What about other orders from Mom in Boise or the groom's parent in Boston?
No problem, my lab has set up a website for 180 days so everyone can see and
order the photos. When an order comes in, I get an e-mail notice of the new
order. I can either whip out the ordering CD or access the order directly from
Lab Link Plus and never touch the CD. And when the wedding order comes in, I
can order the prints and design the album using Lab Link Plus or design it online
and have the bride approve it. The client also has the option of designing the
book themselves online, although this hasn't been used yet by my clients.
Once the design is done, the prints are either shipped to you or they can go
directly to Capri Album (www.caprialbum.com)
for binding and you get the book all done!
has several different pricing plans that make it feasible for
both large studios and part-time photographers to find something
that fits their budget.
Note that this is just my method, and I usually go for the quickest and easiest
method I can, even if I have to pay a little more for it. If you feel you've
got a good handle on color management issues, you can use the same system without
any lab input and save money.
Our portrait system is similar. We retouch the images in Photoshop (the lab
can do that also), open the retouched images in Lab Link Plus, crop them, add
options such as mounting and spraying, review the order, and send it via the
Internet. Since we're now sending full-resolution files, it takes longer
than the little wedding files, so a DSL or cable connection is pretty much required.
differs from the other sites in that they have their own lab and
fulfill all orders, sending you a monthly check. All the sites
also make efforts to market their photographers.
Web-Based Solutions For Your Ordering Needs
I've described in the article a typical workflow using lab-based software.
But there are other methods to make your life easier and also cut down on the
amount of time you spend processing orders. There are several companies that
offer web-based solutions to your viewing, ordering, and order fulfillment dilemma.
Here's how they typically work:
First, you become a "member" of the site, by paying a fee either
up front, once a month, by each event, or by some combination of these options.
At Eventpix.com (www.eventpix.com),
you pay a fee then have several choices. They have several lab "partners"
and when your client places an online order, they handle it, send it to one
of many lab "partners," and the finished order is shipped to you
or your client. They also get a percentage of the sales.
At Collages.net (www.collages.net),
they also partner with several leading labs and you can either pay a monthly
fee or go per event. Like the others, it also makes efforts to market Collages.net
photographers with links to bridal sites like The Knot. Most also offer complete
album design and a variety of album companies to choose from.
operates a little differently. You pay monthly fees based on volume but they
handle all details, from taking the order to shipping it to your client and
even collecting the money! They send you a check each month and you go on your
merry way, not having to touch anything. It's up to you to decide if the
expenses are worth the freedom. Like the others, they offer album design and
referral services, but they also own their own lab, so all printing is done
difference in Pictage is that in addition to dealing with some
of the major album companies, they also have their own albums.
Much of what I've described earlier is actually faster than it sounds.
And it makes the previous methods sound downright primitive. While many photographers
bemoan their increased workload, I feel it's mostly their own fault for
not taking advantage of the many benefits of digital photography and trying
to save pennies while ignoring dollars. Spending too much time editing? Maybe
you're overshooting, and if you shoot in raw format, maybe you should
consider only using it in certain situations (large prints, difficult light)
where its advantages can be exploited. A well exposed and properly shot JPEG
will beat a sloppy raw file every time. Too much time retouching and color correcting?
Let the lab do it. Making your own prints? That's a whole other article.
Just keep in mind that the more work you accept as your responsibility (retouching,
color correcting, printing), the more time and skill you'll need in each
area. It's up to you to decide if the time and skill issues contribute
or detract from your bottom line. Yeah, I'm an artist, but I'm also
a businessman, and I feel a lot more artistic when I'm not worried about
gassing up the car or paying the oil bill. Hopefully, this discussion of workflow
issues will help you to examine how you're doing things and perhaps look
at ways to boost your productivity. And remember to sign up for my free e-mail
newsletter at email@example.com.