Episode 178

Sep 7, 2018

We hosted our own massage stock photo shoot and learned so much! Here are our suggestions and tips for your own photographic extravaganza!

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We hosted our own massage stock photo shoot and learned so much! Here are our suggestions and tips for your own photographic extravaganza!

Sponsored by: Gift Up! and The Jojoba Company.

Here is the terrible image of the top on my nose. You are welcome.


Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by The Jojoba Company. I firmly believe that massage therapists should only be using the highest quality products, because our clients deserve it, and our own bodies deserve it. I’ve been using jojoba for years. Here’s why: Jojoba is nonallergenic; I can use it on any client and every client without fear of an allergic reaction. Jojoba is noncomedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores; so if you have a client that’s prone to acne or breakouts, jojoba is a great choice for them. It also won’t go rancid; it doesn’t contain triglycerides like many products; so it won’t go bad. This makes jojoba a great carrier for essential oils, too. And finally, jojoba won’t stain your 100% cotton sheets; so your linens will look better for longer. And since jojoba won’t go rancid, they’ll always smell fresh and clean. For more information and to get some jojoba, go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba. That’s massagebusinessblueprint.com/J-O-J-O-B-A.

Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.

MR We’re your hosts. Welcome, welcome. Glad you’ve joined us. What’s up, Allissa?

AH I have my new fancy headset on, and I love it.

MR I know you do. You sound great.

AH Thank you. I was also — oh, here’s the thing, people. In my continuing quest to be more accessible with people with disabilities in all my businesses, I was reading a thing the other day that said that a lot of people with sensory and auditory issues have a really hard time when they’re listening to a podcast and all of a sudden there’s a loud noise, like someone squeals really loud or someone coughs into the mic, or there’s some kind of jarring loud noise, and I was like well, crap, we do that all the time.

MR Yeah, I [indiscernible] just now.

AH I know. Well, we should be. You don’t have to be self-conscious, I think we just need to be aware. Because I have been listening to a handful of our older podcasts just to refresh my memory on some stuff and think about what needs to be updated, and I am the queen of exclaiming things way too loud, and you are the king of coughing into the mic. So between the both of us, we are extremely agitating, I think, to people with sensory —

MR Man, we’re real bad at this.

AH [laughs] We are terrible. Anyhow, that’s a little thing I learned this week in my continuing — and then Michael and I are answering some questions about podcasting for an article that’s going to come out in a thing eventually. One of the questions was what have you learned from podcasting? I was like I learned to not make jarring noises recently.

MR I learned to use the mute button.

AH I know. I’ve been sucking at this a lot for the past three years. So hey, anyone, if you’ve avoided our podcast maybe you’re not even listening right now to me because of this —

MR Now’s the time to come back.

AH Come on back. Tell your friends with sensory and auditory issues. Also we have transcripts on our website under each podcast episode. Usually within a few days or a week of when the podcast episode airs, we have some written information that — written transcript there as well. And, Michael, you can edit that out if you didn’t want people to know about that.

MR [laughs] Why would I not want people to know about that?

AH I think at one point we joked that we were like well, we don’t want people to read it; we want them to download the podcast; it’s better for our numbers. But we actually don’t care about that as much as we care about you getting the information that you need for your massage business in the way that works best for you.

MR [laughs] That’s fair.

AH So there’s that. How are you, Michael?

MR Doing well. Speaking of learning, we are talking about something we learned today, which is what we learned from our massage photo shoot. I think this is intriguing because we learned a lot from that. We did it one time. The first time we did this was earlier this year, right?

AH Yes.

MR May?

AH Yeah.

MR Yeah, and I think it turned out really well. I think we have some really great stock photos that we’re trickling out in the premium member community little by little. And people are using them already. But wow, we learned a lot from this.

AH We learned so much. Like Michael said, we had — we staged our own photo shoot. I went to Indianapolis where Michael is and we used his office space and we used his photographer. We put together a photo shoot and we did really well at a few things and we failed miserably at a few things. But we learned a ton. It’s one of those things where I definitely researched and planned, but there’s really no amount of research and planning that can prepare you for all of the little things that you realize matter later on.

