School photography is a growing niche. The western culture has very well started the trend of taking model like photoshoots with all the glitz and glamour.
Photographers have found this niche very rewarding as there are over lakhs of children finishing their schooling every year.
In many cities, large and small franchise studios have a monopoly on the public grade schools and high schools. However, there are many private schools, preschools and daycare centers that are open to the idea of using someone new. It not only is an amazing way to reach many families, but it can be an amazing way to generate a substantial income
Tips for School Portrait Photographers
1. Be Organized
If you are doing this for the first time, make sure you plan and check everything before you go in action. Use a calendar to design your work schedule. Since you will be interacting with a lot of parents, teachers and students, there are chances of lot of confusions. Be sure to prepare a work flow of which you will intimidate all the parties before you work. You can conduct an informal meeting where you discuss your entire plan and service to avoid any confusion.
2. Do not OVERBOOK
It may be very tempting to add on more schools to your client list. But this will lead to nothing but trouble. School photography is a time consuming process and you need to give the school 110%.
Pricing is a very sensitive topic and you do not want to lose out on business due to lack of communication. Make sure you tell your clients that this is a special project that you are taking and required special investment of your time, money and resources.
4. Each Child Differently
Make sure to do something creative in the photoshoot of every child that you shoot. This will ensure complete dedication from both the parties. Even parents will not mind shelling out extra to get a one of a kind portrait of their child.
5. Make a Story
Get them to giggle, dance and move around. Parents will purchase more when you have a sequence of shots that show their children having an awesome time. It creates higher sales and makes people talk about you! That is the goal: make some money and get your name out there!
6. Friend, not a Hindrance
Obviously you will be working within the school premises a lot, so make sure to maintain good relations with the staff, parents and children. They are the ones who will provide you with something that you need as well as give you company between shoots.
7. Be sure to come back next year
There is nothing better than assurance that you will be returning the next year too to have a photo session. You want families to feel a sense of gratitude that you came to their school. You want them to be excited each year that you are coming back. When I say different, think of all the things that the typical school portrait photographer is and do the opposite—use awesome backdrops, take many different shots from different angles, let parents view before they order, and offer a few products that school portrait photographers don’t offer… Keep it simple, yet different!
8. Manage the Quality
Keep the quality high, but not as high as your other portrait sessions. At the same time, do not do a poor job on the pictures either. You need to understand the essence of the shoot and bring the props accordingly. Instead of taking all your high end props that you use in your studio, take props that are fun, colorful and will allow the child to relate to. Make sure the props are cute and fun and chronicle the child’s age and personality.
9. Create your Magic
Be true to you! Do not conform to what you think families will want. Be true to your style as a portrait photographer. If you like deep, rich tones and colors then make sure your school portraiture looks the same. If you like light, bright colors then do that same thing when photographing a school. You do not want a huge disconnect from what you do in a full session and what you do at schools. If people loved what you did at the school enough to call and hire you for a full session, they are going to expect close to the same style.
10. Retouch your Photos
Make sure to give your photographs to professional retouching agencies. By doing this, you will have time to take more pictures without worrying about retouching them. Also, giving it to experts ensures best quality.
11. Keep the Contacts
Since you have worked so hard with them, make sure all your hard work does not go in vain. Add parents to your mailing list and makes sure to include a little thank you note with your contact details in the final pictures. Send them offers from time to time to keep the communication open.