Options to Sell Photos!

Question: How do I make the most money selling photos!


At the risk of giving away trade secrets, the basics of any photo system is a camera, a computer running software and a delivery method, printer or digital. Thats all! Yes and no. Yes, you could probably use an old Polaroid camera and maybe give a few photos away to friends, but you are not going to sell a lot!


VueThru does not make computers, or cameras, or printers, or code software!  So why VueThru.  We started out making and teaching cool lenticular, both Flip and 3D, to anyone who would listen. In the early 2000’s, exhibitions were calling looking for a new way to make money.  Their guests did not want a regular photo, they needed something new.  Keep in mind lenticular had been around for 150 years!.  VueThru, back then, I traveled wherever and set up the lenticular process, software, training staff, working openings, and after a while, working with the other members of the exhibition start up crews who built the exhibits and set up the photo operations.  For years, I’d go to Titanic’s, Bodies, Myth Busters, Star Treks, the Empire State Building, NASA, New York, Canada, Puerto Rico, wherever, with any brand, setting up lenticular projects using the software and equipment they used.


We were neutral, I did not want to tie our lenticular products to one brand or event so we needed to work with all exhibitions, all equipment, all software and all installers.  Keep in mind, this was before WIFI. Running SD cards, using inkjets, then dye subs, several different software programs.  Becoming friends photo industry suppliers and software manufactures.  We started developing the ability to process and create lenticular souvenirs within their proprietary event software.  With every new lenticular photo installation, every time, every where, there was always one goal, how can we do this faster!  If you have ever experienced anything like having 3 rows, 60 guest each row, all dressed up in Star Trek outfits, waiting patiently in line for their turn to score their own personalized lenticular Flip, them on the transporter, changing to them off the transporter product, wanting not 1 but all 10 of their different poses, then you can appreciate the need for speed!  And a lot more of it!


Selling photos has several 1st requirements! But probably at the top of the 1st, would be you, the owner of the location, the event manager, the person in charge.  Look in the mirror and ask yourself, do you really want to make money selling photos!  That’s 1st.  If it is more important to you, to pull Johnny off taking photos, because Timmy called off sick, and you need Johnny to scare someone.  Don’t waste your money!  This is not something that can be taught.  During my exhibition days, working the event openings, you could fell it, see it, watching the employees, if an owner wanted to make money selling photos!  Since then, I’ve had booths at several trade shows, where year after year owners and employees come by and visit. Nothing different, not rocket science!


Another 1st, you again, the owner can not be everywhere!  Depending on the size of your locations, you need to to find a trusted employee or hire one, who will have your support in selling photos.  Maybe they manage a few photo employees or they work photos themselves.  Either way, that person needs to be available, now, when they are needed.  Next, staffing.  I’ll give you an example.  I was asked by the corporate office to drop by a Bodies location that started to see a decline in sales.  Sure, sales fluctuate, but I really didn’t expect what I found.  When I get there, I’m told, there must be some mistake.  They have this great employee who is really good with Photoshop.  Interesting!  I watched as the employee bent the elbows on skeletons to match the guest photos for their lenticular Flip product souvenir, people changing to skeletons.  I watched as a baby skeleton was added to a pregnant guests photo.  Mind you, as other potential paying customers were walking by.  I’m thinking to myself, we've taken this fast as you can souvenir and turned it into a 30 minute designer session.  For $20 dollars, and no one at the locations saw the reason for the decline in sales!   I’ll just say, not everyone will see an issue, and that’s OK, remember the 1st, 1st!  A location needs good employees.  You do not need professional photographers or Photoshop experts.  You are selling photos as a product, good quality, but as fast as you can.


It starts in the Queue Line at entrance. Go to any major attraction or event and you will have your photo taken (Captured) quickly in front of a green screen or step and repeat backdrop while waiting in the Queue Line before going into the event. That's not by mistake. This is forced entry, and the goal is 100% Capture of all guest photos!  Does your location have a controlled Entry, or like a Walmart on Black Friday!  It is about capturing guest images. Sure as fast a humanely possible, with good quality.  Capturing a bunch of terrible pictures is not the goal!  Your staff can not be yelling, Get In, Get Out, Get In, Get Out.  Everyone has to have fun!  Your location is all about the experience!  Most have Queue Lines going back and forth, and at some point, dropping into a 12x12 area where you have your photo employee or a helper asking people to enter and stand a certain way, staging, they say 3,2,1 Smile, Click, 3,2,1, Smile, Click.  Usually you take 2 photos in case someone blinked. Then this group continues on their way, back into the Queue Line. 30-45 seconds, nothing delayed, there is still a line of people in front of them!  Your staff will get quicker at staging people, 3,2,1 Smile, Click, not Get In, Get out!  By the way, 3,2,1, Smile, Click takes 5 seconds!


