The Business of Volume School Photography

 

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

(crowd clapping) Awesome. So I actually am really excited to share the school information we're gonna go over today with you guys. I'll tell you truthfully and honestly, getting into school photography is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do as a professional photographer. My studio is located just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. And I am literately nine miles from the front door of the biggest photography company in the world. They are right there. So it's kind of ironic and funny to me when I talk to photographers and they say, "I can't really get into schools, it's so hard. "I'm dealing with other companies and stuff." And I'm like, "Jack, no one has them more in their backyard than me." No one. I have the hardest hustle cause I can't even say I'm local compared to them, they're just as local as me. So, I'm gonna walk you guys through all of the successes and failures we've had getting into this business. We've done classes on CreativeLive for, volume sports, and volum...

e High School seniors. And both of those are completely different from what we're gonna go over today. I got this quote that I really like from Zig Ziglar. It says, "You don't have to be great to start, "but you have to start to be great." If we don't start this process, we're never, ever gonna be successful at anything. And ultimately, what's the purpose of a business? It's creating clients. Finding, keeping them in a cost effective way. How do you find them? To be honest with you, it's just marketing and innovation. Getting the word out on what you're doing. And innovating your products to keep them successful. Every time that we do a school, any time that we do sports photos, any time that we do anything, we are constantly marketing that service and innovating our procedures to do it better next time. Not only our procedures we're working on, our product line. Those are what keeps us in the minds of our clients and keeps them from shopping. Customer satisfaction is another huge key to success in business. And I want to go over a lot of this because keeping an entire school happy is not an easy task. So, uh, let's talk about my studio. We were established in 1972. It's a traditional family studio. Multiple staff members. We shoot roughly 500 sessions a year, this is taking out one of our lines of business, so we'll say portrait sessions, traditional portrait sessions. We are kind of a dying breed. I don't see a lot of brick and mortar studios anymore. A lot of people are moving to just location work or studio shares, you don't see a lot of people that have staff. So I'm really proud that we've been able to maintain this tradition and be the photographer in our community that has a storefront. Because there aren't any others. Couldn't have done it though without the help of a lot of friends. I've had a lot of amazing mentors in this. My friend Mike Fulton owns a company called TriCoast Photography. Mike's been on CreativeLive before. Mike started his volume journey and was had an easier go getting into schools than I did and he's a great guy that I've had throughout the years to bounce ideas off of and use as a sounding board. Without him, it would been a lot harder. I also have a good friend named Lisa Asp. Lisa Asp is a photographer in Minneapolis. And when I first, first, first decided I want to get into this, she was the only person locally that had experience in volume schools that was willing to share with me. Just crazy. Right, because here I am sharing everything I know to everyone anywhere. But Lisa was a huge, huge person to help me get started at this. My buddy Bill Freeman. Bill's based out of Houston he does, like, 12,000 year book photos probably more than that, I'm butchering his numbers, he does a lot. It's the only studio I've ever been to in my whole entire life that I was actually jealous of. 30 foot ceilings, massive shooting bay, incredible layout. Bill's a really, really successful volume photographer. And the best part about him is he invited me down and helped, let me work with him for a few hours to learn what he's doing. Open, sharing. And I think that's the key that we need to remember as photographers is to share and help others. And Brian Fox. Brian Fox owns Fox-Mar portraits down in Miami. He has helped us a lot with the e-commerce side of our business. We'll talk about prepaid systems later on. And Brian has, in Miami, it's crazy, we're talking hundreds of thousands of portraits his studio does. Like, if I did every single kid in Minneapolis and no one else did any portraits, his business would still do more than me. So and of course PPA. You guys should all be members of PPA. Professional Photographers Association is a great resource for volume photographers. Specifically schools, and they have a lot of information there, so go check PPA out. Kemmetmueller Photography the schools division, is our newest division. We photographed four new accounts this year. We're in six schools. It took us six years to break into schools. Six years of hard, hard, hard rejection to get anyone to talk to me. But more importantly, I'm sure you guys are all wondering, why do they call you Matthew The Body? So this is one of the biggest questions I get asked whenever I do any speaking engagement and I do want to touch base on it. Years and years and years ago I was walking through a mall with my then girlfriend, now wife, and we walked past a Victoria's Secret. They had this massive six foot by eight foot sign that said a bra so sexy they named it after me. And I thought, they got like a Heidi Klum bra, like, that's weird, does it have like her signature on it. She says no, she's just so hot they used to call her the body. So it's the body bra. Back then Facebook wasn't commercialized the way that it was. Not everyone could have an account, it was restricted to certain schools. There wasn't fan pages and groups like there is now, there weren't ads. And went and I changed my name from Matthew Kemmetmueller to Matthew "The Body" Kemmetmueller which helped me become much more memorable to people. It was a bit of accidental marketing genius. I was shooting a lot of weddings at this time, and I'd go out and I'd shoot a picture, and everyone would say, I can't wait to see it. And I'd say, go add me on Facebook. They'd say what's your name? I'd say Matthew The Body. They would laugh and I would say, what's the joke. They would laugh some more and they would go on add me. It's a great book everyone should read, it's called 48 Laws of Power. It's a book that walks through czars and successful businessmen, presidents, kings, things that they've done to get and maintain