The Business of Volume School Photography

Lesson 18 of 20

Cap & Gown Pricing & Packages

 

The Business of Volume School Photography

Lesson 18 of 20

Cap & Gown Pricing & Packages

 

Lesson Info

Cap & Gown Pricing & Packages

Some of the stuff that we do with our schools, we talked about staying in the eye of the consumer, we want their attention and we want to be shooting and selling as much as we can. So, cap and gown is like a huge thing down South, big big big business, doesn't exist up where we are. One of the schools we worked with in our initial meetings we went through what are you getting from your current provider, what are some of the pain points. And they showed me this picture that they'd done where all of the kids went outside in their caps and gowns and they stood in front of the school, and it had the name of the school and then it had all the kids and it is the worst photograph I have ever seen in my life. It is awful, awful, awful lighting. Like I don't know if you could have lit it without $20,000 worth of Alienbees blasting light at them, 'cause it's the exact wrong time of day, huge group, everybody's head is this big, you can't see anyone and the photographer cut off the name of the sc...

hool. So, we're talking and they said, "Could you do this picture for us? Could this be one of the things that you can do for us?" I was like, "Yeah, I can do that picture, but I don't really like that picture." And I told them all the things that I didn't like, and so as we were discussing options and things that we could do better for them, we came up with the idea of shooting cap and gown. I said, "Why don't you let us do this, I'll come in and we can shoot every single senior. And send them home with a proof sheet of their cap and gown. We'll come in one day, and I'll set up everything, they'll come on down and we'll shoot it." And they said, "Well, Matthew, it's a great idea but they don't get their caps and gowns until way later in the year, we don't want to do it, you aren't going to be able to turn it fast enough." So I bought my cap and gown from a company, it's like Hinrich, or Hinricks, cap and gown stuff, they don't even have a website that works, you got to look them up. You call a guy, it's like a phone paper invoice, they hand make the caps and gowns. Like they make these high quality theater caps and gowns, and they cost like $80. It's the weirdest thing when you get them because all of like this picture of her, okay, the gown ends like right here, okay? They have five sizes. I buy them in all five sizes, okay? I buy five hats in five different sizes. They charge a buck for the number 17, so every year I'm on the hook for five dollars to upgrade all of my little number tassels. Every kid came through we set up one station for this job. We knew we had to photograph 84 kids, we set up one station and we didn't want it to look exactly like the yearbook stuff. So, we talked about how we had offered gelled images but no one really takes us up on it. We gelled the backgrounds for this. I wanted it to be blue, so we gel them, and not only did we gel them, I ordered blue backgrounds and I just didn't like the way they shot. So then we had the blue ones, we shot them, I didn't like it, it wasn't coming out the intensity of the blue that I wanted. So then we gelled it, and I was like, "Okay that works. Yeah, now when we gel the blue background with extra blue that looks cool." And I was like, "Well let's just try it on the gray, and it was exactly the same thing." And I was like, "Well, this eliminates the opportunity for me to take a blue background instead of a gray one when I need it." So I got rid of the blue ones, and we gel them. So it was the three light set up. We had just like the yearbook, we had the main, the fill, we had one of the DigiBee 800's with a little barn door, little pancake stand, blue light. We did not have them sit. Everything was standing. We still shot on low, so we still connected these orders. That's the powerful thing about this software, though. Realistically is as the years go by with these schools, because we keep everything, all of the photos from cap and gown to every single year are named with their student ID number, and their full first and last name. I'm going to be able to archive and pull up every single kid with an easy search for five years. Talking about being able to make collages, products that people can't buy right now. Things that I would buy if I had a kid that did, I would buy a K through five collage, and I'd pay a lot of money for it. High school seniors, they didn't order anything from us. The twelfth grade, we had like pretty good participation though, we still did really good. Twelfth grade I had two orders, two, one two, out of the whole grade. Now it's okay because the other 11 grades ordered great. But that was a decline, so I'm starting to think of how can we take this class, though and make the 12th grade class a revenue production. So, 'cause we can't do collages yet, because we haven't photographed the school long enough. The cap and gown let us do that. So these photos go out at a higher price point, but the original vision for this was because I wanted to created this product for the school. What we did was we put every single kid in the school on a collage, digital collage. Sold it, easy cheesey stuff. Okay? Of the 84 kids, we had 69 orders. Okay? We averaged $74. My top order was like $300. One of the products I sold that I couldn't believe went as well as I thought, it went better than I thought it would, we offered thank you cards. We offered thank you cards that said, thank you, from