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A Boston-based marketer spending his free time taking photos of people's faces & far away places.

What makes Apple Store events work?

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If you’ve been paying attention to retail for past few years, you know that things are looking bleak for a number of what were once household names. If you’ve been paying a little closer attention, you know that not all hope is lost.

Retailers that have adjusted their in-store experience to match what 2017’s customers are looking for, are actually doing quite well. Brands like Tesla, Eataly, and Apple have contributed to what marks a radical shift in the retail experience.

Earlier this year, Apple made it clear they had no plans to abandon retail when they announced their new in-store experience, 'Today at Apple'. Despite other retailers closing locations faster than ever (Sports Authority, Walmart, and Sears all closed 70+ locations in 2017), it shouldn’t be too surprising that Apple would continue investing in retail. If you’ve ever been inside an Apple Store, you know that there’s never really any downtime. It’s always packed with customers looking to upgrade to the latest iPhone, switch from their PC laptop to a MacBook, or get a consultation at the Genius Bar.

Back in May, I went to my local store’s first event; a photo walk around Boston’s Back Bay led by local photographer Lauren O'Neil in a collaboration between Apple & VSCO. Around 20 or so Appleites were guided by Lauren and a couple of other accomplished photographers, and given advice about shooting on iPhones. After the ~1 hour walk, we were also taken back to the store where Lauren showed us some of her editing process in VSCO.

Here’s what Lauren had to say about the experience along with some of her photos she shared from the walk:

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What is it about Apple & VSCO that made you want to work with them?

LO: I think both companies revolutionized / are leaders in their industries. I've been using Apple products since I was a kid. I remember when my dad brought home our first Apple computer, a clunky beige computer with the rainbow Apple logo, I was amazed. Apple has just been innovative and constantly pushing the boundaries in technology, it's like they're untouchable. Even if a competitor is doing something similar, Apple is still doing it better. I admire their ability to keep creating and to always be thinking about what's next, even when the rest of us are like, "there's nothing more they could possibly do", there always is. Plus, as a graphic designer, I rely on Apple products to get my work done.

VSCO changed Instagram photo sharing with it's editing technology, and they really helped people present their work more professionally and stand out. They built a community of people all over the world. VSCO honestly helped to push my professional career, meet other creative people, and develop a personal aesthetic. So seeing the two brands collaborate on engaging with art and the community, it was like a dream come true getting asked to work with them. Two very strong brands coming together to help people learn about the art of photography was a no brainer to accept being a part of.

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How did you think your photo walk went?

LO: I really enjoyed it. I met a handful of people from Boston I haven't interacted with before, and I had the pleasure to work with Dennis Todisco & Sveta Damiani, two very talented people. What I really enjoyed was talking to the people who attended; asking and answering their questions about photography, and just showing people different views and perspectives of the everyday overlooked. I hope it challenged people to think differently and inspired them to keep pushing their own art.

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What about the post-walk editing session?

LO: I don't really talk about my process to people, especially bigger groups, so it was interesting even for me to hear myself say out loud. I think it was great to dive into the more technical aspects of the VSCO app, and the incredible wide range of features it offers. I think a lot of people only apply filters (if they even are familiar with how to use the app at all) and aren't aware of just how technical and specific your editing can get. This is where people can really find a niche for their mobile photography they want to share, and learn how to develop a personal aesthetic. So I hope people walked away with a curiosity to push their editing / use the app.

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How did this impact your opinion of Apple and/or VSCO if at all?

LO: Honestly, it just made me respect them even more. Their brands are all based around helping people push their work and do their best work, and inspire / create a community. And that was just so cool to be a part of.

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Would you do it again?

LO: 100%.

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Why It Worked:

At the end of it all, the photo walk felt very genuine. It didn’t feel like Apple was looking for this to immediately translate into an iPhone upgrade, or even a new case or adapter which made for a delightful customer experience. Most importantly, I was able to get direct expert advice and hands-on experience with a skill that I’m always working to improve. If Apple and the rest of the retail landscape continue to head in this direction, we’re in for a real treat.

For more of Lauren’s breathtaking work, take a look at her Instagram and site.

Want to continue learning about retail events? Download our free ebook, Transforming the Customer Experience Through In-Store Events, here.

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