I want to give a shout out to our friend Tracy Walton, tracywalton.com. She did a huge massage photo shoot several years ago here in the Boston area. Specifically for oncology massage style images, things that are relevant to oncology massage. It was beautifully done and she was meticulous in her planning and notetaking and recordkeeping and follow-up thoughts. She so graciously gave me a lot of that information. And even with all of that, I had to do it myself the first time, and I’m guessing several more times, to feel like I really have a handle on it.

So here are some of the things that we learned — and know that this is not entirely inclusive. Nothing can be entirely inclusive. It’s just — and things will be different for your setting. What I can tell you is that if you want really phenomenal, accurate, realistic to the work you do massage stock photos, you need to take them yourself. You need to have them taken by a professional in your office of you doing massage on your clients. That’s just how it is. There will never be any other person who can produce stock photos that you are entirely happy with. It’s a thing you can and should do yourself. We’ve got a whole batch, and more and more every month, of fantastic stock images, but even with all of the planning we did, they’ll never be perfect for your practice. Only pictures of you working in your practice will be perfect for your practice. So know that.

There’s just a whole ton of planning involved. You’ve got to be real strategic and organized to keep all the balls in the air to make all of these things work. So what kinds of things and where you you start? You start with your budget, getting a quote from a local photographer who can come to your office for 2, 3, 4 hours and take pictures. You want to see a whole bunch of stuff this photographer has done. You want to find out how much it’s going to cost, inclusive, everything. Ideally, they’ll just give you a big old file of digital images. Does that quote include some photoshopping? What is included in that? So you got to think about that. And you need to consider scheduling. You need to schedule it at a time, obviously, where the photographer can get to your office. If you share your office with other people, it needs to be at a time where there are not other people around who could be disturbed by people coming and going and lighting and noise and laughing and sheets everywhere and all of these things. It needs to be at a time where you can get model bodies on your table. In a perfect world, I would totally have my photographer come on a Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon when I’m alone in my office and I’m feeling good and fresh and happy, but that’s not going to work for me to get the clients and the bodies that I need on my massage table. I’m realistically going to have to plan this for a weekend day. Is that going to matter in my budget? I don’t know. We’ll see. There’s that.

We need to consider our own priorities. What’s the most important thing to you in stock photos? For me — and I’ll just kind of give you some examples using my priorities — I want there to be diversity in body types and age and colors of people. I do not want everybody on my table in a photoshoot to be a young white woman; that is not representative. I certainly don’t want it to be a young, thin, white woman. Because that is not who my clients make up. My clients are young and old and big and little and pale to very dark-skinned, and I want my massage stock photos to accurately represent who my actual client base is. I want people with tattoos. I want a huge variety: people with scars, short hair, long hair, lots of wrinkles, no wrinkles, whatever. I want a variety of body types. I want to show realistic positioning. I don’t want anyone with their head jacked to the side. I don’t want anyone without a bolster under their knees or ankles. These are the things I do on my massage table. I want a pillow under their head if I’m not working on their neck. Maybe an eye pillow, although I don’t really use those.

I want it to be super realistic in the positioning for clients and how I position myself when I work. I want it to show accurately what my hands and my arms and my feet are doing on any particular style of massage. Now, this is not always the most photogenic thing. So when you get all of these pictures, you’re going to be like uh, that’s a realistic move, but it doesn’t look like I’m doing anything, visually. You have to be willing to throw away a lot of images that just don’t look like anything. But they also could find their use in background in other uses.

You want to show your office in the prettiest way. That might be a priority for you. You want to show off how clean or bright or womb-like or whatever is appropriate for your practice, whatever your office and your environment conveys. That might be a priority for you, the feeling of your space might be a priority for you.

You want to think about what you need the pictures for. And I’ll tell you this was definitely a weakness. We did not stress — we knew that we need to do this photoshoot because there just aren’t enough super high-resolution images out there that you could use for wide, top of the website kinds of images. And a lot of what I found when I was building my website was that a lot of the stock photos they weren’t big enough, they weren’t wide enough. They just didn’t work for the top header of my website; they never worked well for covers on social media profiles. So we knew that we needed a lot of wide cover images, but we did not accurately express that to our photographer. So we have a zillion beautiful images, but I wish we had more of them that were wide landscape versus portrait. And that’s a thing that we didn’t communicate well enough to our photographer because we didn’t think of it the way we needed to. Now I know that’s on the list of things I tell the photographer before a shoot. Awesome. And I’m planning another shoot here at my office in the fall. So I’ve got this really intense checklist now. So what do you need the pictures for? Communicate that very clearly to your photographer, and they will ideally be able to help you be sure that they get enough pictures at the right angle of the right landscape versus portrait.

