FAQ's for School Directors
Below are some answers to commonly asked questions from the schools with whom I work. This page is designed to help us all ensure success with school photo day. If you have any other questions - from you, your staff or parents - please don't hesitate to ask!
Preparing for the Session
I encourage you to visit this site for additional information!
What are the first steps?
I will send you an email detailing the first steps to get our photo day preparations underway. This includes:
1) Sending me rough student numbers ~2-3 months prior to the date
2) Sending me your UPS courier address.
(Please see below for more information on my backdrops.)
4) Submission of the completed participant spreadsheet no less than 7 days before our session.
Please send this back as an Excel, CSV or Apple Numbers spreadsheet - we are unable to process PDF or other versions of this list.
What are my backdrop options?
I have over 50 backdrops on hand from which you can select your favourite for photo day. That being said, of my backdrops, there are approximately 6 that are regularly in rotation with my schools. Of all of these, Turquoise Sea and Denim Delight stand out far & away as my backdrops of choice.
If a school does not provide me with their favourite backdrop, I will default to Turquoise Sea or Denim Delight for the backdrop I bring for photo day.
How should we plan our schedule?
I will work in conjunction with you to plan the schedule. While I am generally quite flexible with it - my system allows for me to work with students in any order they come to photo day (including working with students from multiple classes at the same time), it is worth noting that I generally work with ~20-30 children per hour.
My most successful schools are the ones that offer similar flexibility in that we work together around not only snack times, nap times, etc, but also things that arise - a class having a rough day, illness, etc. I am very happy to bounce around the students however is needed. If half of your junior kindergarten is ready during a time slot we'd loosely allotted to the toddlers and the toddler class is suddenly having a rough go, let's focus on getting your JK kids photographed!
I recommend that we plan to do group photos early in the day. For example, if your school starts at 9 AM, I recommend we start group photos around 9:30 AM; this ensures that the majority of students will be there, but isn't so late that the children are getting messy or tired!
What about children coming in exclusively for photo day?
For parents coming in exclusively for photo day, please ask them to arrive 15 minutes before group photos - I'm a mom as well, and recognize how hard it can be to be on time with little ones! The 15 minutes acts as a buffer for us - if a student hasn't arrived by the actual time of their group photo, it is not fair to the other 20 children to keep the entire class waiting. Emergencies aside, we will not offer retakes of class photos for late arrivals.
All students coming to school solely for photo day should plan to come in during the first half of the photo shoot. If we are planning a shoot from 9 - 11 AM, please invite families to come for their photos from 9 - 10 AM. If photo day ends early, we may not be able to accommodate students planning on arriving for the last 5 minutes of the scheduled session.
How many hours do we need?
As we plan the schedule, let's plan on ~20-30 children per hour. Class photos are generally around 5 minutes each assuming that the class is set up and ready for the photos. For schools that request staff headshots, I can usually work with 2-3 staff per minute - and am happy to slot them in throughout the day.
Working efficiently and flexibly allows us to photograph the entire school as smoothly as possible. When we've photographed all students in attendance, it will be time for me to pack up. This is why I request that all students coming in just for photo day come in during the first half of photo day. It's simply not feasible for me to wait two hours for one family who has decided they'd like to get photos during the last 5 minutes of our scheduled time.
I generally recommend we cap photo day at around 70 children per day. In a pinch, yes, we can do more. ~70 children per day ensures I can offer adequate time to each child and also finish our photo session in a timely fashion.
How do you schedule younger (infant/toddler) versus older classes?
If your school has infant/toddler as well as older classes - and thus needs multiple days of my services - I recommend that we work with the younger classes on the first day and the older classes on later day(s). With younger children often needing more time to warm up, this gives us the flexibility to offer make-up sessions on the later days for children who had an incredibly difficult time the first go-around. (Make-up sessions are offered on a case-by-case basis based on the photographer/staff feedback.)
Can our children have photos taken every day they're here?
