Why School Photography?
Whether you are a Portrait Studio, Wedding, Sports or Event Photographer, School Photography can compliment your current business plan. While much of your current business occurs on weekends, School Photography is done on weekdays- giving us the time to earn some extra money!
Once considered a “seasonal” business, Elementary School photography has become a virtual year-round revenue opportunity. Limited local competition is another good reason to consider the School Photography business. While there may be an abundance of photographers in your area offering senior portraits, weddings and sports photography, in all probability there are just a handful offering services to Elementary Schools.
Also, In contrast to Senior Photography, there is a much larger potential client base. For every High School in a school district there are often 3-4 Middle Schools and 8-10 Elementary Schools “feeding” the system. When you choose to service seniors only, you miss a significant market segment that buys portraits year after year- not just once at graduation.
There’s never been a more opportune time for Independent Photographers to enter the School photography market. Schools in your area may be receptive to fresh, new alternatives to the traditional business model used by the photography companies who currently serve your local schools. Industry surveys and feedback indicate that many consumers want better quality portraits, more variety of background selections, a choice of poses and a wider selection of packages than they may be getting now. Independent photographers have the opportunity to address all these concerns with a customer-centered approach that highlights your personal creativity and harnesses the potential of digital workflow.
The initial capital investment in equipment to do School Photography is significantly less expensive than it once was. You probably have much of the equipment you’ll need to get started. Digital cameras have made life much easier by enabling you to store a large number of files with unique names for each.
Services to Offer
Digital portrait production for school day packages is becoming available and affordable to everyone. The full range of photo services schools expect- student record photos, ID Cards and badges, digitally-enhanced composites or group photos and photo CD’s for Yearbooks.
An additional Spring Portrait program is also offered in many schools. These programs allow students the opportunity to be themselves and often feature casual posing and backgrounds. Students are often encouraged to bring small props from home to “personalize” their portraits. Backgrounds and posing props should be chosen carefully to be age-appropriate for the grade levels being photographed.
Traditional Classroom Group photos or digitally-created Classroom Composites are also offered in many Elementary Schools, and may represent another revenue stream. Consider producing these photos digitally; enhancing them with attractive border designs in the school’s colors and include the school mascot, logo or crest, if possible. Adding student names under the photos makes them more “personal” and commands a higher retail price.
Unlike the comprehensive Yearbook programs offered at the High School level, Elementary “Memory Books” are by contrast, quick and easy to produce and inexpensive to buy. Most are soft-back, 32-60 pages in length and include portraits, candids, group photos and collage pages.
As a photographer, you or your company will be expected to pay some commission to the school for giving you business. Consider this payment as an advertising cost giving you the opportunity to be the exclusive photographer for the school.
If you don’t have immediate success, don’t despair. It sometimes takes several seasons of relationship-building with prospective schools before they have confidence in your abilities to service their school. Increase your odds of booking new business by prospecting in smaller Private Schools and Academies. These are in less demand by the major competitors and are easier to photograph and service. This will allow you to get experience and gather great testimonials about the quality and service you provide. This will benefit your public relations efforts as you grow.