5 Myths About School Photography

Aug 10, 2023

Portrait Photographers, I'm Talking To You!

There are oodles of reasons why Portrait Photographers may eye roll at the idea of being a 'school photographer.' I’ve heard them all over the years, and I even agreed with them before I knew what I know now. 

It was some of these preconceptions that almost kept me from adding this amazing genre to my photography business.

I learned that not only are these myths inaccurate, but they can actually strengthen your business when you use them to your advantage. Keep reading to learn why school pictures are the often overlooked, unsung hero of the photography world.

Myth #1 - School Photography Will Hurt My Brand

I know, I know, YOUR BRAND is everything. You've put your heart and soul into what makes your portrait photography business stand out. 

Think about it this way, the only thing different about school pictures is the location of where you're working - school!

Start thinking about the parents of the school-aged children as future clients. By capturing their children in the school setting, you accomplish the following:

  • They get to see your work and style.
  • You prove yourself in advance with the beautiful portraits you take of their children.
  • They know you can engage well with their children.
  • You've now created countless warm leads for your portrait business.

Myth #2 - There’s Too Much Equipment To Buy

You might be thinking, “I need a lot of 'stuff' for school photography (assistants, gear, lighting, and more) and I'm a one-person show!” Let me stop you right there, photographing children at school doesn't have to be ANY different than what you're doing now. You can offer your same style. Just think of these as mini-mini-mini-mini sessions!

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no set formula for how school pictures have to be done. If you’re thinking about adding school photography to your current lineup, you can do it like this:

  • Shoot outdoors in natural light, on-location, or with a basic studio lighting set-up if that's your jam.
  • Use the environment, or a simple backdrop if that's your style.
  • Props can be a simple stool, apple box, or nothing at all.
  • Working with an assistant is great, but not essential.

***BONUS*** "Volume" Photography makes you better and more efficient at EVERY other genre you photograph!

Myth #3 - School Pictures Are Too Cheap 

You might be thinking, school pictures can't be profitable. Aaaaand I'm definitely going to stop you right here! If you deliver beautiful images, price yourself right, and use the right system, parents will BUY!

Here are my tricks of the trade:

  • Thoughtful pricing with 'built-in minimums’ is key.
  • Photograph siblings and parents go bananas!
  • Offer prints, digital files, and a combination.
  • SHOW GALLERIES WITH PLENTY OF VARIETY, and they won't be able to resist your beautiful images of the people they love most!

Myth #4 School Photography Is Complicated 

You’re probably thinking there's no way you could keep all of those children and images organized! Been there.

Those overwhelming feelings come when you're thinking like a portrait photographer, not a volume photographer. Many would-be school photographers think it has to be done 'the way you do everything else'. THIS is where you have to put on a different hat. Sure, you can use the gallery and sales tools that you use for portrait sessions, but it's not ideal. You'll add work and time to your plate and ultimately leave profit on the table.

Here’s what having great systems and tools can help you do:

  • Easily organize children on picture day AND the images you capture
  • Provide simple viewing and ordering for parents
  • Market directly to clients
  • Gather great sales statistics
  • Customize with your pricing and packages
  • Use your favorite lab
  • Deliver to you OR directly to parents
  • Provide instant digital file delivery

Ultimately, using the right systems and tools consistently SAVES. YOU. INFINITE. TIME. and allows you to increase your sales exponentially.

Myth #5 Something Else - What's HOLDING YOU BACK?  

If you’re still not convinced, it might be time to ask yourself some hard questions. During my journey as a business owner, I’ve had to overcome various degrees of self-sabotage. Is it possible that you’re scared of failure? Or maybe it’s not that deep at all. Maybe you haven't added this incredibly fun, profitable, and business-growing genre to your photography business because you just don't know how to get started. If that’s the case, I'll do my best to help get you started!