Useful Information for School Photographers

Blog  »  Business & Marketing, March 17, 2020, Jana Volmer

Last Update: March 27, 2020

One thing is certain: the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is currently keeping the world in suspense. As schools and other establishments are closed, many school photographers are now facing even greater challenges.

For this reason, we would like to work with you on immediate measures and long-term, sustainable solutions.

Note: With the help of your feedback, we will continuously expand and revise our content. We look forward to your ideas and suggestions, which you can send us using the form at the end of the article.

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Table of Contents:

How do I react if the school is temporarily closed or picture day has been postponed/canceled for other reasons?

Closed facilities and postponed picture days are a challenge for every school photographer. However, it is very important that you show your understanding of why the decision has been made.

Try to reschedule for an alternative date for late spring with the school in the hope that the coronavirus situation has eased by then.

If this offer is not accepted, give the school time until the situation has relaxed and a return to everyday life is possible. Do not push for an answer as it can be perceived as inappropriate given the circumstances.

What do I do if my lab closes due to COVID-19?

The rules and mandates surrounding Coronavirus continue to evolve, which has and may continue to result in some of our partner labs temporarily closing their doors. What does this mean for you as a photographer? We have outlined some frequently asked questions and steps to take if you find your lab has closed due to COVID-19 info in the photographer backend.

How can I cushion financial losses through schools closing?

Sign the petition launched by the PPA (Professional Photographers of America)!

Having declared a national emergency, the US government is working on measures to support people during the coronavirus crisis. 

The SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) has announced that it will offer low-interest federal disaster loans to help small businesses cope with a temporary loss of revenue due to the ongoing corona crisis. The SBA provides more info here.

The IRS has also put together useful information for taxpayers.

Additionally, make sure to regularly check for new updates and information from the U.S. Government here.

How do I behave correctly on picture day in times of the coronavirus?

To protect everyone it is crucial you ensure that neither you or your photographers are sick or feeling unwell when attending a photo day.

Important: We recommend following these general tips from the CDC for small businesses.

What can I do in the meantime if schools close?

Many photographers have been discussing what they can focus on during this uncertain time and we have gathered together their insights here.

  • Re-open old galleries and make special offers to your existing customer base
    • Special offers for Mother’s Day and Easter
    • Knock out previous photos and offer multiple backgrounds using green screen
  • If you haven’t already, make the switch to online sales (find out more below) 
  • Sell gift cards/vouchers for in-studio sessions
  • Use prepay and give parents the opportunity to buy in advance
  • Offer online courses 
  • Optimize your website and social media pages  
  • Refresh your marketing and acquisition materials
  • Educate yourself and prepare for when this is over: Look for useful software and tools. Watch demos to see how they can help your business grow as soon as things are back to normal.

Important: If you decide to offer smaller or individual studio sessions, be sure to stay safe and healthy and follow the guidelines of the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/).

To connect with other school photographers on this issue, we recommend joining Facebook groups such as:

I want to use old jobs to generate revenue. How can I do that?

With smart offers, we can leverage our work from the last weeks or months to generate some income while schools are closed. 

If you are a GotPhoto user already, all of your customer data is stored in our built-in CRM tool and ready for you to use. Follow these steps to activate your old jobs:

1

Switch all jobs to direct shipping

2

Remove the existing communication profile

3

Turn all the jobs that you want to resell to “selling”

4

Create a newsletter for all customers you want to promote to.

You can select customers by:

  • shoot
  • customer status
  • year
  • job types
5

Send your newsletter

Tip:

  1. Use one of our many templates to create a newsletter for this purpose
  2. If you send a newsletter, do not forget to include direct login links. Your customers can get into their gallery with one click and do not have to search for their passwords or access codes.
  3. Make sure you promote old galleries at an appropriate time. Easter as well as Mother’s Day are coming up soon and could be the perfect opportunity for you to sell your photos. You can offer your products with a discount to give people an incentive to buy.
  4. Make sure to activate “direct shipping” so the orders will be drop shipped to the parents directly instead of to the school.
  5. Be honest! We see that people want to support each other in these difficult times and we think parents will also understand that you need to keep an income for your business to survive. We’re all in this together!

If you usually operate your sales on paper, are not a GotPhoto customer, or need any help with the steps mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly – we are always happy to help!

Send us an e-mail to support@gotphoto.com or give us a call at +1 646-362-5100

You can also join our webinar on Tuesday, March 31 at 1 pm Eastern and learn how you can use old jobs in order to revive your revenue!

I would like to switch from paper forms to online sales at short notice. How do I proceed?

We recommend that you speak to the school in advance and convince them of the advantages of online sales such as: 

  • Less stress
    • no more chasing after parents
    • no money handling
    • no paper forms
  • Secure galleries due to individual passwords
  • Sales reports available (optional)

Even if your shoots are postponed now, with your processes set up for online sales, you will be able to get your business up and running again extremely fast as soon as the situation has improved.

I fear that the school will close before I can sell my photos. How should I handle it?

Switch your order to online sales with drop ship to home as soon as possible. You don’t have to go to the school after picture day. The parents order and pay for the photos in your online shop. The orders are then sent directly to the parents.

What should I do with my employees?

It is more than understandable that this question is one of the most uncomfortable to deal with but it is nevertheless an important one to look into. There are several approaches to this topic in a crisis scenario in order to reduce labor costs:

  • Rest an employment contract
  • Reduce the hours of working (part-time work)
  • Terminate contracts

Resting a contract: If you have to cut costs on your end, terminating an employment contract fully should be your last option. You should always consider the time you have invested in an employee for training purposes, as well as the hiring investment itself. A good alternative could be to rest the contract until the crisis is over and you can go back to normal shifts or working hours.

Reducing the hours: Similar to resting a contract, you can also reduce the hours. Please check with a lawyer for the regulation in your state if you are able to reduce hours without any mutual agreement with your employee or any notice in advance. You could then use this to reduce hours and save costs. Again, your employee may be eligible for unemployment benefits during this time.

Terminating contracts: None of us wants to terminate contracts, that’s for certain. You have invested time and money into that person and they have become an important team member or even friend. However, sometimes it is necessary to secure the business. Make sure to explain the situation as transparently as you can, and always leave the door open for discussions after the crisis.

Disclaimer: GotPhoto is neither a health services organization nor a legal professional. We encourage you to direct medical and health questions to the CDC website at www.cdc.gov, your state, and local public health departments. For all legal questions, please contact a lawyer.

Note: This article will be revised. We look forward to your questions, comments, and input!

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Jana Volmer