Please schedule children for one day each. If needed - based on both photographer and staff feedback - we can do limited retakes for children who had a rough go the first time around. I do not generally offer retakes for children on the basis that mom or dad would just like a few additional photos / a different outfit, etc. This is due to the fact that my galleries are quite large at 15+ images, and yet even with this, I regularly receive requests for retakes not on the basis of the quality of the images or the child's (happy) demeanour, but simply so that the family can have even more images, more variety and more options, and yes, more clothing choices for their school photo purchases.
What should the children wear?
If your school doesn't have uniforms / set clothing requirements, I encourage schools to let the students to dress in ways that reflect their personalities. Who are your students at this moment in time? Who do their parents want to remember? I find that the happiest kids are the ones who are enjoying the experience, and that often extends right down to their clothing choices.
At some of my schools near Halloween, the schools permit their students to wear Halloween costumes to photo day. Without fail, these are some of the happiest, most excited kids I photograph. If this is of interest to you, let's chat! I aim to make the sessions as enjoyable as I can for the children.
I can't believe I have to write this...but please note that I do not permit multiple outfit changes during school photos. In 2021, I had multiple requests from families to photograph their children in different outfits during photo day, including some who wanted their children to also have Christmas photos taken during school photo day. Multiple outfits, holiday outfits, etc is not the purpose of school photo day. For any family requesting multiple outfits, they are welcome to book a longer session with me in-studio that can accommodate their needs.
Should children bring a favourite toy?
Some schools allow their students to bring a favourite stuffy or toy to their photo session, and personally, I love adding beloved toys/stuffed animals/books to photo days; to me, the essence of a young child with his/her favourite toy is what childhood is all about. Generally speaking, I capture a handful of images with the toy and then work with the child to capture images with the toy "supervising."
If a child is attached to a beloved toy when coming to my set, kindly allow the child to keep the toy in their hands. I have close to a 100% success rate in convincing children to capture images both with/without their beloved toys... so please allow me to work my magic with your children. (And I promise you that even if by chance the child will not allow the toys to leave his/her hands, we'll still capture some ridiculously adorable images!)
At the Session
What room should we use?
I recognize that each school has its own spaces; I've photographed in areas as unique as the corner of a movie theatre lobby, in front of (or in!) small offices, outdoor porticos and parking lot loading zones, etc. If possible, a room / area of room that isn't being used for other purposes is ideal for photo day. I need a space that's approximately 75 sq ft - 10 x 7.5 - for the necessary equipment. I also need access to electricity and have a 50' extension cord on hand for my light.
In addition to my backdrop, I bring a backdrop stand, floor drop, and full lighting equipment. My lighting consists of an industry-leading strobe light with a modifier screen that softens the images while providing consistent, but diffuse, directed light. My equipment is more than ample for most ambient / classroom lighting situations.
If possible, rooms with hard floors (no carpeting), limited ambient light from outdoors and neutral-coloured walls are ideal. However, I can fully work with other options as needed.
Tell me more about the session!
I generally spend 2-3 minutes per child, doing a series of loose poses, games and songs to engage the child. The engagement and interaction with me - including eye contact with me when possible - is critical for my getting great shots, and I work incredibly hard to ensure that I'm successful at it for each individual child. My energy levels, style and personality vary noticeably from one child to the next so that I can engage each at his/her level. This may include my being more boisterous with energetic children, and proceeding more cautiously with those who are more reticent.
With infants and toddlers, my primary goal is for them to have a positive experience. We focus on seated, standing w/ assistance, and if possible, standing images. While smiles are amazing in this age group, my main goal is for them to have positive memories of photo day; I often ask infant-toddler teachers to be involved by sitting with children who are more reticent.
For the 3-5 set, it's all about the playful fun! I will run through a series of loose prompts both seated and standing. Some of the poses are more traditional, while others are more silly / creative. My goal with the 3-5 set in particular (and also willing infant/toddlers!) is to capture those amazing smiles and personality.
Should teachers be present?
