Wall art is my absolute favorite thing to sell and I can often envision a gorgeous collection of prints for my clients’ walls before I’ve even shot their session. I'm sure I’m not alone there - we’re photographers because we have vision, right?! However, 95% of the time, my clients can’t visualize a display as well as I can. They don’t have the background and expertise in photography, so they can’t picture what a Canvas Gallery Wrap will look like hanging over their dining room table, let alone a collection of Canvas Gallery Wraps.
Unfortuantely, our clients won’t buy something that they can’t get excited about. Luckily, there are plenty of wall art sales tools that can help you bridge this visual gap! These programs allow you to show your clients their session images displayed on the walls of their home via a computer or mobile device. I currently use and recommend ProSelect, but in the past I used Preveal (now Swift Galleries). You could also choose alternative software like the Shoot and Sell App or N-Vu, depending on your needs. Each software will have its own strengths and weaknesses, so search for some free trials and decide which works best for you. Once chosen, you'll suddenly have the power to show your clients the displays that you’re mentally designing for their living room. Miraculous!
To achieve the best possible results from these wall design applications, you'll need a photo of your clients’ walls to input into the program. If you’re not visiting their house during their session or their ordering session, then that job is often left up to your client. Herein lies the problem. This task is an inconvenient burden to place on your client. Not only are they clueless on how to take a compatible photo for such software, but oftentimes, they just won't get it done (for a variety of reasons) . This is the main problem I encountered when I first started using ProSelect. Once I opened my studio, I wasn’t always visiting my clients’ homes and I was asking my clients to capture these photos for me. Even after explaining the benefits and giving verbal instructions to my clients, the job either wasn’t getting done, or the photos simply weren't usable. Cue missed sales opportunities and continuously banging my head on my desk.
Since the last thing I needed was more appointments which equaled more time away from my business, I knew I couldn't opt to take these photos myself. Thus, I changed my entire mentality behind asking for these in-home photos from my clients. I quickly realized that my clients were paying me to provide a service for them, and here I was, immediately turning around and asking a favor of them without any concrete motivation (that they could visualize, anyway). So, I turned the task from a favor into a much more fun reward!
My idea was to put together a goodie bag that I could give my clients after their photo session with everything they would need to get this task done quickly and correctly. I included a "ruler" or guide for them to adhere to their wall to help my software measure the space. This "ruler" is essentially just a 4x12” print mounted on styrene with command strips on the back so my clients wouldn't even have to hunt for a roll of scotch tape. They also get an instruction sheet which walks them through the process step-by-step.
Since I call it a “goodie bag” and not a “homework bag”, I also include a fold-out inspiration guide with wall art arrangement ideas, referral cards (since we just finished the session and they had an amazing time, right!?) and a little bag of chocolates as a reward for doing their “homework”. When I pull out this bag at the end of each session, my clients are thrilled to receive it and they usually say something like “oh, you didn’t have to get all this for me!” I love creating that feeling of surprise and delight!
I also close a session with instructions for the next step of the process. I'll say something like: “I’m so excited to share these photos with you! I know we ended up with some adorable portraits and I’m looking forward to hosting you at my studio for that viewing and ordering appointment that we talked about. However, we can’t schedule a time to get back together until I get an in-home photo from you according to the instructions in this goodie bag. Please follow these instructions and use this ruler here, and send me at least one picture of your walls. Once I have that in my system, we can schedule a time to get back together!"
To keep my options open for a number of wall display arrangements, I'll even encourage my clients to send multiple photos by saying something like: "Remember, just because you send me a photo of a certain wall does not mean we’re going to decorate that wall with these images; it just means that it’s an option. Some clients send me two photos, some clients send me ten! Please send me however many you’d like for all the walls on which you’d consider displaying the portraits and we’ll make some decisions from there.”
With these next steps in mind, I send my clients home and sometimes I even get perfect photos from them later that night (I know it’ll be a great ordering session if they send me photos of more than five different walls)! I'd highly recommend including an arrangement inspiration guide in the goodie bag so they start thinking about which walls they'd consider decorating and how. The referral cards are also an importrant inclusion because your clients are most excited about their session when it’s the freshest in their memory. I've even had clients ask for more referral cards at their ordering session because they’ve already given away the cards I gave them in the goodie bag!
In summary, this post is simply a suggestion for a fun and easy way to request this important task of your client. This in-home image is often the best way to acheive wall art sales with every session, so you shouldn't leave it up to your client to be responsible for what YOU need to do a great job. However, you can provide direction and incentivize your clients in whatever way works best for you. If you want to visit their home yourself and provide an even more thorough design service, go for it! Do whatever works for your business, but also what works for your clients. When you’re asking them to complete this task, they don’t always understand that it benefits them too, so step into their shoes and make it as fun and easy as possible! This important step will get them excited for the ordering session and have them looking forward to displaying artwork on their walls.
About Allison Shamrell
I'm Allison Shamrell and I'm a professional pet photographer in San Diego, CA. I was introduced to pet photography after adopting our 4-legged daughter, Bailey. Combining the fun of action photography with meaningful portraiture of my clients' furry family members is my passion! I work exclusively with pets and their families (as well as commercial clients), specializing in dogs, and my schedule is booked to capacity each month with dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds. After six years in business, I teamed up with my local "competitor" to unleash an educational resource for pet photographers of all skill levels, Professional Pooch. When I'm not in my studio, you can find me reading business books, enjoying Mexican food and playing at the dog beach with Bailey!