Websites for wedding photographers currently provide two kinds of services. They can act as portfolios, allowing photographers to show off the quality of their work to potential clients, take bookings and field enquiries. And they can ease the photographer’s workflow, providing a place for them to upload images and a store from which the couple can order prints and assemble albums. Both those types of sites though are aimed at the same market: the couple that hire the photographer and buys most of the images. With an average of 141 guests attending each wedding though, the sites miss a large opportunity for additional sales and marketing. It’s an opportunity that PicsCliq, a new wedding photography service, is now trying to exploit — and it’s aiming to do it with the help of social media.
Like traditional wedding sites, PicsCliq allows photographers to upload the images they’ve shot at a wedding but it also provides an easy way for them to promote those photographs through Facebook to an audience larger than the couple itself. By “liking” an image, the photograph is placed on the photographer’s Facebook page and by adding tags, the photographer can make sure that it’s seen by the people in the photo as well as their friends.
“Facebook is the number one photo sharing site in the world,” explains PicsCliq founder Reuven Moskowitz. “That’s what people do on Facebook: they like, tag share and comment on photos. What PicsCliq has done and is continuing to do is add the same components that exist on Facebook to each photo on PicsCliq.com, and then ‘push’ those interactions back to Facebook.”
From Photo Pushing to Photo Selling
The idea of using Facebook as a channel to distribute images to potential leads isn’t entirely new. Facebook cites Chris Meyer as an example of the value of targeted demographic advertising on the site. (Last year, the wedding photographer told us that his $1,000 spend on the site had generated over $100,000 in bookings). But his ads only run from December to March. The remainder of Meyer’s Facebook enquiries come through tagging and distributing images on the site.
PicsCliq takes the idea a step further by allowing photographers to use Facebook as a way of selling images as well as promoting their services. The site, which is free for photographers, depends on merchandise sales for its own revenue. As users browse and tag the images, they’re offered the opportunity to buy a print, as well as a decorated mug, teddy bear, keychain, canvas print and mouse pad. The site is geared towards generating sales rather than enquiries, the opposite of a traditional wedding photography website.
“Without the right environment, promoting, products and approach, even if an event guest does come to view the pictures he or she will not be compelled to purchase photos in a way that is optimized for them,” warns Moskowitz.
So far, most of those sales have come in the form of prints but Moskowitz expects that as the site develops, products that reflect the entire event — collages, mosaic prints and memory books — will become more popular.
The site launched in February 2011 and remains in private Beta as it gathers feedback that will influence its operations. Six hundred photographers have requested an invitation and more than 100 are currently active. Most importantly, the idea that a set of wedding pictures can appeal to more than the couple that hired the photographer appears to be well grounded. PicsCliq is seeing over 150 unique viewers for each wedding added to the site.
Guests can find those images through Facebook but also by browsing the categories on the site; photographs need to be arranged by family, portraits, dance, guests and children. PicsCliq is also working on a function that will allow guests to view all of the pictures in which they’ve been tagged.
The service isn’t intended to replace traditional wedding sites, says Moskowitz. It doesn’t allow the wedding couple to create their wedding album or provide a way for photographers to take direct bookings so photographers should retain their current online proofing solutions. But it should allow photographers to generate some extra sales from a wedding they’ve already been hired to document — products like memory albums for grandparents that include pictures of all the grandchildren.
Changing Wedding Photography
It’s possible that PicsCliq will do more than that though. When wedding photographers plan their shoots, they tend to have a collection of images in mind that they know they’ll need to capture. Mostly, those images will be of the wedding couple itself, the formals that include the entire family, perhaps a few candid, photojournalistic shots, and a number of images of friends and guests that reflect the atmosphere of the event.
If PicsCliq can turn those guests into a market in their own right, then photographers may need to enlarge their list of planned images to include plenty of guest portraits, shots of children and smaller family clusters. In addition to shooting the bride and groom — and shooting for the bride and groom — photographers working at a time when social media allows easy sharing, universal access and the ability to sell directly to anyone may now need to consider the entire wedding party as their market. The couple paying the bill will always be the priority, but the ability to generate a few hundred more dollars in sales by shooting some extra pictures could change the way wedding photographers work.
Even without those changes though, photographers should find that a social media-connected sales page like PicsCliq’s can still generate some useful additional revenue.
“The more purchase-worthy images uploaded the greater the sales possibilities,” says Reuven Moskowitz. “However, we believe that even without changing the way photographers currently shoot, there are many images that are never sold that PicsCliq can help sell.”
To the two kinds of wedding sites now used by photographers then, it may now be possible to add a third: one that uses social media to generate not just potential new referrals but real additional sales.