Projecting your custom-created portraits for your clients is not new.

Back in the film days, photographers projected slides made from portraits prepared by their lab.

When photography migrated from film to digital, the use of projectors came into vogue, especially now when the quality of projectors has improved dramatically as prices have plummeted.

So while this method is not anything new, it is still considered by many portrait experts (like Chuck Lewis) to be not just the best way but the ONLY way to share your work with your clients.

It may seem old school, or it may seem like an inconvenience to you and your clients. Those were some of my concerns about projecting when I started.

Boy was I wrong!

Now I’m a “true believer” in this method and think you will be too once you try it.

The Why:

Since you are reading this you are looking to distinguish yourself from your competition.

You are looking to create higher levels of service for your clients and finally, you are looking to increase sales to make the work that you do both fun and profitable.

Projection works on improving all three of these aspects.

I’ve been showing my portraits on a large computer screen for years, but recently started projecting with a projector hooked up to my laptop shown on a big screen, and the results have been very worthwhile.

I should have done it a long time ago!

The room is dark, too, so this type of presentation adds to the client’s excitement and makes it an event (don’t forget music – more on that soon!).

By taking it off a computer screen, the experience is more unique and less like work, or less like surfing the web. And, since I’m presenting from the laptop, I control the pace of the show.

There is a learning curve, and while the tools are not free, the results are so worth it that I can’t  encourage you enough to incorporate it into your business.

You could also use a large, flat-panel television to present, although I think the projector is an even better way to go because it gives you the flexibility of projecting at a client’s home.  If you don’t have a dedicated studio or presentation space, then going to your clients’ homes to project can be another level of superior service you provide.

Misconceptions and Changing Beliefs:

I used to think that I would need a very expensive projector to do this correctly. And while the premium projectors are incredibly nice, I don’t think that they are necessary to make this work.

Add an Epson Duet screen, which expands to a viewing area of 40 x 60, and you’ve got yourself a portable setup!

Over the holidays I took the show on the road to a particular client and I am convinced that creating an experience with the projector and screen made the difference in the sale. I knew the clients loved it when they clapped and cheered at the end of the presentation! The total sale was around $4000!

Isn’t In-Person Selling a PITA?

While it might seem easier simply to “shoot and burn” a CD or post images to a web gallery to allow clients to pick and choose at their leisure, using projection selling helps you control the timeframe of the order and truly benefit your clients.

They get your expertise in helping them select images that they love the most and you can offer advice on the best ways to display and share the photographs. You go from being simply an order-taker to being a portrait expert. That difference increases your perceived market value.

This level of service and creating an inviting and exciting event adds importance to your process. And this creates a win/win experience. It has to be a win/win experience to be truly successful!

Presentation Software:

Presentation software is a real boon to the process and I highly recommend Pro Select for this (I receive no compensation for mentioning them,  I merely think their product is incredible).

In the latest version of Pro Select, the use of ‘Rooms View’ is worth the price of admission. When I go to a clients’ home for a session, I photograph the rooms and areas that they’re considering for display (including a tape measure for scale). Then, when they come back for their presentation, I show their portraits on the wall in various sizes.

For the client who thinks “an 8 x 10 is big enough,” this process can really dispel that notion. You can show their favorite portrait at 8 x 10 size and they see how it’s dwarfed on the wall versus the impact the portrait has when displayed at an appropriate size for the particular space.  You can also create multiple image wall groupings for display.

You can download a 30-day trial of ProSelect here. If you don’t want to invest in ProSelect, you can always project from Adobe Lightroom v3.

Adding music is a key component to this because powerful images, projected large with a soundtrack, create an even richer emotional experience. 

Moviemakers have known this for decades and have used all three of these elements to create a visceral experience for viewers.

Why don’t you?

The Tools:

  • Laptop to project (perhaps in the not too distant future we’ll be able to project ProSelect from an iPad2 – wouldn’t that be awesome?)
  • Epson Accolade Duet screen
  • Projector Vivitek D511 LCD  $500 (one of the nice features about this projector is the HDMI compatible hook up, making connection from my MacBook Pro a breeze)

You can find out more about projectors from sites like The Projector People and Projectors for Photographers.

Good luck and let me know how projection changes your business?

P.S. If you’re a wedding photographer, you can do projection selling to your local clients too. Using the same tools, you can create a slideshow experience that your clients are sure to love! 

Disclaimer: With a speculation sales business such as portraiture, there is no guarantee of success by using this or any method. Results vary based on your experience, your artistry and finally your ability to believe in and sell your products. Though I believe that projection selling is the best way to be profitable when it comes to speculative portrait sales. Good luck!

About Paul F. Gero

Photographer Paul F. Gero loves to tell stories with photography and has been since picking up a camera as a kid growing up in Wisconsin.

His daily journalism career spanned nearly 20 years and he worked for both The Chicago Tribune and The Arizona Republic (during which time he photographed Presidents, politicians, athletes, business leaders and regular folks) before launching Paul F. Gero Photography in 2002 and moving to Southern California.

Paul now photographs commissioned events and portraits for clients in California and around the world.

His work has also been published in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Time, People, and Fortune — this editorial background shaped his distinctive approach to weddings and portrait photography.

He is the author of the book Digital Wedding Photography and has taught photography courses at betterphoto.com, Shootsmarter University, private seminars and has taught twice at the MARS school in Cape May, NJ.

His charity book project called The Kids of Orange County has raised nearly $40,000 for Children’s Hospital of Orange County by the 100% onation of the session fees since starting that project in 2008. During that time he has photographed around 500 children.

Paul and his wife Nicki along with their daughter Kate and son Matthew, make their home in Ladera Ranch, CA where they have lived since 2003.

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