Scanning The Internet
Digital Technology Updates Wedding Photography

This is the opening screen for www.weddingprints.com Note how you locate the right wedding by names and date. Notice also the bottom left which is where you as the photographer go to make changes to the site.
Photos © 1999, Steve Bedell, All Rights Reserved

Pity the poor portrait and wedding photographer, and I include myself in that group. For years we've been reading about how digital imaging and the Internet are revolutionizing photography, and we've been sitting on the sidelines. Well, that's about to change, and in a big way. In a couple of days, my studio went from being totally traditional to having completely digital ordering capabilities. And it cost me nothing. Let me explain.

This rather remarkable change of events is the result of a unique web site offered by my color lab and a software program from Kodak Professional Studio/Lab Link Software. It also makes use of new technology such as film scanning and the Internet to tie everything together. I'm going to briefly explain how using the Internet site with the ordering software can make your life easier, and hopefully more profitable. And while much of this focuses on weddings, most can certainly be applied to portraits as well. So let's start at the beginning.

OK. Let's look at it the "old" way. You shoot the wedding, send the film to the lab, get it back a week or two later, then edit the prints. Call the couple to have them pick the prints up, remind them of their package, suggest a wall print, and make an appointment for them to come see you about a month later for the order. A month later, the bride calls and says she hasn't got the prints back from her mom in North Carolina, can she come in two weeks? Two weeks later, she calls again and says the groom's dad, has yet to see the photos. When they finally order it's three months later and the excitement is gone. They've looked at the photos plenty of times and the financial realities of married life are foremost in their minds. You've just lost money and slowed down your cash flow.

This is the main screen of Photographer's Assistant. Clicking on the photos brings it to the ordering screen. The green dot means that that photo has already been ordered from.

Now let's look at the "new" way of doing it. I still send my film to the lab in Canton, Massachusetts. Then everything changes. A few days later, I get e-mail notification that my wedding is "up" and ready for editing at www.weddingprints.com then I use my password and ID number, and edit the photos. I assign the site the password agreed on previously with the couple. At the wedding, I distributed cards to all the guests at the reception. It gave them the web site address, the date the wedding would be there, and the predetermined password. They also need the date of the wedding and either the bride or groom's first name. They type in the info and bada-boom, bada-bing, they're looking at the edited wedding photos. And if Sally in Phoenix and Ralph in Boise want to order prints, they can do so right there, with my assigned pricing. So far, you've got prestige for being an innovator, publicity at the wedding, a card in every guests hand, and possible sales from people who previously would have never seen the photos. And if mom is in Canada, she can order from there, too.

But that's not all. I still get prints back from the lab and a CD with all my images on it. I use these images with my album layout software (I use Montage from Art Leather) to create the album the way I think it should look. It usually has many more images than the original agreed upon amount. How can you capture a wedding in 50 prints when you've taken 250? The couple understands that better when they see how expertly you've laid out the album, and how it tells a complete story. They are not as visually sophisticated as you are, and can't picture in their mind the flow of the album or how pages appear when facing each other. By eliminating photos from the presentation on the computer and on paper, the flow is disrupted. I suggest you give them a special price on getting the album as you've recommended. Photographers using this method are reporting a substantial increase in the size of their wedding album orders. Another example of technology both increasing our income and decreasing our time, a definite plus.

But we're not done yet. Now it's time to place the order. You've already loaded the images from your CD into Photographer's Assistant, a software program developed by Bremson and marketed by Kodak to color labs. You don't buy it, you get it from a lab that is set up to deal with it. Once you've completed the initial installation and made sure your modem is in communication with the lab, you're ready to go.

Open Photographer's Assistant, locate the job number, and up pop all the images. Use the list to order. Let's say you need one 8x10 and four 5x5s from negative number 36. Just click on it and a second window opens. Select 8x10 and the photo appears. Since the final prints will be digitally made, cropping is infinite, you are not restricted to a limited number of masks. Another point worth mentioning is the fact that since the prints are made from high res scans of the negatives you order from, custom printing features will only have to be done once to the digital file, then printed at "economy" prices, resulting in substantial savings for multiple prints ordered from the same pose.

Once you've got it looking the way you want, click the amount of prints, sizes and amounts needed, and you're done. Not sure what you've ordered? Just go to order summary and find out. Order all the prints, cropping and sizing the way you want. When you're done, check summary. If everything looks good just connect to the Studio I - Link part of the software, and it will automatically send the order to lab. It's easier, saves time, gets the order to lab immediately, and cropping is more exact. There are many other features, but this gives you the basic concept.

Client response has been overwhelmingly positive. And each guest at a wedding now leaves with a card from us, an innovative studio. Digital imaging and the Internet will continue to make major changes in the way we do business. Get on board before the train leaves you behind.

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