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Day Care Photography

Caryl Barquin , Jan 06, 2010; 12:19 a.m.

I'm trying to venture out into Day Care Photography. I have heard that there is good potential in it. I tried out my first day care about a month ago and I ran into some problems. I planned to shoot it like how I shoot for dance recital pics which is hand out the order forms to the dance teacher, have her collect the pre order money and then return the portraits that were ordered back to the teacher so she can distribute them. With this day care, it gave me alot of run-a-round. With this daycare, the owner informed me that the parents prefer to see proofs before they buy. Which I guess it's reasonable but I prefer spending the time shooting the people who did pay and spend about 2 hours there rather than spending 3 hours plus shooting every child and not knowing if they will even buy. QUESTION #1: Is it best just to shoot every child and see what I get out of it? I imagine most parents would rather see proofs especially with very young children. Then, it was first agreed that once the parents see the proofs that the owner collect the money. The owner backed out deciding that they rather not handle the money. QUESTION #2: What would be the best way to get in orders? Should I have them mail me the orders or should I go back to the day care and have parents pay me in person? Hence one of the reasons I just like to have pre orders. You already got paid, all you have to worry about is delivery. QUESTION #3 is about pricing. My least expensive package is $35 for an 8x10, 2-5x7, 8 wallets. I'm not too sure what parents want either packages or if they rather pay Ala Carte which can come out cheaper if they aren't looking for a lot of prints. Lastly, what other venues are good to make money from such as day cares, dance recitals, ect?

Responses

David Haas , Jan 06, 2010; 06:11 a.m.

Caryl -

You've hit the biggest snag / complication with Day Care Photos -

#1 - Yes - shoot every child and see what you get. Parents are very leery about handing over money without seeing the finished product - especially if your name isn't LifeTouch. With Lifetouch or one of the other 800lb gorillas - parents know that they may not get the 1 in a million shot of their child, but they do know that they will get consistent quality and their money back if not satisfied.

#1a. The daycare owner doesn't want to be in the position of having to collect and store the money - Don't blame them a bit. They're in the daycare business - 99% of their collections are check or credit card - very rarely do they keep cash around the center. Also if things go bad, they don't want to be in the middle. If money is missing or short - who are you going to blame? If photos aren't returned are you going after the center? (One of the 800 lb gorillas used to do that)

#2. We all love pre-orders - it's guaranteed income - otherwise we're shooting on speculation or spec that the parents will a) go look at the proofs b) like them enough to buy them c) actually carry through with the buy. My preferred method is to have the photos shot on one day and then come back to the center with a computer and ordering information another day. That way the parents see the proofs. 2nd favorite is to do online ordering - put the proofs online for a limited time - password protected and give the parents the website and password. Giving the parents prints and asking them to return is a hassle for all involved and can create hard feelings all around.

#3. Not sure of the area of the country / demographic of your daycare center - but my take on your pricing is that that price is about average for what I've seen locally for the same content. But if that is your cheapest - then you're overpriced. You need to have a "toaster" package - something that the parents can buy cheap and feel good about (IMHO) - again - not knowing where you are at - I'd say the intro package should be around $15.00 - Of course all of this is predicated on you doing the "school" style photos and not aiming at the higher end - custom portraits.

#4. Those are two of the very good ones. It is a very competitive market - and a lot of dance studios don't do their photos at recitals - they do them days / weeks before the recital at the studio.

Dave

John H. , Jan 06, 2010; 06:30 a.m.

the owner informed me that the parents prefer to see proofs before they buy. Which I guess it's reasonable but I prefer spending the time shooting the people who did pay and spend about 2 hours there rather than spending 3 hours plus shooting every child

The dynamic of day cares is unlike weddings and portrait studios where people will come to you specifically to obtain pro photography with their own budget in mind. Its like the photographer who shoots small prints for free at some event. No one will pay them because they didn't come to get portraits,but some will buy when they see results later. The parents are more inclined to want to see first, consider after. You are mining here, not advertising. Also, day cares are group type places and singling out kids is generally not the approach. People are also are used to grade school pictures and how that goes. Also, some day cares want individual thumbnail photos to appear on one sheet as a class picture so all the kids are posed reasonably well. (Try as group shot with three year olds and you will see why) They may even demand it as a cost of letting you come in.

Make sure any proofs are watermarked good, they will be scanned like crazy otherwise.

Mark Sanderson , Jan 06, 2010; 09:02 a.m.

I would use Photoreflect or Smugmug etc where you can post galleries online and they can order their own prints/packages where you set the prices.
Again, password protected for privacy, you get what you get. Maybe the daycare would cover your cost to do a group shot / gallery including each child.
Do you LIKE herding cats? :)

Erwin van Beveren , Jan 07, 2010; 09:50 p.m.

Caryl, I like to add my little experience in this type of work.