This sounds silly, but you want you clean your place up and you want to do it well ahead of time. The whole environment. You want to vacuum, you want to dust, you want to move anything unnecessary out of the room in the background. You want to, well ahead of time, if you’ve got holes in the walls, you want to patch them and paint over them. And you want to do that with enough time so that you can get the right color paint and paint the whole wall so you can’t see the patch marks and do whatever it is you want to do. Or just splay a couple of curtains across that wall so it’s a real consistent, clear background. But think about that way ahead of time because it could be a bigger project than what you think. You don’t just want to do it at midnight the night before your photo shoot. That’s a hard time to get spackle and paint to match.

Consider what you need for paperwork. Do you need a release, a waiver for your models, and what’s that release going to look like? Do you want to get permission to use any of the images any way you want forever and ever? Are you going to allow your models to rescind permission, and what’s the process for that? Do you need permission for specific body parts? A lot of people that I’ve talked to in setting up my shoot for the fall have said I’m totally cool with you using my body, but I would prefer that my face not be attached to it. So I’ve got plenty of people who are going to let me take pictures of their shoulder and their back and their arm and whatever, but they would prefer that their face not be in any of the shots. Okay. We can make that work, but it’s a thing you want to consider so that when you’re building your schedule for that actual massage shoot, you can make sure you get at least one person who’s cool with you photographing their gluteal work — gluteal massage, you know? That’s important.

At this point, we’re going to take a moment and stop to consult our halftime sponsor. Michael, who is our halftime sponsor?

MR Once again, our friends across the pond at giftUP.

AH Woo!

Sponsor message giftUP lets you sell gift cards and gift certificates online. It is built with massage practices in mind. It is completely free and simple to set up and use. It can be installed on your website, embedded right in there, or your Facebook page. And you get your money in a couple of days; it only takes two days to process the payment and get you your cash. I do love that. They take their little fee right out of that payment. You can visit massagebusinessblueprint.com/giftup to get the first 10 gift cards completely fee-free; no fee as well as no monthly cost ever. I have test-driven giftUp. I like it and you might, too, if you give them a shot. Again massagebusinessblueprint.com/giftup.

AH Let’s all take a moment to breathe while I sip my water.

MR [laughs]

AH That’s what the mute button’s for? I don’t know. So let’s get back to my notes.

MR This is your moment of meditation.

AH Goodness, people. Okay, so what else? You want to have a seriously solid schedule, and by that, I mean if you’re going to have a photoshoot from noon to 4, you want to have models scheduled at certain times with a little buffer. If you know that you want to have a large body, a small body, an old body, a young body, or some combination of all these things, you want to schedule one person from 12-1, another person from 1-2, another model from 2-3. Or maybe if you want to have more diverse bodies, you don’t just want 3 people, you schedule them in 45-minute segments. But you want to have a real certain schedule, you want to count on people to be on time. If these are people who tend to not be on time, you want to tell them when to be there accordingly. You don’t want to be standing around paying a photographer, waiting for your body model. You, ideally, will have backups for each timeslot so the night before when someone’s like I’m sorry, my kid’s soccer game got changed and I can’t be there at noon thirty to model naked for you, you want to have someone else who could, perhaps, be there at that time.

You want to think about how you will start people and what you will model on them. This needs to be compared to what their comfortable being a mode for. If your first person comes in, they don’t want their face massaged, you obviously are not going to start with face massage. You want to have very clear what you think you’re going to do. Model A is coming in at noon, you’re going to start them face up, you’re going to — you don’t want to start people face down because then if you do flip them and do face up stuff, they’ll have face cradle marks on their face, and there’s more about markings we’ll get to in a minute.

You want to think about and literally write down because you cannot keep this all in your head and it helps to have this written down because it helps the photographer. If you’ve got this written down and taped to the back wall so the photographer knows what you want, you’re going to say Model A, Amy, coming in noontime, start with face massage, move to neck, shoulder, arm, leg, flip. Amy doesn’t want her butt showing, so you’re only going to show shoulders and mid and upper back, and Amy’s not a good foot model because of XYZ, so you probably won’t do legs on her. Okay, the next model is coming in at 1 o’clock. This is going to be John who wants whatever — is totally cool with you photographing anything and everything, so you go through the whole body on him.

