New packaging!

Oh my GOSH I’m so excited to write what I’m about to write and share what I’m about to share.  Remember when I said 2012 was going to be our year?  Here is one leap forward.  Let me turn off the teenage girl inside me so I can share this story sans joyous screeching.

The story:  Our motivation for starting down this serendipitous path was largely due to the high cost of professional portraits. We were not working with “us” kind of lifestyle photographers but were, instead, going to department store studios. The sitting fees were reasonable-ish and we could often find coupons to save on that as well as the prints, but it still cost us a fortune to order just a handful of prints that didn’t even come close to covering the demand from family and friends.

Our initial solution was to have portrait sessions very infrequently.  The secondary solution became getting better at taking pictures ourselves so we could order from our favorite photo printer for much less than we would pay the portrait studio for prints.  Taking better pictures led to getting a better camera.  Bada bing, bada boom (plus a few other details and another baby later): Sarahndipity Imaging was born.

So it is important to us to provide our clients with the digital images in an effort to provide the services we had wished to find.  We want to make great keepsake portraits accessible for families.  Of course we strive to earn money to compensate for our invested time, but we want to be reasonable about this.  One detail I thought I knew but didn’t really know: running a business, no matter how small, costs a LOT more than it seems like it should.  Still, we think long and hard about our pricing, with the goal being to keep our services affordable.

With that in mind, we’ve been providing images burned to CDs.  It has worked out okay, for the most part.  We had a disc or three at the beginning with issues (namely that the images weren’t viewable–not very helpful).  I worked out the kinks and have had overall success with this method.  It’s reasonable and quasi simple.

The thing is, the finished disc itself has…left something to be desired, to say the least.  I can’t even believe I’ve been delivering them as I have been, but I suppose I just hadn’t hit the point of realizing how so very lacking the presentation was.  We had picked up a big ole box of blank discs.  Seemed a logical choice.  We also picked up a box of generic CD envelopes.  So I was easily able to deliver the photos burned to disc.  But in order to identify that plain ole CD, I was {cringe} writing the session information and date along with the website information on the disc with a Sharpie.

I have nothing against Sharpie markers.  In fact, I adore them and probably use one every single day.  And my handwriting isn’t half bad.   But it’s not very professional to deliver this disc containing images I’ve worked on and worked on in this aesthetically lacking final presentation.

So I set out recently to find a better way to deliver the finished disc.  We have a light scribe burner on our old computer, a computer which our six-year-old now uses, and we have a label flash burner (or something like that) on my computer.  I have no idea why I wasn’t using this before to add session-specific information on the face of the discs.  It’s such an easy way to make the final product just a little prettier.  Anyway, the label flash discs are not widely available.  We’re going with light scribe for now because I can almost always just pick those discs up in any electronics section of any store.  So the disc will be just a bit more fancified.

Then we are left with the envelope.  What it was:  White with a lovely cellophane window through which to view my Sharpie markings.  Simple?  Oh yes.  Affordable?  Disgustingly affordable.  Effective?  In terms of protecting the disc, yes–moderately so.  Visually pleasing?  Uh…not so much.

It was time for a professional solution.  I’m vested.  I’m reporting quarterly sales tax.  I’ve claimed my income.  I’m official.  I’m a photographer.  If I don’t take myself very seriously, why would you, my potential client?  So I invested an entire day one weekend to finding a packaging solution that would work with our budgeting goals (and by the way, there was no presentation budget).  I found an amazing origami pattern for a CD envelope that looked pretty cool.  It was somewhat customizable.  But WOW it took forever to fold.  I didn’t do a half bad job for my first try, but then it came time to close it.  Keeping in mind that this would, essentially, serve as the case for the disc of images that was both my labor of love and precious memories for my client, I need this packaging to be manageable for the average human.  This first design did not meet that requirement.  It took me almost five minutes to close the dumb thing.  Scrapped that idea after spending over an hour playing around with it.

Okay.  No problem.  So my first possibility was a crumpled ball in the recycle bin.  There must be other options out there.  And there were.  Many, many, many very lame options.  I was starting to feel deflated after the umpteenth design for an envelope that looked like my two-year-old folded it.  Then I found this random pattern for folding a square envelope in a very simple flower pattern.  It was for a scrapbooking pocket, but the designer said she also used it to make quick CD envelopes for gifts.  Quick.  My eyes perked up.  It looked too easy.  I was leary.  I was scrutinizing the design for flaws.  Pluses:  It was totally customizable, since it used a standard sheet of paper and was a very straightforward design.  Just a few minutes of cutting and four straight fold lines.  Minuses:  I would have to design and cut one for each session.  Oh pity.  That doesn’t count as a minus.  I love playing with scissors!  SOLD!  Cost = a piece of paper (I’m even splurging and using linen!!); a bit of printer ink; five minutes of my time to cut and fold the pattern.  Voila.  I have professional and yet VERY affordable packaging in which to present the gift of memories.  I’m sure I’ll enhance it.  I’m already thinking about using heartier paper, since I can see this sleeve wearing out after a few openings.  But oh does it look lovely compared to what I was handing out.  I’m so excited I could scream.  In fact, that day when I finally landed on this and realized it was everything I was looking for, there was a bit of jumping around and general hullabaloo.

So, without further ado, let me present our very first Sarahndipity Imaging packaging.  Launching us closer to there.

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