Due to liability reasons as well as the comfort level of the children, a teacher / staff should be within eyesight of the children at all times. That being said, I am fully licensed and insured, and also can provide a background check upon request.
Please note that I recommend we do not have multiple staff members / children standing around watching the child getting photographed. I've seen instances when a group of well-intended teachers stands around giggling at how cute the child looks and how well the child is responding, and having an unexpected audience appear suddenly becomes overwhelming to the previously happy child. I never want to put a child in a situation that is uncomfortable, and that includes the feeling of being put on the spot or having an audience. Please limit the number of people - staff, teachers and children - who are watching the photo sessions, and allow me to interact/engage the child personally and directly!
Can teachers help capture the child's attention?
I request that one teacher/staff/administrator be present while I work with the children, but it's not necessary for them to assist in helping elicit smiles! Unless I specifically request assistance, I kindly request that teachers allow me to take the lead on capturing the child's attention.
A large part of my success is getting the child to maintain eye contact and interaction with me, and consequently with the camera. Generally speaking, when other adults are present and actively trying to engage in capturing the child's focus, I watch the child's attention on the camera disappear. This is tenfold when pandemic goals necessitate the return of masks - which both muffle my voice and cover my silly facial expressions. Please allow me to take the reins in establishing connections with your children!
Can parents be present, just to ensure that Junior remembers to smile?
As well intentioned as our parents are, please do not allow them to join us for photo day. I work incredibly hard to ensure engagement of the child with the camera, and nothing interferes with that more than a well-intended parent yelling "Hey Z, smile...no, smile! I said 'SMILE!'" (Yes, I've seen it...and given that the child was already smiling broadly, it was painful to witness.). The pressure many parents put on their kids for the perfect smile inadvertently may cause anxiety, stress and the fake poses we're all trying to avoid.
If we are photographing during the transition window (when school is opening for the day), please ensure that it is the teachers -not the parents - who bring the children to the session, and that the children are comfortably settled into their day. For many children, the unsettled nature of transition will impact photos if we film during it.
For children who are coming in exclusively for photo day, please ask the parents to remain outside the classroom and out of sight lines.
Can parents join in to watch the class photo?
I've had parents attempt to watch the class photo in the past, which admittedly, would be super cute to see. That being said, in a nutshell, kindly respect that I do not permit parents to be in attendance for the class photo, for the same reason as outlined above. If you think it's difficult getting a child to focus on the camera when just one parent is yelling "Junior, smile, smile!"...just imagine what it's like when we have ten parents doing so!
After the session
How will parents view their photos?
All of my student sessions are placed into secure, password-protected unique galleries with personal randomized codes. This ensures that no one is able to access your students' photos beyond the families themselves. You may notice me grabbing my phone during our session. This is because my galleries are set up in advance of our session, and the time-date stamps synced to my camera and phone match the files to the correct galleries.
In addition, each gallery has the student's class photos added to it. Solo photos are available as digitals, prints or giftable items, and class photos are available as prints. Due to privacy restrictions and the ensuing liability issues, I offer class photos exclusively as print options.
What does a typical gallery look like?
Generally speaking, a child's gallery comes with up to 20 images in a range of poses and cropping (both portrait and landscape). I aim to include both more standard portraits as well as fun poses full of personality and sparkle. Each child has his/her own gallery, and if sibling photos are done, they are generally included in the younger sibling's gallery.
In keeping with my goal of providing authentic child portraiture, the editing I offer on school portraits is clean, authentic and natural. I am happy to edit out a bump from Junior's fall earlier in the week, but prefer to not edit out temporary tattoos, stamps on hands, etc. Why? Because these are a part of who the child is right now...and the essence of what I'm trying to capture. While that Elsa tattoo may seem annoying now, it will remind parents of their little one's childhood passions and loves. Those are the moments my photography is designed to cherish!
How does a parent access his/her gallery?
