your albums in the most romantic terms and it’ll never compare to letting your clients feel the fabric cover, turn the heavy pages, and see how rich the colors look on a printed page instead of a computer screen. “We’re sensory people,” says Chad DiBlasio of DiBlasio Photography in Ohio. “Opening a keepsake box and pulling a stunning custom linen album with a cameo cover hits all the senses and develops a connection with what the album represents…not just what it looks like or how much it costs.” It probably goes without saying, but keep your sample albums updated. Bring them to every meeting or ordering session. Show off the luxe material, the biggest size, the cover cameo, and the most coveted images. It’s an investment, but you only have to sell one album to recoup the costs.
7. Make decisions for them.
Choose your favorite images, pre-design an album, and send them spreads to approve. (Psst: Many photographers recommend designing an album with more spreads than your package includes or your credit covers. Then ask your clients to remove any images they don’t need -- an impossible task once they’ve seen your gorgeous layout. Sneaky, right? But effective!) Simplify the process. Make it beyond easy for them to order. The more you let them agonize over decisions, the more likely they’ll lose momentum. They’ve already put their trust in you to capture their family or their wedding or their new baby, so let them trust your professional opinion on the best presentation.
8. Offer incentives.
If you just designed a breathtaking portrait or wedding album for a client, why not offer discounted duplicates to increase your sales? A 10x10 duplicate makes the perfect holiday gift for picky in-laws. An 8x8 clone of the album could make a perfect keepsake for grandma. Another option: If you have a repeat portrait client who hasn’t sprung for an album at each session, offer to combine more than one recent session in an album. “I sell a lot of albums to Baby Plan clients at the end of the first year,” says Sara Jensen of Sara Jensen Photography in Texas. “They see the extra value in getting an album that has images from their maternity, newborn, and first-birthday sessions. Clients who are on the fence about ordering an album feel better about it -- it’s the same number of pages, but there’s more emotional investment.”
Every client wants an album -- but whether it will be a Facebook album, a scrapbook full of 4x6 proofs, or a custom-made heirloom depends on how effectively you sell it. See how we can help you launch your own profitable album line today at Design Aglow Album Shop.
If you have a favorite technique for boosting album sales, share it below!
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.
Hi! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your road like to becoming a photographer?
Hello! I am a portrait photographer based south of Boston, MA. My passion is capturing mothers and their growing families. Maternity and newborn portraits are the foundation of my business, and I also capture baby milestones, children, and families. Fun fact: I returned the diamond earrings my husband bought me for our first Christmas as a married couple to buy a digital camera.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.