1) How long has Twig and Olive been in business and who makes up the team?
Twig and Olive Photography is an internationally recognized photography studio based in Madison, Wisconsin. Doug and Courtney Weittenhiller and Bobbi Petersen focus on editorial weddings, authentic families, and styled newborn sessions. Our brand emphasizes the experiences clients have before, during, and after photography takes place. Being photography educators, we love sharing our techniques and business practices in mentorships, workshops, and speaking engagements.
Twig and Olive was formed when we merged our previous photography companies (officially April 2015). While we are a relatively “new” company, we have been in the photography industry over ten years.
2) Since the color and tones of your images are so distinctive to your brand, was it a challenge to find a lab that delivered beautiful and accurate prints?
We are very fortunate to work with a few amazing labs that create beautiful prints and products that complement our shooting and editing style. Finding the right labs had been somewhat of a challenge in the beginning. We are huge advocates for going to the trade shows and seeing and touching (and smelling!) all of the wonderful different products being offered in the industry. However, you cannot rely on trade sample alone and need to get your prints on their ink and paper. About once per year, we perform double-blind tests on our vendor’s prints and products as well as from other labs. We keep coming back to our core labs every time.
3) When did you start to build out your album and print products offerings? What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way?
We always knew we wanted to have the most professional, heirloom quality prints and products for our photography clients. We feel strongly that not offering these products to our clients is a huge disservice to them. As our brand emphasizes the experiences clients have before, during, and after photography takes place, being able to deliver the most astonishing professional prints and products to our client’s homes is the last, memorable part of the process with us.
One of the more important lessons we learned early on is that, truly, ‘less is more.’ We don’t overwhelm our clients with a dazzling array of offerings with even more choices for each. (Just because your print lab offers 10 different textures on your prints doesn’t necessarily mean that you should offer to print them all!) We created a core set of our favorite finishes and papers that looked perfect with our editing and then made it easy to select each. Rather than spending time to educate our clients of all the nuances of each possible texture or mount, clients choose from focused options. It creates a wonderful experience for them and allows us to remain efficient on the ordering side of things.
4) What style and type of products from Simply Color Lab have you found work best for your brand?
We love Simply Color’s canvas offerings, which isn’t surprising as it’s one of the things they’re known for. We truly appreciate how tight the corners are, and the Canvas Wood Blocks never sag. We are also loving their new Heritage wood line! Each of our wedding clients gets a surprise 5×7 Heritage Wood Print sent to them from their engagement session as a “thank you” for being our client.
5) How has ShootQ benefitted your business in terms of workflow, sales or savings?
ShootQ is the heart of our business. It is the single most important piece of software that we use. In short, it keeps a record of all our clients and their contact information. It handles our invoicing (automatically) and keeps us organized with each client’s needs. After a client books with us, we set up a workflow where they receive correspondences from us right up to the time of their session or wedding (session prep, a what to wear guide, questionnaires and more.) This saves us a tremendous amount of time and stress in being extremely being organized.
Many people have asked us “what is the best advice for someone starting out?” Our answer is an overwhelming, “set up your studio management software from day one!” Being proficient in your business practices is just as important as knowing how to use your camera.
6) What strategies does your team use to increase your print sales?
Through careful planning, by the time we start clicking the camera, we know what our clients are planning on doing with their images. Some want us to make a beautiful album or update the giant 30×40 canvas in their living room. Others may want just want holiday cards. Yet, no matter what their answer is, it opens the door for conversation about the prints and products that our studio offers. After each session (on location, as we rarely shoot at our studio except for newborns), we physically show our clients a handful of print and product samples. They can see and touch our offerings and ask any questions about any product. This is one of six total times that our offerings are made known to them, each done in a unique and informative (rather than pushy) way.