Its no secret- I really don’t do sexy shoots. Currently in Seattle I have a glut of alternative models who want to shoot sexy for free for our shared portfolios, but they also don’t have the resources to buy their own prints from me. That being said, there is one simple conclusion: The goal of a free boudoir photoshoot isn’t really to trade- its to upsell them a print of their boudoir photography. The nice thing about this is, people very rarely print their own items from a digital collection. They will recognize that its just sitting in a google drive, being unused (or shared a little on Instagram)- so getting them to realize they need to buy prints from you is important. This will allow you to keep touching base with them about their interest.
I have to say though- this is theory crafted based off of my experience selling custom art or “inspired” art I have made.
Purchasing these items are an emotional decision. People are buying more then just their print, they are buying it FROM YOU. You, your studio, and your equipment are very important. I’m not just trying to discuss nice small prints- but prints that deserve to be framed. I would aim for larger prints as well as raised prints- insist you need your printed work to maintain a minimum quality of being regarded as art.
You need to start professional and stay that way the whole way through. Get them to sign a release and set expectations. If possible, have a studio and everything to style it ahead of time and ready when they arrive- ask them to bring as little as possible. Be dressed well and have a clean area. This things help them feel emotionally ready for higher price points. The nice thing about selling to the model prints is demonstrating value to the person you are shooting. You are giving them the ability to remember this themselves. You are giving a person with no ability to advertise themselves to advertise themselves easily. They have a powerful piece they can carry with them as a model.
Sell the Fantasy
You need to get the client to see themselves as works of art. This perception changes what they think from “I’m on display” to “I am classic, fine art”. Using language that makes sure they realize this is important. Help the client get out of the shadows and openly come out loving their body. We love body positivist because its incredibly good for sales. As you are working with models, it also works as an advertising item for them in the real would. Physical prints matter more now than other, as Instagram and the internet has made just regular images be of little value to general consumers.
Get to Know Print Houses and Frame Crafters
Discussing your connections and your ability to make deals will show them that you can get the items discussed cheaper then they would be able to get it on their own. Your photography is really luxury fine art – not just photography. I would recommend getting sample frames to be able to show them mock ups of a finished project to preview. Give them color balanced options to match the frame. It is important that you have things ready for them to physically touch- it helps create emotional links to items.
If you have the time, show them what the art would look like on their wall with Photoshop. It can help them understand what the finished item will be displayed as, and it will help you start the conversation of how to make the photograph match the room. This is what will set you apart from other boudoir photographers- knowledge of the finished display and the ability to bring their dream alive within their interior design styles. This will also help them work through the idea that having art like this is vanity.