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Promo Idea: Photo Viewers Made with Loupes and Slide Film


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In today’s digital age, a budding photographer would find it hard to believe that physical mailers would be an important aspect of their marketing strategy. The reality is not only are they important but they are also essential.

All someone has to do is head over to aPhotoEditor’s Instagram feed and you can see how many photographers are sending out physical mailers. Now think about how many thousands of photographers are sending out mail promos to the same pool of creatives. With such a talented field of competition, I think it’s necessary to try and stand out.

My newest promotional mailer has been simmering in my brain for some time. I wanted to create something that forced the user to interact with it beyond throwing it into a trash can. (Let’s be real: We all know that happens.) I got the idea while attending my last semester of art school at the University of Oklahoma.

One of the beginning photo classes hung photo viewers (AKA loupes) in the hallway as a way to show their work. I liked the idea of someone becoming inquisitive about what was inside and having to take action. Many years later, I thought it would make a great promotional piece. I bought a bunch of viewers, but they ended up sitting in my closet for years! I tried to find a printer that could make small enough prints on transparency but was never satisfied with the results. Many years later, it dawned on me that the process for creating these promos has been around forever.

Copy stand was perfect, albeit a labor-intensive process. After getting some really great prints made by Bay Photo (the images are printed on Moab Entrada), I photographed the prints onto slide film (Fuji Velvia).

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After having the film processed (I mailed it to Fromex in Long Beach, Calif.), I cut each frame out and placed it into the viewer.

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Here’s a short video showing the viewers in action:

I added my branding to the viewer and the box and the last touch was some perfectly rustic crinkle paper for the inside. My mail list is based on my email marketing that I do about every month. I’ve made just more than 100 of these with four different variations. I try to tailor which promo I’m sending based on the recipient. Having four to choose from made this a little easier.

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While it was extremely tedious and, not to mention, time consuming, it was very rewarding seeing them all lined up ready to go out. I’ve already received some glowing feedback in my follow up emails. The question about promotional material from other photographers is often, “Well, was it worth it?” My answer is always a shrug and, “Who knows.”

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In the photography industry, it is very hard to point to one marketing dollar and say, “That’s what got me the job!” The truth is it’s all a game of impressions. If my promo ends up in fewer trash cans than the next photographer, I’m calling it a win.

About the author: Kenneth M. Ruggiano is a photographer, husband, and Eagle Scout based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Visit his website here.