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4 signs it's time to go from outsourcing to printing in-house

4 signs it’s time to go from outsourcing to printing in-house

Today, gallery-level photographs are just a click a way with a number of high-end, professional photo labs online. But at a certain point, the convenience and affordability of printing photographs right from your studio or home office starts to look much glossier than the long ship times and high prices of professional printing companies. But, the printer itself can cost several thousand dollars, not to mention ink and paper. At what point does it make financial sense to print your own photos? Here are four signs it’s time to start printing in-house.

You’re sending a large volume of prints in every month or even every week.

Without a large volume of prints, you won’t cross the line from investment to profitability, since the cost of large format printers is so high. But, for photographers continuously ordering a large volume or photos, you could save money with an in-house printer. Take a look back and write down the number of photos you ordered and the total cost — including the shipping.

You could pay for your printer with a few months of photo orders.

Add up how much you’ve earned on photo prints, then subtract how much you spent on photo printing over the same time period. That’s how much you are currently earning from prints.

Next do a bit of research and find out how much each print would cost from an in-house printer. Most manufacturers include an estimate of the ink costs in the details about that printer. If you’d need help running the print, factor in the costs of adding an assistant too. Assuming you keep your print prices the same, how much higher would your profit be on those same print orders?

If your profit from those prints would pay for a new printer within a few months, an in-house printer is likely a very worthwhile investment. If your volume of print orders means it would take a few years — or if you’d have to hire additional staff to tackle the actual printing — you may be better sticking to a printing house, at least financially.

Turn around time is a struggle.

Besides the potential cost savings, one of the biggest advantages to printing in-house is time. There’s no shipping and you don’t even need to wait for high resolution files to upload to that print ordering website. If print turnaround times is a complaint among your customers, printing in-house could be a viable solution.

You crave more control.

The process of turning a digital photograph into a physical one leaves many potential pitfalls along the way. By using an in-house printer, you  gain more control over that final output. By choosing the printer and the paper, you have control over those little details that might make all the difference in your shots. The physical process of making prints can also be enjoyable to the photographers that miss the hands-on process of the darkroom.

Purchasing a large format photo printer is a big investment — and while smaller businesses may be better off with a print service, for professional photographers with large print orders, printing in-house often makes sound financial sense.

4 Trends for Grocery Retailers to Watch in 2017

4 Trends for Grocery Retailers to Watch in 2017

Online shopping has become commonplace — and now the influence of the internet is stretching into grocery stores. Research group Nielsen shared four trends that will influence the grocery retail sector in Australia this year, with online shopping playing a big role as consumers become even more connected into the New Year. So what do grocery retailers need to watch out for this year? These four trends will help grocery retailers adapt to changing consumer perspectives in 2017.

Omni-channel is growing for grocery retailers.

Nielsen research suggests that today’s Australians are more connected then ever — and right along with it, attitude towards online purchases is evolving. As most consumers now have pocketable access to the web, grocery retailers are beginning to transition from brick-and-motar to omni-channel, or stores that are both online and off. The complexities of purchasing groceries and perishables online have delayed the transition past other retail markets, but 2017 should see a big shift towards omni-channel grocery, the research suggests. Already, up to six out of every ten Australians use both online and physical grocery stores — thought some only use that online portal to check weekly sales or read reviews.

Most consumers aren’t loyal to a single chain.

Besides the logistics of ordering items like fresh produce online, the shift to omni-channel is difficult for the grocery sector because most consumers aren’t loyal to a single chain. Now, 64 percent of Australians visit more than one of the four major grocery chains — and that’s every week, a Nielsen home scan suggests. Consumers have several choices when it comes to shopping local for groceries, and those choices could expand with online options. Grocery chains that are able to meet the challenge of driving consumer loyalty will be at a significant advantage, the research suggests.

Australians’ views on food and supermarkets are mixed.

If the challenge of omni-channel and consumer loyalty isn’t enough, most Australians have mixed opinions between retailers and farmers. Nielsen research shows that while 91 percent want to support local farmers, at the same time, almost 75 percent still think they are overpaying for their groceries. Most consumers (64 percent) believe that the retailer benefits most from promotions while over half think price reductions disadvantage farmers. Fighting those mixed perceptions isn’t a simple task for retailers — but being aware of them could prove vital for growth.

Consumer campaigns are essential to driving new growth.

Dale Preston, the director of Insight at Coles, said consumer engagement strategies are essential to creating growth as the grocery retail market — and consumer perceptions — evolve. The growth of Omni-channel options makes personalized outreach both necessary and simpler, since computers can track individual consumer spending habits with something as simple as a rewards program sign-in or scannable loyalty card at the checkouts.

As 2017 begins, grocery retailers face a set of challenges to meeting the demands of a growing market both online and offline. But, armed with the latest research, grocery chains are better equipped to brainstorming new ways of meeting those challenges head-on and creating a strong brand, both online and offline.

