by Sue Altenburg Published 01/12/2008
We also decided to start projecting and do away with proofs. We used slide projectors and slide proofs to show the images in our studio. I wanted to sell to the client when they were most excited and that was when they first saw the images. I didn't want them to be able to take home proofs and get the enjoyment out of the images without having to purchase them. To make projection a positive thing to our clients I would tell them 'we don't want anyone to see a portrait of you that's not perfect!'
I also wanted to avoid sending out proofs that showed cellulite, stretch marks or any other imperfections and have them show their friends. That wouldn't be a good advertisement for our photography. We set the policy that no portrait would go out of our studio without being fully retouched and finished. From the beginning all of our boudoir prints were priced sufficiently to include full retouching.
I learned right away that you can't take a woman in every-day make-up and hair, put her in front of a camera, and have her look glamorous. I enlisted the aid of a friend who was a hair and make-up artist and started offering professional styling for their photo sessions. Showing clients before and after photos of the tremendous difference the professional make-up and hair made in the finished product, sold them on having it done. They would go to the salon first and have their hair and make-up done and then come to the studio camera-ready.
Promoting at bridal shows, on radio and even TV, within two years we topped out at 365 boudoir sessions in a year. With all those new boudoir clients coming in we received some unexpected benefits. I found that there is no more loyal client than a happy boudoir client. I learned that if you can please a woman in what is undoubtedly the most uncomfortable photo session ever, you will be her only photographer for life. My boudoir clients became my best advertising by referring me to their friends and family. When they had their own children they would come back to us.
I found that my maternity, children, graduate and family portrait business kept steadily building as a direct result of my enthusiastic boudoir clients.
Now, some 25 years later, our boudoir business is still going strong. In fact, it is now our studio's second biggest income producer just behind family portraits. We find that there is always a fresh crop of brides who are looking for a great gift to give their groom. Though we still advertise in bridal shows, now it is only for boudoir clients and we pass their wedding photography onto someone else.
Our web site and internet placement also helps us to attract out-of-town clients who are looking for a unique experience when they are visiting Las Vegas on vacation, or while in town, on business.
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