Learning how to Photograph Dance Recital Portraits is the best decision I ever made…
Maybe some of these sound familiar. When I started my photography business, I was:
- Tired of chasing the next portrait session
- Working evenings and weekends, missing out on moments with family and friends
- Saying yes to every photo gig, just to keep the business going
Then… Just like you today… I learned about the amazing opportunity as a photographer to take dance recital portraits.
It flipped my world upside down, all credit due, to my mentor Doug, but more on him later.
Allow me to introduce myself…
Hey ya’ll, I’m Aaron, just an average portrait photographer who went from confused and frustrated to making over $30,000 my first season photographing dance recital portraits, to now making over $100,000 (income report).
Photographing Dance Recital Portraits has allowed me to take control of my photography business and count on consistent income year after year.
I’ve been able to spend more time with my family and just have more free time.
Some people look at photographing dance recital portraits or any type of volume photography, as scary and overwhelming.
The truth is, there shouldn’t be any reason to be afraid, and if you have any portrait photography experience, then your already over halfway there.
But I’m not here to talk about me and want to help you.
So what are Dance Recital Portraits?
In short, dance schools put on a show or recital every year, either in the spring or with a winter performance, to show off what the dancers have learned throughout the year.
The students (dancers) attend a variety of classes in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Pointe, or Hip-Hop and then they wear cute costumes to perform on stage. (Full Article)
Your job as a photographer is to capture the kiddos in these cute costumes for parents to remember this special moment.
Pictures + Kiddos in Cute Costume = Parents Spending $$$
It’s really that simple, but you have to understand the process, for it to all come together.
Make sure to save/bookmark/pin this page, if you can’t finish everything today and need to come back later.
In this short 3 minute video, Doug explains the role of a photographer with dance recital portraits.
The following is a step-by-step guide to transforming your photography business and entering the exciting world of dance photography.
I also have a FREE 5-day Dance Recital Portraits eCourse to help guide you through the process.
Guys, below is a lot of valuable information, that I wish I knew when I first started and could have easily made this into a paid guide.
Here is an overview of what I will be covering
Step 1. Understand your Why
Step 2. Research and Market Yourself
Step 3. Schedule & Promote Portrait Dat
Step 4. Photograph Recital Portraits
Step 5. Sell Cute Dance Pictures
Step 6. Process Costumers Orders
And trust me when I say: If I can DO this anyone CAN!!
Step 1. Understand Your Why?
Ok, so you’re probably scratching your head and wondering why this would be the first step.
When it comes to doing anything for that matter, having that base understanding of why you are doing what you do will help motivate you to stick through it when things get tough.
Reminding yourself of your why, will help keep you pushing forward.
Don’t focus on what you don’t know, but where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.
I had 10 reasons to photograph dance recital portraits but they could be different for you.
- Having consistent income every year
- Spending more time with family
- Or just being able to capture a special moment in someone’s life
Again, everyone has different reasons, but if you’re reading this article then you are serious about changing your life.
If you are any kind of PORTRAIT photographer you SHOULD be doing this. It will really help you grow your business.
Find your WHY and use it as “tackling fuel” (I just had to throw in a Water Boy Quote)
Step 2. Research and Market Yourself
Marketing is one of the toughest parts for most photographers, let alone any business.
You have to be able to connect with your target market (ie: dance schools) and understand what they want and their true pain points.
In step 2 I’m going to talk about:
- Understanding what dance schools want from a photographer
- Finding your competitive advantage
- Using Google to find your target Market
- 4 Best Marketing Strategies – that work
The key to any marketing is to just put yourself out there and to take action.
When I first started out, I was not afraid to reach out to dance schools. The worst thing that can happen is they say NO.
Do not let this discourage you and embrace it. When it comes to marketing its a numbers game.
What do Dance Schools Actually Want from a Photographer?
OK, so you know what dance recital portraits are, and this question may seem obvious, but dance schools don’t just want any photographer, they want someone who:
- Treats their students and parents with respect (Professional)
- Can do what they promise
- Make the whole process fun and easy for everyone
- And provide GREAT customer service
So you probably noticed that the quality of pictures and pricing was not on the list.
That is CORRECT.
You don’t have to be an amazing photographer or have the cheapest prices. Deep down this is not what a dance school is wanting or is hiring you for.
It’s all about the EXPERIENCE!
Now don’t get me wrong, the quality of your photos and pricing does play a role but shouldn’t be your NUMBER one priority.
I have replaced many photographers who had WAY better quality of images than me, but they missed the mark with understanding what their role is.
This leads to the next important step before marketing yourself
How to Find Your Competitive Advantage
Understanding what makes you different doesn’t have to be complicated, but you do need to do some soul searching to figure out who you are and what you want to offer.
YOU need to give a dance school a reason to hire you.
And don’t tell them you are a great photographer and take AMAZING pictures.
That is the base that all photographers should be doing, but what more?
Is it because of:
- Photography Experience
- Posing Experience
- Customer service
- Options you give customers
- Refund policy
- Perks you give to the dance school
- Sales process
- Flexibility and willingness to change
What is it that makes you stand out.
Remember that just like any business, dance schools are solicited all the time.
You need to stand out from the crowd, but while doing it you need to be YOU. Don’t offer the moon without fulfilling those expectations.
Once you know YOU, let’s do some research
Research Tips Using Google
Everyone knows about Google and probably in some way or fashion, uses it.
What I want you to do is open up google maps and type in “Dance School” or “Dance Studio”
You should find a few of them in your home town but if you want to be bold, try expanding your search area.
I remember my first dance school wasn’t in the town I lived in, I drove 2 hours!
Now that you found a few you’re interested in, go ahead and click on the dance school and open up a Google Sheet or Excel Spreadsheet.
