By Diane Berkenfeld
This year while walking the tradeshow floor at WPPI I found a lot of cool new products, exciting ideas and hot trends for pro photographers to use that could drastically change the way they take pictures. Not technologically per se, but fresh new ideas that can be used to monetize the digital images that are being produced as well as creating exciting new personalized items for clients.
Robert Andrew Designs (www.robertandrewdesigns.com) showed the coolest kid sized furniture in a range of traditional and contemporary styles but with bold, bright colors and designs. Mix and match the furniture (which isn’t just for photographing kids) with the company’s background tile panels and rugs. Pair items that are color coordinated or not.
While some may think that a backdrop is a backdrop is a backdrop, that’s not necessarily true. Barbour Backdrops (www.barbourbackdrops.com) offers not only backgrounds but boxes and stools for your young portrait subjects to perch upon. They also offer baseboards, which let you transform your hanging backdrop into a painted wall [at least the look of it].
AmyLou Productions (www.amylouproductions.com), was a first time exhibitor at the show, but has been in business for over two decades. The company makes quality wood props, many of which are designed for use outdoors. Some of the cute kid sized designs include gates, sleighs, and beach chairs, bridges and more. Adult sizes are also available. The company also offers a variety of backdrops in contemporary colors and styles; as well as posing blocks and crates.
Design Revolution (www.designrevolutiononline.com) offers a large selection of props as well as clothing and digital templates. Their booth had the most chic colorful hanging chandeliers. Check their website to see the variety of rugs and distressed hardwood flooring that you can use to give your images a different feel. Their retro couches have a distinct ‘50’s feel. The company also has a wide range of tutus, hats, headpieces, wings and other items to help you create the most adorable baby and toddler photographs.
Burlesque (www.absoluteburlesque.com) is a great new company started just this year by a professional photographer to fill a need she saw. With Boudoir photography sessions becoming all the rage, Burlesque offers a line of lingerie and other clothing, as well as accessories, designed specifically for being photographed. Suggested business models include selling the clothing to your clients for their use as well as renting the clothing (to which you should also add on a cleaning fee) for each session.
The Fairytale Shoppe (www.thefairytaleshoppe.com) offers exquisite fairy and fantasy clothing in kids and adult sizes. These high-end designs are hand-made. Check their website not only to see the available products but to view the gallery of portraits, including the gallery of images (before and after) with examples of their fine art fantasy effects virtual backgrounds that can also be used as overlays on your images.
Your Photo On Canvas Pro (www.yourphotooncanvas.com/pro) is owned by a fine art printmaking company that has been in business for over 20 years, producing artwork on canvas and Giclée for the fine art/art dealer markets. They are now bringing this expertise to photographers. Each photo is printed according to Giclée standards and reviewed by quality control experts for the utmost in customer satisfaction. Professional photographers register via their pro section of the website receive wholesale pricing, custom branded products and packaging, ICC profiling, and more.
Colorado Timberline (www.coloradotimberline.com) offers professional photographers the most affordable rates for sublimation printing of photographs and artwork on a range of substrates, including fleece blankets, towels, clothing, ornaments and more.
Some of the more unique items they can print photos onto include cloth napkins, placemats and tablecloths. Picture this: you’re not only your wedding couple (or other event client’s) photographer for the day, but also providing your imagery on the linens for the event. Think of the possibilities: not just weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs, but sweet sixteens, baptisms, communions, anniversary parties, etc.
Studio Style by Collector’s Gallery (www.studiostyle.com) offers a range of folders, portrait and cardboard event frames and more—with imprinting services. New items include printed event folders in a range of themes. The company also offers cardboard frames that are designed to hold prints from the Fujifilm Instax 200 camera. Great for event shooting, they even offer a golf ball textured folder that holds either one or two 4×6 prints, and are ideal for golf outings.
Southpoint Photo Imaging Supplies (www.southpointphoto.com) introduced at the show an exciting new inkjet media—metallic inkjet paper, made by Mitsubishi Imaging. The paper comes in rolls and cut sheets, and offers a metallic sheen for unique looking prints.
Blossom Publishing (www.blossom-publishing.com), the company that offers a line of printed marketing materials for photographers has gone digital. The company is offering Purls, Personalized URLs so you can create a landing page for each prospect, complete with personalized messages. Now, in addition to the print marketing collateral you send to prospective clients, you can add a digital/web message too. Ideal, considering that most folks today do their initial vendor research via the computer.
