Our next studio spotlight is Nick Frontiero Productions from Central Alabama. Owner, Nick Frontiero, considers himself a “hybrid photographer” by not only shooting digital, but also by continuing to shoot film. Nicks says that it adds a whole other level of excitement, enjoyment, and challenge for him as a photographer, as well as a very unrivaled genuine aesthetic look from digital. NFP specializes in wedding photography (along with engagement photo albums, bridal, senior albums, and family portraits), so he understands the busy and unpredictable nature of the day which is where combination of the beauty of film and the convenience of digital work well. It’s been eight years since the studio opened, and Nick and his team of five employees run a great operation with a large presence online and in the community. He has a dedicated assistant for blogging, office management, and working with brides on their custom photo album, a second photographer that he couldn’t live without, and three other members that work out of the studio managing his social media, retouching, and graphic design. Nick is a busy guy between the studio (which he transformed from his carport at home to a very sleek studio and consultation room), his fun and energetic family, and keeping up with his other passions. He tries to make time for his love of music (he has written, recorded, and performed original music, and also worked several years in the radio industry) and creating playlists, as well as indulging in his guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasure – the NFL and his beloved 49ers!
Nick, what is your strategy for selling albums?
I’m huge on printing images in today’s digital world, it’s something I do discuss with all of my clients in consultations. Each photography collection I present includes a professional photo album in the collection. I do have the option available to build off of my A La Carte to create a collection, but I rarely have a client that does that. Financially it makes much more sense for the client to choose a collection, rather than select items off of my A La Carte that doesn’t include an album!
Once I started working with everyone at Zookbinders, we had a certain workflow in place. Brides would receive their finished images, and we would wait for them to send us the image numbers they wanted to use for their album design. Matt was relentless in convincing me that there was a better way to expedite this process, while churning out an increase in profits. As wonderful as that sounded I just wasn’t interested in cultivating a new workflow. I hired an assistant to help with tasks around the studio, and getting these wedding albums was certainly one of them. We realized that this was quite the daunting task for bride’s to accomplish on their own, and decided to finally take Matt up on the advice he had given to us for months. I’ve had a huge success in this, number one in getting these albums out the door much quicker than ever before. Number two in getting some significant up sell with the wedding albums, mostly on bride’s just simply adding more images to their wedding album design. We feel absolutely silly we didn’t do this the moment Matt told us about it!!
Side note from Zook: We love Nick’s answer on his website FAQ to a very common question asked by brides:
DO I REALLY NEED A WEDDING ALBUM IN THE DIGITAL WORLD WE LIVE IN TODAY?
Yes, I think so. Many people get their USB drive filled with all of their images and sometimes lose sight of the idea that it is not your final product. My wedding albums are handcrafted, custom designed albums that are incredible to hold. Think about it: technology change is constant. DVD’s and Compact discs not too long ago were the common transfer of viewable data. Not anymore. Your high quality wedding album will be there for generations to come. Always Print!!
How did you and your camera first meet?
I actually purchased my camera for video purposes, my background was media advertising which specifically began in radio. I would still play around with my camera snapping images as a hobby, but there’s a lot of difference between using your camera for videography and photography. It wasn’t until I met my wife about 6 years ago (who is a locally well known wedding planner) that I began to think about using my camera more for photography. It’s my wife that suggested to me that I should at least try photography just to see what happens. So I immediately began shifting gears with my company to include photography in everything I was already doing and then some like portrait & wedding photography. Now today, I do more photography than I do anything else and have ventured even deeper into photography like shooting more film photography.
What do you love about shooting in your area?
Being a photographer in Alabama I love the attention to detail these brides strive for. There’s so much planning involved and so much emphasis on the mood of the event with lighting and decor being a major player. Each wedding is so different shooting around this state, and keeps it exciting and fresh for me each weekend. I also love the landscape here with how open everything is. To me, having a more open canvas to play with leads to more possibilities and perspectives.
After an event is done, what is your work flow from uploading the images from your card reader to delivering the album?
