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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

School district taking team photography in-house?
Walt Smith, Photographer
Frisco | TX | USA | Posted: 1:07 PM on 05.19.09
->> Has anybody of of this before??? I am losing 6 schools team and individual business because they want to take the whole photography business in-house. Not write contracts that get them back 40-50% of the gross, but actually take the photos and all the money. They are starting with middle school team and individual photos, and it will incorporate all phases of photos: school pics, yearbooks, dances, proms, the whole shooting match. They have no idea what their getting into, but has anybody else of this scenario?
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Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 1:28 PM on 05.19.09
->> now is it the school district taking the business in house, or the school district contract photographer that is now going to handle all the photo business.

might be for the best, why would you want to be in business where you are giving back 40-50% of the gross sales? must be a typo, if not it's better to be out of that mess.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 1:33 PM on 05.19.09
->> Cuz, they want the other 50 percent.
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Walt Smith, Photographer
Frisco | TX | USA | Posted: 11:28 PM on 05.19.09
->> It is the school district taking it over. Not the contract photographer. This particular school district has let each school make their own deals, for students as well as athletics. For student photos, the normal kickback in the industry is 40-50%. We have been very lucky and not have to give anything back for t/i photography up to this point just because the coaches are all so happy that a lifetouch photographer is not trying to lineup their teams and take all day. Now they have hired a "photographer" as a school district employee to take all the photos, starting with athletics and moving up to including all photos by the end of next school year. At the risk of tooting our own horn, we make it look easy. That is why we pick up so much business from those that really can't do it. It is my thought that they have no clue what they are getting into, with photoshop, lab orders, reorders, complaints, etc. I'm am so curious to know if anybody has heard of anything like this in any other school district?
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 11:58 PM on 05.19.09
->> With everyone with a camera taking photos and driving the schools nuts, I saw this coming about a year ago. Some school administrators want no hassles, no bids, no outside people who ask questions. The market is changing, and changing fast, hold on to your canera strap kids.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 12:01 AM on 05.20.09
->> Walt,

It is a logical business decision. I assume there was a search for a qualified candidate and I would bet the district did their homework knowing full well the challenges the may face. I would not be surprised if more districts go this route creating jobs for photographers with the proper skill set to supply their internal needs as well as generate more revenue for their district. The only problem I see is the photographer does not have a support staff (receptionist/scheduler, graphic designer, assistant).

While it is certainly the first time I've heard of it happening on the high school level, it is not unheard of in the academic world. At one time and many campuses still do have photo departments with fulltime employees doing exactly what the position the district created.
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Delane B. Rouse, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | US | Posted: 12:05 AM on 05.20.09
->> Sounds like a 'university photographer" to me, and like Clark said, it's not really a new idea. The only difference is that it has trickled down to middle/high school.

Don't get me wrong...this SUCKS for you and your business :(

Delane
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Bruce Twitchell, Photographer
Coeur d'Alene | ID | USA | Posted: 1:04 AM on 05.20.09
->> I am sure I will get hammered for this, but.....

I teach high school photography and I am about to move my advanced classes to start doing some of the dances as well as some of the sports photos at our school. The reason I am doing this is for two reasons.

1. My photography program is in the Professional-Technical program. The goal of this is to prepare the student as much as possible on how to become a pro and operate as a pro. Actually having them figure out the CDB, set-up lights, take down, have customer interaction, work to get prints done on deadline, etc. is the best way to teach them. Having real life experiences is the best education.

2. Currently the photographers that are doing this work do not give back a dime for the right to be the official photographer. On top of this, I was informed that my district is not providing any money to the teachers to operate the classes. Zero, zilch, nothing. If my printer runs out of ink, I need to get money to replace the ink. When a school camera breaks, I need funds to repair it. When my students travel to compete in regional, state and possibly national photo contests, there must be funds to pay for it. Where does the money come from? Not the district next year. I need to raise money to operate a photography class. Having the students putting the skills that they are learning to earn money for the program is the best answer.

We are not taking over everything, we are not doing the whole district, but I believe doing some of the jobs and earning money is not a bad thing, especially when there is no kick-back AND the district is giving nothing to the teacher budgets.

