School Picture Contract Template

As part of PhotoLynx’ commitment to our clients we strive to answer any type of question thrown at us, regardless if it’s support about our software or not.  Our clients become our friends so everyone has no problem bouncing ideas off of us.

I worked for over 20 years photographing schools before joining PhotoLynx, so I personally get asked a lot for business ideas.  One thing that has frequently come up lately is a request for a school contract template.  I have one that I got from my formal employer, so here it is for you to download to adapt for yourself.

Price of PhotoLynx Software

I enjoy monitoring the search words that lead people to blog.  One that comes up often is “Price of PhotoLynx Software”.  The prices are not posted on the website on purpose.  We build solutions custom to every business, so based on the businesses needs we quote prices.

The unique thing about our pricing model is that the pricing includes support, consulting, and upgrades as they come out.  We charge annually for use of the software.  This guarantees we will stay in business and be there to continue to earn your business.   Every year, we typically introduce major new features into the software.  For example, last year we did a huge update to our green screen capabilities.  We are continuously adding in support for a lot of behind the scene things like Photo printers, such as the KISS DKS and Kodak’s DP2 software.  We strive to keep up with the industry trends, such as multiple crop proofing, composites, and memory mates.

The book pricing is no secret, we give it out at trade shows.
Our Ala Carte Pricing goes like this:

CamLynx – $510
ImageMatch Unlimited – $2060
ProServices – $1030
ProComposites – $1030
RipLynx – $515
Mr. Gray – $140 – One Time

School Days+ Pricing
Capture – $1000
Management – $1400
Render – $500

PDI Pricing
PC Pro $1800 – One Time
PC Event $1200 – One Time

However, keep in mind, we build a solution based on your needs. For instance, for 2 copies of CamLynx, the price goes down by a $100 for each copy for a total of a $200.00 per year savings.  So the best thing to do is to give us a call at 760-782-9000 or drop me an email at Michael@PhotoLynx.com.  You will always reach a friendly PhotoLynx employee who is here to help you.  We will discuss the needs of your bussiness and help you undertand what software you will need.  You may download a free trial of the software here.

SPAC – School Photographers Association of California

I don’t know the exact numbers for the attendance at SPAC this year, but it wasn’t many more then attended our User’s group meeting.  Many of those at SPAC were from those at the User’s group meeting.

Being a vendor, I didn’t attend many of the sessions at SPAC.  I stayed after our Users group meeting to meet with a potential client.  Then I gave Blake Bullard from Richmond Camera a ride from the hotel were we hosted our User’s group over to SPAC.  I really enjoyed my time with Blake.  He was very inquisitive about the local sites.  Unfortunately I grew up in the Inland Empire and I don’t know too much about San Diego.

The one session I did attend was on Saturday afternoon.  It was about Green Screen.  It started out with Gary Kranz showing how he shoots his green screen images and brings them into PhotoLynx Software for output in his lab.  Gary puts about 1/2 million images through the PhotoLynx Green Screen Process.

Afterward, Paul Schulz from PhotoLynx, Mark Renken from TimeStone, and David Francis from 36 Pix each presented the advantages to using their products for school photography green screen.  After each person had about 10 minutes to present their product, the room was opened to an open discussion.  There was about 10 questions asked, primarily about green screen workflows.  Although, everyone on the panel who spoke were competition, they were very cordial and complimentary to each other.  Everyone agreed that good photography and correct lighting is the key to making green screen work well.

The remainder of SPAC on Saturday was for the trade show.  There were about 15-20 vendors there, including PhotoLynx, Timestone, 36 Pix, Marathon Press, Cash Flow, CDF, ACI, PictureMaster, JD Color, and other labs.

PhotoLynx Users Group Was Hugely Successful!

We started our user’s group meeting with a deep sea fishing trip on Wednesday.  I wasn’t able to be there because I was traveling home from Jacksonville, but by the pictures I saw and what everyone who went fishing said, it was a great time.  Word of the fishing trip even got around those who didn’t even attend our User’s group meeting at SPAC.

Thursday and Friday we had standing room only in the room we reserved at the Island Palms Resort near San Diego.  Thursday Christian & I went over all of the new features put in the software over the last year.  Friday, Joy & Pat Cahill from Cahill Studios spoke about their experiences using green screen this year.  Ralph Romaguera Sr spoke about recovering his business from Hurricane Katrina.  He analogized the hardships brought on by Katrina and today’s poor economy and what to do to get through it.