Jolie Wraps (www.joliewraps.com) has created album boxes and fabric wraps in a range of styles and colors, for you to present albums to your clients in. What makes Jolie Wraps so cool is the designs and styles. Instead of just a solid color box, they offer boxes with a subtle pattern overlay to add a little sparkle to your presentations. The fabric wraps are basically pouches, made to order for each album’s dimensions; and designed in a variety of vogue colors with black patterning and ribbons. The Bridget album wrap, with its black satin exterior, and fusia interior with fusia ribbons is ideal for boudoir albums. Check out the website to get a real taste of their products, as well as the idea section.
Digital Foci (www.digitalfoci.com) has created a Pearl White version of its popular Photo Book, a portable digital photo album that features an 8-inch LCD inside a soft, leather-like case. The Photo Book features 4 Gigs of memory and the battery life is supposed to last more than two and a half hours. The Photo Book is a great way for photographers to tote around their digital images and show to clients—because of its large 8-inch screen. The device could be utilized as a digital album that photographers sell or give to clients who reached a certain spending level. Other features include the ability to add music for slideshows, RAW image file support, built-in media card slots and USB connectivity. A number of image file formats, audio and video formats are compatible with the device, check the website for the full list. The Pearl White Photo Book hits store shelves in June.
White Glove (www.wgbooks.com) has introduced a really exciting product, with its own website at www.fusionweddingbooks.com. Fusion Wedding Books are White Glove albums with a unique twist—the cover is designed to feature an iPod Touch or other multimedia device in a specially designed cut out area so your brides can showcase their wedding albums and digital proofs, video or other files—all in one! The company also makes a window that you can place into the space where the iPod/multimedia device is held when viewing the digital images separately. Go to the website to see more examples.
GiftWorksPlus (www.giftworksplus.com) is a unique frame company. On staff artists create designs for retail and wholesale customers. They offer three types of frames: Generic – frames are as they are shown – no changes or additions; Personalized – they have a set design that can be personalized with names, dates and other information; and Customized – this is a frame that is designed from scratch for a resort, lodge, corporate event, tournament, etc. GiftWorksPlus can expand a photographers offerings to their current customers – and help obtain new customers in areas you currently may not be doing photos for. The company’s wholesale website is scheduled to launch this June.
Want free business software to run your business? That’s right, I said FREE. StudioCloud (www.studiocloud.com) offers photographers free desktop based business software with no strings attached. StudioCloud software lets you manage client info, schedule appointments and events, create invoices, manage projects, create reports, and more. The software includes one user login.
I wondered just exactly what the company’s business model was so I asked. The company makes its money when customers upgrade to one of the solutions for which it charges a fee. StudioCloud software is desktop based, which means it stays on your computer. The company also offers CloudBoost, which gives you a mobile solution by syncing your data to an online server; and Employee Boost, which gives companies the ability to manage and schedule multiple people, locales and equipment. There is a monthly fee for the CloudBoost and EmployeeBoost services.
Jen’s Fabulous Stuff (www.jensfabulousstuff.com) offers a wide range of digital products including card and album templates, Photoshop Actions and Posing Guides. One of the cool new guides just released at WPPI is the Children’s Posing Gide. Available as an e-book or spiral flip book, the guide includes 100 creative poses by photographer Jen Hillenga, with directions on where to place the main and fill lights. The electronic version can be saved onto your iPod or computer for easy referencing before a shoot.
Spider Holster (www.spiderholster.com) makes a great holster system for photographers that can be used when in the studio, on location and during events. Although it isn’t a brand, brand new product, we here at Picture-soup.com love the Spider Holster. A secure plate connects to the bottom of your camera via the tripod threads and then is slipped in and out of the Spider Holster itself, which can either be slipped onto a regular belt or the durable belt the company offers. By keeping the camera secure at the hip, you aren’t putting strain on your shoulders or neck. And, using the company’s belt, you can attach two holsters to carry two bodies, one at each hip.
Backdrop Outlet (www.backdropoutlet.com) is now offering unique camera straps designed for men and women, in a range of styles. The straps are wacky, fun and vibrantly colored—and are a great way to personalize your gear.
Tabelz (www.tabelz.com) are a unique item for photographers who shoot tethered on location or in the studio. Tabelz portable laptop computer stands come in seven sizes, designed to meet the needs of individual users. What is great about them is that they sit on a tripod—and the company offers four Manfrotto tripod options (if you want to buy it as a complete set). Or, you can use the Primary Table with your own tripod/head. Use a mouse with your laptop? Add on a Side Table.