Besides just giving your brides or portrait clients a box of proofs to go through to pick out images for albums and enlargements, there are other options-one of the more common ones these days is DVD proofing. With DVD proofing, you hand your clients a DVD with the images from their event or portrait session for viewing on TV.
As with other solutions, there are multiple routes to take, from doing it yourself with software to outsourcing to another company. TriCoast Photography (www.TriCoastPhoto.com) has chosen to create the DVDs themselves using Photodex's ProShow Producer software. TriCoast's MIKE FULTON says, "I believe in giving our clients options instead of telling them what they're going to get. We educate them every step of the way that we can, be it prints, mounts, DVDs, etc., but we still believe that it's their wedding event-not ours-so giving them more options is the key to our business.
"I use Photodex to proof all of our portrait clients (mostly high school seniors) in our studio for in-house viewing," he adds, explaining that they show no more than 50 images per session set to one song. "Since doing this, our business sales have increased and, more importantly, the overall ‘selling the experience' to our client has been increased in the positive aspects. Our seniors love it, we love it, their parents love it-it's simply a perfect way to display the images in-house, not only creating an emotional bond with the images but again creating an emotional bond with us and our clients, which I feel is the key for returning business, growing and sharing."
As with others who offer digital proofing, JODI CARMIGNANI of Enchanted Moments Photography (www.enchantedmomentsphotography.com) utilizes a variety of solutions depending upon the customer's request, whether it's for paper proofs, the DVD proofing solution from LustreColor, or quickly putting together a digital presentation in-house on a moment's notice. Carmignani says that one of the reasons she likes the DVD proofing over online proofing is that it provides her customers with a tangible set of proofs. "However, since the presentation must be run through the customer's television, there is little risk of the photographs being copied," she says.
Migrating to digital proofing from paper was a decision Carmignani made partly to prevent copyright infringement of her images. "Initially my customers were apprehensive, but they have been thrilled because they're able take their proofs home with them and show their family and friends."
She also controls the timeline in which customers order prints. "Studio policy requires customers to watch the DVD in the studio before they take the DVD home," she says. "In addition, the customer is required to schedule an in-studio ordering session within a week of DVD delivery and submit a deposit toward their order. This approach has increased sales and customer satisfaction."
STUART THURLKILL of Eyes 2 See Photography (www.eyes2seephoto.com) feels that eMotion Media's DVD proofing solves his dilemma of which proofing option to use. When customers insist on paper proofs, he does provide them. "An increasing problem with traditional proofing was clients scanning the prints and then not purchasing any additional prints from our studio," he says. "I felt this was a potential leak in our profitability, and it left me a little sour on proof prints.
"We started using the online proofing systems developed by the labs," he continues. "This seemed like a great idea to me, because it would save the proof printing costs and would streamline the buying process. But when we started using online lab proofing, we found our sales going down, not up. People were not satisfied."
He found the dissatisfaction was due to poor web quality of images online. Then he found the eMotion solution. "That first year, we used eMotion for every single event and never looked back," he says.
One of the benefits that Thurlkill noticed was that with a proof gallery DVD, customers could now visualize a large canvas print or wall hanging because they were seeing images large to begin with. His customers would make an event out of their "viewing nights," with family and friends gathering to relive the special event.
"This created through-the-roof client satisfaction with us and with the proofing process," he says. "‘Experience Proofing,' as we call it, also led to repeat sales of the proofing DVD itself. Everybody in the room wanted one." And the security of knowing that the images are optimized for TV viewing but not for printing meant customers couldn't make their own prints from the proofs.
Thurlkill adds that eMotion Media delivers the DVD in a luxurious leather folio, which helps him sell his brand. "When we get a new client, the black leather eMotion Media presentation box is the first thing we pull out," he says. "Then the pictures on the DVD close the sale. DVD proofing will save you time and money, thrill your clients, lead to more sales, and help close new clients. It's a win for everyone."
Carmignani and Fulton concur as well. So break out the popcorn and host your own DVD proofing "premiere" nights.