by Gavin Stoker Published 01/04/2014
Made in Britain: three words that swell feelings of pride. And, in offering the photographic community presentation products to be proud of, that will show off your work at its best and thereby increase your potential for making a sale, that's exactly what Hullbased paper manufacturer GF Smith believes it is providing. Having launched five new products at The Societies' Show back in January, whilst giving a fresh push to its Expressions One lay-flat album we featured last year, it seems that there is plenty that social and wedding photographers should be getting excited about.
Make an impression with 'Expressions'
"The Expressions One is still a big hero product for us because we've just brought out an additional square format of 8x8-inches," GF Smith's Marketing Manager Gail Mellors tells us. This joins the existing A4-sized offering and comes with the same pitch of 'great quality at a great price'. It's also worth pointing out that, as digitally printed material is VAT exempt, GF Smith passes these savings on to its customers. "The Expressions One is perfect for making parents' books and showcasing portraits," Gail adds. "And to our successful Expressions range we've added a Fine Art Paper option, which retains the same Expressions binding and quality cover. We felt from what was out there in the market that we needed a fine art album."
Sizes available for Expressions Fine Art are A3, 14x10, A4, 10x8, 12x12, 10x10 and 8x8. There are a wide variety of new colours including options as diverse as dark beige and hot pink. In fact each range now has 12 colour options.
"The other really big thing for us is Expressions Duo album," Gail continues. This option comes complete with image overlays to add a touch of class, and there are no fewer than 10 styles of overlay to choose from. Paper choices include a bevelled variety in black, ivory and white, plus black lace, twist silver and moonlight silver. The album itself is available in 12x12 or 14x10 sizes, with a vast choice of cover styles to complement your imagery. As with the rest of GF Smith's Expressions range, the album can be self designed with the aid of the manufacturer's own PPS software. "Because we're a paper company, we have the advantage of having access to the most luxurious papers," Gail enthuses.
"So we picked three of the most lovely papers to add to three of the bevelled options that we've got. They're an absolutely lovely product, with the benefit of no VAT on any of the digital albums."
Gail believes GF Smith's main selling point is that its products' uniqueness will make your work stand out from everybody else's, and that little features such as adding overlays allow photographers to be even more creative in their presentation.
"It helps to make the professional photographer appear even more different from the guys who are just shooting weddings at the weekend," she adds. After you've designed your album using GF Smith's software, simply upload it via FTP ready for production.
The album is then delivered as a completed product.
Cost is described as 'competitive'.
"Because we make everything ourselves in Hull, I believe we score highly with photographers - we're not importing products from abroad. A lot of other labs have to farm this work out but we are an actual album manufacturer."
To give one example, prices for a 14x10-inch Expressions Duo album offering 10 spreads and linen cover starts at £194. All Expressions products are bound in such a way that the spreads are perfectly lay-flat.
Aside from the Expressions One 8x8-inch album, Expressions Fine Art paper album and Expressions Duo album, the fourth new GF Smith product comes in the shape of attractive 'Colorplan' presentation boxes.
There are 50 colours of boxes to choose from, and these can be foil blocked and printed with your business logo and contact details as additional marketing. "You can put prints or albums in there," advises Gail.
"And the wide variety of colours provides the opportunity to match the look of the presentation box to your own branding. We're having a lot of success with them. There are a lot of lady photographers doing baby shoots and presenting their prints in a lovely pale pink or blue box. We'd also advise that no presentation box goes out without your name on it."
The fifth new GF Smith product for 2014 is the Linen Folio and Brag Book.
This allows your portraiture to be bound in linen, with again 12 colours to choose from. Both products provide a self-adhesive option, with the Folio being suitable for four 5x7-inch prints and the versatile Brag Book housing six 4x3-inch prints. This versatility, the company believes, makes them perfect for both portrait and wedding images, and a great little add-on to maximise the number of sales you can generate from one client. "It's a perfect size to slip into a handbag and then get out to share with friends and family. Because they're self-adhesive, you just peel off the cover sheet and stick your images in. So we don't have to make that up; the photographer can do it themselves."
Price wise, the Brag Books are £12.50 each, whilst the Linen Folio is £13.
"The reaction we had at The Societies' Convention was that people absolutely love them. We're very conscious of trying to give a really good product at a really affordable price. With so many people coming into the industry, it's very tough for the guys who have got a studio to maintain.
People are having to change and adapt, because the customer has got such a lot of choice now; the photographers who can really market themselves will be the ones who survive - and hopefully we can help them do that!"
Among GF Smith's many other pluses is that it constantly has five salesmen out on the road who will make personal visits. "We'll actually take the time to go and sit with the customer and show them the product; we're not just reliant on customers coming out to shows.
We're more than happy for our reps to come out to you and let you feel and touch because it is a very 'touchy feely' industry. "
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