"It is my thought that they have no clue what they are getting into, with photoshop, lab orders, reorders, complaints, etc."
How do you know this? Who in the district is going to be running this? It could be someone very qualified. My guess is they know what they are getting into, not to mention there are plenty of order fulfillment companies out there that will take care of the photoshop, printing, packaging, etc. all for you for a cost.
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Matthew Mullen, Photographer
Brick | NJ | USA | Posted: 9:18 AM on 05.20.09
->> Our local school district is trying to consolidate all schools under one umbrella to maximize buying power and minimize headaches and time negotiating individual deals. While I understand what Bruce is doing and why he is doing it there are some things that just shouldn't be shot by students such as prom portraits. If there is an issue those photos really can't be reshot. Who takes responsibility for lost photos? I can see yearbook content, prom candids, even some on field sports action to the extent the available equipment allows, but product that parents are going to expect and demand quality is pushing the envelope. I see things changing where we are going to have to be more flexible and in tune to the "camera culture" going forward.
Photographers are going to have to partner with student photographers and school districts to offer products and services that have value. If a school district brings this stuff in house they will see just how difficult it really is and the market will dictate whether the end product is acceptable. The market being parents who buy the yearbooks, prom photos, sports action photos etc. Ultimately after the dust settles the school district who takes on the whole photography package will be an educated customer when they shop for a professional to take on the parts they couldn't handle. The trick is to position yourself so you are the go to guy when things don't work out the way they had hoped.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 10:25 AM on 05.20.09
->> Bruce Twitchell:
I think what you are doing with your high school class is great! Keep up the good work.


Matthew Mullen:
Curious as to why you think a capable, trained high school student can't shoot prom pictures or produce acceptable quality images. I can see it from your perspective if the student did not have classroom training, lacked an enriched mentoring environment, and did not possess the equipment needed to complete the task. This isn't the case in Mr. Twitchell's situation.

In our area, and I'm reasonable sure in other areas of the country they do this as well, several of the school's trades classes build house (they do framing, roofing, pour concrete, drywalling and assist with wiring), barns, and other structures within their district under supervision and do a superb job. In another, carpentry classes make furniture and then sale the pieces to the community. If high school students can learn the technical skills it takes to build houses or rebuild cars, they are certainly capable of taking prom pictures under the same type of supervision and mentoring.


Walt Smith:
Like Delane said and I understand "...this SUCKS for you and your business :("
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 11:11 AM on 05.20.09
->> Many if not most of the franchised photo vendors who do proms and dances use high school/college kids to shoot these events. They are no more difficult or challenging than working in the (ahem....) Wal-Mart / JC Penny photo room.

Stand there, look there, click click. NEXT! Stand there, look there, click click. NEXT!

PORTRAITS are a different story but prom is just cookie cutter work. The was a company (maybe someone will chime in) that used to have strings attached to the c-stands that were color coded. The red bead was the distance to the backdrop the green to the posing stool or spike mark for standing couples, the yellow to the camera tripod etc. My understanding from one of our P/T's that works for one of the big franchises is that the cameras have proprietary firmware that locks the shooter into mode, colorspace (they use sRGB) etc. Nothing but button pushing and making sure that there aren't any blinkers.

It does suck big time, but I'm not surprised that the districts are looking and going this route. It will be interesting to see if they make the leap to the next logical grab and try to limit photography at school events to just the in-house dept and monetize that stream too.
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Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 4:25 AM on 05.25.09
->> I photograph many proms and dances and we are not "cookie Cutter" many "studios" are and that is very sad.

The difference is in the details, and as long as there are those just "button pushing it" there will be a place for quality. We contract professionals who are well trained in how to produce a quality dance portrait, looking for details like flower position, hair issues, clothing, proper posing, hands, head tilts, blinks, posture etc...
many I employ are members of this site as well and if they care to chime in can attest to this as well.

I don't mean to specifically point out Eric's post,I know he produces quality work in his business, it's just he used so many of the hated cliche phrases that give the impression that photography is just button pushing.

