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The Snap Expansion - PPA Today

The Snap Expansion


How one obnoxious hairdresser and a frazzled mother of the bride taught me a valuable lesson about sales

By Mariah Ashley

I love going to the salon to get my hair done. I have a very specific routine. I don't park close on purpose so I can enjoy the walk through Providence. I stop and buy a vanilla soy steamer at Starbucks to sip while I'm pampered. I arrive early so that I can sift through the stack of magazines and find the most current issue of PEOPLE.

I need a mind eraser bad. Trish and I have decided to expand our office. We are moving from a home office to a full blown three room; gallery, sales room, and office space. Because it's my nature to over analyze everything, I second guess the decision we've made and worry incessantly about the jump in our overhead.

Content in the solitude of the stylist's chair, head wrapped in tinfoil, inhaling chemicals with nothing but time to kill, I savor the mindless gossipy articles and my soy steamer. I let my mind drift far, far away from all things business and photography. 




I hear this unfortunate statement from the woman sitting next to me having her roots done.

"Stephen, I was hoping you could help me pick photos from my daughter's wedding for my album."

Stephen is the woman's hairdresser but Stephen fancies himself a photographer. Stephen is about to kill my buzz.

"Of course Marie, I'd love too! I do have an eye for these things!"

Marie takes out her laptop and pulls up the online gallery provided to her by her daughter's photographer. The following conversation ensues:

"I wish I had real photo proofs to look at. I don't understand all this technology."

"I agree, real proofs are so much easier to look at."

(Me, in an invisible cartoon bubble above my head) Yes, it would be really easy to spread 1,000 real photo proofs all over this salon Stephen. It would be great if they got all covered in hair and chemicals and hairspray.

"There are just so many photos I don't know where to start, said Marie. "How can a person be expected to choose from sooo many photos?"

"Oh yes, I totally agree. You should only be given a few of the very best photos to choose from."

I squirm.

"I do wish there were more photos of me though. I don't like any of these. I look terrible."

Stephen gaspesin mock horror, hand over heart at the offensive photos of Marie. "A photo like that would never even make it into my gallery! I would edit it so you would never have to see such an unflattering photo."

I choke on my soy steamer.

"Now why would the photographer take this group photo in such an ugly location? I mean the carpet is hideous."

"Oh it's totally distracting. I would have chosen a more neutral background. And it looks like the photographer used a wide angle lens. Interesting choice."

I tear myself away from George and Amal and peer over the top of my PEOPLE magazine because now they've crossed the line. Here is what I see: A group photo of an extended family, 50 people at least, An ugly hotel reception venue (presumably chosen by Marie), Rain on the windows behind the group. Here's what no one sees but I know is there: a frazzled photographer desperately trying to herd 50 drunken uncooperative wedding guests into the only clear area large enough to accommodate them... a hallway with ugly carpeting. P.S. A wide angle lens is not an interesting choice for group shot with 50 people. It's the only choice.

The choosing proceeds.

"Do you want this one?"

"Yes. I HAVE to have that one."

"How about this one?"

"Yes, of course that one too."


"I've chosen 352 photos for my parent album. Do you think that's too many?"

"No. The photographer can put more photos in for you and if you tell him you are unhappy with some of the shots he should add them in for free."

"You think?"

"Totally. I would."

Oh you would, would you Stephen? Do you notice that steam is coming out of my ears? Well, it's not because I've been under the dryer too long. How about I tell you I don't like how you cut my hair and I want you to sweep up all my hair off the floor and reattach it to my head? For free. Oh, you can't do that? It's not possible? Well I say it is possible because that's what I want and I fancy myself a hairdresser.

I bite my lip and go back to my magazine but I can't stop thinking about Marie. WHY Marie? WHY did you feel the need to involve Stephen in the process of choosing your photos? Certainly asking your photographer would have made more sense. Presumably your photographer is the expert, not Stephen the hairdresser/ wannabe photographer/total know it all. But yet, here you are spending hours with Stephen and ruining my relaxation in the process.

Suddenly it hits me: Does Marie's photographer work from home? Does he or she not have a meeting space? Does the photographer discourage in-person meetings or simply ignore the need for an album consultation because to do so would be inconvenient?

Was Marie left with no choice but to ask for Stephen's "expert" opinion? Is the photographer leaving money or worse yet, the opportunity to educate his client on the table?

Do my clients feel like Marie? They might.

Have I been doing the same thing? I have!

Thank you Stephen for giving me confirmation that the decision to expand our business is the right one. Having a home office has been a huge part of our success. I highly recommend it for anyone starting out, or anyone finding themselves struggling like we once were. By keeping our overhead low with a home office, Trish and I were able to get ahead so that now we are ready to take it to the next level. We want to focus on the sales end of the business. We want to give our clients the best and most thorough experience that we can. For us, that means creating a physical space for sales. When our clients leave our new office we want them to be educated about the process, album in hand and confident in their purchase.

I'm not going to stress about the decision we made any more--George Clooney being off the market is upsetting enough. I know that when we open our sales room doors and invite the Marie's in, the revenue will follow.

The very next day after Stephen ruined my relaxation but opened my eyes, I received this voicemail which I have written down and transcribed for you verbatim. Honestly, I could not make this stuff up.

"Hi Mariah this is Tara, Joe's mom. You photographed my son Joe and Dana out on Block Island this past June, and I, um... I'm feeling totally overwhelmed by this whole picture thing. I wanted to talk to you to see if you have any suggestions of how to approach choosing the photos and making decisions. Also, could you refresh my memory on what kinds of albums are available? And I'm wondering, when looking at a photo what kinds of edits can be made. I am looking for some guidance and I wonder in order to order some photos if I need edits made do we have to do all that work or is that something you can help us with?"

Oh boy Tara. I can see I've got some work to do here.

"But I've got the time, I've got the space and I'm rolling up my sleeves. Oh and my hair looks really good too, and since you get to see me in person that's a bonus for you," said Mariah, humbly.

About the author:

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for winter.jpgMariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on November 11, 2014 9:44 PM.

Health Insurance Options for PPA Photographers was the previous entry in this blog.

Meet Paul Jew - October's Benchmark Winner! is the next entry in this blog.

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