Most fall pictures are done through a pre-pay program, meaning order forms are sent home in advance and parents choose the photo package they want and send it back with the money before the pictures are taken. This is the most efficient way to handle the process and reduces waste from photo packages that are sent home never to be purchased.
Many school photographers offer a proof program, which allows the parents to see the photos before placing an order. However, most photographers and schools find that proof programs for fall elementary school pictures are not worth the hassle.
Some schools run special “family photo day” sessions as fundraisers, typically held in the spring. With these programs, families pay a sitting fee that usually goes to the school. After the family pictures are taken the families preview their photos and choose what to purchase.
Most spring photo programs will be tailored to meet the needs of the school and can be great school fundraising ideas. That said, they can be time consuming and as with any school fundraiser, schools need to weigh the time and effort against the amount of money that can be raised.
The beauty of digital photography is the ability to decrease the need for retakes. Now, a school photographer can snap a picture and look on a screen to see if the child’s eyes are closed or if it is a bad picture.
The other great thing about digital is the amount of custom products that are available. Nowadays, a photographer can take one image and crop it multiple ways so it looks like different poses were taken. If you combine that with green screen technology, the possibilities are endless.
Many companies make the digital images available on the web for download or to reorder additional products. Some companies actually give the original image with a copyright release for free with every package that is purchased. This is something that you will see more of in the years to come. The days of holding negatives hostage are soon to be over.
Quality is Key
I have seen some pretty poor elementary school pictures over the years, which leads me to the most important factor when choosing your school photographer, quality.
School portraits are a time honored tradition and they are part of growing up. You need to make sure the photos that are taken are worthy of hanging on a parent’s wall for the next 30 years or more. If there is one thing that every principal I have ever met states is most important, it is quality school pictures.
There are many good school photographers in San Diego and across the country. You do not have to settle for low quality school pictures in front of a grey background.