Queue Line not for you!  After the guest enters the event, they wonder around and maybe stop at a different photo op, but the chance of making money is drastically reduced.  100% Capture drops to maybe 25% Capture.  Remember 1st, of 1st’s!  If you want to make money selling photos, you have to start in the Queue Line at the entrance!  Plus Capturing guest photos is Faster in a Queue Line.  People are in a hurry to get anywhere, out of that line! They do not want anything delaying them from getting in, or anyone slowing them down.  A Fast Queue Line Photo, 30 - 45 seconds per group is what you need for these large events.  There is no time for selling here!  Group in, staged, smile, click, smile, click, next group please!  Selling photos is left for the Midway or Photo Sales Areas or the Gift Shop, not the Queue Line!  Takes too long to sell!


As anyone who know me will tell you, I’m a tech guy and terrible at sales. I have done a terrible job of sharing this knowledge, even though we have helped set up some of the largest exhibition locations, all with Queue Line photo systems at the entrance.  I have not done a good job of demonstrating this knowledge either, even though we have had booths at several trade shows for years.


I am not sure anyone will ever read this, but VueThru builds FAST Queue Line Photo Systems!


Every VueThru Photo System is built with production and speed first, then the cool stuff!  At trade shows, we have always demonstrated the cool 3D Photos which can be made with our Photos Systems.  A crowd favorite every year.  A couple years ago I was talking to a random passer by, an owner, during one of these trade shows.  He said, ya! it's cool, but we do not have time or the room to do that stuff!  Our location is too busy for that!  I about fell over, how could he not know, how could he not see, that our system can Capture photos Fast.  It hit me, I assumed everyone knew our Photo Systems were fast, but I was wrong.  Then again just a few of days ago it happened again.  A customer, my customer said, oh, I didn't know you made those!   Bloody Hell, as my British Photographer friend would say!


I have to say it again, VueThru builds FAST Queue Line Photo Systems that can Capture and Upload a guest photo in under 3 - 5 seconds, each photo, period!


Equipment.  It’s can be confusing.  Have you seen the price of cameras!  You do not need a $7000 dollar camera!  You need a good quality $600 to $800 dollar DSLR with a better flash setup.  Lighting is important.  In a darker area, setup up some LED flood lights for continuous lighting, another $200 dollars.  You will want a fast Intel i3 or i5 processor computer with 8 gig of ram, minimum.  Not a knock off or cheap brand.  You get what you pay for here!  Software, connectivity, networking, all of these things are critical.  You must be sure the photo will be there when the customer wants to buy it!  That was a nightmare in the early days of running SD cards.  Cards lost, missing, not downloaded and overwritten!  Wired vs WiFi.  I’m sorry, I am old school, and I have seen too many locations, during daytime setup everything works fine!  But as soon as the exhibition lights go on, BOOM!, nothing works, back to running cards!  Always have a plan B!


If it sounds like I am trying to talk you out of selling photos or scare you, I’d rather know I gave you some things to think about.  But really, selling photos can LOOK really easy when done by those who have lots of experience selling photos.  Its not rocket science, but no one who sells photos will tell you its easy!  Not me.  There is always something that can go wrong.  Usually at the worst time of the event!  Someone kick the power cord and fries your $1500 professional printer.  You are done, no printing until a replacement is found.  The local computer store does not sell professional dye sub printers, I’ve tried!  You forgot to have your camera serviced every 45,000 photos, or at the end of the season.  Now your camera stops, right in the middle of a busy event!  You are done until you get a replacement.  No, not your Polaroid, but we try to use Canon professional cameras that can be found at Sam’s Club for just this reason!  Selling Photos is not different than any business.  There is money to be made, but you are going to work for it.  Start, saying your prayers and make offerings to the Photo God’s everyday!


I asked why VueThru at the beginning.  I’d say if you have not figured it out, you probably do not need to read any farther!


We really have not started talking about Selling Photos.  We’ve only covered Capturing photos and Capturing guest photos is the easy part!  Sure its fast, noisy, on average, 3 guests per group, in roughly 30 seconds. (120 photos per hour)  Here's a secret!  It takes longer to Sell the photo than Capture the photo!  Probably 6 to 10 times longer!  It takes 15-30 seconds to stage and Capture the photo.  It takes a 3-5 minutes to Sell the Photo.  At a fast paced locations, you can not Capture & Sell Photos in the Queue Lines!  That type of Photo System is better for a Midway!


