Cranston Middle School Postpones Its Wackiness

How many times has something like this happened to you?  I thought this was really funny and typical of a school photographer’s luck…  At least they rescheduled the event instead of photographing everyone wearing psychedelic wigs for their pictures… or making the school photographer change  their date after the parents had already been notified.

Read Kate Bramson’s article from the Providence Journal at Projo.com here.

Yearbook Design Software – YearbookFusion by Lumapix

If you’re looking for a great solution to produce your own yearbooks & need software to do so, take a look at Yearbook Fusion by LumaPix.  Everyone who I have spoken with regarding this software finds it simply unbelievable.

YearbookFusion is a software package specialized for yearbook layout.
It streamlines the process of creating yearbooks, church directories, and other database-driven album types.

YearbookFusion enables a yearbook advisor to

  • Install a layout application with branding and page size defaults matching the publisher that provided the software
  • Create a multipage album project with all pages stored in a single file
  • Import a PSPA CD, building a database of students and faculty
  • Perform database operations, such as moving students from one grade to another
  • Create panel pages automatically
  • Customize the panel page ‘look’ (knocking out frames, reshaping the grid, etc)
  • Lay out the rest of the yearbook with candid pages, collage pages, etc
  • Upload the results to the publisher for printing

YearbookFusion is targeted at publishers, labs and printing companies that work with multiple customers (either directly with schools or with photographers that work with schools).

Business advantages of YearbookFusion for publishers include:

  • Locked templates matching publisher album specifications
  • One-click uploading to the publisher facility
  • Branding reflecting the publisher
  • Superior ease of use
  • Simple bulk licensing pricing and licensing

Click here for a video demonstratingYearbook Fusion.

The company who licenses the software may distribute it to their schools and can create a pdf file of the yearbook and give it to any printer they choose.

The software is priced bewteen $100-$190 based on volume.  Contact Bob Winkler at 1-888-753-4647 for more information.

School Account Cost Caculator

Here’s a quick way to figure out approximately how much you will make at any given elementary school.

Number of Students x $6.35 – Your costs including labor & Materials for packages to take the pictures.
+
Commission & Services – Add this to your cost of taking the pictures.  Services include, CDs, ID cards, etc.  Commissions are what ever cash you return to the school.

This will give you your total cost of doing a school grades K-6.

Now take your packages add them all together & divide by the number of packages you are offering and this will give you a rough sales average.  (If you have prior history with underclass use the actual sales averages)

Now goto this site and search for your school:
http://www.schoolmatters.com

It will give you an “Economically Challenged” Percentage.  Subtract that number from 100%.  This will give you the percentage of those not “Economically Challenged”.  Multiply that percentage times the enrollment of you school times you order average.  This is how much you will gross.

Subtract the cost from your gross to see your profit before overhead.

Example:
1000 Students x $6.35 = $6,350 costs
1000 ID cards x $1.00 = $1,000 costs
Total Costs = $7,350 just to shoot the school

Order Average = $31.00
Economic Factor = 100%-48% = 52%
52%x1000x$31.00 = 16,120

$16,120
-$  7,350

Total Profit before service costs= $8,770

If this doesn’t make sense to you, if you want to email me your school’s name and the average of the packages you order, I can do the math for you and give you a rough idea of your sales vs costs.

Someday, I plan on making this a caculator online that will do the math for you…

Keep Up With The ‘Inside Scoop’ of Your School Accounts

Use the Internet to help you keep up with what is going on with your schools.  The information can be useful for conversation starters with your school contacts or may even give you a scoop about something more significant.  You might learn about something your competitor did wrong or that one of your accounts is accepting bids, when you think you already have it ‘in the bag’.

I am using a new service by Google, called “Google Alerts“.   I set up search words that Google will monitor.  Google will then send me an email as often as I want with the latest information about my search.  It looks through new posts to news stories, blogs, the web, videos, and newsgroups.