Bruce Twichell,
There are many ways that the school contract photographer gives back to the school, it is not always in the form of cash or a check but just as valuable.
The school contract photographer in return for all the senior portrait and dance business covers all the school events at no additional charge and provides images for school use.
some of these activities are pep rallies, club activities, all sporting events, elections, school day candids, staff photos and packages, all underclass images for yearbook and mug books, same for senior portraits, instruction for yearbook photographers, graduation and all playoffs and championships for sports as well as academic activities, all advertising for dances, posters, invitations, dance favors etc.. and many more.

The school contract photographer incurs all the expenses for all the events as well as the expenses of hiring additional photographers and clerical staff. The school does not receive an invoice for any of it, in return the school contract photographer gets exclusivity for the schools photography business. regardless of whether the students and parents purchase photos from the contract photographer the school still expects and receives the services outlined. So you might understand when a school contract photographer is protective of his schools business.

DISCLAIMER: This may not be the same everywhere, situations vary dependent upon the contracted services.
(so don't anyone get their panties in a wad.)
I can only speak from my own business experiences.
most people do not have an inkling as to the amount of work involved in taking on a school contract.
I know of a few schools that took the let the students do the photography route and they imploded and from the ashes of upset parents and the administartion and the student body, they were back with a professional studio the very next year.

I almost did not post, but it is difficult to keep quiet sometimes when I read on this subject in particular.
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Michael Durisseau, Photographer, Assistant
Santa Fe | TX | USA | Posted: 7:47 AM on 05.25.09
->> Mr. Twitchell,

You said,"Currently the photographers that are doing this work do not give back a dime for the right to be the official photographer."

I'm not sure I understand that. If, as official photographer, as I suspect, that you're giving rights, etc. for the images shot, for whatever reason the organization wants to use it, then why should you "give back a dime" for that 'privilege'? I made the mistake of asking about being team photographer for a local Class A baseball team, and I could have done it: If I wanted to give away all the rights and not get anything for the use and depreciation on my equipment.

I think the statement could use some explanation, for me, anyway. Perhaps I don't know what it actually means to be 'official photographer'...
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 9:24 AM on 05.25.09
->> I think in a way this is a good thing. The school district will pay their photographer and give them benefits.

Now the question yet to be answered is this going to deliver the results they want? This is what corporate America has been dealing with for a long time.

There are a few disadvantages for the staff model. First they are stuck with one style. There is no career path for the photographer. Overtime most staff photographers become dissatisfied because it is difficult to move up in pay or position. This is not always the case, but I have seen this too often.

For a person who wants to be a photographer, it is this type of staff photographer position which is great place to start. Once you outgrow the position you then move on to freelance.
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Maryville | MO | USA | Posted: 11:36 AM on 05.25.09
->> A job like this would probably be welcomed by many unemployed news photographers. Depending upon the situation, it could be a good job. Does everyone enjoy working crappy hours? There's something to be said for stability even if it's limiting. And who says that a district photographer wouldn't still freelance?
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 11:57 AM on 05.25.09
->> Walt,

What are the details of the district's taking the work "in-house?" Are they creating a full-time photographer position? Are they using the school board president's 15-year-old nephew for $20 a game?

Have they even planned further than the concept of "keeping all the money?"

You might offer your services as a consultant to help them make the transition. It's quite possible that they'll realize that a school district has no reason to get into the T&I photography business any more than they should keep cows in the maintenance yard to provide milk for school lunches.

--Mark
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 1:37 PM on 05.25.09
->> Louis there are several studios in the yearsbook/school contract model around me that I feel do a quality job. Unfortunately QUALITY isn't high on most district's lists. Their measure of "good quality" is the number (or lack thereof) of complaints they get from parents. The majority of parents won't care enough to make that much noise. So in the face of large commission checks back to the school, mediocrity rules in many if not most cases.

All I am saying is that in many cases the studios that are winning school contracts are doing so and then providing a 'service' similar to a Wal-Mart or JC Penny Studio. I've already turned down one offer to bid on a school contract this year because I know what the numbers are going in. The funny thing is that I actually considered offering a modified version of being a district employee.