So how do you Sell the Photos!  Remember I am not a sales person, but I can give you the math and the process.


Option 1. With a Photo Sales Area or in the Gift Shop.  1st, I'm fairly certain, the Gift Shop is probably already busy.  Either way you are going to need room.  How much room.  Minimum for 1 to 2 people behind a 20 inch deep sales counter for the Photo Sales Station to sit on, with a Printer in the back, supplies and such, 8x8 feet maybe, realistically a 10x10.


Now what can you expect! Remember that Queue Line where you Captured all those guest photos, Fast!  Imagine if "ALL" of them showed up to buy photos!  What a great problem to have, but not realistic.  The Math, on average, you have 3 guests per photo.  For 1000 guests = 333 photos.  25% of those 333 photos, on average is the number of guests interested in seeing their pictures. Roughly 83 groups (3 guests average).


How long does it take you to Sell a Photo?  Minimum, 3 minutes, realistic, 5 minutes.  Do you see a line forming?  If you are lucky!  But most guest who see a long line when they are leaving, will say, never mind.  So what do you do to keep up with the flow from Capture.  333 / 120 (thats 20 - 30 seconds each / hour) = 2.7 hours Capture for 1000 guest. For Sales, you have 83 groups / 3 minutes each (20 / hour) = 4.1 hours of Sales for 1000 guest.


To sell photos at your location you basically need to 2 Photo Sales Stations for 1 Capture Station.  The better and quicker your photo staff are at selling the more money you will make, by keeping the lines down and not having so many guests, who were interested, walk by.  Another obvious fact, you need good graphics, good presentation, friendly staff, fast, reliable equipment and professional quality printers.  Yes, each Photo Sales Station needs a Professional Printer.  The cost, with a printer, for each Photo Sales Station is roughly the same as a Capture unit.  Plus for 2 Photo Sales Stations, you are going to need, 3 - 4 or more staff to keep up with the photo sales, and the space to setup.  So two sales station and staff minimum 10x10 and room for a line to view the photos.


Option 2.  VueThru's new Attraction & Event Solution (A&E) Software.  A combination of super fast Queue Line photo Capture software integrated with an online photo process that includes a Phone App for Photo Sales and an automatic customer notification when photos are ready to view!  A&E turns every guests cell phone into your location Photo Sales force.  Instead of 333 photos you send 1000 notifications that Photos are ready for viewing, automatically with customer notification that photos are ready to view, automatically!


Capture the Photo, and the guest receives the SMS text notification within minutes with a link.  The guest looks at their photo / photos on their cell phone, no App download required, what else are they going to do, remember, they are still waiting in your Queue Line!  The guest, all guests, have the option to purchase their digital photos right then with the App's built in payment process.  No Photo Sales Station, no staff, no one in a line to see their photos.  If that wasn't enough.  A&E also adds an after event Webstore for Photo Sales.  Additional notifications can be setup for the next day, week, month, whenever, you decide to remind guests they did not purchase photos the day of the event, that their photos are still available for purchase.  Use the built in data to send notifications of future events to all your customers.  Yes, the Math, the process is new, but just using the same 25% as before, guests interested in seeing their Photos, that's 250 per 1000 compared to 83.  Plus, you should not loose anyone because the Photo Line is too long, just the opposite, they have time to look at their Phone App Photos because their waiting in your Queue Line before entering your event!


Have questions, good!  A&E allows you to set you own price! Every location is different!  Are there other options or combinations for your location.  Absolutely!  Just ask.  We build custom systems, and by the way every system is built to be Fast!  Our solutions are 100% proprietary, developed in-house from real-world experience, in collaboration with our exhibition partners.  We build revenue generating, photo systems that are easy to operate with your existing staff.  Whether your location sees 100 or 10,000 guests a day, our systems are scalable and modular to meet your specific needs.  We build super fast Queue Line photo systems to quickly capture your guest photos in 10 - 15 seconds or midway systems where you might want to try out our cool effects, like animated gifs.


Don't worry if you do not see it here.  We can custom build a photo system to meet your specific needs.  All our Photo Systems will capture (take) standard photos of a natural setting and add your branded overlay or  use our green screen system to add different background options.  Don’t forget, A&E also offers Free Graphics yearly.