Think about your latest batch of mail. Chances are, there was a catalogue or two in the stack.
Every time I flip through a catalogue, regardless of the retailer, I suddenly find myself craving all manner of goods. Why? Because the products have been carefully staged and photographed to look devastatingly appealing and useful.
Oh, the power of a professional photo shoot!
A photo shoot isn’t an exclusive privilege for brands like Pottery Barn and J.Crew. Small business owners (ahem, florists) can elevate their prestige and get customers salivating over their designs if they work with professional photographers.
Take Madeline’s Flowers in Edmond, Oklahoma, for instance. If you check out the shop’s Facebook or Instagram accounts, you’ll quickly discern they’re doing something different than the bulk of florists. Part of what separates Madeline’s from the competition: good lighting, props and models.
A few years ago, owners Barbara, Lenzee and Lacee Bilke decided to swap out the stock images on their website with photos of their own exclusive designs. Quickly though, they discovered their photography skills did not match their floral designs skills. “Our photos tended to have low resolution and wouldn’t upload properly,” they said. So they turned to a professional.
“Finding the right photographer is a process too,” they said. “Not everyone is good at photographing flowers.”
The first photographer they tried had great technical skills “but not the creativity” they were sought for lifestyle shoot. Now they work with Mandy Stransberry, who presents the women with a host of ideas for venues and concepts. “We let her know what flowers we’re bringing and what we want to achieve, and leave the rest up to her,” they said. “We’ve always been pleased!”
Madeline’s schedules at least eight professional shoots a year. They show off Christmas designs, Valentine’s designs, spring holidays, Mother’s Day, flower crowns, bridal bouquets and prom corsages.
The shoots typically include models, so customers see people enjoying flowers and can envision incorporating them into their own lives. The models have included friends, family members, employees or someone the photographer knows. The shop partners with local business owners who provide clothing, makeup and hair styling, and jewelry for the shoots. “We pay for the shoot if the other businesses loan their products or expertise,” the Bilkes said. “They have the rights to use the pictures.” Other businesses jump at the opportunity, as they benefit from the exposure, and every time they share the photos within their circles, they expand Madeline’s Flowers’ reach.
“The return on our investment has been tremendous,” the Bilkes said, “And it has been a great networking avenue for us.”
As a media professional, I’d like to point out that by having a portfolio of professional-quality images, shops like Madeline’s Flowers have a significantly higher chance of getting published. I’m constantly hunting for images to feature in industry magazines and frequently pass over florists with lovely designs because their images are subpar. Print magazines require large, high-resolution files and most don’t have big budgets to schedule many photo shoots per issue. If you pitch a magazine reporter or editor and say you have existing professional photography that they have permission to use, they will LOVE you and you might end up being a go-to source.