Under our brand “222 Photography” we began producing the annual school photos for Notley High School in 2011. The rationale is to provide affordable, high quality school photo packs for our parents/carers, whilst returning a competitive profit margin for the school.
We pride ourselves in being able to offer a bespoke service to schools, not only in terms of pricing, but also in the variety of packs offered, background colour schemes and the delivery methods.
All we need from the school before we start is a spreadsheet of the students in the order they will be brought down to the photographer(s), including at least their first name, surname and admission number. The last of these is so that we can provide a CD/USB stick with the photos named in a format that can be easily imported into SIMS using the bulk import routine.
If you would like more information on the proof card, or the proofs/packs to be returned in a different order, we can discuss beforehand what extra information we would need, such as year group, tutor group, class etc.
Space and Time
Experience shows that it is preferable for our photographer(s) to set up in a fairly large room, such as a library, gym or similar space. This is so that students can queue and have their photo taken in the same room, without having to line up outside in corridors and thereby cause congestion, especially at break, lunch or class changeovers.
We ask that students are brought down to us in class or tutor groups (depending on the timing of the day) and we allow 10 minutes per group of approximately 30 students. Providing the students are in the correct order and someone has pre-checked their uniform, we have found this to be perfectly adequate for single photos. It does help to build in occasional 10-minute “buffers” if there are large numbers of students, in order to cope with any delays in group arrivals.
If you require each student to have a choice of photos, then this will obviously increase the time required per student.
In addition, if you would like us to take sibling shots, this is perfectly possible providing that we can work out the timing for this session. Please be aware that sibling shots do take significantly more time than individual shots due to waiting for both/all siblings, posing the group to account for height differences etc. We strongly suggest that schools require parents/carers to book their sibling shot in advance so we can plan the session’s timing.
Example: Notley High School
Brief: Take individual photos of the approximately 1,200 students in Years 7-11, together with a sibling session (pre-booked by parents) and catch-up session. Sessions allowed to run over two days (see later note)
Two photographers, both set up in the library
Students brought down in groups of approximately 30, based on their timetabled classes
Lined up in alphabetical order by their teacher and their uniform checked
Day 1 Sessions: Year 7 - 8:50-9:40, Year 8 - 9:50-10:40, Year 10 - 12:15-13:05, Siblings (82 groups) 14:15-15:15
Day 2 Sessions: Year 9 - 8:50-9:40, Year 11 - 9:50-10:50, Catchup session 14:15-15:15
Note: It is easily possible to take the 1,200 photos of Years 7-11 in one full day of 5 x 1-hour periods. However, that would not allow enough time for sibling shots, unless they were taken at lunch time. Experience shows that trying to run any photo session at lunchtime, especially for siblings, is incredibly problematic; students find it almost impossible to turn up together, and the time is so tightly constrained.
At Notley we use the retractable seating in our theatre to stage our large group shots, such as the annual Year 11 photo. If you happen to have suitable seating available, then we can absolutely use this; it has massive advantages, in terms of setup time, flexibility and cost.
However, not every school has such a facility, or wishes to use it even if available; in that case we can hire in suitable staging. This does come at quite a significant cost, which is why school photographers tend to require a minimum number of sales for shots involving external staging. Since our production costs are lower than other companies, the “break-even” sales volume for such shots is lower, but may still result in either no sales percentage return to the school, or even an overall charge if sales are insufficient to cover the hire and our own production costs. This can of course be mitigated if you arrange to take additional group photographs using the same staging.
Photo Proof > Print to Order
This is our preferred method for delivery. We produce a simple proof card for every student to take home and then print the photo packs to order.
Parents/carers can then decide which pack/combination of packs they require, if any at all. It is also easier to provide digital delivery, either with or without a printed pack, the photo(s) being sent directly via an email registered to that student. This does require a certain amount of effort on the part of the school in distributing the proofs and sending us a list of the orders, but it does mean that they are only distributing photo packs to those who have ordered one.
Print Photo Pack > Sale or Return
This is the more “traditional” delivery method, especially for Primary schools. We print a standard pack with the most popular sizes for every student to take home. Parents/carers can then either purchase that pack (with a minor price reduction if only part of the pack is required), or return the entire pack at no charge.
This does involve the school distributing a photo pack to each child but administration-wise this is a simpler solution; most packs aren’t returned (whole or in part) and there’s generally only one cost per household to deal with. However, it does require parents/carers to either pay for the photos or be faced with asking their child to return their “unwanted” photos. There is also the issue with chasing households who keep the pack without payment.
As with every school photography service, the school gets a percentage of the total sales. Usually, however, the school needs to trade off their percentage return against the cost to their parents. High return rates usually passing on high prices.
Being a Bridge internal service, we simply charge the school for our time and variable costs (paper, ink, mounts) and so maximise the return to the school. We continually check other services in the area, including Van Cols, Kittle and Tempest, and make sure we always provide the best value for money to your parents/carers, whilst also delivering the best return rate to the school.