As mentioned recently, the Mastering Volume Photography conference, sponsored by PhotoLynx, has become an increasingly important event in the photography education calendar. We were not able to attend this year but received many reports on the topics and trends observed, which are shared below.
One of the biggest outcomes of MVP was the unbridled optimism for the future of the volume photography business, as shown by PhotoLynx president Tim McCain. “MVP was fantastic,” he says. “There were 285 people in attendance, plus 29 vendors. This shows the industry is alive and well, if you’re willing to change.”
McCain said one of the session highlights was a panel of parents, ranging from a 26-year-old mom to a 56-year-old mom, sharing their insights as event-photography consumers. He noted there is a growing acceptance and, yes, even expectation for digital delivery of these images. Prints are no longer expected.
“All the moms on the panel want a digital delivery option for photos, and are willing to pay for a file to share on social media,” said McCain. There was also a principal panel, outlining the logistical challenges for school photographers; principals want the commissions from school portraits, but don’t care for Picture Day disruptions. They are also out-of-touch with what parents want from school pictures.
“Mastering Volume Photography is a unique event on the volume school and sports conference circuit,” adds Jeff Frazine, sale representative, PhotoLynx. “It has certainly become more than a user’s group meeting. It is becoming a widely respected industry gathering of decision makers at various size companies engaged in school and sports photography.”
Mark Schoenrock of PSP Consulting, provided a keynote address on the changing market forces at play in the school and event market.
“Improving participation in the volume segment requires that as individual businesses and as an industry we work hard to improve on what matters to mom. One important step we can take is to acknowledge mom conducts business on her smart device. We can too – by providing our images digitally, selling the digital image and by offering new forms of social media friendly digital content that motivates mom to buy more,” he says.
“Volume photographers are beginning to recognize the opportunity to increase sales and build deeper long-term relationships by embracing the mobile technology mom uses. Personalized gifts, graphic treatments, home décor products and e-products are underserved in the school picture business. Offering the consumer a wide variety of products throughout the year can help the industry shift from the ‘one and done’ approach to product sales and marketing to multiple product sales from one image and improved Customer Lifetime Value.”
Will Crockett, professional photographer and educator, has long been a proponent of digital products, especially portraits incorporating video. He shared his experiences creating a large-scale hybrid church directory. Unlike other solutions, Crockett claims consumers want weblinks, not apps, for viewing and sharing.
“After just finishing my first church directory project where the primary sales product was delivered digitally, I think I can see where my customers want to go,” says Crockett. “They want an ‘eProduct’ to share and to post using their phones as the most important item, and they are very clear in letting me know they don’t want it to require an app to see or share that eProduct. We have been successful in figuring out what that digitally delivered eProduct is and our PortraitLink brand of talking portraits is delivered to the customer as an attachment to a standard SMS text message. No app needed.
“The workflow is simple – the PortraitLink is first shown to the customer as a video placed inside a typical Zenfolio gallery along with the photos for purchase,” explains Crockett. “That gallery URL is send via email and text to the customer and if they buy a package that includes the individual PortraitLink, it’s sent by itself in the fully functional version to their phones. It’s automated, easy, and no complaints from customers about needing an app and no customer support calls later when they forgot how to use the app.”