Prepare for Photoshoot Day
How do you determine how many people you're gonna bring? How do you determine what the right number of teams per segment is? This is a huge influencer of how your picture day will go. Massive. Like if you are off with too many too soon, you stand the risk of losing the job. Like, if you aren't doing your teams, and if you're off time and you can't get back on, you're in a bad spot. You wanna give yourself enough time to make sure no matter what, you're gonna be able to get the job done. When we get a job for the first time, we're gonna talk about staffing, but we overstaff the heck out of it, and we give ourselves plenty of time to make up spaces. Then what we do is we get all of the teams in. Right now, our comfortable workflow is we sit six teams every 15 minutes, okay? We have two team stations with one photographer that shoots on both, and then we have five individual stations. One of those is like a flex station though that I'll jump on and I'll work if we're falling behind, but I...
think the last job we did, I shot two teams out of 140, so it doesn't happen too often. So that's our workflow. We set it up. We used to set it up when we started, where we would just go kindergartners, first graders, second graders, third graders, fourth graders so on and so forth, right? We don't do that anymore. We found that younger teams do take a little bit longer than older teams, so now what we do is we'll do, like, two kindergartners in one 15 minute block, then the next 15 we'll get two of them, the next 15 we'll get two. So we're spreading out those teams that are gonna take longer just because kids take a little bit longer to get the pose, to understand the process. You have parents that maybe don't know how to do this. It's the first kid. They've never been through picture day. So you have to be able to, you allow them more time, and when we were doing them in big chunks, it would mess up our whole workflow. And then we'd get, like... And of course it's really frazzling. You're like, you're frazzled from the first two hours, and then you get to the eighth grade kids and they just come in (snapping fingers) and knock it out. So we decided it was a better idea for us to mix that up and keep the workflow going at a more steady pace. Like I said, we average, it's like 12 minutes, 11-and-a-half minutes to get a team through. And in that time for our extreme volume, the team will walk in, we will get the entire team photographed, they will get an individual picture, and then we'll get a separate picture for the banner. So each child will get their picture taken three times, and they will be in the door and out the door in 11-and-a-half minutes. Sounds crazy, it's not. Silly easy. And then we submit to them the times that they get. So we tell the league, these are your teams. This is when they're coming in, okay? Now, when we started doing this, you get like the three phone calls all the time, and it generally starts like this: "We can't make our time work. What can we do?" Okay, we offer all of our teams three options. Every single team gets the same three options. You can call another team that's scheduled in at the time slot that you want. You can ask them to switch. I'm not doing that. It's too much work. I think it's bad customer service for me to call and say, "We have you scheduled for 12:00. "Can we move you to 1:00?" I would be annoyed if I got that call, so I don't do it. If another coach wants to call another coach, that's between them. If you do that, we don't even need to know. Just show up. Right? We will also give them an opportunity to come in the 15 minutes before our scheduled time starts. So if we start shooting at 9:00, they can come at 8:45. If we shoot until 4:00, they can come at 4:00. They can pick the 15 minutes before, the 15 minutes after, and a lot of times, and the other option that we have is we allow them to come into our studio for a private shoot. Now, if they come into our studio, it's on the caveat that they have to order a banner from me. What we do is we charge $10 per kid. They get a banner. Now, a lot of people will say that that's kind of counterintuitive, that last option, to what I've been teaching on, that we wanna do 'em all in one big block and we wanna chew 'em out and get 'em through the door and do that, and now we're bringing them one a time. Reason why we do this, we're gonna dive into this big time in segment four, but we want to expose our portrait work to as many people as possible. And when a team comes into my studio, I'm having 15 parents sit in my waiting room. Walking around, looking at our portraits. Touching stuff, seeing stuff. We engage with them about booking family sessions. We want them to come in, because if they come in, they're much more likely to book a family session from me. If they book a family session, we'll average another $800. That makes business sense. So we bring it in as a customer service to them. It's another thing that no other studio in my community can offer because there's literally no other storefronts. And we provide them with this, and it helps my bottom line too. Does that make sense? So that's if they say, "I just can't make it work," alright? This is my favorite one. I love this question. "We're going to Europe and my kid "can't make it on picture day. "Can you just photoshop him in?" No. And I used to love, I've been a photographer for a while. I used to love when we just used to say, "No," and people were like, "Okay, cool," and that was it. Now they all know it's possible. Like, they know that we can do it. So we can't just say, "No," we need to have reasons and options, okay? So no, I don't wanna photoshop your kid in. We could, but I really, really don't want to. So what we say is it's $250, it's pre-paid, and there are no guarantees on the pictures. And generally that mom will say, "That sounds like an awful deal," and I will say, "Yes, it's an absolutely terrible deal. "You should not buy it." It is an awful, awful bargain, because what happens is, I live in an area, if I started doing, like, photoshopping kids in, I'm gonna have two kids show up on picture day. I'm gonna have two kids show up. If your kid's not there, I'm sorry. You can reschedule the team. You can do that if you don't want to reschedule the team and your kid can't miss a shift at Pizza Hut, then he's just not in the picture, okay? I have had a few that they'll say they'll pay it and then they never do, so we never do the work, of course. I have a couple that kinda say they will. I had one story where we were photographing a hockey team and they said, "We have one girl who can't be in. "She's in Texas. Can we photoshop her in?" I said, "It's $250." They said, "Okay, no problem." I said, "Man, I should've charged more. "Should've asked for $350." And they said, "Okay," so I went out there, I shot the team photo, we left a gap for the kid, I took pictures of my setup. I had where everything was. It was all marked out. I had it on tripod. I had the measurements. So it was gonna look really good. Like, it wasn't just gonna be a quick composite. It was gonna look perfect. So the girl comes out and we get ready to do this, and I'm like setting up everything, and you're just small-talking, and then all of a sudden it's like, "Well, why..." And I'm like, "Oh, so, you were in Texas. "That's cool. Were you on vacation? What were you doing?" And she's like, "No, my mom had cancer and she was "down in Texas for chemotherapy." Well, now I can't charge her. I'm not a monster. Like, so the only person I've ever had that was willing to fork out the cash for it right away, we did for free. We have to have a heart in this industry. So, like, there is still a lot of value. We provide people with a product that means something. And there are times that I will do these jobs, things that I hate doing; compositing, going out multiple times to add your kid to the picture. I do not like doing that, but I'll do it if it's the right thing to do, and I won't charge for it. I won't do it if it's because it's inconvenient to your cabin plans. I will charge you for that. We had one year, I don't know if it was like a weird note that went around, like a group message to all the parents, but I had this one year where kids that didn't make the pictures, the parents sent in, like, 8x10s of the kids, and they'd hold them up, and I didn't see it as it was coming through the team pictures. And so I get to this one picture, and I was like, "What is this?" And I thought, like, I thought some poor kid like died, and he wasn't in the team picture, and they were just like, "No, his mom didn't wanna pay "to get him photoshopped in, "so they held up his school picture." So we don't allow that. You can't bring in a picture of your kid on a stick. You can't bring in an 8x10, and I'm not photoshopping your kid in for free. Okay? That's just not an option. Alright? We talked about the private team shoot. We offer these. All the kids have to pay us $10 to get on the banner. It's a discounted rate for some of the teams if they don't have enough kids to hit the 150. Some of them get it for like $100. The private, in-studio shoot is a nice thing also when we set it up, we set it up like that week before or the week after our shoot, and so, it's just set up because we aren't booking in traditional portrait clients when we're going into these extreme jobs, so it's just set up. It doesn't really mess with our workflow. It's easy. It's cheesy.