The first thing I do before I even go to bed coming home from an event is to import all of my images off of my cards, and then immediately get something up on social media for my clients to see while the event is still fresh! Even if it is like 2-3AM! The next day I copy over my RAW files that I imported to another drive to keep as a backup just in case. I’ll start working on preparing the images for the client as soon as I can, typically that process won’t begin until about a month and a half to two months after the event is over. I’ll slowly leak images of their day to my Instagram feed which is a lot film images once the film is processed. When I get to the editing stage of the event it’s with fresh eyes for the most part, and I kind of get excited all over again! (Side note from Zook: Nick is very upfront about telling his clients that due to the amount of images that have to be individually touched and edited to please allow at least 6-8 weeks for the photos to be delivered. His website states: “Although my intentions are always to get your images back as soon as humanly possible I want to be absolutely positive you get the quality images I am reputable for providing to every client.”
What is something your business tried and you learned from (either by it succeeding or failure)?
I’m constantly changing each year, it’s basically in my nature to constantly change and try new things. When I would finish a wedding I would curate a massive social media post to Facebook to share some of my favorite images of the day just to kind of get that awareness and wedding buzz going again. Then I began creating a slideshow edited to music (licensed of course) to share through social media, I kind of got caught into the whole Facebook loves video concept. In doing that I completely stopped sharing just still images on Facebook, and ultimately I think it kind of hurt me in the process. I had to remember that as a photographer and sharing my work it’s important for me to share still images……not just still images constantly in motion on a video. I’ve learned to migrate both forms of sharing into my social media presence and continue to build off of that in the future. I wouldn’t necessarily chalk this up as a failure or a success, but definitely a learning experience trying something new.
If you had a magical genie lamp, what would you change about the photography industry?
I’d probably change the online persona of photography if I could. The market is super saturated with photographers, and there are what seems to be a gazillion really good photographers. I do feel like you run into a trend now with photography, nowadays you can get away with just an Instagram feed or a Facebook page to be a working photographer. With film presets now leading the way I feel like it’s easier now than it ever has to have a good image with little effort. Let’s be honest, I could take a straight on image of a beautiful person using automatic mode in my fancy new fairly inexpensive DSLR and put a “Rooke & Rover” preset on it in post production and have a decent image. The next you know my hashtags include #destinationphotographer or #travelingphotographer. Immediately I have a business up and running and I’m ready to take my business national or even international. A lot of these photographers are literally just doing it on the side, not charging tax on their products and services, not eating or starving over bookings, and easily promoting themselves as a legitimate option as a photographer. That makes it so much more difficult for those who eat or starve running a legit business as a photographer and taking away opportunities for the local photographers in those areas that could use that business. Sometimes I wish it was still a little more complicated than that.
How do you find your customers? (expos, online advertising, print ads, referrals, high school advocates/models, etc.) I still find a lot of my customers by word of mouth and social media. Working with other vendors and other planners has always helped me in that process of expanding my brand of photography to the masses. Sharing images with the vendors that they can use and share photography credit through their own social media platforms is always a huge plus!!
What was your first camera? What do you shoot with now?
My first camera was a Canon 5D MKII kit set up. Since then I still shoot on it, but I also shoot on the Canon 5DMKIV which I absolutely love!! I also shoot on a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Polaroid 250A Land Camera, Leica M4, and a Hasselblad 500CM.
Do you prefer to shoot by yourself or with an assistant and why?
Definitely prefer to shoot with an assistant, in fact I actually bring a dedicated assistant and a dedicated additional photographer. I originally began photographing weddings solo, but quickly noticed I was missing so much coverage. The more cameras and perspectives I wanted to bring to my wedding day experience the more time I was spending changing out film, cameras, lenses, etc……and the more real authentic moments I was missing!!
If you could go back and time and shoot one event in history, what would it be?
January 10th, 1982 NFC Championship Game Dwight Clark catches the thrilling game winning touchdown from Joe Montana in what would be remembered in history as simply “The Catch”. I wasn’t even born yet, but gosh that image will always be remembered. Go 49ers!!!