I was contacted by 2 "at home" childcare providers after doing there regular portrait and friends event photography, which is how they came to know me. I initially set up a contract/package for $40.00 that includes a total of 5 sheets with 2 different poses and one group portrait. (1 8x10 + 1 5x7 + 4 wallets of each pose and 1 8x10 from the group) Written in this contract is that the parents are not obligated to purchase any prints.
Also my concern is the fact that I will be photographing young children between a few months and about 4 year's of age. Therefor I want to have the parents signatures for permission to photography there child. This I include with a "permission slip" in the contract / info flier and hand out to the childcare provider. It also includes if they allow me the permission to use the photo in my on line portfolio.

However the package was soon "customized" with one of the childcare providers to start at a lower price and including just 1 sheet of choice. According to the childcare provider, some parents simply won't have the resources to pay for this 5 sheet package. The childcare provider also was going to "sell" this to the parents, and collect the money in advance.

Since I was going to start my packages at just one sheet I included a small session fee which is then divided equally by the families. In this case it turned out to be 5 dollar per family. The location was about 45 minutes from my studio, and I wanted to charge a minimum fee to cover some expense. (assistant, fuel, lunch)

The package starts at $13.00 which is one sheet and each additional sheet goes for $8.00. It turned out that most parents pre-ordered between 2 to 4 sheets. After the photo shoot at the childcare provider I placed the previews on line at my Photoreflect store front. Then a few days later the childcare provider contacted me with the photo numbers to be ordered and on top of the pre-order I got an additional order of about 10 more sheets.

Since this was my first childcare experience I have spent about 3 hours on location, setting up a mobile studio and equipment. We (I was with one assistant) shot in a room designated and decorated by the provider for a group photo and then we used this same room to set up the mobile studio.

One of the things I learned is to try to have 2 room available, so there is not much time involved in redecorating, not so much for me and my assistant, but because young children are not going to stay awake for that long. Timing is important and the time of the photo shoot was coordinated with the provider.

All in all I had a great experience and I base my future assignments on what I have learned with this one. I am still working on a "modified" contract for this purpose. It worked smoothly also because the childcare provider collected the money and I needed to make just one trip back to deliver the prints.

I did gave the provider free 4x5's from each child and a discount on Xmas cards from the group photo.

I hope this info is something you can use, and I hope you have success with your childcare photography. (as do I :))

Caryl Barquin , Jan 11, 2010; 01:01 a.m.

Thank you everyone for your input.
I use Lifepics for online proofing. Though I can only price individual pictures, I can't price packages on that site. Therefore, I had to find another way to collect orders. I have used Lifepics for proofing and either I contacted my customers and asked them their order or they contact me. But that is when I do single family portraits. It's more controled. So I guess my fear is with doing a large number of people in one event is that they won't remember to order through me and order through Lifpics. Which means they will pay more than the discounted package I offered them, then go through all that trouble of refunding some money to who knows how many people.
Perhaps it's with this one day care I went to (or it could be common), that if I go back the next day to show parents the proofs on my laptop, not all the parents will go. For example, this daycare had a few parents that didn't have a set schedule, meaning they dropped off their child every other day and any given time. Perhaps with those parents I can make special arrangements.
I was rethinking of lowering the small package of $35. I had a lot of sales with this package with my dance recital pics. But of course they were older kids and perhaps because of this the parents weren't really hesitant to pre-order and order on the day of the photo shoot. Both shoots (the day care and the dance) were simple. I only used the props they brought.I can see NOW why parents don't want to spend too much money on their younger children.
If I can wonder off the subject of day cares and ask about shooting for non-profit. For example, I would like to contribute to the local Humane Society. They have a few large fund raisers during the year such as dinners. I was wondering if I set up my mobile studio at their event, can I charge people who want portraits and give the Shelter a percentage as a donation? I figured if I take pictures of the event, I would give those pictures or a cd to the shelter for free. Just wondering if it was proper to make some money for yourself and give some kind of donation at such events?

Eric Bono , Jan 12, 2010; 09:30 p.m.

Do the day care workers have to be there in the room with you? If so, it costs the center money, so do you give them a portion of what you collect? How do you market to them?

mehrad malahiazar , Jan 14, 2010; 10:08 p.m.

I agree with Eric, but even if you have your own assistant, a donation given back to the daycare facility would be a great idea. Plus you might want to consider giving a discount to the daycare director and the staff, in case they had child/children of their own who attend the daycare.

mehrad malahiazar , Jan 14, 2010; 10:09 p.m.

I agree with Eric, but even if you have your own assistant, a donation given back to the daycare facility would be a great idea. Plus you might want to consider giving a discount to the daycare director and the staff, in case they had child/children of their own who attend the daycare.

Caryl Barquin , Jan 15, 2010; 02:15 a.m.

In this case, in this particular day care, the owner has eight grandchildren that attend this day care. I offered her print credit. At other events I usually offer a portion of what I make. The owner did help during the shoot. I haven't officially started marketing to the day cares yet. I got this job through word of mouth. Before I really start marketing towards day cares, I wanted ideas, opinions to see if day cares are forth the effort and time. Thanks for your input.

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