Business + Marketing

What a Profitable In-Person Sales Photo Session Looks Like

October 16, 2021

By Brienne Walsh

Michele Celentano knows that part of her job as a photographer is to show her clients the best way to display her images. “Clients are generally confused about what they want,” she says. “To guide them, it’s important to meet with clients in person and show them what products you have to offer. Clients should leave the in-person sales session feeling excited about the beautiful art and heirloom albums they’ve purchased rather than regretful of the money they’ve spent.” In that vein, Celentano recently outlined the steps she takes to “close the deal” on an in-person sales photography session in the latest webinar from Rangefinder’s Reset series.  

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As Celentano pointed out in the webinar, you don’t need a studio to make in-person sales for photography. “You can meet a client in a coffee shop, in their home or even over Zoom if you have samples of your work handy, as well as a computer to show mock-ups of your products, including wall art and albums,” she explains. 

Celentano had a client with her during the webinar to take the audience through an actual in-person sales photography session. The photographer had taken portraits of her and her family—including her husband, three daughters and sister—this past February. First, the pair reviewed a selection of about 70 images in ProSelect, a program that allows Celentano to compare images side by side, as well as to show mock-ups of her products for an in-person sales photography session.

[Read: Can’t Provide In-Person Sales? Here Are Some Online Gallery Features To Consider]

After looking through all the images in ProSelect, the client and Celentano have 30 images in the “favorites” or yes category; 5 images in the maybe category; and 36 in the “I never want to see it again” folder. Once a final selection is established, the pair move on to choosing products.

[Read: How to Boost In-Person Sales with Photo Product Upsells]

outdoor family portrait in arizona by photographer Michele Celentano
© Michele Celentano

Celentano prepared a few different portrait groupings in the space where her client planned to hang her work. She didn’t use all 30 of the client’s favorite images. Instead, she chose 5-7 “hero” images that she knows the client will love. After the client made her selections, Celentano already has them priced out and confirms with the client that the total ($3,675) is okay. 

Celentano says she groups her hanging portraits—generally, she sells unframed canvasses, albums and image boxes—into general sizes, meaning small, medium, large and extra large. A variety of different sizes (for example, 8 x 8-inch and 8 x 10-inch canvasses) all fit into a single category and have a single price—different finishes might change it slightly. For family and senior portraits, Celentano offers a single album price, no matter how many images she will use. All the prices are pre-entered into ProSelect so that Celentano can be transparent up front and make the sale in person. 

[Read: 8 Tools to Help Up Your Game with In-Person Sales]

smiling family portrait by Michele Celentano
© Michele Celentano

After the client chooses images for the hanging portraits, Celentano asks her to decide on finishes. Celentano has myriad samples of her work on hand to show what the different finishes look like in person—for example, the difference between a wood or a color siding to the unframed wrapped canvas. 

If you are just starting your business and want to provide sample products with sample images, Celentano advises offering a free portrait session to a local family and then using their imagery to print out samples of the products you want to offer. You are not obligated to offer a lot of free products to the portrait subjects you use as samples, says Celentano. Instead, offer them a gift certificate so that they can purchase a canvas and then pay for any additional products themselves. 

[Read: A Simple Sales Approach for Photographers Who Don’t Like In-Person Sales]

Celentano says she always ends her in-person sales photography sessions by asking clients if they want anything else, like gifts for family members. If they don’t buy gifts at the in-person sales photography session, Celentano follows up in November to see if they want to purchase something for the end-of-the-year holidays. Finally, she asks the client if they want to pay in full or put down a 50 percent deposit.   

In the end, Celentano knows that her products are expensive. Her client paid $6,575 total. If you live in an area where you know that clients can’t afford, or won’t pay, very high prices, she says you can sample products that will fit within a certain price range. Your goal should be to offer something unique that you can’t buy anywhere else—especially not at a big box store. 

See Our List of Webinar Sessions to Watch Now and Register for our Upcoming Session

Check out the other free webinars in our Reset series that focus on creative portrait photography:

Cultivating an In-Demand Senior Portrait Experience with Audrey Woulard

Creative Portrait Photography: Jason Vinson on Making the Ordinary Look Epic

How Susan Stripling Creates Portraits that Pop

John Gress on Transitioning from Window Light to Flash

Caroline Tran’s Posing Pick-Up Points for Family Portraits