The day of our session, I will provide the school with flyers that can be sent home that contain personal passwords for each child. Please wait until you receive the email from me that the images are uploaded (generally 7-10 days after the photo session), and then feel free to distribute the flyers to families. In addition, families will receive an email containing the link to their child's secure digital gallery. Galleries will generally be posted within 1-2 weeks of the session. We will then have a ~2-week window for purchases; late orders will be subject to shipping/handling fees.
As we approach the holidays, I shorten the ordering window to ~7-10 days to ensure that printed orders are available before the holidays.
What types of products are available to parents?
From these online galleries, they're welcome to order digitals, prints or any combination thereof. There is a minimum order of $25; solo prints start at $16.50, class prints start at $8.50, and digitals start at $33. Please see my price list; prices subject to change. All digital orders are high-resolution non-watermarked images perfect for all standard printing needs. All print orders are completed through a high-end professional print lab who specializes in school photos. The system allows payment either via credit card (Stripe) or PayPal. Upon request, I can also accept EMT.
How soon will parents receive their orders?
Digitals will be sent to the email address provided at check-out within 24-48 hours of receiving the order. After the ordering deadline closes, the print order will be sent directly to the printer. My professional printing lab partner is based in Edmonton, and they will both print the orders and package them up in individual packaging with each student's name on it. (=Super easy for school distribution!). As of November 2022, orders are taking approximately 10 days to ship from the printer.
Our printer ships via tracked UPS from Edmonton to the address you provided to me early in the process. For any school requesting "ship to school" services, KLCP covers the cost of shipping for all print orders placed before the deadline. For all orders placed after the deadline, the UPS drop shipping charge (currently ~$12; subject to change) will apply to the family's shopping cart. I keep the system open for orders through the end of the calendar year, and keep galleries on hand for up to 5 years after our session. I often find families ordering ~6+ months after the fact. In late 2021, I even had an order placed from a school's photo day...that occurred in April of 2019!
If families need images ASAP for personal reasons, I strongly encourage them to consider purchasing digital options. KLCP is not liable for printing and/or shipping delays.
How can we obtain copies of the photos?
I'm pleased to offer digital copies of all photos to the school for the school's internal purposes. This means that the school will receive a copy of every solo image, class photo and staff headshot that was taken while on site that you can use for the school's own internal needs (cubbies, graduation books, winter concerts, etc). This gallery is never to be shared with families, nor broadly across the school. After the ordering deadline has passed, I will send you a link to the full digital gallery, with full download privileges included.
You are welcome to have the images printed as you see fit for the school's internal usage.
Please note two requests pertaining to this service:
1) This gallery is not to be shared with the parents/guardians/families at any time. Doing so unfortunately will lead to a forfeiture of further services/contracts with KLCP.
2) The gallery link will be sent to you after the ordering deadline has passed. I cannot distribute it to schools in advance of the ordering deadline. Feel free to reach out to me as soon as the ordering deadline has passed so that I can send the gallery your way. If you need your digitals by a specific date, please contact me well in advance so that we can set up a schedule / game plan for photo days that adheres to your time line.
These policies are kindly firm, and designed to ensure that I can maximize the services offered to your school. Please respect these policies!
Privacy is incredibly important to me. I work with over 4000 students annually, and take every precaution to ensure that information is never shared. The student matriculation information collected on my spreadsheet is kept exclusively in-house and used solely for the purpose of the galleries. Each gallery is password-protected to ensure that families can only see their own child's photos. They are never accessible to the public.
The children whose images are on my site are ones whose parents have explicitly consented in written form for me to share their photos. In some cases, I've blocked out the school name on uniforms or the whiteboard, to ensure additional privacy. As a parent, I take privacy incredibly seriously and keep your students' details as private as I would expect for my own children.
How can I contact you?
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. First and foremost, I'm a mom as well. I'm happy to answer any questions that you may have.
604.330.3933 | firstname.lastname@example.org.
The parents of the children whose photos are contained within have granted me explicit permission to use their photos as sample images.