Key Elements for Photoshoot Day
Alright, so, before we go much further into the software we're going to talk about in general, the key elements you need to have for a successful shooting day. Biggest thing you need to do is just develop a game plan, figure out what your goal is. How are you going to shoot it? Where is it going to go? Write out your workflow. Have an idea of how long things should be taking and how it should be unfolding, make sure that you're meeting your goals, that you're tracking how you're doing from what you wanted to do and where you're actually at. I think it's just important that if we just go and start to do a job and we don't have a firm, like, this is what we're trying to do, it's hard to figure out if you're meeting it and exceeding it. So, finding your workflow, having a plan. You have to have good data, like, the good data from the schools is imperative, and make sure that it'll make you look... It'll make your data import go way easier in the software, which I'm gonna show you guys, bu...
t it also helps the day go smoothly, period. Getting good data is important to find, we get first name, last name, student ID, homeroom and where the pictures are getting delivered. That's what we need, oh, and grade. Those are the elements. So, with that information, I'm able to load that into my software. I'm gonna show you guys this in a second, so we're able to organize all of our files by the first name, last name and student ID, all those kids, we keep it archived that way forever, but it allows us to make the barcodes, the photo day cards that we talked about printing earlier, all that information is tied in through that software. So that's what we need. Getting that information is important that you get it accurately and on time. So, if you are not an expert at your software, if you do not have a Courtney on staff, make sure you give yourself enough time to do this job, but I find that waiting close to the date will ensure that you have a more accurate list. If you get it three, four months in advance, kids might drop out, kids might enroll and then your list might have some holes in it. Okay? Good data list will impact how smoothly the shoot goes, and if you look down, you gotta pick a software company. My friends, Bill Freeman and Brian Fox, they use a piece of software called Drums, D-R-U-M-S, it's awesome. It's really, really big, robust piece of software. It does a ton of stuff, a lot of really, really big studios use it. It wasn't right for us because it did too much and the price point was cost prohibitive. First time I had to do a school, my first school ever was 80 kids. It's hard for me to dump thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on software for 80 kids. There's another one, it's called Timestone. I know a couple of people who use it, it's an Australian based company, I've heard good things, but we went with PhotoLynx. PhotoLynks is made in San Diego, Tim owns it. It was the best software that we could possibly find, and it met all of our needs. The good thing about PhotoLynx is they have a lot of tools and kind of plug-ins that are available, you can buy kind of piecemeal what you need. You don't have to buy the whole thing, you can buy the parts that you want. They have an auto head sizing software. That'll help you get your kids' heads exactly the right size for the yearbook. They have Flow, they have Image Match, they have all these tools and all these pieces of software that can work. So we're talking about that 7D Mark II. If we were to implement that into our workflow for yearbook photos, that would mean we would use Image Match. But because we should tether it through the computer we use Flow, which is a much bigger piece of software and does a lot more of the work there that day, where Image Match we would have to be doing a lot of that work after the shoot. Okay? You also need to pick a lab. You can use Bay Photo, you can use McKenna, you can use ACI, you can use Nations, you can use Richmond's. You have to find a lab that works with the software you're picking. So any of those three companies that we talked about for software, they will all tell you the labs that they partner with and which ones they would recommend you use. We use Miller's. In my opinion Miller's is the best lab that exists for high volume stuff. Incredible turnaround time, great customer support. Our stuff is done in a day or two max. It's overnighted for free, and the thing that I love about their production is everything comes back so organized and neat, because we send it to them the way we want it, but they do follow that organization all the way through in their printing and delivery to us. Okay? Alright, let's talk about picture day prep for under class photos. You have to pick a day. And that doesn't really seem like something that would be that big of a decision, but I'll tell you that there are a lot of influencers to it. Schools do not want pictures on Mondays or Fridays. Mondays kids show up and they forget it's picture day. So you can't do Monday. Friday no one wants to be there. Kids are more distracted. Some schools have uniforms. In one of the schools we worked with they have a uniform breakdown Fridays, but they want everyone in uniform for the pictures. So obviously we can't do Friday because kids aren't in uniforms. So you have to pick a day. Find out what days they're looking for and what works with your schedule. More schools are pushing these dates earlier. A lot of them are actually doing it before school starts. That depends a lot of times on how fast they need those student IDs. I do know some people that actually will photograph and print student IDs on site, something I never ever want to get involved with. Outsourcing the production of the IDs for us means that they're done high quality, it's a passive process for us, it's just done. If you're printing on site that seems to me like it gives you a pretty big variable of your printer breaking. And the delay that when a kid gets his picture done, even though you're shooting a kid every 30 seconds, that software still has to produce that ID, send it to the printer, it's got to come off the printer, you got to hand it to the kid. That's gonna take longer than 30 seconds. So some of the people I know that do it that way, it's like you wait in line to get your picture taken, and then you wait in line to get your ID. And then you can go. I just don't like that. It doesn't seem like the experience I would prefer. Now if a school were to require me to do IDs on site, yeah, absolutely. No problem, you can have that. But if it's an option for me I'm going to push not to do it that way. Communication with the school is key. What are they expecting? We talked about how in the bid they will write, we need stuff by this date, blah blah blah blah. I still think that it's responsible and prudent for you to sit down with them as you're going into it and refresh everyone on what your timelines are. Every year you should go over, okay, we're shooting on September 12. This is when packages are coming. Just a reminder. This is the yearbook disc that you need. This is when that will be delivered. This is how we're gonna do retakes. Go over all of those deadlines and timelines with them so that everyone's on the same page. Because even if you are meeting the terms of your bid, if they think you're late, it could be a bad experience. So just go over it. Software that we use does allow us to offer, we do batch processing on all of our files. We went over this in depth in my High Volume Sports Photography class. The stuff that we do, we'll chain three actions together. One's a sharpening action, one's a little pop in color, in contrast, and one is a skin smoothing software. We produce all of that as a drop as one master action, then we produce a droplet that runs completely passively through Photoshop and Lightroom. That batching processing does give our portraits a nicer look than what we would get with images just coming straight out of the camera. And by doing that we're able to take our level up without requiring us to do additional work where we're actually sitting down and retouching stuff. And for actual retouching, for under class stuff, I don't actually do any of it at all. Even the stuff we sell, we have Miller's do the retouching. It's a pretty square deal for me. We charge ten bucks and it costs me $2.50. And Miller's just does the work on it. So they'll go in and they do great work. They take the blemishes out and they retouch, it's great. And for the type, I don't need a full on custom portrait retouch where I need to put my signature editing style on the yearbook photo. It's just cleaning up zits. It's all it is.