name, graduation. I had somebody that bought 100 of them. So, not only did I have the 69 orders that went through that produced some revenue the school purchased a 30x40 framed print from me on this. So, the school spent about another $1,000. And we're starting to establish new traditions at the school. Okay? Do you guys, does cap and gown, was that a thing where you guys went to school? Has anybody? Like I've never even heard of it. And I had friends that when I started like working with mentors in this industry and I'm talking to people and I'm like, "Oh what are you working on today, guys?" People are like, "We're shooting cap and gown." I didn't know what that was. It's not a MidWest thing, it's crazy. And so I don't understand, like when I look at this product and look at, I think this looks cool. I really like this. We had it, we had it matted and every kid signed around the edge too. So it's like an archive piece that's hanging in the hallway, it's going to be there forever. I had to try really hard not to laugh because when they put out the mat for kids to sign, you know you bring out, when you order mat, and it comes in the big board, and you open it up and the mat's laying on there, the kid signed in the middle of the mat. (slaps) That part's not going in the frame, dude. But we, this is cool stuff to me. My father in law went to a Catholic school in Minneapolis, they have a tradition at this school where every kid that's graduated from this school has a formal portrait on the wall. He graduated a while ago, we can go to that school and find his picture. That's so cool. Like I really think those traditions and those legacies speak to the importance of our job, and the things that we're able to do. So, cap and gown, is this a special shoot day, or is this the same as class photos? So, we did a special day for two reasons, one it wasn't 100% dialed in that it was going to happen. We talked about it, we were pretty sure, we didn't know but this school what they allow their kids to do, the Seniors to do, is like they all come in and they put like, they bring inflatable guitars and the Senior girls put their hair up all crazy and they put stickers on their faces and they think it's so funny 'cause they don't order them. So, it's only the pictures that go on their school ID. True story, when I got my high school Senior pictures done, the Voldemort, my buddy Dave, different Dave. My buddy Dave and I thought it'd be really funny to tie our sweaters around our necks and look super preppy and give awful ridiculous smiles, and we went in and we nailed that picture, and then I forgot that that's the picture that shows up every day I buy my lunch. I didn't really think that one through, it was so ridiculous but these kids do the same thing. That's what they do, and it's fun. It's kind of like they're such good kids that the school is okay with them cutting loose on Senior pictures, it doesn't really matter. So, we came out and did this. Now the good thing for me on doing it this way was it allowed us time to go in, make sure that we had everything kind of in place the way that we wanted to, we were able to promote this separately, we were able to do the proof jobs, ship it out. And we did it at a time of year that we weren't very busy. So we shot this in March. There's not a lot of other stuff going on, it's kind of this weird lull where winter sports are done, spring sports haven't started, the weather's not nice enough outside to do any photography, kids are still in school. So, it's a lull for us in production. There's no community sports, there's no basketball, hockey, nothing. So this allows us jobs to do in a slower month and yeah, I'm a big fan, big fan of cap and gown. So, every kid got photographed, three poses. So, hat off looking at the camera smiling, hat off looking at the camera smiling, holding the cap looking at the camera smiling, and cap on. You get two pictures of each, total of six images. All of those got put on this proof sheet and went home with them. So it's an easy way for them to kind of envision it, and the reason why we want to do a proof job on this, was because it had never been done, I didn't know if parents would order. I don't think that they assumed the level of work was going to be there, just 'cause it's like oh a picture on your camera, oh what's that, and it's not a big thing where we are. Yeah? Are you printing that proof sheet on site, same day? No, we did not. The proofs at, what was that? The proofs that we've done with the other one where it says the final orders will come on real photographic paper, we were printing them on an office printer for a while. I've started testing printing them on our real 8x10's to see if that helps with sales. I'm tracking the numbers and the averages, I want to see if swapping from one to the other really makes a difference. I don't know yet. My gut tells me it should, I don't think it does, though. Like I think it should make a big difference in our sales if people get a difference between like this proof sheet and one printed on a piece of paper. This would make me want to spend more, but I'm not seeing it translate, but we're playing, we're testing, we're seeing what it is. And again with this, we are doing no online galleries. And I am sure that some kids went and took pictures of this with their iPhones, put it on Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. I'm positive that happened but that's a risk we'll have to take. Yeah? So, you're taking, you're delivering the proof sheets back to the school office and how are you delivering that to the office to make it easy for that admin assistant to get that