School portraits advice

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Charliedelta, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. Charliedelta

    Charliedelta TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    I was asked to take school portraits for a local daycare. I'm looking around the web for information on how to run it, but can't find much.

    How does the business side of it work? Do you take individual pictures of all the kids, then make samples, and the parents choose the prints they want for which you charge a fee? Does the school take a cut, and if so, what percentage is normal?

    Thanks


     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    First thing: How many children are we talking about? To be honest, unless this is a very small group (<10) it is IMO a very bad idea to cut your teeth on a production job when you're asking "How does the business side of this work?" There are a LOT of potential pitfalls, and if you don't have your workflow dialed in, you could be in trouble. If they're calling you, I wouldn't expect to give them a cut because it's likely a service the parents want, and they're arranging. Now, that said, if you want to help ensure repeat business and exclusivity, then you will likely need to stump up a dollar or two per child, potentially as a "donation" to the organization.

    That said, the way I approach this for teams and large groups (never actually done a daycare) is: Create an appropriate information template so that I have contact information for each session; if it's a daycare, you'll either need parents there or an arrangement with staff to get that information. You should also have, in advance a slip, signed by parent/guardian giving permission for the children to participate in photo day. This will do two things (1) is that it will prevent complaints form parents who didn't know their child was going to be photographed, and (2) save you time by not shooting those who definitely aren't interested.

    I recce the venue in advance and plan my entrance and egress for the clients (if this is a very small number, not likely to be an issue, but if it's 30, 40 or more, you want them in and out quickly and with minimal fuss, and not hanging around making faces at the child who comes next). Then I plan my set-up; I always go for something simple and more-or-less fool-proof; 42" umbrella as key, 30 degree off-axis, and a 72" 1 - 1.5 stops below, on-axis for fill.

    On shooting day, either bring an assistant or, if you can, use the staff. Ensure that each child has their information recorded on the info sheet and a sequential # assigned to them. The assistant writes the # on a white board, and the first frame is ALWAYS the "booking shot" so that I can see the face and the #. I would shoot probably 6-8 frames per, and aim to move them through at a rate of about one every three minutes (again, if it's a small group, not so critical).

    Once everything's in the can, run them through an LR routine for basic process; straighten, crop & colour-correct. Put the images on-line in low-res & watermarked form and send each parent a link with a .pdf describing rates, times, payment info, etc, and wait for the orders to roll in. Do your very best to ensure that each child has the same # of proof images (I like three), or there will be complaints about why Little Billy didn't have as many pictures as Little Suzy (Because he was a miserable little s**t and wouldn't still!).

    Now, all of this aside, under no circumstances should you even THINK about doing this if:

    • You don't have a legal business with all of the necessary permits and licenses; and
    • you don't have liability insurance which specifically covers this.

    While it's unlikely that anything will happen, you don't want to find out that the parent of one of the children is a local municipal official who out of curiosity checks the records and finds out that you're operating an illegal "business" and now you're facing thousands of dollars in fines. Nor do you want to deal with the lawsuit resulting from Little Johnny tripping over your lightstand and knocking out a couple of teeth. This sort of job can bring in decent money, but it's a LOT of work, and some parents can very, very, annoying!
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
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  3. Charliedelta

    Charliedelta TPF Noob!

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    Thanks you very much.

    I do have have the permits and the insurance.

    The daycare has about 60 kids of all ages up from 6 months to 5 years old.

    What kind of lights do you use with those giant umbrellas? I use speedlights.
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    My primary lights are Speedotron Brownline. Speed lights will do the job, but if you're doing ~60 sessions you may have overheat problems.
     
  5. Light Guru

    Light Guru Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    No offense but considering the questions you are asking it really sounds like you are not ready do tackle a job like this.
     
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