Updated: Jun 8
In person sales or IPS is a term that has been garnering a lot of attention in photography groups on Facebook for a while and while the term is not new, there seems to be a resurgence of going back to the old way of selling images in person instead of via online galleries.
So what is in-person sales?
Back in the film days, a photographer typically didn’t just hand over the film after a shoot. The client got a proof book or looked at a computer screen and picked out their favorites and made their order.
If the customer wanted more prints, they went back to the photographer. Giving up those negatives meant giving up all control—not only could the photographer not control what lab was used and how they were printed, but they gave up the income that came with them on future print sales and all copyrights.
With the popularity of digitals and giving away the digitals has become the standard for many, if not most photographers. However, it’s a disservice to the customer and also to ourselves as photographers and business people. Many photographers are returning to in-person sales to survive. And there is a growing customer base who appreciate this higher level of service.
Think about the last time you had family photos done. Did you get a wall portrait? Have you done anything with your wedding digitals or negatives? If you’re like me it took you years to make your own wedding album. Money is left on the table
when a photographer doesn’t follow through and help the client through the rest of the process.
Why pay for portraits if you’re going to just throw the CD in a drawer and forget about them. Heck, I don't even have a CD or DVD reader on my computer anymore. And there's even talk they are going to do away with USBs.
Being a full-service photographer means you are there to help your client all the way through the portrait process, not just leave them hanging once the session is over.
A lot of photographers hear the “sales” part and freak out. They don’t like to do sales, they aren’t salespeople. Neither am I. I hate talking about money.
The client has booked a session with me and they know they are coming back to view and order their images. I am just there to guide them along. I am there to offer advice and make suggestions.
The client typically comes to me knowing what they want, usually, something for over their couch and maybe some prints to give to grandma. It’s not being salesy to show them different options. I’m not pushing anything on them. They have come to me looking for this product. I get to be their friend and guide them.
I often ask their style, are they traditional or modern? This is one more way for me to guide them and offer up my expertise. A traditional client is more likely to buy a canvas. Modern clients may lean more towards metal prints. Maybe they don’t have much wall space or are about to move but they want a bunch of them printed, I can then show them an album or photo box of prints.
I’m not approaching people off the street and saying “hey buy this 24x36 canvas.” That would feel gross. An IPS photographer is there because the client has basically requested that you help them from start to finish with their portrait order. Even if they don’t realize at first how helpful it is to have you there, guiding them. I have been thanked so many times and told how easy I made the process.
Make yourself useful and your clients will appreciate you for it. And so will your bank account!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christy Whitehead is the author of the popular IPS book: The No-Nonsense Guide to IPS. She is a photographer in Jacksonville, Florida. She is married, has two kids, and runs a full-time studio on her own. She also enjoys vacationing for about 8 weeks a year and doing IPS helps her live the lifestyle she wants.
If you are looking for one-on-one mentoring, shoot Christy an email!