The middle part of the day was conducted by Paul Schulz.  First he placed everyone in groups for a business Idea Exchange, he called “Trigger Points” – Working together in small groups everyone generated many great ideas that they can use to grow and prosper in 2009.  Business & marketing tips, new product ideas,  production shortcuts are just some of the areas that were discussed.  These ideas are being compiled and will be emailed shortly to all of those in attendance.

The last part of the day was used for round tables.  There were 5 topics, each assigned to tables in the room.  Everyone choose the topic they were interested in and sat down with the PhotoLynx crew to discuss those topics.  I personally worked with those interested in converting from School Days+ to CamLynx or ImageMatch.  The other topics included Green Screen headed by Joy Cahill, Composites headed by Tawnya, SIS headed by Kat Smith, and business headed by Ralph Romaguera Sr.

A more comprehensive set of notes from the meeting along with a list of the new features and how to use them will be added in an upcoming post later this week.

Warm Welcome For Some of Our Troops!

I often travel for PhotoLynx for trade shows or to visit with clients.  If I had to estimate, I would say 25% of my year is spent on the road.  I know that this isn’t that much travel as compared to some occupations, but for me it’s just about perfect.

Because I do travel so frequently, often times it becomes routine.  I have the same suitcase with the same always stocked travel bags.  I can leave a hotel room or rental car without the fear of leaving anything behind because I have it down to such a routine.  We always almost always fly SouthWest Airlines, so I know how to be sure to be amongst one of the first to get on the plane for my seat selection.

This week I was out visiting one of our customers in Jacksonville Florida.  Everything was very routine up to my last morning coming home.  I woke up before my wake up call, so I jumped in the shower and just got ready to catch my plane.  While in the shower, my wake up call rang, but I didn’t hear it until I was almost out.  I couldn’t make it in time to answer the phone.  A few minutes later, I have a knocking at my door.  It was security making sure I was alright because I didn’t answer my wake up call. I actually thought that was a great courtesy of the hotel to follow up on a missed wake up call like that.

I flew the short distance from Jacksonville to Tampa, where I had an almost 3 hour layover.  I got comfortable it a Chili’s Too and broke out my laptop to prepare for tonight’s user group meeting as I had a long wait before my flight.

An announce came over the P.A. that a plane of troops coming home from Iraq was going to arrive at a gate nearby where I was eating.  They encouraged everyone to gather at the gate to welcome the troops home.  I wish I had my camera, but there was well over 100 people from the terminal gathered around the gate waiting for the plane to arrive.  When the troops came walking into the terminal everyone started clapping and whistling welcoming the troops home.  The roar of claps didn’t stop until the very last person was well past the gate.  It was nothing like I’ve seen before.

President Obama was just sworn in yesterday.  I used to pay close attention to politics, but I have been avoiding the news over the last few years because it was always so depressing.  It’s a refreshing change to see everyone so optimistic.  I can feel it all around that nearly everyone is anxious to see what difference a new president can bring.  This welcoming home of the troops is hopefully a sign of whats to come.

Think Big – Be Small! – Part 2 – David vs Goliath

You’re not sure about what photography studio may already be servicing a school. Or, better yet, your feeling confident that you have the tools to specifically out bid the competitor in your area. Here is a website that you can some of the schools being photographed in your area! Select your state and then enter a city and the list will pop up on right from their website. You can even click on a school and see what date they will be there taking pictures. Learn about the different styles of photography, picture prices, and other things being offered on picture day. You may want to stop in to see how the photographers are doing things that day! www.picturedayonline.com

Pricing will very depending on school. But, a good way to get a hold of the price list is to stop by the school before or on photography day and pick one up. The local branch phone number gets listed on the website when you select a school. Call that office and ask them to mail you a price list. If they ask what school you go to, you have the list right there. More than likely, they will assume you are a parent and just mail you one.

Simple Photo, along with PhotoLynx has a program called ClickandSafe. Click-and-Safe enables a partnership between parents, the school photographer, and law enforcement officials to help secure kids. Parents simply use the same private online password they use for photo purchasing as a key to quickly getting a photo of their child in the hands of law enforcement officials if needed in an emergency.

Even with all the bells and whistles remember as a smaller studio you have the advantage:

  • You have a personal relationship with everyone, right down to the custodian at the school. You can have pre-printed cards or labels to allow the students to be photographed quickly. All of this allows you to have a hassle-free and organized portrait day.
  • Through software like PhotoLynx, you have accurate accountability of the names and images. You can produce products such as ID cards and CDs right on the spot! The school will not have to wait on delivery for their digital images for their school administrative software. You could deliver it right after your shoot.
  • You are providing your own personal photography, with a close net group of a few well trained photographers instead of those hired just to fill the vacancy.

