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Back to School - part 1 of 1 2 3 4 5

Published 01/08/2009


The school photographer is one of the least well known roles in the social industry. It also has a huge range abilities - from people who wouldn't know an F-stop from a bus stop, with their camera settings glued down... to highly skilled professionals, working with staging and 10"x8" cameras to photograph groups of 1,000 people.

It's a market dominated by large companies - many employing dozens or even hundreds of photographers - and teams of sales and production staff.

If you have children you'll have seen examples; and this is often a start to a photographer's career, 'I could do much better than that!'

So can you?

What are the key things to know about this kind of work? Firstly, and most importantly, you must be able to take hundreds of photos in a very short amount of time, consistently. An average primary school will have around 200 children, ranging in age from 5-12, and usually there are a number of siblings. You'll have a wide range of family backgrounds and ethnic groups. And you have to be finished before lunch - so that's three hours (less a morning break!) which gives you 20 minutes per class- or about 40 seconds per child. Don't be put off - read on!


Nowadays the school will probably also expect you to record the child's name and then supply a JPEG or .BMP to a specified size, renamed to the child's ID number. They will probably expect that as a freebie - and they will also expect a percentage of the takings, somewhere between 10% and 30%.

The parents now normally expect to see a proof before they order a pack, and often they will get two or three images to choose from. From those, they will choose a package of prints which will cost somewhere from £25-£8.

In order to get your prints at a good price you need to use one of a handful of specialist schools labs. Owing to the numbers involved, and the fact that the majority of work is done in the September-December terms, you'll often be best to get the lab to do all the work - print proofcards, print and package the prints, and even ship to the school.

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1st Published 01/08/2009
last update 18/07/2022 13:28:10

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Updated 18/07/2022 13:28:10 Last Modified: Monday, 18 July 2022