(Editor’s Note: We welcome this guest post from Bert McLendon. After a long career in the video game industry, Bert used his skillset to build his company, McLendon Photography, and services some of the biggest brands like Dell, Facebook, Google, Indeed, 3M, Dropbox, Atlassian, EA, Freightliner and more. He is also a DNP ambassador. Learn more about Bert at texaseventphotography.com.)
Creating photography services at a high enough level to attract some of the biggest brands in the world is almost daunting. If you think strategically about how your services line up with your own creative needs while creating additional interest from clients as well as adding to your overall revenue, you can create a pretty amazing ecosystem within your business.
“The most damaging phrase in the language is: ‘It’s always been done that way.’”- Grace Hopper
Advancing beyond the typical photo booth
When I started my business and decided to add a photo booth to my service line, I didn’t want to do what was already being done. The photo booths I had experienced while shooting and assisting at weddings always looked like an “add-on” with nothing standing out that captured the attention of the guests.
I wanted to provide something that represented my brand and was instantly viewed as “high end” by my potential clients. I had no idea how to pull this off at the time but I knew that I:
- Wanted the lighting to be better than the typical photo booth.
- Wanted the images to be displayed on a large wall/screen next to the guests so they could see the image almost instantly.
- To offer larger prints so guests could see how amazing they look.
I always thought that the commercial photography field could mingle with the event industry fairly seamlessly. It just seemed like a great match that could give guests something memorable. Of course, there are always space limitations, but the impact is pretty amazing for both the client and the guests.
After my first paid photo booth gig, I knew that I had to refine my process and delivery in order to do this on a larger scale and for higher end clients, and thus my Portrait Booth was born.
Once the Portrait Booth got rolling, we noticed a lot of individuals jump in and ask “Can I take one of just me? I need a new headshot and this lighting is fantastic!” The Headshot Bar was an easy extension from The Portrait Booth since all of the gear was the exact same, just shifted around. These two new services exploded and things started getting crazy.
Always thinking of how to use the gear that you already have to create a new experience will help you cast a larger net.
Inspiration can come from anywhere
On Father’s Day 2016 I wanted to get a traditional tintype at Lumiere Tintype Photography by the amazing photographer, Adrian Whipp. This inspired me to see if I could recreate this digitally for my corporate event clients.
There are a lot of “rustic” themed weddings and events here in Texas so this fresh take on an old classic hit it off perfectly with my event planning partners in town. The traditional method takes around 1 hour from start to final product, but recreating it digitally, our Digital Tintype Experience allows for a large number of guests to have fun with the experience.
Right now, we can capture, edit and print a 6-by-8 inch image at around 1-1.5 minutes from start to finish including Wi-Fi image transfer to the share stations. The speed of the DNP 620A printer is a critical part of this process to keep the guest wait times as low as possible.
The Digital Tintype pairs perfectly with DNP’s Luxury Media Metallic Paper, creating an extremely high end take away gift. The metallic paper really shines with the high contrast black and white images and the guest are always blown away.
For events with larger budgets we’re able to print these digital tintypes onto aluminum blanks so the end products look and feels like the real deal.
Don’t be afraid to show your work if you believe in it
I came up with the Laugh at Yourself Experience by complete accident, a little bit of luck and a bit of a push from my wife. One particular client wanted me to match their existing headshots with a 4-light setup that I don’t normally do. I set everything up and took about 50-60 test shots of myself looking like a complete idiot and making ridiculous faces thinking I could send them to my wife and kids for a laugh.
Once I opened the images up in Lightroom to check out the details of the lighting I started laughing at some of the faces I had made. I had a flashback to the Kai’s Power Goo days where I had a blast editing images of co-worker’s faces looking ridiculous. I remembered that Photoshop had the built in Liquify feature and thought I’d give it a try.
I couldn’t have had more fun editing my face, adding messages to them like “I miss you guys” and texting them to my wife. She said the kids were cracking up and that I should “put these up on Facebook.” The response from these crazy things was pretty insane so I wanted to see if I could get the process streamlined in order to add a third custom portrait service to my lineup.
After a few hundred caricatures later, I finally got the process, from start to finish, to around 2 to 2.5 minutes per guest depending on the final template design the client wants. This experience is where the DNP 820A shines with large 8-by-10 and 8-by-12 inch prints.
I still get excited when a client books this service because I know that I’ll spend a few hours laughing out loud while I create these.
Think like the client, not your competition
Corporate event planners and internal planners are always looking for something different … kind of. Having services that are familiar and flexible, like a photo booth with different options, is a great way to appease clients who want to give their guests something refreshing.
Having different sized print options are always a great addition for clients to choose from. Incorporating DNP printers into the lineup was a strategic move early on in my business but it was a decision that has paid off tremendously.
There are a ton of creative ways to keep guests entertained and guide them within an event. Don’t forget that every event you book, that event is your audition for your next booking. There is no SEO, no AdWords or paid marketing that will equal the event you’re currently running.
If you’re not booking 1-3 events within a few days of your last event, see what you can do to make the experience more memorable for the guests.
Blow the guests away and the word of mouth referrals will flood in, but keep in mind, this is a long game.