In a big enough district this could actually work well for the photographer(s) and the district.
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 12:15 PM on 05.26.09
->> I agree with Eric here. There is no doubt well trained professionals can provide a better product but if the market doesn't appreciate the added quality enough to pay for it then 'good enough' rules. Parents realize prom pictures are a limited time investment - by the next year most parents/students could care less about their prom photos. They're on to another boyfriend/girlfriend or have been to another more recent prom. Students really don't care much either - not enough to make mom & dad shell out more money or shell it out themselves. Senior portraits are what they care about. Prom night is going to be ruled by shots they take themselve with digicams or phones so they can put them on their mypsace / facebook pages to be replaced by photos taken at a party 2 weeks later. It's why places like kiddie kandids / jcpenney etc. do so well - they provide something 'good enough' until next year's photos are taken.

I'll be interested to hear what the district has in mind. What might make sense is a job being the district photographer while teaching a photography course at the local HS. The event work would provide excellent field opportunities for teaching. Which, after all, benefits the kids in the school the most.
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Walt Smith, Photographer
Frisco | TX | USA | Posted: 3:52 PM on 05.26.09
->> Mark,

The district has hired a photographer who claims to have shot for ESPN magazine, but I can't find anything online on the guy. Rumor around the district is he is "a friend of a school board member who just got a new camera." The district created this position with a starting salary of around 42k. He claims to be the only taking team and individual photos for 12 middle schools some sub varsity high schools, even though he has never done this before. It is clear that hey have not thought thru the details as he has visited with some of the coaches, who are keeping me informed, and they are all very concerned that the district hasn't thought thru all this and everything that goes into delivering the photo that was shot. The A.D. was not consulted on this and he is hopping mad about it. We are working on strategy to politely tell them to put the crack pipe down and leave things alone. We have already started working on the "Consultant strategy" because we both believe this is destined to fail. If this was a viable way of doing business, every school district in the country would run their own photo department. (And provide their own cows for milk with the lunches.)
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 4:48 PM on 05.26.09
->> Walt I would tell you to tread lightly. The "guy" according to you has been hired. So getting him un-hired is most likely not really an option until he really messes things up, that's assuming that he DOES mess things up. The danger for you is that if you toss your hat in the ring as a 'consultant' you are running the risk of being labeled the problem when/if he fails. That can sour the district against you and cast you in the light of a subversive force. It doesn't have to be true, just perceived that way.

If this guy is going to fail let him fail on his own, don't be part of the 'team' that failed. Keep yourself as distant from the process as possible and keep the channels of communication open. At least the ones bringing you info. If and when this fails, you will have the chance to contact the district hat in hand and offer to bring things back to the way they were. You will not be thought of negatively because you didn't help the district replace you, nor will you be looked at negatively for having failed to teach the 'guy' the ropes and thus cost the district face and cash.

I'd also be very wary of getting too close to a pissed off AD. The AD is probably protected by a contract or the teachers union or both. He has PLENTY of room to piss off everyone on the board repeatedly without any real impact. You (I think) don't have the same leeway. So if he's jumping up and down pissing people off and tossing you into the fight again you are the one on the loosing end. Don't become his "big stick". Unless they are looking to hire YOU full time and YOU are wanting to be hired keep your experience and knowledge in your pocket.


Just my 2 cents
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Mark Sutton, Photographer
Herndon | VA | USA | Posted: 5:01 PM on 05.26.09
->> Walt,
This happened to me a few years ago with 2 schools I usually cover during the season, they don't want regular season games anymore because they have a school photographer do it. Usually a faculty member who has went out and purchased a 40D or D70 and they sit on the base line or stand on the sideline asking other photographer's how to shoot. These two universities now only contract my services at conference championships that they know I'm going to be at. Yes that sucks but that is life and this is where our business is heading to. Not just your Soccer Mom but now the faculty member with the Canon/Nikon camera with the generic 70-200 lens they purchased from Ritz with the monopod attached to it.

