How to Speed Up School Portrait Photographing

School portrait photography needs to be fast for several reasons. Not only do you have many children to photograph,  the children don't have a long attention span. A fidgety child is difficult to photograph and the longer they wait, the more this will become an issue. A school photographer usually only has so long to fit every child in to a photography schedule. The faster this can go, the happier everyone is. Here are a few simple ways you can speed up the process.

What You'll Need

  • Some extra time prior to the appointment
  • Movies or cartoons
  • Television
  • Mirror
  • Disposable combs

Step 1: Set Up

Go to the school and set everything up before your appointment time. This way the first group of children called in to the portrait area don't have to stand around and wait. Have the backdrops ready to go and set up in a way that is easy to change them when needed. Keep the lights in an area that can be quickly accessed and adjusted when needed.

Step 2: Take Small Groups

It's easier to take photographs if the children are brought in with small groups. Large groups will create lots of chatter and activity. This can get a young child riled up, which makes it harder to get them to sit still during the photo session. Small groups, or 15 or less, are ideal.

Step 3: Sort by Age

If you have any say in how the groups are divided, it's to your advantage to have them divided by age. Try to take the younger children earlier in the day. This way they aren't tired or grouchy from a long day. It also takes more time to photograph younger children than it does the older ones. Most schools will accommodate the request to do the photographs by grade. 

Step 4: Keep Kids Occupied

Children have a very short attention span. If you have a group that is taking longer than normal, the kids attention can shift, making it much more difficult to capture great photos. Have something in the area that can keep their attention. If the photographs are being taken in an extra classroom, library, or gym, you may be able to set up a television with a children's movie or cartoon playing. This will help keep the kids focus off of waiting, making it easier to grab great photos when their turn comes up.

Another way to help speed up the process is to hand out combs and have a mirror or two available. Older children will be able to fix their hair or makeup while they are waiting. 

Step 5: Retake Requests

You will almost always have to schedule a photo retake day. This is for kids who missed school on the first portrait day or for the parents who weren't happy with the first set of photos taken. When you send the children home with the retake request forms after the original shoot, be sure to have clear directions for the retake. This will shorten the time during the retake if the parent has been clear about what they did or didn't like.

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