Booking School Portraits and Graduations

As graduation season approaches, many photographers are thinking about breaking into the graduation and school markets or expanding upon the business that they currently have. Graduations and school portraits are two markets that can be very profitable and fun to photograph. You can book both at the same time in a face to face visit to a school. No appointment necessary!

The time frame to book school portraits and graduations is generally February through early May. Visits can be made to the school throughout the year and they can be very successful, but keep in mind that if your target school already has a photographer, you are more likely to get a contract signed during this time period. That is generally when the decision is made.

Start your meeting with the principal when doing sales for schools and graduations. If they are not the decision maker, they will know who to direct you to. It is best to do a little research to find out who the principal or yearbook advisor is prior to your visit. Having the name of the decision maker will help you get past the gatekeepers.

Once you are face to face with the decision maker, it is important to provide them with the information that they are looking for:

  • High Quality Samples
  • Bid/ Pricing sheets for end customer
  • Rebates back to the school
  • Administrative products that you offer
  • Duration of shoot/ How many photographers will you bring
  • Information on your photography company
  • Recommendations from current schools
  • Cost to the school (if any)

You can also discuss things that you are going to need from them such as:

  • Names list of students (for marketing or sequencing)
  • Hanging posters or pre-marketing materials that you provide
  • Proofing of names on group images

It is best to discuss all of these details up front so that the administration is not surprised by your plan or needs later. When discussing the details of your shoot, be sure to only promise what you can deliver. This will help you keep the new business and keep your administration happy for the long term!

Booking Schools and Graduations 2011-2012

As graduation season approaches, many photographers are thinking about breaking into the graduation and school markets or expanding upon the business that they currently have. Graduations and school days are two markets that can be very profitable and fun to photograph. You can book both at the same time in a face to face visit to a school. No appointment necessary!

The time frame to book schools and graduations is generally February through early May. Visits can be made to the school throughout the year and they can be very successful, but keep in mind that if your target school already has a photographer, you are more likely to get a contract signed during this time period. That is generally when the decision is made.

Start your meeting with the principal when doing sales for schools and graduations. If they are not the decision maker, they will know where to direct you. It is best to do a little research to find out who the principal is or who you need to contact prior to your visit. This will help you get past the gatekeepers and lead you directly to the decision makers.

Once you are face to face with the decision maker, it is important to provide them with the information that they are looking for:

  • High Quality Samples
  • Bid/ Pricing sheets for end customer
  • Rebates back to the school
  • Administrative products that you offer
  • Duration of shoot/ How many photographers will you bring
  • Information on your photography company
  • Recommendations from current schools
  • Cost to the school (if any)

You can also discuss things that you are going to need from them such as:

  • Names list of students (for marketing or sequencing)
  • Hanging posters or pre-marketing materials that you provide
  • Proofing of names on group images

It is best to discuss all of these details up front so that the administration is not surprised by your plan or needs later. When discussing the details of your shoot, be sure to only promise what you can deliver. This will help you keep business and keep your administration happy for the long term!

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Necessary Equipment to Shoot a League: From Cameras to Soccer Balls

You’ve booked your first league, and now you’re starting to stress because you realize you’re going to need more equipment.  However, you aren’t sure what you need or how much to buy.  Worry no more!  Here is a list of equipment starting with the bare minimum of what you’ll need to make it through your shoot.

First, you’ll need cameras for all of your photographers.  At the minimum you can use a Nikon D60 ($400-600) or a Canon Rebel ($500-700).  Next, you are going to need a flash for each of your cameras.  Even when shooting outdoor sports it’s important to use a fill flash to balance the background with the subject and fill in any deep shadows in the eyes or under the chin.  For the Nikon, you can purchase either a Nikon SB800 Speedlight ($200-400) or the SB 900 ($450).  The SB 800 is no longer being produced, but you can easily pick one up on eBay or Amazon.  For the Canon shooter, you’ll use the 580 EX ($450).  Both flash “talk” to your camera, which means you can set your camera to Program (P) and your flash TTL, and the equipment will do all the work for you.  You will only need to adjust your ISO and white balance.  Don’t forget to provide a tripod and a bucket or stool for each photographer.  For all day shoots, keeping your photographers comfortable will ensure they make it through the day and keep a positive attitude.  Lastly, make sure you have backup cameras.  It’s best to have a backup flash and camera for each photographer.  If this isn’t an option for you, have at least a backup set for every two photographers.

Finishing up with the essential equipment you’ll need are samples.  If you want to sell your products you have to show samples!  It’s best to have samples of every product, but at the minimum make sure you bring samples of Level Two, Attitude Panos, and show the difference between lustre and metallic paper.

salestable

samples

Once you’ve covered your essential equipment it’s time to move on to the sales table.  A sales table is extremely important when executing a league shoot.  It provides a barrier between the parents and where the photographers are.  You’re sales people can keep the parents at the sales table while the players are being photographed.  The sales table also helps draw attention to you.  First, you’ll need an EZ Up Canopy Tent ($100) and at least one folding table ($40-60).  Now that you have a tent you can create banners or posters featuring your products to hang in your tent.  Be sure to include the name of the product and the price.  To further create a barrier between the parents and photographers it’s a great idea to put up stakes with flags strung to each stake.  This again draws attention to you, but it also keeps the parents away from the photographers.

