Bidding Differences for Preschool Photography
All right, so we were talking earlier about the differences in bidding between a public school and preschools, and we kinda touched on that it's much more of a conversation than just a decision that they're gonna make. But for that reason, when you get into bidding and landing schools, it's even more important to focus on the relationship with that director. You have to keep that really, really strong. Because they don't have bids and contracts, at least the ones that I deal with, they don't have the same obligations to you, either. So they can leave you at any time. The only exception to this is some public schools through their community eds do have preschools. Those preschool programs are often times run much more like the public schools are 'cause it's all kinda under that district's umbrella. But we've also gotten lucky, where some community ed directors really, really like our business and they're able to break away from what the district may want them to use, to use us. Because ...
the preschool programs aren't always listed in the district-wide school contracts. It'll just be the high school, the middle school, the elementary school, and community ed typically follows along, but they aren't obligated to. So it's worth looking into and it can be a way for you to get your foot in the door, okay? Revenue sharing has not kept us out of any preschools. We don't do a lot of it. We do all product and service shares. It seems like it's much more expected with sports, for revenue sharing. I don't feel like people are asking even for it, with preschools. Which is okay. Of course that's okay for me but it's okay for us to focus that attention and bring up the things that we can do for them, which I like. It's better for everyone. They are much more focused on, instead of getting a percentage, they are much more focused on having a free flowing, much more accommodating shoots. I spend more money on labor shooting these, than what I would a traditional school. So the percentages might be a little bit off that way anyways. Primrose we shot two days from eight to 11. We have another one that we're doing, it's like 450 kids, but we're shooting over three days. And that's because they want us to have the kids, they don't want a bunch of stations, they want one camera, they want one person, they want it really slow, and so that kinda changes things. But because we're able to be accomodating to those requests, because I'm willing to go in and invest three days shooting these kids, it got us the account. Now, going in and shooting 450 kids, I mean, I'll do a lot of money off of that school in three days. So, it's okay. I'd much rather do it in four hours with a bunch of guys, but if that's not an option, we'll make the concession to make them happy and strengthen that relationship. Okay? When it comes to actually photographing preschoolers, the best advice I can give you is be ready to take your time. 'Cause those kids are everywhere. And that's actually, a guy I know that I'd never met, that's his kid. And so we were shooting and she just came and plopped down in my lap. You have to go in knowing that this is not going to be like a high school kid, regimented year book photo shoot. You know they aren't gonna be able to be done in 30 seconds. We were talking about this at break, I got asked questions about how do we schedule in our preschools, like how much time, we talked about how long we devote for each classroom at a high school or an elementary school, or a middle school, what do we do for this? And the short answer is, I have no idea. It takes as long as it takes. How the schools set it up is they go classroom one, two, three, four, five. We start photographing classroom one, when we're done with classroom one, they bring in classroom two. That's it. So the kids are in their classrooms doing their thing, and we just go through it, we work through it, we take our time to make sure that we're getting at least six good images to send home. Those six, once we go through and we get those images, the only kind of caveat to that, is with preschools you have to be done by lunch. And it's not just because the kids are gonna eat and get messy, it's because they also take the kids outside to play. Kids get dirty. So you have to know that whatever you're doing, it's gotta be done by lunchtime. Also, this might sound a little bit sexist but I do think it's very important, bring a female assistant. I am a big, hairy guy with a deep voice, and a stranger to these kids. I am not necessarily an instant fan favorite with babies. I had one kid that came in, there's another guy I know, and his daughter was young, I don't know, 18 months, and she walked in and looked at me and started screaming. Screaming bloody murder. Just, it was great for my self esteem. So she's yelling and screaming and I'm like, it's okay baby, don't cry (crowd laughing), and she's screaming louder at me and I'm sitting there thinking, what the heck am I gonna do? And the teachers in there are like, it's okay. And they're like, here's Perry the tiger and here's this, and kid won't stop staring at me and yelling. I had to leave the room. Soon as I left the room, they got great pictures. Some kids don't relate well to the guy with the beard. So, I know that going in, I bring a female assistant. I typically will actually bring a mom. A photographer who's a mom. They just seem to be, really, they do better, with young kids. They know it, they've done it, they're experienced it, experienced with it. Preschools also only get one camera set up. We're not doing four set ups. For that reason, I typically, I'm at every single one of 'em. I'm the guy, I'm the photographer. I'm always going to be there to make sure it's dialed and exactly the way I want. Things you need to talk about with the preschool is, some babies are really little, they can't even sit up. Are you bringing a little baby bop thing, I don't know what they call, I got a bunch of 'em. What is it?
