We are a few weeks into 2019 now and you’re likely settling into the rhythm of the new year. School photography brings with it a wealth of considerations to manage and it can be hard to stay on top of everything. Starting a new year with a concrete plan for how to make it a successful one makes this all the more achievable.
So where do you start? We have collected together some of our top school photography business tips here that will help you make 2019 your best year yet.
1. Plan According To Your Strengths
It’s important to plan ahead for the year in advance, yet always with an informed mindset. A handy tool that can help construct productive goals is carrying out SWOT analysis. This stands for:
- Strengths — what do customers mention in positive feedback? Is there a particular style of photo that always sells the most?
- Weaknesses — where do you feel you lose the most time? Have there been job requests that you have been unable to complete?
- Opportunities — are there any unexplored areas, like team photography or studio portraits that you could take advantage of? Have you experimented with your editing style recently?
- Threats — what is the market like around you? Are schools changing how they operate? How might this affect you?
Identifying all four of these within your school photography business will help give you insight into what you need to improve on, through the weaknesses and threats. Capitalizing on your strengths and opportunities will also help you identify how to do so.
For example, if you are particularly adept at getting natural images of children in groups, think about ways to create opportunities from that strength. You could invest more time in sports or team photography.
Alternatively, weaknesses such as lacking a specific lens or key piece of kit could mean you miss out on jobs. Strive to make turn these weaknesses into opportunities. Not having a specific piece of equipment could lead to finding a creative way around it.
Following your SWOT analysis you will have innovative and creative ideas. But be sure to physically write them down in detail. It may seem obvious but the best ideas will never be implemented if you forget them — don’t lose good ideas by forgetting to make a note of them for later.
2. Take The Perspective Of The Customers
Take a few steps back from your school photography business for a moment. Look at it with fresh eyes, not as a photographer or businessperson, but as a potential customer. A friend or acquaintance who doesn’t know the ins and outs of your business could also provide an outsider’s perspective.
- Are your website and sales materials clear and easy to access?
- Are you offering competitive pricing and an appropriate range of products?
- Are the pictures presented in an attractive layout and style?
- Are there any obstacles that might dissuade or delay you from making a purchase?
It can seem scary to change a system that is working for you now, but even just a few small changes can help revolutionize your workflow without disrupting how you work every day.
Once you have your school photography business fine-tuned, it’s time to turn to the content. Don’t skimp on the photos you sell. Be flexible with your photography by using different poses and angles so that parents have more to choose from. Also, allowing clients to browse the photos of their children in their own time, or even being able to crop and add effects before purchase, gives them a stronger connection to their images.
School photography is a hugely personal industry, and as the majority of people share and store their memories digitally now, moving into that space with your sales platform can be game-changing.
Ironing out any issues now sets you and your business up well for a successful year and means your customers will also come back to an efficient and welcoming platform in the new season.
3. Develop Concrete Goals
A new year is a brand new canvas for you to incorporate business tips and paint the future of your school photography business on. What did you do particularly well in 2018? Can you build on recent successes now to push ahead in school photography?
Using the acronym SMART to brainstorm these objectives is a useful way to make sure they work for you and your school photography. SMART means your goals must all be:
- Specific — what exact result do you want to achieve?
- Measurable — how will you know if this result has been achieved?
- Achievable — is that result tailored to your business and resources?
- Realistic — how likely is it you will reach this goal?
- Time-bound — can you set a deadline to achieve this goal?
Goals could be anything, from experimenting more post-shoot to incorporating props or sets into shoots. Not only does it add to your drive as a school photographer, but it gives a clear means of mapping progress over time.
You can come back to specific goals later and see how far you achieved them. Using tools like Asana and Trello allow you to track goals over time, assign specific tasks to team members, and set deadlines. They both also offer boards to allow users to flexibly adapt their tasks, making them well-suited to fast-changing plans. If you’re a Chrome user, Momentum is a handy extension that aims to help reduce distractions with its minimalistic design. Use any or all of these tools as a way of tracking the goals of any kind and size.
Keep your goals realistic but there’s no point in setting yourself a goal if there’s no challenge. A fresh start is a great time to push your boundaries, either in developing career goals or growing personally as a photographer. Whatever you choose, find that happy medium between achievable and ambitious.
4. Keep Learning
School photography is, at its core, a community-driven business. We know that you as school photographers thrive on interacting with the children and parents at the other end of the lens. Yet there is a whole other community just waiting for you to engage with it and learn from it.
Develop your photography business and creative knowledge by attending trade fairs or local events relevant to school photography. If there aren’t any in your area, consider organizing a casual meet-up. There are a wealth of Facebook groups where you could try and find like-minded photographers to pool knowledge and resources.
Some useful ones to take a look at include:
- Team and Volume Photography
- Volume Photography – Modern & Classic
- Seniors Unlocked
- School and Preschool Photography
- Shoot and Share
Online resources don’t only act as helpful networking tools. Webinars and digital tutorials provide a helpful (and often free) way to continue honing your craft.
Consider how you remember and learn best. Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer videos to articles? If so, this video “Secrets of Great Portrait Photography” is a useful resource. How much time do you have to invest in self-development? Even something as small as downloading a handy podcast for your commute to work could help you evolve over time. The Portrait Session Podcast offers regular photography tips and lessons that you can listen to on the move or even while doing something as menial as washing the dishes.
When focusing on areas for development, consider the strengths and weaknesses you identified during SWOT analysis. What strengths can you finetune further? What weaknesses can you iron out? Pick something specific to work on and then use the tools above to track down useful resources. There is always someone or something ready to help you make the most of your school photography potential.
Taking even just a few of these ideas on board can help make 2019 your best year yet. Organizing your business now means you can approach every single working day confident that you will make the most of it. Picture it now. You roll up to a shoot, ready to go and perform your best.
With everything in order, you will have plenty of time to either spend at home with family and friends or behind the camera creating magical moments. It really is the perfect time to make the most of a fresh start, so take every opportunity available.
Do you have any goals for your school photography for this year that you’re keen to put into action? Share your ideas with us in the comments on our related Facebook post.