You can’t know ahead of time necessarily how you and the photographer are going to work together, how long it’s going to take you to get through these things. So you have to accept that maybe you’ll get through it all and maybe you’ll do it all again for more pictures on one client. Maybe you won’t get through the whole body before the next model comes in. These are going to be — if they’re coming to model for you, they’re probably going to be pretty chill about waiting around a little bit anyway. You might want to have some snacks or something. You might want to have friend there with you greeting these people as they come in, saying goodbye to people as they go, getting people water because you’re going to be busy being in the pictures and you’re not going to be a great host. You want to write that plan down, like I said, and tape it to the wall.

You want to think about a few things like if you start someone face down, they’re going to have face cradle marks. But you also want to tell your models — I’m skipping around a little bit to some of our miscellaneous stuff because it’s apropos. I was reading an article a while back that said that in lingerie shoots — when they do shoots for lingerie, you know there’s always a series of pictures with the model with all the lingerie on and then there’s usually a couple pictures with them with just one piece on and their body strategically placed so you’re not seeing nipples or butts. It turns out, when the professionals shoot lingerie shoots, they start with the model completely naked, and then add clothes as they go. Because if they were to take off clothes as they go, you would see marks from straps and stuff. So a thing you want to do is actually ask your models to not wear a bra prior to the shoot, if you have a female model. And depending on the dude and if your going to be photographing around the waist and the hips, you might need to ask your model hey, don’t wear underwear before your shoot. You can bring it to put on afterwards, but we don’t want there to be any markings on your body from elastic bands and stuff, which seems like a weird thing. I had to really think about how I was going ask it. But then I realized that if someone’s willing to model for you, they’re not going to be offended by the word “underwear.” Anyhow, there’s that pro tip.

Other things to consider, what are you going to wear and what will it look like from every angle. And I say this because in our photoshoot, I was wearing a t-shirt that totally came up to my collarbone. But when the photographer got on a ladder and was shooting downwards, my shoulders moved together a little bit as as I was doing a massage stroke, so there’s totally a couple of pictures where you’re looking right down my shirt. Obviously, we did not use those. There’s also a really awesome — Michael, I don’t know if you saw this one. There’s an awesome picture where he took the picture from above, and there’s this weird blotch at the top of the picture and I’m like what is that picture, and it turns out it’s my nose.

MR No I didn’t see that one.

AH Oh my, God, it’s awesome. You people deserve it if you’ve listened to this podcast this far, I’m going to post that picture. It’s hilarious. My nose is so big that the right angle from the upper spot, it just appears as this hilarious blotch at the top of the picture as if someone put their finger in front of the lens. It’s fantastic. Anyhow, that happened.

What you wear and what it’s going to look like from every angle is a big deal. Here’s a couple miscellaneous things and then I’ll go to my one big tip. If you are in your massage room, you’re likely going to have all of your supplies handy like oil and sanitizer and stuff. You want to think about lint rollers, other things like that. But if you’re in your own massage room versus traveling to Indianapolis and Michael’s office, you’ll probably have what you need handy. So that’s a good thing. Make sure you don’t hide all of that when you’re cleaning your room and make it hard to get to those things.

You want to consider the width of your background. Again, what we found we had a shortage of was wide pictures that could be used in top of website kinds of things. When you’re looking at your massage room, you really need to step back and see is this space wide enough? Are the side walls clean and clear because they may end up in the picture if we’re talking about big, wide-frame pictures.

Skin gets red when you start to massage it. When you’re doing your massage demo, you might want to keep it extra light. And you only want to use a little bit of oil because you don’t want the skin looking shiny and gross in the picture. As you’re choosing your models and thinking about who you’re going to ask to model for you, maybe don’t choose the people who pink up as fast during a massage, or maybe be mindful of how you do the demo stuff for the images so you’re not making their skin too red too fast. Because making people look blotchy in a stock photo’s a little weird. Some of it’s a little realistic too. And that’s fine. But just keep it in mind.

The thing I missed, we had a model who had a wallet in his front pocket, and it’s not something I noticed before the shoot and then we got the pictures and I was like oy, you can see that very obvious, square, wallet bulge and it just takes your attention away from his actual hands doing the massage. We only lost a few pictures for it, no big deal, but that’s a thing.