Once you’ve created your sales tent all you have left are miscellaneous supplies, including, extra equipment (balls, bats, etc.), pens to fill out order forms, extra order forms, money to make change and plenty of water for your photographers.

To learn more about how to execute and shoot a league you can join us on one of our webinars – Outdoors Sports or Indoor Sports.  Just go to http://www.candid.com/webinars to sign up.  You can also call Customer Development at 800-336-5-4550 with any of your league questions.

Spring Sports: It’s Never Too Late to Begin Booking New Business!

 

Spring

Spring

The calendar puts us squarely on the cusp of a new year with initial spring sport shoots scheduled to begin in as few as eight weeks from now in some regions of the country; and as many as twelve weeks for the rest of the country.

Perhaps, if your spring line-up of leagues and teams is looking a bit lean at this time, take the time now to create a potential list of clients for the upcoming sports season.  If you think it’s too late to start booking, think again.  We have found that often leagues re-sign with photographers that have done a poor job because no other photographer even attempted to contact them.

Where to begin?  Start with where you want to do business.  Do you want to work in a 10, 20, or 30 mile radius from your home; or are you willing to scour the landscape to travel 50 or more miles from home?  Making this decision will help you define who you photograph, and what teams or schools are within your selected area.

image

Next, if you decide that middle schools and high schools are your photographic prey try subscribing to the Clell Wade Coaches Directory http://www.coachesdirectory.com/  for the most up-to-date listing of school athletic directors and coaches—by state—that you can obtain for a very nominal fee.  This directory will save you hours of time that you would have taken trying to amass a list like this.  But having a list is just part of the equation.  What do you do once you have the list?

Well, your first instinct may be to call, write, or email potential clients and that will get you—well, maybe nowhere! We strongly suggest and recommend that you make personal visits to each of the schools on the list that you have created.  Athletic directors and coaches will not return voicemail messages or emails from someone with whom they have no relationship.  So start a relationship by visiting in person, meeting with the decision makers, and leaving samples of what you do! It is a lot harder for them to blow you off in person than it is via phone or email.  Make 10 sales calls per day and you’ll be surprised when you begin measuring your effectiveness and the results.

Some of you may only be interested in pursuing youth leagues and with an average pre-pay buy rate of around 80%, they are very lucrative. Don’t assume anything!  The only assumption you should make is that no one has booked a photographer—yet—and that you will make every effort to book your share of the business.  In the past few years several websites have emerged that provide listings of teams in all spring sports all over the country.  Some of these are www.eteamz.com; www.bluesombrero.com; and www.active.com.

You will spend some time fishing through these sites, drilling down by state to snare contact information.  But in the long run it will allow you to pinpoint the person you need to speak with in order to make a presentation.

Finally, church leagues are often overlooked but many CCS customers have had great success with Upward, www.upward.org. These are church leagues that are highly organized, have excellent participation, and are, as a rule, an entry level sports experience for first-time athletes.  Because of these three factors the buy rate is close to 100%, and Upward supports three or four different sports per calendar year.

Your Spring season can change with a little hard work and planning.  Your booking time is limited, but a true effort will reward you with business you never had before.

Spring

Head to Puerto Rico this February for CCS’ Annual Winter Seminar for Customers

Tough economic times are a staunch reminder that we should all be taking a hard look at our businesses. Continually focusing on innovation and learning best practices to implement are keys to success at all times, but are especially important in today’s economy.

CCS is committed to bringing customers the latest information to help maintain and GROW their photo businesses! This year, we are heading to Puerto Rico for 4 days of presentations and networking among photographers. This seminar is FREE to CCS customers!

There are some details of our agenda that are especially noteworthy! CCS has a heavy focus on green screen during this seminar! Learn about the services CCS can offer in each of our markets! We will also discuss the improved software options for do-it-yourself green screen. Come learn about our green screen tests going on RIGHT NOW with the winter graduations.

CCS will also conduct hands-on, sample sports shoots! Learn about posing, marketing options, package set-up, pricing and more! There are also an abundance of new products and software enhancements to hear about!

Here are a few more reasons why you should make your way south to the Caribe Hilton Hotel in Puerto Rico for our Annual Winter Seminar.

The average high temperature in February is 84, and the average low is only 70 degrees.
Airline ticket prices are at their lowest in months!  The average cost for a round trip flight is $319 through Priceline.
Get out of the states without the hassle of needing a passport!
CCS has extended the seminar to last 4 days – giving you more time free to venture out and experience the best Puerto Rico has to offer!
Presentations will cover a variety of topics, Sports, Schools, Software Training, Marketing, and more!
Meet the CCS staff!  We always look forward to any opportunity to meet customers in person!
Networking!  This is a great opportunity to meet other photographers across the country.  Share tips, success stories, and laughter.

To open a CCS account and have access to all of this FREE information, click here!
To register for the CCS seminar online, click here. Remember, you must have a CCS account to attend.
For more information about our seminar or opening an account, email us or call Customer Development at1-800-336-4550.

We look forward to seeing you in Puerto Rico!

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