to the right classroom, or get that to the right student? We took this sheet with the number ten envelope, the regular number ten envelope, we stapled that to the front with the kid's name on it. That's how we did it. Now this school after we sent it that way, then requested that they actually not get the order forms back after they got it that way, they're like we don't want to collect your order forms. So then they pulled all the order forms off and they included a sheet that said go online to order. So, we did it two ways with the same job. Originally we were going to have them collect the fees but then that ended up being kind of a big thing for them. They didn't want to do that, which I understand. Like I don't know that I would want to be responsible for handling all the money and the cash and the orders, I get why they just want to send it through. And the reason why I wouldn't push to do this type of photography the day of is one, I sell it to the school district as saying if these kids get scholarships, awards, are recognized, and we want to do a press release saying our graduate did this, this is yours for free. The school can use it for anything they want, for free. If you want to put pictures in the program with them, if you want to use it in your marketing, you can do all of that for free. So, the day of shoot they loose all the ability to use it for marketing, you're competing for their attention on a very high pressure day, and I think your orders would go down. Because they can't use this photo then, if they buy the digitals, they want to make their own thank you cards, they can't get all that stuff done ahead of time. We also do cap and gown for itty bitty little kids. Fish in a barrel, how stinking cute are these kids. Okay? Cap and gown collage. Boom. It's what it is. So these are done a very very similar way, but with a lot more patience. There's one little kid on this, there's one little girl right here, that was so funny, 'cause what we'd do is we did just like we did for the big kids, we did six poses. Okay? So, what we'd do is we'd start shooting. We did them in their regular clothes, we did them with just the gown on, and we did them with the cap on. Okay, so we're shooting them, I did like four or five kids and then I was like, you know what? Like this one kid came in and he just wanted to do a goofy face, so he did this really funny face. And I thought it was so cute, I was like we should do that for every kid, we brought back in the other four kids, we redid it. So, we're doing a funny face as the last shot for every single kid. So one little girl comes up to me, we're shooting, she's like right in the middle of the day and we're like okay, click, okay, put the gown on, click, okay put the hat on, click, okay do a really goofy smile. And she just goes, "No." And I said "No honey, it's going to be so much fun, you can do whatever you want, you can stick your tongue out. You can look up at the whatever." And she goes, "No." And I was like, "Okay, that's fine why don't you show me your grumpy face, show me a real mad face." That little girl took her hat off and marched off the set. (laughing) Like literally took the hat off, threw it out on the ground and walked off. So, the teacher's standing there and she said, "What happened?" And I said, "She didn't want to make a funny face, she wanted to do this, so then she left. She told me she didn't want to make a mad face." And she goes, "Oh, she knows how to make a mad face." (laughing) I believe that, I absolutely believe that. Cap and gown for pre-school was different. In a few ways. They still got the proof sheet, was done on real photographs, it was still six poses. We shot it gray, the pre-school provided us with the cap and gown, they had it. I didn't particularly like it. I just didn't think it looked as nice as the ones that we use. So, I would generally steer you towards spending the money, finding a company that can make these cap and gowns for you. 'Cause I just think that the cap and gown, in this the actual physical cap and gown look nicer on this, than this. I just think they do. But all of the school have, you know their colors, and their brands and stuff so you got to make sure that you do it. Spend some money on it, but I think that it'll come back to you.

Class Description

We’ve all had our annual school portrait taken over the years. Of course you didn’t think about the hard work and organization that it took for the photographer to get hundreds of images taken during that day, but volume school portrait photography is a great way for photographers to add additional income to their business. Matthew “The Body” Kemmetmueller has broken into that competitive market and wants to share his knowledge of that industry with you. He’ll explain:

  • How to get into the schools that are right for your business
  • The best way to choose the software and gear you’ll need
  • How to put together bids and win over the schools
  • The most efficient way to order and deliver products
  • How to automate the retouching process

School photography is not an easy market to conquer, but Matthew will walk you through everything you’ll need to know in order to become a successful school portrait photographer.

Reviews

Diane Yvon
 

I was looking to add preschool photography to my business and this course really was thorough and helped me prepare. Matthew is so friendly and always makes learning easy! His courses are very organized. Highly recommend, Diane Zarlingo

Dorine Rosier
 

Matthew is very good in his teaching style and makes me want to watch the whole thing! The information he gives is priceless!