Sunday, October 16, 2011

[Idea] Lightbox Photo Mall Concession

As you walk through the mall one day with your family, having finally got them all out the house, you see a room-sized white cube in one of the concession positions. On it, written in huge letters:

"Your family photo now! Before they start arguing..."

Or some better marketing message. Essentially this is a mobile photo studio, with a rapid turnaround service; you take 10 shots, have the customer pick any two they like and give them a small print set (a 6x4 and two wallet sized), a copy of the files on memory stick (in multiple resolutions) and send them any prints they order by post.

Charge a fixed fee for the process, or (more daring) a fixed fee per image they want to keep - we're talking £5 per image, and keep the premium on the prints low. That way if they don't like the images, all everyone has wasted is time, and the photographer's only incentive is to take good photos.

The key to this is rapid turnaround and volume of customers. Normal portrait photographers will charge £100+ for 'creative fees' or just provide a package of prints. That cuts out the majority of families, who can't or won't pay that much for a luxury item. It is also increasingly old-fashioned in a world of digital photos and electronic sharing. By bringing the mobile studio to wherever people are already dressed to go out and families are all in one place - the mall, the cinema foyer, the school concert - you enable on-the-spot service. 90% of getting a good family photo is getting everyone there at the same time, having a decent backdrop, and getting them to smile. Most people have endless photos of part of the family as someone has to hold the camera, against distracting backdrops, where one or other member is blinking.

The team to do this would be a photographer (or two, and have them compete!), a salesperson and an assistant when busy. The customer flow is salesperson to bring them in, assistant to fix their hair or provide entertainment, photographer handles the photographing with the assistant getting people's attention (think babies). Salesperson can then do the finish up with the image selection, prints and so on. All images get uploaded to a central site for safety, reprints, etc.

3 people for an hour could cost £120, suggesting a rate of 6 groups per hour with an average spend of £20. Anything above that in spend or speed is profit.
 This has to be a highly positive business, so give some portion of profit to a children's charity.

Wouldn't it be worth a few quid for a decent family photo? And no hassle getting them there?

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