5 Trends Driving Female Consumers Today — And What Businesses Need to Know

5 Trends Driving Female Consumers Today — And What Businesses Need to Know

Almost 85 percent of women make purchasing decisions for their entire household, but as a demographic that encompasses many different lifestyles from stay-at-home moms to businesswomen, businesses marketing to women are increasingly struggling to reach the demographic. So what are women looking for in a product or service today? Here are five trends businesses need to know before starting a female-focused marketing strategy.

Over half of all families share shopping responsibilities.

While women are traditionally the family members that notice when the toilet paper is low, almost 60 percent of families divide shopping responsibilities between more than one person, according to Forbes. While more shoppers tend to mean more sales, that also presents a challenge to tracking shopping patterns. Marketing industry specialist Cassandra Moren recommends businesses consider loyalty programs that track households as a whole.

Men are actually outspending women in apparel.

A recent study showed that the idea of women loving shopping more then men is actually just a stereotype — men actually spend more on apparel and shoes by about $10 every month. In the apparel industry, menswear is expected to grow at nearly twice the rate of women’s over the next few years.

Age is no longer a good indicator of life stages.

The workforce is undoubtably changing — over 40 percent of mothers are now the primary (or only) source of income in the U.S., for example, with women making up 47 percent of the workforce. As more women enter the workforce, age isn’t as accurate at predicting life stages anymore. More women are becoming wives and mothers later in life — while older women also often buck the trend and go back to college or start a new career or business venture. The bottom line? Checking that age option when purchasing a Facebook add doesn’t necessarily reach your target demographic every time.

Birth rates are down, but spending is up.

According to Forbes, while birth rates are down as families trend towards the smaller side, spending is actually up. Moms (and dads) spend more on their kids than they did even just a few years ago. Along with trends towards higher kid-related spending, more products are defying traditional age gaps — like adults buying high-end sneaker brands and kids using smartphones and tablets. Brands that offer products and services that encompass a wide age gap could see potential growth, Forbes suggests.

Today’s workforce includes more women then ever before.

As the workplace gender gap closes, Forbes suggests that women have a different attitude towards products. Convenience will play a big role in the purchases made by women, as well as what’s businesses they pass during their commute.

Identifying an audience is an essential step to creating an effective marketing campaign — but “women” isn’t a very specific demographic — encompassing moms, working women, CEOs and retirees, just to name a few. Staying up to date on the latest trends helps businesses identify ways to reach their target audience and grow.

Glossy vs. Matte Finish: What print type is best?

Glossy vs. Matte Finish: What print type is best?

It’s the paper or plastic of the photography printing world: glossy or matte finish? While the choice of a finish may be a matter of artistic opinion, there are still a few qualities that each print type offers that may make one better than the other for certain applications. So in the glossy vs. matte finish debate, which print type is the right one for you?

Glossy photo finish

Glossy photos do just what their name implies — they gloss over the photograph, giving it a nice shine. The paper and the coating behind that glossy photograph is actually made up of the same stuff as a matte image, except that more of the final coating is used. That extra layer of shine tends to give the image an apparent boost in color and, well, like anything with a bit of shine to it, just looks pretty.

The problem with the glossy photo finish is that it creates glare. You’ll see light reflecting off the photo itself, making it hard to view equally under different lighting scenarios. One of the issues many photographers have with glossy photos is also the fingerprints they tend to attract. The finish of a glossy photo leaves the print more susceptible to fingerprints, which means photos that will see a good deal of handling aren’t the ideal shots to use with a glossy finish.

Bottom line: Glossy photos are good for colorful shots — but only if you don’t mind glare or fingerprints.

Matte photo finish

With less of that final shiny layer, matte prints offer a similar lifespan, but without that glossy sheen. Matte photographs don’t quite have the same color boost as glossy — though if you shoot and process the photo right, you can still get a good deal of color from a matte print. Matte photos tend to be better for less vibrant color schemes or monochrome shots, particularly if you were trying to imitate a film effect. Where the glossy finish tends to emphasize color, matte prints tend to play up the texture in an image.

Without that extra gloss, the matte photo isn’t as susceptible to shine and fingerprints. In general, though it’s not always the case, professional photographers tend to choose matte over glossy because of the lower likelihood of glare and fingerprinting. While matte tends to play up texture, the image may look bit grainer because of that enhanced texture, however.

The bottom line: Favored more by pros, the matte finish doesn’t glare or fingerprint, but the tendency to highlight texture could also bring out unwanted texture like noise from high ISOs.

A matte photograph’s anti-reflective qualities often makes it a better choice for framing large prints, while the enhanced color may help snapshots stand out more with a glossy finish. While there is no right or wrong answer when choosing your photo finish, there are pros and cons of each type that are important to understand in order to get the most from your prints.