I have search words such as “PhotoLynx”, “CamLynx”, & “School Days”.  So every time someone posts a comment about our software online to a blog, forum, or newsgroup, I receive an email about if from Google.  I can then follow up with the post to see what we can do to assist with what was posted.  I also have generic entries, such as “school photography”, “school photo software”, etc.  Thus helps me see more general posts about the industry.  I even have all of our competitor’s names being searched for also.

As a school photographer, you can enter in the names of your schools, the names of your competitors, and even the names of your school contacts to get current information about all of the things you are interested in.  This information can be used to your advantage to get a ‘insider’s’ headstart.

Another great search tool is Tweetdeck.  Use this tool to search Twitter in real time for tweets about key words that interest you.  You can then react to the comments as necessary, in real time or use the information for later as a conversation starter.

Using the Web to Promote Your Business

As a business geared toward photographing students, it’s important that you as a photographer keep up with the current trends of communication.  Things have changed rapidly over the last couple of years…

U.S. Post Office – OUT!
LandLine Phone – OUT!
Email – OUT!

Texting – IN!
Facebook – IN!
Twitter – IN!

One of our customers makes it a point to gather cell phone numbers from students when they sign up for senior portaits.  He has them sign a waiver, as they fill out their registration forms giving them permission to send out reminder text messages.  He then sends out an occasionaly text, reminding them of things, such as their portrait appointment, proof reminders, specials, etc.

Facebook has turned into ‘all the rage’, students don’t email any longer… it takes too long!  They message each other through services such as Facebook or MySpace.  With Facebook, you can import a list of email addresses.  Facebook will look up to see who is already a member and ask them to be your ‘friend’.  Once accepted as a friend, you now have an open door to send out communications, through a method that a student is already connected to.  Check out our Facebook page here!

Twitter is another great source of communitcation.  Twitter is so simple, it took me a while to understand it.  Sending out a message through twitter is is called “tweeting”.  Tweeting is similar to text messaging, you are limited to 140 characters.  This forces a user to be precise in their communcations.  The message goes out to the “world” and anyone can read it.   With this, it becomes a ‘Micro blog’ that anyone can see.  Users follow each people on twitter to see what others are tweeting about.  To get followers, use your website, facebook, text messaging, and your printed literature to advertise your twitter URL.  To follow PhotoLynx, goto www.Twitter.com/PhotoLynx!

Lifetouch Photographer Cleared of Touching

Allegations were dropped against a Lifetouch photographer accused of inappropriate touching while posing students at a Junior High School. Click HERE for more info.

See my earlier blog entry about “No-Touch” posing.

Setting Up ImageMatch™ for Group or Class Photos

Class photos, Memory Mates, Team pictures, Trading cards, and other digital service items use photos where there is a group of students or athletes from a single class or team in one photo that you want to link to the individuals to create and print those services. By using ImageMatch™ and ProServices™ you can set up your jobs to automate the process of associating the individuals with their group photo and print service items either through ProServices™ or Riplynx™.

The key to making sure it all runs smoothly is making sure you have set up your data correctly. The fields to focus on are the fields that you will be using to match the individuals with the group photo. For sports, these are typically the teamname field and the coach field. For school pictures, it is usually teacher and grade or homeroom. Ensure that you are entering the appropriate data into those fields using identical punctuation, capitalization and spacing. For example, Mrs. Smith in the teacher field for both the class photo and the student’s photos, not Mrs. Smith in one and Ms smith for another. The same goes for a secondary field you want to use for associating unique group photos with the individuals (ie, grade would need to be “6” in both records, not “6” and “6th”).

The other key point to remember is making sure you have entered data into the criteria field for your group photos so that he software knows they are the group photos. In the instructions, we recommend a “G” in the criteria field. This can be done at time of photography if you are using CamLynx®, or after you bring the job into ImageMatch™.

For a complete document that will guide you through setting up your job in ImageMatch™ for Group Photos, click here: Setting Up Your Job for Group Photos
The downloadable instructions assume you know how to set up a digital service for a Memory Mate or Class Photo in ProServices™, but should you need assistance, we are always happy to help!