World meet Walt Smith of Impact Images; he has been serving the Dallas Metro area’s photo needs since 1992. Walt has over 20 year’s experience as an NFL photographer, and his clients include professional sports teams, pee-wee sports teams, varsity and sub-varsity schools, municipal and private sports leagues. His staff comprises photographers and assistants that total over 70 year’s experience. We wanted to talk with him to find out about his “digital-first” sales approach.
NG – First Off Why NG?
WS – In 2017, I finally made the decision to jump on board with Next Gen Photo Solutions, on the condition that Wes would come down to see our workflow and make sure the things we needed could be integrated into their system. To this day, much of the way Next Gen works today, is a result of that collaboration. So, in the end, it became not only good for us; it became even more helpful for more photographers. We have never looked back jumping in 100% to what Next Gen has to offer. There is no other way I would ever attempt to do this type of business without Next Gen.
NG – What kind of tools do you use for post-processing? Can you explain your workflow a little bit?
WS – We really don’t use any tools other than the Next Gen process for post-processing. All of our images are shot at exactly the same settings on every camera we use, the white balance is set consistently among all cameras, and the Next Gen system of shooting makes it virtually foolproof to create any images that are needed post-processing, so it’s really not even a consideration for us to use other sources. Our workflow is completely geared for Next Gen. They have been a great partner ever since we decided to make the jump 100% to Next Gen. Everything from getting the shoot ready in the office on their website, the forms needed for the shoot, scanning the forms into Next Gen for data entry after the shoot and then creating the orders for sending out to the lab, is such an incredibly easy process with Next Gen. My entire office is run by one part-time office person who does it all in 12-15/hours a week, which is pretty incredible considering we have 28 schools. We also do T&I for over 30K youth sports heads per year.
NG – How has your “digital-first” model evolved??
WS – We started offering digital files for sale five years ago way before anybody thought it was a good idea. I took a lot of grief from other photographers for even wanting to talk about it, much less do it. I felt I could see the future and where the industry was going a little better than others who refused to keep both eyes open. We started off offering both team and individual images in a digital package and have never looked back. Today, digital-only packages are 80% of our total sales, and I see that increasing in the future. We live in a digital world, and you better be offering products that fit in that world.
NG – What is your driving force to be digital for sales?
WS – The force behind digital sales is the voice of the consumer. It’s what they wanted and still want. Since the smartphone replaced most people’s cameras, their whole world, including photos, is on their phone. You have to have a way to deliver content where they want it. They want to share and access on social media, they want to show it others, they want it on their wallpaper. Today’s consumers are not the generation of past consumers that want prints, to be stuck in a drawer somewhere, to be done something with, someday… maybe. They want to be able to store it digitally, index it digitally, order products digitally. The addition of the Capture Life platform has been an incredible addition giving you a branded space in their phone and the giving the consumes everything they want in digital photos-storage, cataloging, ordering, sharing.
NG – Can you tell us your steps to an average digital sale? Is there an opportunity to up-sell to your clients?
WS – Digital sales are the first two package options on our order form, a $25 option, and a $35 option. It’s such an easy sell when you can show/tell them how easy it is to order a print if they want it, or they can simply use the platform as an index for each kids’ sports photos as well as all the other photos they take on their phone. The added bonus of the commission from any print or product order from the files is just icing on the cake.
You can find more of Walt’s work here.