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Thread started 23 Jan 2010 (Saturday) 06:55
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How has digital photography affected the 'school picture' business?

 
CatchingUp
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Jan 23, 2010 06:55 |  #1

Not that I'm pondering a pursuit of this age old business, but I have had the opportunity to do the school pictures next year for the school district I live in.

School pictures have always been a common staple in my growing up years, and with the raising of my own children as well, who are now grown.

But given the advent of the digital age, how are some of the larger companines, (i.e. LifeTouch) managing when people want more options than the standard photo print package?

Do people even want 'wallets' anymore?

It seems that school pictures hanging on the fridge by a magnet has been replaced by screen savers, pictures on their phone, etc. And while the studio/school photographer can still offer a better than average image with proper lighting and professional camera gear, is selling the digital image the way to go these days?

Thoughts???


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Karl ­ Johnston
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Jan 23, 2010 08:39 |  #2
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Most niche businesses thrive on contracts. I imagine they work similarly


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Jimconnerphoto
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Jan 23, 2010 12:03 |  #3

It highly depends on the age of the students you are shooting. The school market much like the rest of the industry has been dramatically affected. People are literally inundated with images of their loved ones on a daily basis. Package purchases have decreased by a large percentage. Labor/cost of doing business has also decreased on the studio side. Pro labs providing the services have dropped like flies.
Many large school picture companies are selling digital files with their packages. Wallets while typically used to be a big seller are now in low demand.
Getting into the biz now is probably a good idea since the market appears to be reinventing itself.
By the way, school photography has practically nothing to do with photography.


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CatchingUp
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Jan 24, 2010 06:22 |  #4

zagiace wrote in post #9454425 (external link)
It highly depends on the age of the students you are shooting. The school market much like the rest of the industry has been dramatically affected. People are literally inundated with images of their loved ones on a daily basis. Package purchases have decreased by a large percentage. Labor/cost of doing business has also decreased on the studio side. Pro labs providing the services have dropped like flies.
Many large school picture companies are selling digital files with their packages. Wallets while typically used to be a big seller are now in low demand.
Getting into the biz now is probably a good idea since the market appears to be reinventing itself.
By the way, school photography has practically nothing to do with photography.

"By the way, school photography has practically nothing to do with photography"  ???

Well, that doesn't make much sense. Taking pictures, with studio equipment, lights, and professional camera gear of people does has a lot to do with photography. I think I understand what you were trying to say, but it didn't really come out right, me thinks. ;-)a

But I do appreciate the response with the other stuff.

I am really see a need to rethink all this approach to doing this job, for sure.


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cogliostro
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Jan 24, 2010 06:50 |  #5

actually, it's digital photography and facebook that changed the way it works. :wink:
when i shoot for birthday parties for teenager, i hear lots of chattering around me, like don't forget to tag me on facebook, etc etc.
So for a teenage like me, my market is of course teenagers also, so in order to adapt with their habits and the interwebs, i also give them digital files.
If you don't feel like giving the real file, just downres it a bit. After all, they only go to social sites.


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Jimconnerphoto
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Jan 24, 2010 14:21 |  #6

CatchingUp wrote in post #9459068 (external link)
"By the way, school photography has practically nothing to do with photography"  ???

Well, that doesn't make much sense. Taking pictures, with studio equipment, lights, and professional camera gear of people does has a lot to do with photography. I think I understand what you were trying to say, but it didn't really come out right, me thinks. ;-)a

But I do appreciate the response with the other stuff.

I am really see a need to rethink all this approach to doing this job, for sure.

I understand you reluctance to this statement.
If you do pursue this, you will probably do some research on those that are successful at school photography and quickly realize what I say is true.
You will first, like many start up companies, claim you can take a better picture. And, I have no doubt you can, but you will not get school contracts by showing off the best looking pics. These companies are not becoming the biggest and toughest competitors in this industry because the can butterfly light a 12 year old. Yes, you do have to set up lights, yes you have to set your camera, and yes, knowing a little helps. Whether you believe it or not.
You have to sell your services to the school, and they are not buying your pictures, the parents are.
So, I stand by my statement. It is a service related business, not a product related business and IMO, if you treat it that way it will absolutely be easier to make a living at it.


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Jan 24, 2010 14:43 |  #7

While coaching I'd get to see the yearbooks and school pictures delivered, and they haven't changed much since I had mine taken years ago, they might even still be using the same backdrops! From my understanding talking with a couple of the schools about it the important thing is getting the yearbook stuff done, which is basic head and shoulder shots, so you don't have much freedom there. It's assembly line photography and you're not being too creative. Of course the school is paying for that and the parents are paying on top of it for prints as well. From what I see wallets are still popular but just not as much, you just have to keep up with the times and what people want. Just started offering digital files for two events and they've done VERY well. LifeTouch not sure if they offer it but know some do as it is becoming a digital world.


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Old ­ Coot
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Jan 24, 2010 16:34 as a reply to  @ MJPhotos24's post |  #8

I teach second grade and have 20 kids in my class. Group pictures have been for sale for weeks now and I still have 18 out of the 20 sitting on my desk. I work in a low income area, so spending $10 for a kid's picture does not make sense when the momma needs a pack of smokes. I wish that I was kidding :(


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Jan 24, 2010 21:53 |  #9

Old Coot wrote in post #9462017 (external link)
I teach second grade and have 20 kids in my class. Group pictures have been for sale for weeks now and I still have 18 out of the 20 sitting on my desk. I work in a low income area, so spending $10 for a kid's picture does not make sense when the momma needs a pack of smokes. I wish that I was kidding :(

It's pathetic but oh so true - I love (sarcasm) hearing people at my uncles pub talking about they can't afford this or that when they're spending MORE on drinks than the thing they're complaining about costs!


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How has digital photography affected the 'school picture' business?
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