You want to pay attention to the contrast. What’s the contrast going to be between the client’s skin, the sheets, your skin, whatever shirt you’re wearing, what’s the color coordination going to be? Muted tones tend to work really well, but that’s a thing you might want to discuss with the photographer too.

The biggest tip here, and I’ll wrap it up with this, I promise, look at the pictures as you go. This is not 1973 where you have to wait four weeks for things to be developed to see what went wrong. Between every — as soon as you start off, after the first five minutes, look at the pictures. Ask the photographer, can I look at how these are coming out? A good photographer is going to make you look at them anyway. Here, check out what we got so far. They can just flip through them on their camera so you can see in the visual screen how they’re coming out and catch any problems right away. After the first few minutes and between every position change, when you go from one body part to another, give a quick look, scroll through the pictures really quick and see how they look so you can catch anything.

Do not be shy bout giving feedback. Do not be shy about asking the photographer, I don’t love the way this looks, is there anything we can do to improve this? This is a huge investment of your time and your money and your effort and you need to be able to communicate to get your money and time’s worth during that photo shoot. Also know that if there’s things you love and things you don’t love about the end product, you can do another one in a year or two or whenever you want. It’s a worthy investment at any time.

I’m done, Michael.

MR Wow. I’m exhausted just reliving this all over again.

AH I know. Not for nothing, Michael laughed is butt off at how I was super hyperventilate-y about all of the planning and the logistics. Everything went really, really well in spite of an because of my planning. That said, there was still a lot of stuff we learned.

MR Yeah, I think it was a good balance in the middle there. Because yes, you were — in my opinion you were very, very intense about all of the details, which is good. Over the top from what I would be. I was probably a little under-prepared because I just like to go with it oh, things’ll work out. That’s my personality style. I think with us pulling at each other to say hey, let’s chill, it’ll be okay, and you saying no, this has to be perfect, in the middle it came out really well because we —

MR Yeah, it came out really well. You can always err on the side of being too prepared. I think that’s a good thing to err on the side of.

AH That’s totally a parable of our entire business relationship anyway.

MR [laughs]

AH That’s fine.

MR Fair enough.

AH You knew I was going to be crazy anal retentive about it, and I knew you were going to be super laid back and chill. That’s fine. It worked. I’m excited about doing one in my office because, you know me, I have way more control over my office than I did for the one hour before our shoot in your place. So I feel really excited. I also feel trepidation about a few other things that I can’t control as well as I could. It’ll be fine. I’m excited about doing it.

Yeah, so side note there. I’m planning a huge photo shoot in my office for more premium stock photos for our Massage Business Blueprint premium member community. Michael, tell people how that works.

MR Yeah, so the premium membership is $17 a month unless you’re a certified ABMP member, which you get a discount so go check their portal for that. We drip out 50-ish, about 50 new stock photos per month. We started last month with that. Every month we’re going to be dripping out approximately 50 new photos to add to the library. You can go log in anytime with your premium membership and go to the stock photo library and browse them all, download any or all of them anytime you want to. They’re all there indefinitely for everyone to use who’s a premium member.

AH Sweet.

MR Is that what you were looking for?

AH Yeah, that’ll do it. Thank you, man.

MR That’s it. That’s how it works.

AH Become a member, get cool stock photos. There you go.

MR They are — yeah, you said that a lot better than I did. So yeah, they’re really good. Go check them out.

AH All right. Bring it home, Mikey.

MR All right [laughs].

AH I will never call you Mikey again. I don’t even like it when people call you Mike.

MR You have never called me Mikey, I think.

AH I know. You know what, we were having a conversation about that old commercial — was it Life cereal?

MR Mikey likes it.

Ah Mikey likes it, yeah. So I had Mikey on the brain.

MR You know, I don’t hate it. I don’t hate it.

AH I do. So it’s not happening again.

MR Okay, fair enough. So with that, thank you, everyone, for joining us, we appreciate it. Thanks for being a listener. You can find us online as always at massagebusinessblueprint.com. Check us out there, send us a note. And if you’d like to email us directly with any questions, comments, topics, anything you’d like us to discuss in the future, the email address for that is podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. Thanks again. We will see you next time.

AH Bye.