Jul 1

A day in the life of a preschool photographer

Here is a look at a "Usual day" at a community kindergarten photo session. 

On most weekdays you will find me in the mornings at either a kindergarten or childcare setting. This is my workplace ! Keep in mind however that photography is generally about 20% of the work that I do in providing a service to kinders and childcares. 

The mornings start around 8am when I arrive on site at kinders (earlier if it looks to be a busy morning).  I only at centres until 11.30 as this is the ideal time to capture children when they are at their freshest and joyous (and cleanest ! ).  Usually after 11.30 is lunch followed by sleep and rest time.   

The preparation before I arrive at the centre is vital to ensuring the day runs smoothly. This consists of communication to centre families about photo day, collecting registrations for photos (this is essential to collect contact information and also as consent to photograph their child ! ).  The work beforehand is organising lists, preparing a "shoot" list, noting down special requests, who is sibling to whom, separating into classes, and following up of late registrations.   

The first part of the morning is spent setting up photo areas before we start, once that is done I like to meet the whole class of kindy friends first before we start photos (usually most kinder groups have a morning mat time close after they arrive at kindy). I chat to them about what we are there to do that day and how much fun it's going to be !

We then start with photographing children who are on our registration list for that day - 2 at time come out to the play area set up for photos.  NB:  I have discussed with directors when they arrange for us to provide our service that we need an area of the playground just for us to capture kindy photos that is free from photo bombers. 

Usually the first to come out for photos are the keenest !  Connecting with them by asking questions and encouraging play, we capture a range of different photos in a play/posed format.   I like to call it my mini session obstacle course.  Laughing and joking with each child is what creates the magic and encouraging them to show me how they climb, swing, slide, build, draw  all whilst I am capturing those moments.   
If there are siblings in the class we arrange for them to come together and capture their photos laughing together. These are some of my favourites to photograph ! 

We continue to work through the list to capture individual photos of each child registered for photos until everyone is finished before we do the class photo.... have a think about that for a second.... I am capturing 10 -15 different images of each child and usually about 22 on my list for the morning.  Physicality is a MUST for this job.  I like to think of it as my workout for the day.  I am usually bending, walking back and forth, playing, jumping and interacting... Your leg muscles get used to it ... trust me ! 

Then it's time for the class photo !    We arrange and organise 22 children into levels in a typical class photo format along with their teachers ! 

Once that's all done, I persuade the educators for a few quick headshots that I offer as complimentary.  Some gentle reassurance and coaxing may be required !     

By then it's usually 11am.  (Most 22 children classes take just over 1 1/4 hours to complete then 15 mins for the class photo time) 

But my day does not stop there ! 

It's then back to the office to take off images from the cards... Usually I will use up one 64 gb card plus maybe half of another !  2000-3000 photos usually give or take ! 

They are loaded onto my system to sort/ cull (process of choosing the best),  name, edit and prepare for online galleries. I do this the DAY of the session to keep me on track and my turnaround time fast ! 

In between all this my other tasks are:  ( I also have an assistant that helps me occasionally with this process) 

Answering parent emails, answering centre emails, managing the online gallery system, ordering photos and packaging
along with preparing for the next centre. 

So that's ALOT for one day isnt it.   It's not just the photography part.  There is LOADS more to think about. But honestly if you have a good workflow and system that is mostly automated it takes away so much of the workload for you and frees up 

Tasks you NEED that are automated are: 
  • A SOLID online gallery sales system ( I use SYTIST ) 
  • Online registration process through your website - that converts to a spreadsheet
  • Email templates ready to go
  • Payment gateways set up
  • Flyers and information that is generic for every centre
  • Social media templates
  • Class photo templates

So there you go - a little look into life as a preschool photographer. It seems like a lot, but once you nail your workflow, have good systems in place it can be an easier process than you think. 

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