So I did back to school photos for the first time this year. The process was a great experience and overall I look forward to continuing to do this in the fall for a few schools each year. I came in thinking I was going to revolutionize school photography forever, take the boxed school photography companies by the ummm… “flashers” and change the lives of elementary and high-school kids forever (world wide no less). While I did not change everyones idea of back to school photography (some people actually like it-weird) I was thrilled to give the majority a glimpse of a caring and passionate photographer. It felt like I made a small chip at a giant iceberg and for that I was grateful.
I offered high end fine linen prints, competitive priced packages, and made sure to make the experience as personable as possible while still working swiftly. I decorated the room we worked in and handed out cute little gift bags to each child and hoped they would catch a glimpse of what my “normal” photography style is like. I cranked out photos and orders with 100% accuracy within 1 week and I even retouched each person like I would for a typical session with Ashleigh Rachel Photography. The result was fabulous and fun. My biggest critique was that some parents, less then 10%, wanted their kids farther away in the photo- like bust up verses neck up. However I took the feedback and just rocked it out for retake day and think that I will capture at that focal point for the following years to come. I felt a little bad that retakes happened as my super confident self thought EVERYONE would love EVERTHING I did. I was happy the feedback was more about preference versus quality. Hands down the family members said that the quality and experience was superior. I was even able to interact with a lot of the moms via facebook and have them pick their personal favorite when it came to the printing process. I loved that and hope to make this interaction even more advanced in the years to come.
The challenges I faced were photographing an extremely young class that was a pre-pre school age, children who did not want to listen/didn’t care, and tackling the process aspect of planning. I was happy to have some things be challenging for me as it was a good learning experience and helped me weigh the cost versus benefit. My biggest worry was that parents would devalue my photography by doing such a devalued form of photography however it seemed like the majority did not take this approach. My favorite part was getting to show kids their photos after I took them on the screen and having them say, “I like that, I look great, or simply smile with confidence.” I love how much kids love the way they look- we should take some lessons from them once and a while.
In the end I am proud of myself for doing something out of my element as a photographer and for taking criticism and praise and working well with both. I am also very excited to get to work with these families outside of the classroom and am happy to be extending a 20% off discount to any SCMS family member who chooses to book a family package from now until next back to school season in 2014.
5 tips for kids taking great back to school photos
Love the “crazy” like the stink eye, giant double row teeth smile, wild hair, & toughy black eye.
1. Photos that depict your child’s personality is what is most important, not a perfect hair cut, outfit, and practiced smile. I personally would prefer a dirty kindergartner with a smug smile if that is what my child is all about at that age. Let them be them- even if it is a tad crazy.
Embrace your quirks so you can embrace your child’s quirks.
2. No one would admit to being this parent, at least not intentionally, however sometimes we take our insecurities and accidentally place them on our children. I am always saddened to hear “coaching” on retake or photo-shoot day. Things like “don’t smile so big- smile like this” or “suck it in” or “those skinny legs, what are we going to do with them.” While it can be harmless and sometimes kids do need some prompting I always cringe hearing, moms in particular, saying how they hate taking photos or hate XYZ body part. Embrace those quirks it is what makes you beautiful and your child.
Wear an outfit that accents the backdrop but doesn’t match
3. Go back to elementary art class and use those complimentary colors for reference. Red and green, Blue and Orange, Yellow and Purple. Also if you choose a patterned backdrop keep your top simple. Avoid worded or overly graphic tops because they might not make it all in the photo and then you just have half the phrase or half the design.
Go with to picture day
4. Many schools take photos before school even begins, allowing you to be there when they get their photo taken. If that is an option for you and your child isn’t too old to have you with them or totally embarrassed then go with. The photographer would much rather get the photo done right the first time then have to retake them. Plus you know a real smile from a fake smile.
5. Encourage your school, if small enough, to work with a local photographer. They will likely jump at the opportunity to connect with so many local families and offer higher end products for the same price. They will also want to impress and exceed expectations as to ensure more photo-sessions outside of the school setting.
Live, Love, & Capture.