Makes you want to SCREAM!!!!!
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 12:51 PM on 05.28.09
->> Bruce, so you are training your students to be pros in the future so they can be replaced by the next crop of students?
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Bruce Twitchell, Photographer
Coeur d'Alene | ID | USA | Posted: 3:43 PM on 05.28.09
->> Sam,
That is a very valid question. The answer to your question is no.

As I said in my earlier post, my budget next year from the district is ZERO. I have to have funds to work with to operate my class. It would not make sense for a photography class to do a bake sale, that is for the Family Consumer Science class. Having my students earn money by using their photography skills makes sense.

I also stated that we are not doing it all. There are still dances that studios can do. What I am going to do is not set in stone, there is room for negotiation. If local studios want to start giving a percentage back to the school (as is the norm across the country for the right of having a monopoly on school grounds) then we can work with them. Perhaps for dances/events that the studios are shooting they can allow students to assist and gain experience that way.

I will also tell you that I do not sugar-coat anything for my students. I tell them that if they want to be a photographer in the future, they need to have a backup plan. They should take business classes, they should major in graphic design or something else. It is no secret to all of us that the field of photography is getting tougher and tougher.

I am training my students with the skills to use studio lights, to have customer interaction, to fulfill orders on time, to have money handling skills, to have proper camera operation when it really counts, to have quick and efficient post-processing skills, and to take pride and place value on their work. All of these can carry over to ANY type of photography job, and there are many other types of photography besides school dances.
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Bruce Twitchell, Photographer
Coeur d'Alene | ID | USA | Posted: 4:10 PM on 05.28.09
->> Michael,
Sorry, just saw your question.

For the right to have a monopoly on school grounds there should at least be a bidding process (which can include giving a percentage of paying a flat fee to have the monopoly), which currently there is not at my high school. I am not asking for any rights to the images, if I implied that some how I apologize. I am not trying to take away rights. I am looking for funding for my program though, especially when the district is making HUGE cuts next year.

Having the bidding process is nothing new and is done all over the country.
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Mark Peters, Photographer
Highland | IL | USA | Posted: 5:08 PM on 05.28.09
->> Bruce -

I see nothing wrong with your program in the least. It is a self-sustaining (at least partially) work based learning experience.

To suggest that this is taking work away from someone, seems to suggest to me that this non-school entity was somehow entitled to the work to begin with. I don't accept that notion. It is the schools' right to do for itself, with its own resources if it so desires. If it desires to utilize an outside resource, then so be it, but I certainly don't buy the notion that the outside resource has an entitlement to the work.
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 7:52 PM on 05.28.09
->> Bruce -
I second Mark. A school's purpose is to educate students, not employ people. People are employed to support the mission of educating. You're doing the right thing, in my opinion - providing valuable on-the-job training for your students.
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Tim Morley, Photographer
Topinabee | MI | United States | Posted: 1:14 PM on 05.29.09
->> Bruce -

While I unfortunately don't teach a photography class, we do the same thing in my yearbook class to fund everything beyond the printing of our book - memberships, contests, conferences, equipment, software, etc. My students and I do all the dances and T&I.

Keep up the good work.
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Walt Smith, Photographer
Frisco | TX | USA | Posted: 10:52 PM on 07.23.09
->> Ok..here's the update to this situation. After 2 months of not knowing what they are doing and understanding they can't do it, they have now asked us back (both me and another vendor) to do the job we were doing, with a 30% kickback of the gross. They fully expect us to pass it on to the parents and not to take a pay cut (like that is right either) and if we don't take it, there is another company who will. Soooo...here is my question to everyone who does Team/individual photos at SCHOOLS only (not leagues): What are you package prices and how much do you give back? I would love to know both low, mid and high packages. If you'd rather e-mail direct instead of posting all that here, please feel free to. I will also be happy to share my order forms and prices with anyone who wants it or sends me a copy of theirs. What an ordeal this has been.
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Chad Ryan, Photographer
Fort Wayne | IN | USA | Posted: 12:52 AM on 07.24.09
->> I'd walk away from that one. After taxes and paying off the school system you're down to 40 percent of the gross to pay for all the other costs of doing business. At that point, I'm guessing you're basically donating your time and killing your gear for pennies in return.

