OK, maybe not when you look out the window, but this is the time companies are starting to gear up for the gift giving season and if you are looking to bring your photography to the next level, you should be as well.
I’m not talking about a new lens or a shiny new camera, I’m talking about gift certificates. Yup, gift certificates. Don’t think I didn’t see your face screw up when you read that, but I’m not talking about 20.00 gift certificates to Target, I’m talking about YOUR gift certificates.
What were the best presents you ever received from anyone? Something personal. Not another knickknack that sits on a shelf, or slippers or a scarf (although I do appreciate a good scarf). What were the best gifts you gave your parents? Something you made yourself. Something they could see you put yourself into.
Now you’re all grown up (physically at least) and you’re a photographer. Just the fact that you're on a Photography website reading a photography article shows you like it more than the average bear. So give your gift as a gift! What do gift certificates do? They allow you to give yourself to your friends and family, and better yet, it allows them to give you away as well.
As I said in the last paragraph, they can be used in two ways. They can be amazing gifts that you share with friends and family. A certificate for a portrait session or family shoot is personal, fun and will remind them of you everytime they walk past it on their wall. Additionally, by offering gift certificates it allows your friends to share you with others and you get money for it. Money that can be used to pay for all the shiny gear you already have or to get that new lens you and Bryan have been talking about for months. If you’re not at that point yet, great, keep them to friends and family, but know at some point they are going to want to share your awesomeness with others. They can’t help it, you’re that good!
They are a great way to get people in front of your lens to build your portfolio. You can play and laugh and get to know an entirely new side of your friend. Bring out the wine and make an evening out of it. They aren’t feeling pressured because it’s not costing them money and you’re relaxed because it’s a friend. Then you can branch out to friends of friends, then strangers (or as I call them, friends you haven’t met yet) all from a few gift certificates.
What you offer will be different for all of you, but if you are doing it for friends and family, I always recommend including at least one print. Something they can hang on their wall. Something that will remind them of you. Digital images are great, but they get lost in digital albums and Facebook feeds. Give them something they can hold.
Now that I have totally talked you into doing it, I guess I should tell you how to do it. Unfortunately, I can’t. These have to be yours. You’re creative, make it unique. If it’s going to be for christmas, buy them a really cheap pair of gloves (I mean like gas station cheap) and put the certificate between them. See the look of disappointment, then delight when they see the actual gift. I’ve seen people do video certificates where they make a cute video, upload it to YouTube then send their friend the link with the standard “Must watch, sooooo cute”. Or take an old family portrait taken when they were kids and write on the back “time for an update don’t ya think?”. There are a million fun ways to do it.
If they are going to be sold, you might want to stick with something more traditional, but remember to sweat the small stuff. The font and paper stock are all things I obsess about as they speak volumes about the company and quality of the product. Use a font that reflects your style. Use a thicker stock that will feel nice in their hands. Their experience of your company starts here, start off on the right foot.
So, now is the time to start thinking about Christmas. Not snow or scraping the ice off the car, or shoveling driveway, but christmas giving. Get a headstart and allow yourself time to be creative.
PS. Don't forget, DayTripper offers wonderfully useful gift certificates as well :-)