Documentary photographer and photo book connoisseur Dan Milnor spoke with…
Photojournalist, event photographer, seasoned campaign shooter and all around political photography guru only begins to sum up PhotoShelter member Shealah Craighead, who we had the pleasure of speaking with this month for our “Talking PhotoShelter” series. As one of PhotoShelter’s power sellers, we were eager to learn about how she uses our tools to support her business. From organizing to pricing to charming clients all the way through the sale, Shealah does it all with PhotoShelter…and a smile.
Staying Organized and Feeling Secure
Let’s start at the beginning. Before being able to work with any of the other PhotoShelter tools she depends on daily — tools that allow her to share, price, sell, and control the client experience — Shealah needs to make sure her house is in order. First, she uses Photo Mechanic to upload her images into her PhotoShelter archive, taking full advantage of the “Export to PhotoShelter” option built directly into the application. After that it’s all about back-end image organization, which is of the utmost importance for her, a self-described “organization nerd” who uses PhotoShelter for all of her offsite storage and archival needs. “I feel safe, confident, and comfortable that the images are backed up offsite in my PhotoShelter account”, says Shealah.
But it doesn’t end with her personal archive, where she is set up to catalogue over 2 terabytes worth of imagery. Shealah takes full advantage of the gallery nesting capabilities PhotoShelter offers to keep all of her direct client work highly concentrated in the “Listed on Website” section of her Image Browser, as well. “I’ll often have multiple events with one particular client, and I love that I’m able to organize it all with a high-level general collection, and then individual, more specific galleries underneath. At the end of the day, it really helps me to stay more organized on my side.”
Password-protection was another organizational game changer for Shealah; she’s a big proponent of our Visibility & Access tools, particularly our functionality for providing multiple passwords for a single gallery or collection. “I love being able to share a gallery or collection with different groups of people and still restrict the access exactly how I need to”, says Shealah. “It’s so great to be able to share the same gallery with the client and with others at the same time in possibly a totally different way.”
Staying Mobile…and Still Making Sales
A highly sought after political campaign photographer and someone who has been snapping shots all over the White House for years now (did we mention she was an Official White House photographer during George W. Bush’s presidency, and First Lady Laura Bush’s personal photographer, too?), Shealah recognizes the necessity of having a service like PhotoShelter that lets her upload, access and sell images efficiently while on the road. It truly hit home for her when she picked up the role of sole tour photographer for Governor Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue book tour. “I knew immediately that I needed to organize my images in a capacity that would allow me to have access to them from anywhere, at any computer, from any location in the world. I also needed a way to sell images in a more convenient manner.”
And sell she did. Shealah has made thousands of sales through her PhotoShelter website, a feat she attributes to having access to our myriad sales tools and features, and the ease of use she found within. Pricing profiles were key to her process, providing her with the ability to set price points specifically for different groups of clients and their individual needs. “I think pricing profiles are one of the most awesome things about PhotoShelter”, Shealah tells us. “And giving a client their own set of prices makes them feel comfortable, too, because they know it’s not all just cookie cutter. Being able to tailor things for them goes a long way.”
Shealah mostly sells prints through her website, many of those buyers looking for that perfect shot snapped just when they shook hands with Gov. Palin. Needless to say, there was a huge demand for images from the tour, and Shealah feels she may have had a hard time keeping up if not for PhotoShelter’s automated fulfillment feature. Automated fulfillment gives Shealah the freedom to continue shooting while all of her print orders are automatically sent to one of our four integrated print partners (Shealah uses either AdoramaPix or BWC Photo Imaging, depending on the print or product ordered), who then print and ship on her behalf.
Keeping it Clean
With at times upwards of 75 different print orders coming through on any given day, Shealah also made sure to stay keenly focused on her clients’ experience. “Clients would ask me, ‘How do you do all of this?’”, Shealah tells us. “And I’d say, ‘Listen, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of all of this. You just do what you do, and I’ll make it easy for you on this end.’ And I can, because it’s, well, just easy.” Shealah’s PhotoShelter website was designed with our “Farah” theme, the extremely simple yet polished look of which has helped keep things flowing smoothly for her clients. “I just think it’s a really clean look”, she says. “The layout is so smooth even my less web savvy clients can be directed easily.”
In addition to pricing profiles and automated print fulfillment, Shealah also relies on PhotoShelter’s sales tools for creating and managing coupons — another huge win for her business. “I think coupons are just brilliant because I do a lot of events surrounding the military, and I like to be able to give back and show my appreciation. I’m not always trying to make a buck. I would actually much rather the photos sometimes be used to somebody else’s advantage — as a keepsake, or a memory,” she says. “And I think that represents the client nicely, as well.”
Shealah often has a handful of different coupon codes at the ready for VIP clients, in-house staff, etc., and most of the discounts are pretty darn generous, too. “Sometimes the client or organization I’m working with doesn’t necessarily want to hand away images, but they’ll want to show appreciation to their volunteers or anyone working the event. So providing a discount is a courtesy on my part to say thank you for making the event great, because without the team effort, my photos wouldn’t be great.”
A Professional Brand All Around
For Shealah, one of the most essential pieces to this puzzle — using a service like PhotoShelter to ground her business in so many ways — has been pure ease of use. “PhotoShelter is super easy to use”, she says. “The design of it all, the ability to so simply sell your images, to connect on social media with clients, to share with clients… it’s just all so user friendly. And if there is ever anything I need, your team is amazing. Everybody that I talk to is incredibly patient and just so thorough and knowledgeable. I feel so comfortable with them. They’re awesome!”
Beyond that, Shealah says PhotoShelter has given her a security blanket through its professionalism, from the product itself through to its customer service. “PhotoShelter’s professional presence has been so important to me as a professional photographer. In this business you need to surround yourself with tools that really enhance your work but also continue the promotion that you’re a professional photographer and not just someone out there taking pictures and throwing them up online. PhotoShelter just adds that extra element.”