Or you could boost your package prices by 30 percent and then explain why you had to do it. Let the admins at the school field the calls from PO'd parents.

I don't see how the school could go from paying a staff photog 40k+ to now demanding 30 percent of your gross. Sounds like someone representing that system needs 100 percent of a foot in the arse.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 1:13 AM on 07.24.09
->> Chad that kind of bad faith move will only ensure that you would never be allowed to either bid or receive a school contract either with the school/district that is the recipient of your 'truth' policy or any of the districts that hear about it. Schools, school districts, and or their boards are cyclical. Decision makers come and go, and in the process your chances to fall into or out of grace also ride that cycle. Do something that embarrasses or presents the school in a bad light and that story or reputation will stick with you for a long time to come. Not only do you kill your chances at the school that you out but when that administrator moves on to a different district you'll be mud their too.

In situations like this it is better to realize that you and your client aren't a good fit FOR NOW and leave things on a positive note. At some point things could change and you could find yourself signing a deal that is good for both involved.
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Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 12:43 AM on 07.25.09
->> I agree with Eric on his last post. I personally would walk away from the whole situation. Kicking back 30% of the gross is not right. the entire situation is bad.

What I have seen done is the coaches will schaedule an "Official" picture day, where the official photog shows and shoots the photos and then the coach schedules another day for his photographer to come out and take photos. I can see that definitely have the potential of happening in this situation.
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Chad Ryan, Photographer
Fort Wayne | IN | USA | Posted: 2:38 AM on 07.25.09
->> Point taken, Eric. I agree. Unfortunately, I'm sometimes quick to react to negative situations before taking a deep breath and remembering to be positive.

I suppose, though, if this were my situation I would just walk away. I mean I couldn't justify handing over 30% of the gross to the school corp, and it would seem hard to just take that kind of treatment with a smile. I understand that's how things have to be sometimes. In any case, I don't do this kind of work, not saying it's a bad thing - just that I've not been involved in this kind of business, so I am fairly ignorant on the ins and outs of how these deals work.
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 7:43 AM on 07.25.09
->> Louis -
I have to respectfully disagree with that concept. If another photographer has a contract for T&I, violating that agreement and poaching his/her work is not something I want a reputation of doing.
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 12:04 PM on 07.25.09
->> Well I see Kickbacks/commision hits a sore spot in peoples eyes on here. In Alabama its been done like that for years. The percentage is more than ya'll are talking here. The parent buying the pictures just pays more for it. The schools here use it as a fund raiser and more than ever they need it here with the State cutting 11% of the money they give the schools. You have to adjust your cost accordingly. I do know of a photographer in another state that calls his kickbacks/commision a donation therefore he writes the amount off his taxes. Not sure if this is legal or not but not for me to judge. We are dealing everyday with people coming in and stepping on our contract with schools and most do not even have a business license. I think the school system just thought they could make all the money for there system. If the right person did it and set it up it could be done. The right person if employed by the school system would have a state retirement, Hospital insurance paid, holidays and weekends off and not to forget summers. Not a bad deal. Plenty of free time to do side work
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Jeff Martin, Photographer
wellington | OH | usa | Posted: 6:03 PM on 07.25.09
->> >>I do know of a photographer in another state that calls his kickbacks/commision a donation therefore he writes the amount off his taxes.

Marvin, this tax deduction is a zero sum move. You "donate" $1 and write off $1. Works the same as a kickback being a business expense.
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David Bailey, Photographer
Flower Mound | TX | USA | Posted: 11:39 PM on 07.25.09
->> $42k a year + benefits (28% of base), state retirement (12$ of total income 7% employers side and 5% employees side - usually paid by employer), etc. which means they are paying approixmately $58,800 per year for a photographer that is only covering the middle schools and a few other jobs? If you assume you paid 40% back to the schools when you shoot, they would have to sell about $147,000 in middle school photos to break even and then more to make a profit on their employee.

