20 Tips to Start a Successful School Photography Business

20  Tips to Start a Successful School Photography Business

Here are some top tips to help you become a successful school photographer. It’s a competitive field with well-established photographers already working the circuit. You will need to be persistent to break into the field.

Below are some great school photography tips to get you started on your way to becoming a full-time professional school portrait photographer. There’s a lot to think about and prepare for on your journey at each stage.

School photography is a competitive industry so it is vital that you are persistent and stand out from everyone else. However, before you stand out you have to make sure you are doing everything you can and that is needed as a professional photographer.

20 Photography Tips to Start a Successful School Photography Business

Allow Plenty of Working Capital

When setting up as you will need money for transport, equipment which can all be quite expensive to set up. Proofing photos can be an expensive upfront outlay that is necessary. If you have a school of 1000 children and your proofing costs are even only £1 (1$) that is still a huge outlay. Especially if you are doing more than one school. And the truth is that this cost can easily be between 3 to 5 times that amount. You may be able to get around this if you can put your proofs on the computer online, however not all school will want this.

Prepare Your Mind for the Challenges

Make sure you have the right nature and mindset for the job. Ie can you work day in day out with lots of children and will you enjoy it? And can you work with the same photo setups or will you get irate or bored? Be prepared for working with children and parents and the challenges that might bring. This will enable you to handle them better when the time comes.

Allow For Travel

Be prepared to travel long distances and make sure you have a check of all equipment needed before you depart so that you don’t leave anything behind. Have spares of anything necessary ready to hand.

Prepare Your Work Flow

Get your workflow sorted out before you start. It is vital that you have a workflow in place for before the shoot, the shoot and post shoot.

Have You Been Security Checked?

Check what security checks if any are needed if any as you are working with children. In some countries, you may need added security checks or disclosures even if not required by law it may be best to get them as this shows trustworthiness and consideration. Ideally, make sure you are not alone with the children at any time.

Insurance is Key

Make sure you are insured. Ensure your car for work, ensure your equipment and have liability insurance, etc.

Overlook Contracts at Your Peril

Get a contract signed before you start, I cannot stress enough how important this is. It will save you heartache later and the schools should expect one.

How to Break into School Photography

Most schools will have a school photographer already. Ways to break into this are, become an employee to gain experience and bypass this issue, become a freelancer for another established firm. Approach your child’s school if you have one. Approach your governing body or council if they are the ones that arrange photographers and get on their lists. Be flexible and prepared to take on short notice or less desirable job to start with.

Do You Need Qualifications?

While a degree or other qualifications may not be needed they are often asked for so make sure you know what is going to be asked for. Either, have these qualifications as well as photo skills or that you can find a way around the question with proof of your ability and experience.

Tip Top Portfolio

Make sure you have an up to date portfolio on the topic. It is likely that the school, council or business representative will want to see samples of your work. Make sure your portfolio shines. Have the full as portraiture and some samples of related subjects.


Get your prices sorted out before you start. But be prepared for the school to want to increase them so they also make a profit. Allow for this.

Don’t Limit Yourself to State Schools

Approach smaller more exclusive schools or private schools they are more likely to accept a new photographer and may have more say of who they hire.

What is Your Location Like

Try to see or know what the conditions of the location will be like before you go and what you can and cannot do while you are there. School photos are often taken in large halls or gyms for example. You will need to make sure you can set up and work comfortably and have spaces for waiting children.

Be Professional

Make sure you are organized and efficient as this shows professionalism. Be tidy, polite, friendly and in control of your emotions. Show that you know what you are doing without being officious.

Like to Work With Children

Make sure that you love to work with children and can identify with them and get the best from them as you will be with them all day. You will also need to be good with school representatives and parents and guardians.

Systems Help

Have an efficient system for categorizing the photos and making sure the right pictures go to the right children.

Know Your Child Age Groups

Know how to get the most from each child’s age group as it is different for each one. For example have a selection of techniques and tools at the ready to get them to interact with the camera, relax and smile.

Stand Out

Find a positive way to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. Make your photos better than the average point and click stiff school photo. You can do this by doing something different from the poses. Note though that not everyone likes change so be careful about how you do this, maybe have a standard shot as well.

Check Your Photo Editing Skills

Make sure you have photo editing skills and the software needed for your photo editing.

Look Towards Private Clients

Always work towards getting new private clients so find a way to get the parents on to your website email list. Always make sure they know and give permission for this, not only is it a legal requirement in many countries but you don’t want to be known for spamming people.

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