Don’t just follow or duplicate what others offer. Be an innovator. Offer special services or products that only your studio can provide. Maybe have a large display where the kids can see their own images as they are taken. Bring donuts on photography day for the teachers. Offer multiple backgrounds, or more creative photography. Add that special touch that only a local photographer can provide.

Think Big – Be Small! – You have the tools!

Prologue: I debated about rather or not to publish this.  I fully realize that some readers feel that a “start-up” school photographer can corrupt their business.  Not in a way that they feel threatened by loosing business, but that after the “start-up” fails, the business at the schools they had is no longer the same.   I work with photography companies every day, who are established, but feel threatened by the “evil empire”.  I wrote this with them in mind, to illustrate that PhotoLynx offers every tool to make them competitive in the school photography marketAlso, we have some very large clients, but in the “big picture” they need the same competitive edge to compete in today’s market.  This article is good for them as well, as almost no matter how big you are, there is almost always someone who is larger.  It’s all about provinding more therm just software.  We  want to be a one stop resource for all.

Many photographers don’t realize that they have every tool available to beat out the “big boys”. In fact, the smaller your photography company is, the better off you probably are. Some large School Photography companies, are so large, they get caught up in their own size and bureaucracy that it is difficult for them to change with the times. Sure they, have the money and resources to continue developing competitive products, but as a small photography company, you can change and adapt very quickly.

Choose a good lab – Some large companies photo processing is a centralized amongst a few labs. No matter where the branch office is within the country, all of the works gets sent to a centralized location. Because of this, the turn around time is fairly slow. It might be up to 2-3 weeks or longer. As a small company, you can choose a lab that offers much faster turn around times. You can find a lab that is local to you that will save time in delivery back to your studio. Many labs offer free 1 or 2 Day delivery. Labs will fight for your business, whereas large photography companies, with their own labs treat all of their work equally.

Do your homework – Don’t wait for a school to show you something offered by the competition. Surf the web a bit. Get to know your competition and Google their name to see what they offer. Join and attend groups such as PSPA or SPAC. They get together a couple of times a year and share ideas. Surf around on the PhotoLynx Site, to learn about some of the products that you can produce through software.

Be creative in what you offer – Anything a large studio does, you can do better. The tools are out there to create ANYTHING that they offer, plus much more. If you can’t afford to invest in the software or other equipment you need to produce something competitive, check with your lab. Most labs already have the products available at very good prices because they can offer them in volume.

I’m still surprised at how often I hear that photographers don’t know that things like “Star Composites” that highlight an individual student, or something competitive to what Lifetouch calls “ImageStream”, software that the schools use to create products from student images, can be made by your lab or PhotoLynx software.

Pricing – A large chunk of what a larger photography company charges is kept within the corporation and not at the local level. So not only do they have to pay lab fees, they also have to pay what is equivalent to a Franchise fee. As an independant photographer, you can price your packages at a lower price then them and still make a larger profit per order.

Creative Photography – Through software, such as PhotoLynx you can even produce a proof that has 5 different crops and looks from one image. You can offer the students a choose of backgrounds through GreenScreen. You probably have a smaller staff doing your photography, so you can be more selective in the quality of photographer working for you. Larger companies can’t train as well, and have to be less selective with their personnel in order to come up with enough photographers for their seasons.

Customer Service – More then likely, most of your business is in your own backyard. You are local. You can provide personal service and attention. You keep the money in the community. You can be attentive to the school and be there when they need you. Parents are not caught up in being shuffled around throughout the organization for answers. You can respond to your customer’s needs immediately.

Large companies are like huge cruise-liners. It takes them a very long time to make a turn. Most independent photographers have been using digital photographer to their advantage for years now. It is very costly and takes a long time to re-equip a large business. As a smaller, independent company, you can cut through all of the bureaucracy of a large company and stay ahead of the competition.

This is just a random video I found on YouTube. I had nothing to do with creating the video and I am not implying that the software always works like this. I just posted it to show that nobody is perfect.

Yearbooks – At many schools a large Photo Company may offer yearbooks. There are many companies that can produce yearbooks for your schools. The publishing companies will even provide photography companies with software for the schools to design their yearbooks with. A couple of publishing companies that I recommend are Walters Publishing, and Marathon Press.