Your post states that ultimately they intend to have their photographer do everything from all sports to yearbook photos. There is no way that can be handled by 1 employee so now you have to hire a whole department at approximately $60,000 each. How many sales does 1 school district have to make to pay for salaries of that caliber?

Also, since when has a public school district (or any governmental agency) been good entreprenuers? You don't have to worry about making money when you have taxpayers providing you with funds.
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David Bailey, Photographer
Flower Mound | TX | USA | Posted: 11:40 PM on 07.25.09
->> $42k a year + benefits (28% of base), state retirement (12% of total income 7% employers side and 5% employees side - usually paid by employer), etc. which means they are paying approixmately $58,800 per year for a photographer that is only covering the middle schools and a few other jobs? If you assume you paid 40% back to the schools when you shoot, they would have to sell about $147,000 in middle school photos to break even and then more to make a profit on their employee.

Your post states that ultimately they intend to have their photographer do everything from all sports to yearbook photos. There is no way that can be handled by 1 employee so now you have to hire a whole department at approximately $60,000 each. How many sales does 1 school district have to make to pay for salaries of that caliber?

Also, since when has a public school district (or any governmental agency) been good entreprenuers? You don't have to worry about making money when you have taxpayers providing you with funds.
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 11:48 PM on 07.25.09
->> I think the school system woudl jsut tell the yearbooks to do there own photos. There is no way that one person could do the YB stuff. The stuff we do for yearbooks is mainly for high schools and middle schools we rarely do any for any lower grades. Also parents are starting to volunteer to do the YB stuff for us. We have one system that could actually do this. I dont think it would happen though cause Alabama is about 5 years behind the times.
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Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 3:25 AM on 07.26.09
->> John Germ,
I was not suggesting that anyone do this, what I was pointing out was that if one was to take the official position, that most likely the coaches would circumvent the entire process and use their guy anyway. I have seen it done here in our area, and it is not right.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 10:28 AM on 07.27.09
->> Commissions, kickbacks, or whatever you choose to call them are being paid as a 50/50 split between the studio and the schools by the largest school shooting company around here. They have the economy of scale on their side. For me personally there isn't enough volume or potential volume to justify a 50/50 split. On the other hand if I had 10mil in volume lined up I'd do it in a heartbeat too.

The only analogy that I can come up with is that it's like shooting golf. You don't have to understand or like the restrictions and requirements. You just have to live with them if you choose to do it.
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Dave Doonan, Photographer
Kingston | TN | USA | Posted: 5:39 PM on 07.27.09
->> How would they know what you take in on the gross? Can they make you open your books?
Could you just tell them a different amount than you really take in?
I know it a little shady, but if you need or want the business you can fudge the numbers.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 6:12 PM on 07.27.09
->> Dave at the elementary and middle school level you deliver the photo envelopes to the school broken down by homeroom. Much as you deliver them to leagues broken down by team. The outside of the envelope is the order form and as such easy to tabulate. With seniors it's different but that doesn't really matter....

Every school has a number in mind. They know what the numbers were last year and what they expect them to be this year. If you don't meet that number they will attribute it to either point(%) shaving or poor effort/quality from you. Either way you better be able to BUILD on what they already have or next round of contracts you're gone. We're not talking about a few grand. At 50/50 you're talking some serious coin. So I would venture that if all of a sudden you're $30k shy of last year you may be facing issues.

Don't under estimate that you are signing a deal with a local government body and that fudging the numbers could lead to more than a civil issue. Depending on how your school board is organized you could be facing some serious criminal charges. At that point the DA would have no problem pulling your books in a criminal investigation. 85% of my business (as most) is done by credit card. Shouldn't take a forensic accounting wiz to break it all down.

Fudging the numbers is never a good idea but in this case it could be a VERY bad idea.
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Dave Doonan, Photographer
Kingston | TN | USA | Posted: 7:46 PM on 07.27.09
->> but its easy to fudge numbers when you work with a cash business. Checks and credit dards are another story. but I doubt if homeroom teachers are doing to be adding up invoices for the school district. They have enough to deal with.
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Thread Title: School district taking team photography in-house?
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