Question about school photography

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by DeadEye, Jul 7, 2007.

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  1. DeadEye

    DeadEye TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Ok so you got to get a photo of like 300 or more students for that years school pictures. What do you consider the photogs job? The reason I ask is so many school pictures are just that a picture taken and NEXT. Herd them through like cattle without a care as to a good pose, smile, or anything. Many are magnificent portraits obviously done by a true professional. I know its got to be a hard job to try to get so many done in a day and well kids are kids so they don’t take seriously that there parents will treasure these just because its that years pictures. What is your opinion on this ?

    Thanks Dead Eye
     
  2. AprilRamone

    AprilRamone TPF Noob!

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    My opinion is that most schools hire big companies that don't care that much about how the image turns out. Of course, they would prefer to get smiles and good poses, but they are there to turn out the pictures in a specific amount of time. They can't spend 10 minutes trying to make a scared 5 year old smile, nor a surly 15 year old who doesn't feel like having his picture taken that day.
    I also think it's almost tradition for the school photos to be a little bit bad. It's what makes it funny to look at later.

    But, if I were a parent, I would spend a little more dough and get some better shots taken by a professional every once in awhile (that is if I wasn't already a photographer myself).
     
  3. DeadEye

    DeadEye TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I agree on your take April. To little time and such. I am going to ask the school next year if I can submitt my own yearbook picture. If theres is again horrid.
     
  4. teachflute

    teachflute TPF Noob!

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    I am a middle school teacher and have observed "Picture Day" more times than I care to remember. What a tough job that I would not want! We have 500+ students in our school and all pictures have to be done between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. so that it doesn't interfere with the lunch period. Some kids are called to get their picture taken from Phys. Ed. Some kids are in a terrible mood or are too cool to smile and give the photog a descent expression. Some things the photog has NO control over, but some things they do. The last batch of pictures that I gave to my homeroom I was appalled at the amount of glasses reflections so that were so bad that you couldn't even see the kid's eyes. That can be prevented by a good photog that understands strobe placement. I've also seen kids who have a stray hair across the cheek or collars that are half up and half down. All of those compositional elements can and should be controlled by the photog. I suppose those issues are why we have so many kids that have to have retakes done a few weeks after the pictures go home to their families.
    I guess my opinion is that there are so many variables, there are many things that can go wrong with school pictures, however, the photographer should show a good effort at getting a descent photo.
     
  5. DeadEye

    DeadEye TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Thanks Teach for the on sight info. Its pretty much as I figured, a tough job to begin with and some of the kids unwilling. 3 hours for 500 good shots is unreasonable. The hair thing you mentioned is exactly what got me to post this question. My 8 year old is a very photogenic camera hog that LOVES to pose and takes direction very well. Tell her to smile or look in a particular direction make a face or whatever and she is on it. I was surprised to see the school pictures of her with hair behind the ear on one side and the other side was hanging in frount of left shoulder. I know if she was asked to flip her hair were ever she would have, heck she expects me too. Mom said these are terrible and I said yes they are but there the school pictures so Im gonna buy em anyway just because. For 55$ we got a few horrid 8x10 and a bunch of wallets maybe 20$ of print.

    If you make 35$ a`pop on 300 sales minus paying the hired help and equipment use that is still near 9000 profit or am I unrealistic in this thinking?
     
  6. smyth

    smyth TPF Noob!

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    I know at my school, they did all four grades (high school, 9-12) in four days. That's approx. 225 students a day. That also includes the Grad photos, which were 10-20min sessions, and there was a 20$ sitting fee. Not sure if the school pays for the photog to come in or not.
     
  7. tempra

    tempra TPF Noob!

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    I was looking into this in the UK, and from what I can make out, school photographers normally pay the school a percentage on sales plus the teachers get free pics.
     
  8. WDodd

    WDodd TPF Noob!

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    When I attended high school (and well grade school too for that matter) they had the same local photog do everything. They probably had a contract with him that I can not be for sure, but yearbook pictures and everything including dances, the senior composite, even some sporting events were shot by the same fellow.

    They shot in the gym and would call students out of classes by the letter of the last name. And give you little cards with your name on it so the pictures could be matched up it was pretty efficient.

    However, my buddies and I played a little trick on the photog and switch our "name cards" and when we get back our preview package or whatever it was it wasn't a picture of ourselves. It was pretty funny although we did get in a fair amount of trouble for it.
     
  9. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    I work for a school photography company, and it is indeed no small task to photograph 500-1000 students in 1 day. Our crews consist of 5-10 photographers, each with their own camera, background, and 4 strobe lighting kit. We have 2-3 desk people distributing camera cards. While we try to get the best picture we can, there are a lot of variables that cannot be controlled. Time is always a factor. Unruly kids are always a factor. Equipment malfunctions and operator error are also a part of the mix. Not every photographer is a professional with years of experience. The amount of work that it takes to not only successfully photograph a child, merge his/her data to their image, print a package, and ship it to the customer is overwhelming. Designing and printing a custom yearbook is another huge step.

    While some companies are obviously better than others, on the whole, it is not an artistic industry. Our customers are not looking for fine art to hang on their wall. The market is flooded with gimmicky products, but in the end, the standard, flat, bland, traditional portrait is what sells.
     
  10. laguano

    laguano TPF Noob!

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    Well, i just got out of eighth grade, and they (I'm supposing) hired a company called lifetouch, which my district uses for all of their schools, so, anyhow, we had to rush pictures for our end of the year activities, but for some reason, they did it in a normal PE period consisting of four PE teachers with 30 students each, the 45 minute period was all about rushing, around 120 people waiting in lines for some pictures, which they pretty much only said, which pose? and then snapped, mostly everybody said they came out horrible, but i refused to take one because i didn't want to.. haha..
     
  11. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    This is one of the blunders of commercial photography. The subjects knew they were going to be photographed weeks in advance. They knew they had less then 30 seconds to get the shot. And they still manage to blow it. Also keep in mind that the K-12 crowd is nothing short of impossible to deal with. If the tech goes south; then yes find another outfit.

    Love + Bass
     
  12. creynolds2

    creynolds2 TPF Noob!

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    I agree with Digital Matt.. I also work for a school photo company.. Taking 500-100 images is not easy task. When I'm in the initial meeting signing the contract with the superintendant or principal.. the contract reads "must have school finished by 3:00" So yes i hear your concerns and somewhat agree with you on the whole "school Photography is not the best quality" But yes you wedding photographers, if your contract for your wedding said the ceremony was 3-4 minutes long.. how many GREAT images could you get? Again my point is when you have 30-45 seconds to photograph a child.. i dont care what glourious studio photographer you are.. the outcome isn't going to be completly PERFECT like if you had a 20-30 minute sit. It's all about the boundries you have to play with. Yes their are some great school photog's and some not so great.. thats just like any side of photography.. You seeing my point?
     
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