4 Panoramic Photography Pitfalls — And How To Avoid Them

4 Panoramic Photography Pitfalls — And How To Avoid Them

Sometimes, the scenes that take our breath away are simply too large to fit inside a 3:2 photograph. Panoramic photography allows us to capture those scenes without the constraints of traditional aspect ratios. But, since the camera’s sensor still uses that traditional aspect ratio, panoramas are made from several images stitched together — which is where things start to get tricky. Understanding just how panoramic photography works can help you avoid the common pitfalls to shoot incredible wide scenes.

Pitfall # 1: Movement.

Panoramas are made from lining up multiple images, but if something moves in between those shots, those photos won’t line up. Always avoid movement in panoramic photography. While skipping over the obvious action is easy, motion comes into play in smaller ways too. On a windy day, the leaves on the trees may move, creating an odd stitch where the images meet. Waves cause similar issues. Waiting for a less windy day, or blurring all the movement by stringing multiple long exposure images together will often do the trick.

Pitfall # 2: Distortion.

Taking the images while standing in one place means you have to tilt your camera slightly as you take each subsequent image. That tilt movement distorts lines and objects, making them appear to bend. Moving your feet in a horizontal line to take each shot is sometimes a solution, but not all panorama modes work this  way — and even stitching the images together by hand, not all scenes allow you enough range of movement to make it work. The trick? Keep everything distant to the camera. The closer objects are, the more they will appear to distort. That means avoiding foreground elements and standing back from your subject.

Pitfall # 3: Shooting in auto.

Panorama modes will keep each image’s exposure even between shots, but if you’re using a DSLR and an image editor to create a higher resolution image, you can (theoretically) shoot in any mode. The problem is that automated modes and even semi-automated modes like shutter priority may change the exposure settings between shots. That means manual mode is a must, or the panorama won’t stitch together well.

Not comfortable in manual mode yet? Turn your camera to aperture priority mode, then set your aperture — an f/8 or higher will help keep that wide view sharp. Then, look at the shutter speed and ISO that the camera selected for you. Turn to manual mode, then put those same settings in — and leave them put until all of the single shots for the panorama are finished.

Pitfall #4: Not enough overlap.

Matching up images is a complex process — software simplifies things, but you still need to shoot it right in the first place. Try to shoot each image with about a 30 percent overlap to leave some room for error. Make sure to also keep your camera horizontal; using a tripod is a big help.

Panoramic photography expand the possibilities outside the typical size of a photograph — but the larger the photo is, the more chances there are for errors. Recognize the most common panorama pitfalls before you shoot to increase your chances of nailing the wide shot.

5 Back to School Ideas For Professional Photographers

5 Back to School Ideas For Professional Photographers

If you run a photography business, the time to start thinking about back to school is now. The return to the daily routine of school days can give photographers a way to boost their business with back to school sales and sessions. Student and university photos are often essential to many portrait studios — so here are five ideas to help professional photographers make the most of the next back to school season.

Replace boring school photos with stylized sessions.

Most schools have a picture day to fill up the yearbook with every student. But school photos tend to be simple, quick and sometimes rather boring. Why not replace the boring school photos with some stylized sessions? From books and apples to antique desks, designing a creative back to school themed prop set can help add some flair to those photos — and give parents a reason to book with you instead of ordering school photos.

Try affordable minis.

Back to school is an expensive time for parents — there’s the new clothes, the backpack and the school supplies, just to name a few. Many parents are going to need a financial incentive for getting back to school photos. Hosting several short mini sessions in a row is a great way to do that without ruining your own bottom line. You’ll save time and book more clients with back-to-back sessions, and parents will save money with the short shoots.

Host a school supply drive.

Many families struggle to get everything they need to send their kids back to school — try hosting a school supply drive for those families. Besides the obvious benefit (helping kids in need), your business will get a boost from the extra exposure. Encourage people to drop off donations at your studio, or advertise that you’ll donate one item for every session booked during a certain time frame. Use social media to spread the word about the school supply drive.

Try a social media contest.

Social media can be an excellent way to reach potential clients, but algorithms make it hard for business posts to reach big numbers. Contests fight that by encouraging followers to like and share posts, expanding the reach well beyond a typical post. Try giving away a free back to school session, but to enter, users have to like, comment and share a post. Details on your back to school sessions will get more exposure at a much lower cost than paying for individual advertising.

Integrate local school spirit.

Social media contests are great — but a good way to up the ante even more? Add some competition. If you live in an area with rival schools, try pitting the two against each other for some friendly competition. Turn that school supply drive into a contest to see which school can bring in the most items. Turn that social media contest into a selfie contest to see who has the most school spirit. When you personalize your back to school specials with local touches, you’ll gain credibility — and more exposure.

Back to school is an important season for businesses — and especially photographers. Start planning ahead now for a successful start to your year.