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Sue Bryce Voucher

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15:00 Duration

Free Shoots & Gift Vouchers

In this video, Sue discusses that while valuing your work is the most important shift you must make for you and your business, building a strong folio is something you must do. Doing folio building shoots is a way to build your marketing images, to show on social media that you are doing shoots, and to make your folio stronger. Starting with “free” folio shoots is great, but at some point, you have to transition to charging full price.

There are free folio shoots and there are shoots using gift vouchers and Sue teaches us the difference and how to use them both to your advantage.

Sue emphasizes to stop saying that it doesn’t work, and to start taking responsibility. If you say it isn’t working, ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong?” Then come back to this video, get on convocation, and start talking through it!

Key Points:

  • Free folio shoots are for building your folio because they are someone that you want to shoot more than anything and you just have to have her on your website. Be prepared to give away the shoot, but never say the word FREE. You have to understand that for this, it will cost you the shoot, but what you could do with that shoot will lead to more and more shoots.
  • If you are putting out a model call for a free shoot to build your folio and no one is responding, there is something going on with YOU that is blocking people from coming. And don’t put out a model call on facebook! Once you do start charging and people see that, they will think that they wish they had done it when it was free.
  • If you are doing a folio building shoot for free, you have to be prepared to pay a makeup artist.
  • Shoots using gift vouchers means they are not free, but instead you are gifting them a value towards purchasing their photographs.
  • Ask yourself who do you want to shoot? Ask your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. if they know people who match what you are looking for. Tell them you want to offer a gift voucher to them.
  • Whatever genre of photos you show, is what you are going to sell.
  • Make sure you are not only shooting models! The photos you are showing must be relatable to women.
  • When writing your vouchers or talking about your vouchers, the word “free” should never be a part of it.
  • The gift voucher should have a monetary value attached to it. Decide how much you want to give away. This makes it so that it isn’t a free shoot, but a gift to them with the idea that they will purchase more. This gives you the practice to get comfortable saying what you charge and educates your clients about your pricing.
  • The gift voucher can include hair, makeup, your shoot time, plus $100 TO SPEND ON PHOTOGRAPHS.
  • When connecting with other business owners, tell them that before they refer their clients to you, you want them to come have a shoot with you. Tell them what you charge and then tell them you are gifting them a $500 voucher (or whatever value you decide). Offer business owners a higher value of a gift voucher than you would a typical potential client.
  • Include on your gift vouchers that it is a gift from you with the value listed. They also must include an expiration date — a call to action, a short description — girl’s day out, makeover & photo shoot, etc. Check out the download for an example.

  • Once you get them in your studio, win them over!


  1. I’m folio building right now and I’m perfectly happy to do free shoots for folio builds and give a nice dollar amount with these gift vouchers.
    I’m just a little concerned though about the cost of goods. Do you guys address that somehow with your process or do you simply take the loss if that client doesn’t want to purchase any more than the amount their voucher entitles them?
    For example if the voucher is for $500 and my images start at $250 and they only want the 2 images equaling the $500 mentioned in the voucher.

    1. Joshua if you are happy to do free shoots for folio build, why are you concerned about the how they are going to pay you? You said it was free, and that you are folio building, how are they clients? It’s a little confusing.

  2. Sue you talk about getting out of your own way and yes I agree, I have been following you for some years now, tried a lot of what you have taught and yes For me it does not work! I know it is my own personal stuff that is getting in the road , I know there / feel there are many people peering in just wanting to have a shoot with me but keeping far enough away not to be noticed. I know it is me that will not let them in. Any suggestions what I am doing, what is it that I need to push through. Fear of, ……. denial….. etc I don’t seam to be able to find people that can help me with this one. I have learn’t to do my own hair and makeup and have photographed women for an exhibition called The Beautiful Woman Project. Just to be able to continue to photograph people in my studio. Had the best time.

  3. Has anyone called the businesses to follow up the gift voucher you mailed them? If so, what do you say in your follow up? I want to be more proactive, but I just get stuck on saying anything beyond “I sent you a gift voucher, did you receive it?”

    1. You must do this part in person. They have to know you, like you, and trust you. Talk to the owner, ask them about their business, be interested in THEM. Then HAND THEM the voucher. Sales is done face to face. You’re selling yourself, not the service so be there 🙂

    1. Brady, there are templates that can be purchased on Etsy or perhaps even post in the group to see if anyone would be hired to design one for you?

      Then learn photoshop asap.

  4. When sending the voucher and letters to local businesses, do you all include a contact sheet/sample of your work? I think Sue mentioned she did this when she sent her vouchers. I have only been sending my letter and vouchers and even when I follow up with a phone call, a haven’t been getting a high response. Any thoughts?? I definitely want to keep trying.

  5. i know this works but I’m so tempted to say it doest work. just so sue will come to Ireland…
    even if it is for a personal b*t*h slapping session 🙂

  6. Ive created a voucher and emailed it to my clients. My only question is…do you still charge for the session fee? The wording on the voucher seems as though they would get the makeover and photoshoot at no charge with the hopes that you could sell a collection or prints once your clients see the finished product.

    1. Yes, it’s a complementary session plu $x.xx to spend toward photograhs. You are portfolio building and are taking on the cost of hair and makeup and have a great opportunity to make it back when you present your images. You get to shoot, build your portfolio, AND practice your presentation in a wonderful non threatening way that can, and if you have done it well, will lead to sales.

