Why did you decide to make a non-traditional promo?
I’ve always felt like I’m a pretty diverse photographer when it comes to genre, however, most people associate me as a portrait photographer. Having shot editorial and advertising work for many different clients over the years I was realizing I was missing more lifestyle opportunities recently and wanted to be sure clients knew I could shoot and enjoyed shooting lifestyle type work. We planned a personal Fall camping shoot at a friends farm just outside of Nashville and with the help of talent, wardrobe styling, prop styling and HMUA from AMAX a local agency, we shot a full day in November 2018 for fun to have something for my book and to show potential clients that I was capable of more than what they had seen previously. I enjoy shooting and collaborating period. I wanted my past clients, current clients, and future clients to know I could create the lifestyle imagery they often asked for but hadn’t seen much of in my portfolios.
After the shoot, Laurel and I decided very quickly that there was more to this shoot than simply getting images and tossing them on a print mailer or adding to the website. When I moved to Nashville in 2014 I made (with the help of some very talented friends) the “Fresh from Florida” promo announcing my move from Florida. It was ambitious but it paid off, getting me additional looks at my site, meetings beyond the people I sent the promo too and ultimately work.
This was a similar goal. Package the work in a way that was consistent with the shoot, my brand and get as many industry eyeballs on it as possible.
Laurel came up with the cooler idea and it’s red/white colors similarly matched my brand/logo. We worked with a local printer for the 5×5 folded promo (JIVE) and the custom bandanas designed by Lure Nashville and printed by Friendly Arctic. The Goo Goo Clusters which was founded in Nashville in 1912 was custom made with a smore’s flavor to compliment the campfire vibe. Inexpensive blankets were sourced from Academy Sports & Outdoors and the tin/metal cups from Amazon. All stickers were made by Sticker Mule.
At the end of the day, the goal was simply to break through the noise for just a minute and provide some folks with a fun gift to compliment the sharing of new work. We shipped the promos out on December 13th.
Who printed it?
The printed promo was done by a local printer here in Nashville called JIVE, A Printworks Studio.
Who designed it?
The layout and design of the actual the printed promo were done by my studio manager/assistant Laurel Higman. Overall concept and ideation were done by myself and Laurel.
Tell me about the images?
The promo images were shot towards the end of the day and we had started getting low on light. An earlier couple setups just didn’t have the camping feel I was going for. This end of day vibe was what I had envisioned and worked perfectly for my needs. Everything was pretty organic once our prop stylist, Angel Beddoe from AMAX set everything up. We shot all day and the crew and talent were equally enjoying themselves which was also a goal for everyone involved. As someone who typically uses a lot of strobes and likes to shape and craft light, this was a fun change of pace. We shot a lot but the edit is very tight.
How many did you make?
We made 50 “Happy Camper” promos that were sent to 48 individual art buyers/producers across the country. The other two were sent to A Photo Editor and PDN. The decision of whom to send these too was strategic also as I wanted them to get to people whom I thought I’d be an asset for or be an asset for them again if I’ve worked with them previously.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
I haven’t sent out a promo like this for a few years and honestly have backslidden a bit on sending print mailers also. I feel like staying on top of mind for clients is the goal and this year I’m focused to do that in any unique way possible.
Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I believe in traditional mailed, printed promos however I want my clients to know I’m thinking a little outside of the box and willing to take the extra risk to ensure we get something great if we work together. There’s a place for the traditionally printed mailers, I just wanted this to be something talked about for a while longer.
What about the return on investment for an expensive promo like this?
Hopefully, someone is reading this right now or received the promo and wants to give me an opportunity so I can say the return was directly related to the promo. Please feel free to hire me! That said, as most folks know a single mailer, email blast or promo isn’t likely to get you immediate work. It’s the continual efforts to stay on top of mind and do something unique showcasing your work that gets people to associate with your brand. Folks always want to know the costs. These cost about $28 dollars each plus shipping (largest single cost averaging about $16 each). So yes, this was not a cheap endeavor however I see it as an investment. I could have bought a new lens or gear but wanted to invest in my marketing. Will that gear get me new clients? Doubtful. Will these promos get me new clients? Possibly.
I’m not afraid of risk when that risk is shooting something for myself and sharing it in a fun way with other creatives. That’s an immediate reward for me and I’m proud and thankful of the career I’ve built by rolling the dice every once in a while on showcasing my work.