Yeah, sure, that thing. Are you bringing it, or are they? Okay? You have to understand that you're gonna have to build all of your poses and all the things you're doing around each child's age. And there are certain things that you shouldn't assume the school is going to have for you. So, have it. Be ready.
Are you in a 10 x 20 room, are you in a, or, do you have any space constraints?
Every preschool we've done, we've been either in an extra classroom, or the employee lounge. So we haven't ran into a situation where we're tight on space. They've always been able to give us plenty of room. But I think that when you're finding your space, you need to make sure that you're able to be removed from the chaos. So I think that's important. One of the ones, Sandburg that we did, it's a cap and gown school, anyways, we had two rooms that were connected, but we were keeping that door shut. So when the kids came in, they were able to remove themselves from the chaos. But we had so much room there. We literally had a room as big as the studio. It was huge. So space concerns aren't really there. It's just, it's just making sure that you are removed. And the other thing too, with preschool stuff, is obviously safety is a really big deal. So make sure that you're sandbagging your lights, make sure that you're taping down your cords, make sure that we're gonna have things a distance away from the kids and we're gonna be watching them much more intensily than we would at a highschool shoot, at a basketball shoot. I said that during my sports class, we don't tape down, I don't tape down a cord at the dance line shoot. 'Cause those girls will walk around it, they know what's up. It's okay. I would not consider that at a preschool shoot. One of 'em, I made the mistake, I'd ordered new light stands, and I just ordered, I was like, oh, I'll just order some off of Amazon or whatever, and I got 'em and they were like kinda chintzy, cheap light stands. And then we put the big softbox up on it, and it worked, but it was real tippy. It's real tippy. So I sent someone back to get me a new one. It wasn't a good idea for me to have a light stand that I wasn't confident would work. We like to promote people bringing in siblings and parents. I do like, I know Lorenzo had questions about if parents interact with kids, I think that's great to get a picture, even if it's just dad or mom dropping the kid off, getting them in first so the kid experiences picture day with them being there, then when I go in to photograph them alone, they're warmed up to the idea. Gives me another opportunity to sell pictures, because I don't have kids yet, but some day, but if my wife goes and drops off my kid and they take a picture of my wife with the kid, I'm buying it. Every single time. Or else she'll hit me with a belt. No, just kidding (chuckling), but I'll buy it, every single time. Every single time. So we do proof sheets where we'll incorporate the kids. It's another thing that I like to do because at this particular school, where we are in this district, we do not do the elementary schools. So it's an opportunity for us to photograph the elementary school-aged kids as they were dropping their little brother off at preschool. Gave us a chance to show those parents our quality and our experience. So they can potentially be a stewerd of what we are doing back to the district. All right. Classroom composites. Like I said, Miller's does these for us. There is software out there, but it's really just simple. It's just the teachers, they have all of the staff in there that interact with those kids, and the kids. They do not want, look at this stud with the bow tie, that kid's (crowd laughing) rocking it. They take care of, Millers takes care of this for us. It's just part of the software 'cause we integrate in that flow, this is the kid's name, he's in toddler room B. They do all the rest. They did not want names.
So, on the previous shot where you had, kind of more of the body, the body (laughing), so, you typically have your camera on a stand, but with toddlers you can't really, what do you do, I mean, you can't duck down.
Okay, that one, you caught me with this one where I had it off the tripod. With the real, real little ones, I had a traditional tripod so I couldn't lower it like I could with that camera stand that we're using now. I think it's still a better idea to have your camera on a tripod or a stand for something, because this is how it would work. I would train in, get my auto focus, and I'd have my finger on the button and I'd go, Meghan! Hi, Meghan! (crowd laughing) How big are you? So big, click, click, click, click, click, click, click. And so, I would be able to come around the camera and interact with that kid more. So having it off the tripod makes it much easier than trying to talk through this. And again, with this too, it's better to do it on a tripod but again, we had a lot of support from staff on this. So it's different than a year book one. It's just different. But yeah, keep it on tripod as much as you can. And this next year, guaranteed, at all of the preschool stuff we're doing, it's gonna be on one of those camera stands. It's the greatest thing in the world. I'm so in love with those for our volume work. I spent like $1000 on those stands, 'cause we bought a bunch. So, I'm a big believer in it. At those jobs though, I actually considered shaving my beard, 'cause I wondered if kids would like me more, but then I just felt like I wouldn't be true to myself.