Think Big – Be Small – Being a smaller independent photography company certainly has it’s advantages. But sometimes the “bling” of a larger company may appeal to some schools. When you are presenting to a school, be sure to explain all of the advantages of working with a smaller independent photographer, such as the personal attention they will get. But, don’t be intimidated when it comes to some of the products larger companies provide. Again, everything they have to offer is at your fingertips. Some items you might want to be prepared for:

  • Do you provide ID cards? – Yes – In fact we can print them right on the spot. (Using software like CamLynx) The students can go to one camera and get the picture for their ID cards, yearbook, school administrative CDs, and instant ID’s all in one photograph.
  • I get free calendars from my current photographer – Once again – Marathon Press to the rescue! Based on quantities, Marathon offers many inexpensive calendars that can be customized with your studio’s name.
  • Other Goodies – It’s not always great photography that earns you a school contract. It’s the other little things, like rulers, cups, pencils, pens, book bags, etc. Things that may not seem like a big deal, but really works at winning the contract and adds credence for your studio. Look at the Oriental Trading company for some good deals on these nic-nacs.

Yes the cost of these things all add up. They are lost leaders. That’s why you want to do your homework. Don’t over extend yourself, just know that this stuff is available. Be prepared.

Promotional Material -I have a CD full of Photoshop files of “leave behind” sales flyers that can be customized for your studio. If you are interested, drop an email to Michael@PhotoLynx.com requesting the CD and I will mail you one for free. Additionally, you can purchase flyers from Marathon press to be passed out to each student to advertise photography day and to be used as leave behinds when presenting to schools.

Be The Other Option – In many areas, a large national company is the dominant photography company. They are the school’s choice only by default. The school doesn’t have any other option, but would leave them in a heartbeat if they knew they had another choice. Be that choice! Names and contact listings for schools are plentiful. Here are a couple of national listings, but if you Google Public School Listings along with your state, you will receive plenty of results local to you….

Yahoo
National Center of Education Statistics

There’s plenty of business for everyone. School photography can be a very lucrative business. By photographing schools, the students and parents are a captive audience. The revenue from schools renews itself each year. If you don’t already do school photography, but are interested in doing so, see my previous blog about becoming a school photographer. If you are already in the school business, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to help you be competitive. You have the added bonus of being nimble, easily changing with the times, and able to provide custom services to your clients. Think Big – Be Small! – David vs Goliath

Using the Apple Remote with BootCamp!

 ARW (Apple Remote for windows) helps you control various applications (like Winamp, Microsoft Powerpoint, Picasa, VLC Player, mplayer etc) on windows running on Macbook with the Apple Remote.  I used it on Saturday to make my PowerPoint Application at the Sepcon just prior to the start of Imaging USA.  It worked absolutely perfect!

Great School Portraits in 39 Seconds: It’s Elementary with the Right Workflow

I just spent the day at a Pre-Convention Imaging USA taking place at Sepcon listening to Chris Wonder.  He was speaking about “Great School Portraits in 39 Seconds: It’s Elementary with the Right Workflow”.  I spoke the last couple of hours about fitting PhotoLynx into the underclass workflow.  I had to leave just before it ended to catch a plane back home, so Chris Wunder wrapped stuff up.

There was about 30 in attendance.  Many are old PhotoLynx friends.  I saw Mary Cahill from Cahill studios in Wisconsin and Bert Burr from Bert Burr Studios in Louisiana.  There were others as well, I wish I wasn’t so terrible with names… sorry if you’re reading this and i didn’t mention you.

The seminar was 8 hours long.  It began at 8:00 am and was still going after 6:00 pm.  Chris took what he normally teaches in his underclass boot camps over three days and condensed it into a single day.  It was a really great workshop for those who are interested in getting into or just got into school photography. 

Chris reviewed everything from necessary hardware, software, and workflow needed to start your own school photography business.  If you are just starting in school photography can catch one of Chris Wunder’s lectures, I strongly recommend it.

The dates on this link has already passed.  But check in occasionally for an update on his lectures.

Tim and Tawnya will be at Imaging USA on Sunday and Monday in booth 1401.  We will not be there on the opening day on Sunday.

Windows 7 Beta is Here!

Not even 2 years after the release of Vista, Windows 7 is ready for beta-testing through Microsoft.  It really is just a polished version of Vista.  But, many are touting that Windows 7 is what Vista should have been when it was released.

Maybe it is finally time to let go of that old XP OS and move on.  If you want to beta test it for yourself here is the link.