  7. for when the vouchers are being redeemed, do you have them sign an agreement/contract while explaining the terms again and that the images will be used in the folio in particular online folios? it has happened, several times, after agreeing and having beautiful images, even when you could not even see the face, they backed out and i could not use the images online.

    1. You have them sign a model release (if they will) that states you can use the images for marketing your photography. If they don’t agree, you cannot use them. People are different. Some won’t mind at all. Some will!

  8. I never really understood this Gift Voucher thing, even though I had heard of it before. But after this video lesson, the light bulb came on. Thank you 🙂

  9. Hello, may I please ask a question? I downloaded a template and am wondering how to put in a photo? I am double clicking the ‘Your Photo HERE’ but am unsure what to do next. Thanks in advanced! 🙂

  10. I actually totally get this voucher deal now, there was a time when I thought it seemed unecessary for folio build only shoots but now I see that the model sees the voucher as something they SPEND on the shoot and that means there is a LIMIT to what that voucher entitles the model to have, so yes, I totally get it now, it makes total sense and also omits the whole “free” vibe, which only results in a lack of value mentality on the models part any way and there really is no faster way of devaluing yourself or your work to simply give it away for free, by doing so completely annihilates any value in what we do. I may have learned a hard lesson this past week but I needed to learn that lesson, now I know what to do and I am looking forward to using vouchers for all shoots in future. 🙂

  11. I need to start making vouchers, I gave a folio shoot and stated that 6 images were what I promised from the shoot and that the were delivered as high res files sent to the models email address, all seemed well and we did a great shoot, I had actually gifted her 10 images, then went even further and gifted her 6 of those images as actual matted prints as a gift but her response was “We love them, when will the rest be ready?” This was when I had to remind her that the agreement was for 6 images and that was when she denied ever hearing me say 6 images only, I had, at this point given her 10 but she wanted more and instead of being very happy about the 10 digital images and the 6 beautiful prints I gifted her, she was sad because she was only focusing on what she did NOT have.
    Needless to say, I saw that I should have communicated this to her better but I thought a verbal agreement was enough, yet she was so excited to start the shoot, it is possible she did not hear me but I strongly suspect she was just trying to get as much for free as she could, I see this happening all the time – so, lesson learned, it doesn’t matter what or how much you give away, if it is not almost the whole shoot and it is not in a contract, models often will be very unhappy if they aren’t getting more than what was initially promised and this results in a negative experience, so I absolutely agree that a voucher is the way to go, I gave a lot away from that shoot, I offered to make a reveal wall for her and gave her my prices but she did not want that, I had no intention of selling from the shoot in the first place but when a folio build client claims they were unaware it was for “only” 6 images, they will push for more and they often won’t pay, she actually told me not to edit more but that she was sad, so I gave her more, 14 images in total and she isn’t even thanking me now, despite the fact I did everything right, some say she is just trying it on but I ultimately wanted her to be happy, yet I had nothing in writing to say the agreement was 6 images only.
    Never again, I do not mind giving away work but I have learned that people can have very high expectations and some will think that 6 images isn’t very many at all, these people need educating, even when it’s a folio build, I explained that all 6 images were edited and retouched but when a model denies hearing that and is unhappy, it’s not a very pleasant situation.
    I learned from this, I went above and beyond what most photographers would give and I was very happy to do so, yet the expectation was of even more, so I am working on vouchers now Sue, I will not be making this mistake again, some say I am being taken advantage of, maybe I am but I’d rather she be happy but she will not be referring me to her friends now, even after receiving 14 images, she feels somehow upset and turned it into a bait and switch scenario, so I thought what the hell, I will give her what she wants, it was my first maternity shoot and I tried to make it special but it wasn’t enough.
    In future I will present a voucher and remove the word free entirely, all folio models will know exactly what the voucher entitles them to, no more and no less and before I take the lens cap off, I will ask them if they fully understand what the voucher entitles them to and what my prices are should they want more.
    I will start following all these steps from now on Sue, as I am not in business yet and had no intention of putting on a reveal, I thought I could just gift these images and the model would be happy and on her way but I was naive, if people like what they get, they always want more and if the boundaries are not crystal clear, they will feel hard done by no matter how nice their free images are, I also know now that if I do folio build shoots, I HAVE to give a price list in case they want more as folio build clients will more often than not want to have the option of buying more from the shoot, I played this one all wrong but only because selling wasn’t on my mind.
    Lesson learned and now my next thing on my “to do list” is to make vouchers and do this the right way next time.

  12. Downloaded the template. Preparing the voucher. What is the size being printed. Did sue mention anything about what paper to print on ? can a local business card printing shop do the job?

  13. This was so helpful. I believe using this will help me as I continue to build this first year. I am really learning that I must value my work and myself.

  14. Sue, can you put the download you have on your old site on to this for the voucher design? I’m still having trouble trying to download those files, but I downloaded the photoshop design templates from today’s live event and it worked…

    1. Brandie, I just added downloads for the Voucher Templates to this video. I also recategorized this video into the “Marketing” section of Sue’s website.

  15. I really needed to hear this advice right now. I’ve been holding back kickstarting my photography business for years because of fear and self-value. Thanks, Sue!