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 customers, 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, I would traveled wherever and set up the lenticular process, software, training staff, working openings, and after a while, working with the other members of the 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 with a lot of photo industry suppliers and different 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, of 60 guest, 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, them wanting all 10 of their different poses, then you can appreciate the need for speed!  And a lot more of it!


Selling photos has several first requirements!  But probably at the top of the firsts, 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 first.  If it is more important to you, to pull Johnny off of taking photos, because Timmy called off sick, and you need Johnny to scare someone.  Don’t waste your money!  Maybe in a few years, look into it again, after you have heard how all your friends are making money selling photos at their locations, you might be ready.  This is not something that can be taught.  During the exhibition setups, working at the openings of the events, you could tell by watching the employees, if the owners wanted to make money selling photos!  I’ve been at several trade shows now for a couple of years, I can usually tell which employees have owners who want to make money selling photos.  It's really not rocket science.


Another first, again you, 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 photos employees or they do photos themselves.  Either way, that person needs to be available, now, if they are needed.  Next, staff.  I was asked by the corporate office to drop by a Bodies location that started to see a decline in sales.  Sure, there are fluctuation in sales, but I really didn’t expect what I found.  I get there and I am told, there must be something wrong.  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 he added a baby skeleton to a pregnant guests photo.  All the while, 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!  You need 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 with Entry. 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 entry 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 is it like 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 lines going back and forth, and at some point, dropping into a 12x12 area where you have your photographer or a helper asking people to enter and stand a certain way, 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 to the location entrance.  30 seconds to a minute, and you really have not delayed anything.  Your staff will get quicker at staging people the way you want them.  3,2,1 Smile, Click, not Get In, Get out!  By the way, 3,2,1, Smile, Click takes 5 seconds!


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.  So if you want to make money selling photos you have to start at Entry!  Plus Capturing guest photos is Faster at Entry.  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 Entry Photo, 15 - 30 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!


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, with entry photo systems.  I have not done a good job of demonstrating this knowledge either, even though we have had booths at several trade shows over the years.


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


Every VueThru Photo System is built with production in mind 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 that much time to spend with each guest.  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.  Again just a couple of days ago it happened again.  A customer, oh, I didn't know you made those!


I have to say it again, VueThru builds FAST Entry Line Photo Systems that can Capture guest photos in 10 - 15 seconds!


Equipment.  You do not need a $7000 dollar camera!  You need a good quality $7 - $800 dollar DSLR with a better flash setup.  Lighting is important.  In a darker area, setup up some LED flood lights for continuous lighting.  You will want a fast Intel i3 or i5 processor computer with 8 gig of ram, minimum.  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 setup during the daytime work fine to not work at all as soon as the exhibition lights go on!  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.  I am sure every owner can tell me horror stories about unexpected events that I’d have no clue about.  But really, selling photos can LOOK really easy when done by those who have lots of experience selling photos.  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 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 get your camera serviced every 45,000 photos, or at the end of the season, and it stops!  You are done until you get a replacement.  We try to use Canon professional cameras that can be found at Sam’s Club for just this reason! Photo is not different than any business.  There is money to be made, but you are going to work for it!


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 photo, 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 Entry Lines!  That type of Photo System is better for a Midway!


So how do you Sell the Photos!  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 sales counter for the Photo Sales Station, with a Printer in the back, supplies and such, 8x8 feet maybe, realistically a 10x10.


Now what can you expect! Remember that Entry 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, are 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 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.


Basically you need to 2 Photo Sales Stations for 1 Capture Station.  The better and quicker your photo staff is at selling the more money you can make by keeping the lines down and not having so many guests, who were interested, walk by.  Another obvious fact, is you need good graphics, good presentation, friendly staff, fast, reliable equipment and printers.  Each Photo Sales Station needs a Professional Printer.  The cost, with a printer, is roughly the same or a little more than a good Capture unit,  Plus you are going to need 3 - 4 staff 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 entry line photo Capture software integrated with an online photo processing and Phone App for Sales.  Turns every guests cell phone into your Photo Sales force.  Instead of 333 photos you send 1000 notifications that Photos are ready for viewing, automatically!


Capture the Photo, and the guest receives the SMS text notification within minutes.  The guest looks at their photo / photos on their cell phone, no download required, what else are they going to do, remember, they are still waiting in your Entry Line!  The guest, all guests, have the option to purchase their digital photo right then with the App's built the 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.  Plus, you should not loose anyone because the Photo Line is too long, just the opposite, they have time now to look at their Phone App Photos because their waiting in line before your event!


A&E allows you to set you own price! Every location is different!


Are there other options or combinations for your location.  Sure.  Just ask.  We build custom systems, and by the way they are 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 entry systems to quickly capture your guest photos in 10 - 15 seconds or midway systems where you might want to try out our cool 3D effects.


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 or backdrop as well as green screen photos.