power. And Law Number Six says, you have to court attention at all costs. It's better to be remembered negatively than to be overlooked. So I want everyone to remember their interactions with me and doing this makes me memorable. Now when I do these little speaking things it's just kind of a little jab, I take it myself, we don't take it too seriously, and it helps people remember who I am. Which is the goal. If you guys are looking to find me, you can find me, our websites are www.K-photography.com. We have K-sports photos. K-school photos. Facebook's just Matthew The Body Kemmetmueller. Instagram, Matthewthebody. Snapchat, Matthewthebody. Email, me@MatthewTheBody. I'm there. You guys can find me anytime you need. All of those websites are Squarespace websites. And we do find it is important for us to differentiate each sub brand, it makes it easier for people who have sports questions to be able to go in and flip through that site and same with schools. So of the sessions that we do, we focus on babies, kids, we shoot a lot of kids. It's like the fall portrait session is the easiest thing to sell in the world with these beautiful oranges that we get out of these trees. Grandma and grandkids. Families. Individual portraits drive up my averages. These people have come into the studio, I think that's the fourth family session we've done for them. This session was actually one of the sessions that got redeemed from a silent auction that we donated to one of the schools. They use it for the middle girl's birthday, which was fun. High school seniors. Lots of seniors. We have a nice set in our basement where we actually photograph, it's massive. And we have the lockers set up so we have a lot of people who bring in sports portraits. And of course, on location work. But it's all just very simple, clean portraits. Our volume sport side is kind of how we got into volume photography in the first place. We do a lot of sports teams and banners. We did a volume class, volume sports photography class, where we went over all of that stuff. And this is my actual studio. It's kind of unassuming from the front. It's two store fronts in a strip mall that has five. We maintain the two closest to the road. And we have the entire basement. So the basement's about 4000 square feet. As you come on in this is our gallery. And behind the counter is where everyone would work. This wall over here, that's client portraits that are waiting to get picked up. We hang all of our wall portraits, so that when people come in they're like, "Oh my gosh we're on the wall." But really it's just one of those things where I want them to be able to inspect it and see their pictures before they get wrapped up and delivered. We have an upstairs camera room. We do a lot of work with adapted sports, which is physically and cognitively impaired kids. We found that through doing adapted sports we have a lot of interactions with the same kids throughout the years. Because all of them are involved in four, five, six adapted sports. As a result we photograph a lot more wheelchair bound children than the average studio. So we have an upstairs shooting room, our downstairs area. This is my dog. I miss my dog, Bailey. We do all projection, well I guess it's not projection, we do all in-person sales. Everything gets displayed on a 60 inch monitor. I don't put any of my work for schools, for sports, for traditional portrait clients, absolutely nothing goes online for sale. There's no online galleries for anything that we do. And then this is the downstairs shooting area. We had, we used to have this, it's an open bay. So when you come down the steps you just kind of walk through the studio if you had to get to the production area. We didn't really like that so we built these temporary walls where all these backgrounds are. It's a wood structure that we stretch backgrounds around and staple them to, so we can push em and move em. They're all on wheels, but it gave us a nice way to walk through without being a distraction to the session. It allows our clients to have privacy so they kind of feel weird if people are walking through. And our lab, which is something that you don't see a lot and it doesn't really show that well on camera but it's something I'm very proud of. We do a ton of in-house printing. This lab when we invested in it, I think it was right around 100,000. And in-house printing is a huge, huge thing to take on but it's actually not as scary as it sounds and once you go that route you're gonna find that the advantages aren't just in cost but it's in convenience and quality. We really like to be able to put our thumb print on all aspects of our photography. More production areas, that's where we put stuff together. We frame, we sell a ton of frames. All right, so let's talk about what this class is gonna go over. We're gonna talk about how to ID good schools. We're gonna talk about how you find out who the decision makers are in the school. And I'm gonna tell you guys about the first time I ever bid on a school and how ridiculously pathetic it was. I'm gonna walk you through all the gear that we use. I'm gonna help you define your workflow. We're gonna go through software solutions. Finding a good lab to partner with. We're talking about prepaid sales. Also proof jobs. We're gonna talk about automated retouching processes. We're going talk about client interaction, customer service. We're gonna go over preschool photography and the differences between preschool photography and underclass photography. We're also gonna cover pricing, packages, specialty service items, and how we deliver our stuff. So before we go any further, I want to guess I'll play along with me. I'm gonna have you guys close your eyes, even at home, and I want you to think of a blue triangle. I want you to think of what hue the triangle is. It's blue, what color blue? Is it three dimensional? Is it two dimensional? Think about all the details of this blue triangle. Okay, now open your eyes. Is this your triangle? Okay. Is this your triangle? Nope. Okay, backfiring so far. How about this, is this your triangle? No. This is my point, we thought of a blue triangle, pretty simple concept, right. If you search blue triangle on Google there's 36,000,000 images that pop up. One of the biggest things I think is important to focus on when you start working in a new genre and acquiring clients is making sure you share a vision. Because if you're asking me for a blue triangle, I could've given you any of these. And they wouldn't have been right. So identifying good schools and identifying their needs is critical and communication is the starting point of that.

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

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