You want to jot down some information:
- Name of Dance School
- Phone Number
- Mailing Address
The key to this is you want to look for Recreational Dance Schools that specifically teach Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Pointe, or Hip-Hop.
If they say “Salsa Dancing” or “Ballroom Dancing” keep looking (they are not your target audience)
If you want extra credit, go on to the dance school’s website and browse through their site.
Take Note of:
- Do they have their class schedule and what do they teach?
- Is there a recital date posted?
- What is the overall feel of the website (Fresh or 1990’s)
- How many staff members do they have?
- Who is the dance director or owner?
- Do they have a presence on social media?
- Do they have an e-mail address listed?
A lot of this information will give you a better understanding of the dance school and if you should reach out to them.
Once you have a list and know who you want to contact, let’s get into a few marketing strategies.
4 Best Marketing Strategies – That Work!
Ok so all of these strategies are nothing new, but now that you know your target market and your competitive advantage, you can use these effectively.
I have used every single one of these approaches, all with Success!
If you went on the dance school’s website and collected e-mail addresses then you can use this option.
Nobody likes spam but if you approach this with a mindset that you’re just reaching out letting them know how awesome you are and you’re just helping them become aware of you, then you should feel a little OK with yourself.
Again, what is the worst thing that can happen, they say NO, or don’t respond at all
Your first e-mail should be simple and to the point
Cover a few points about yourself:
- Who you are
- What is the purpose of the e-mail
- Why they should respond and talk with you
- Close by thanking them and letting them know your open to questions.
If you don’t get a response, don’t WORRY, this might not be a good time for them to respond.
They are humans and are just as busy with life, as you are.
Send them a followup e-mail a week or two later, letting them know if they have any questions and if they would be interested in learning more.
Guys, this approach is simple, if done right, but is not the secret sauce.
Try this and move on to another approach
Cold Calling or Walk-Ins
Oh boy, this one is a doozy!
I don’t know anyone, on both ends that LOVES, this approach.
But it works and is necessary if you mean serious business.
Whether you are calling up the dance school or showing up in person you want to approach with caution.
They DON’T KNOW you.
But after you talk with them, they will love you (just throwing in a little pep talk)
The best way to approach this is with curiosity and kindness.
Talk with them about their dance school and get to know them.
- Let them know you are a photographer who is interested in helping them out with there dance recital portraits.
- Give them a little background information on yourself, what makes you different, and just have a conversation.
You will be surprised by what a little chit chat and kindness will do.
Bonus points if you walk into a dance school with a thank you basket or treats. Everyone likes goodies and this will warm them up.
NEVER EVER go to a dance school or call them up and immediately ask for the sale.
This approach is relationship building and brand awareness.
Not just a few seconds before you reached out, did they know who you are. So go in SLOWLY and friendly
Ask questions like:
- How long has the dance school been open
- What classes do they teach and how many
- Do they put on a recital
- Have they worked with a photographer in the past
- What do they like or dislike about there photographer
- What’s there favorite color (ah just kidding, don’t say that)
Just have a conversation and ask to speak with the dance director or owner.
Again, it all comes down to how well you handle rejection and just remember you are just letting them know what options they have.
Mailers or Post Cards
Now you say, mailing postcards or information is old school thinking. Well, it’s still relevant today, and you would be surprised how well it works.
This method is a soft approach with brand awareness, letting the dance school know who you are and what you can offer.
I’ve even had dance schools call me and say I’ve been receiving your postcards for 3 years and have kept them knowing one day I may need to call you.
And guess what, they did call me and I am working with them.
The key to any mailers or postcards is you need to be very clear with who you are and the message you are trying to get across
Use bright colors and bold lettering with sample images, if you have (not a requirement)
The key points to have visibly clear are:
- Your contact information
- That you are a photographer
- Interested in Dance Recital Portraits
- Call to ACTION – call or e-mail me TODAY
If you’re wanting to mail postcards, I would recommend printing a 4×6 with one side being color and black/white on the back (to save with cost).
I have used Vista Prints for both printing and mailing the postcards
All you need to do is upload your design and a CSV document with all the mailing information you collected on the dance schools
This saves you a lot of time handwriting the addresses and applying postage.
I also schedule mail outs, not only once, but a few times throughout the year.
If you receive any “Bad” postcards or Non-Deliverable then just makes sure to update your mailing list so your not printing and mailing out to those addresses again
OK, so this requires a little knowledge and understanding of how Facebook ads work.
But you can see massive returns if done right.
I’m not going to get into all the technical details here, but you can check out this article on The Complete Guide to Getting Started with Facebook Ads
The key to using this properly is setting up your target market correctly and having an eye-catching ad related to what you are trying to promote “Dance Recital Portraits”.
The key to successfully running a good ad campaign is:
- Setting your target “Dance School”, “Dance Studio”, or “Dance Studio Owner”
- Narrowing your market to the area you want to cover (local or a few miles outside of town)
- Again, AWESOME headline and GRAPHIC
Once you have your daily or weekly budget set and you have a call to action then all you have to do is wait for a response.
The key is to TEST, TEST, TEST
Don’t think that if you run ONE add, with no response, nobody is interested.
You have to do a lot of testing to see what works
What I have found useful is to provide a call to action that directs to a specific webpage, about dance recital portraits
When someone clicks on the ad and is taken to the website, it has all the information they need to know about your services.
Then just direct them to send you a message or call for more information.
You’ll have some people see the add and call immediately, so be ready for anything to happen, once ad is up and running
Alright once you have done a little marketing and you have a dance school interested in you,
The next step would be to schedule and promote portrait day.
Step 3. Schedule and Promote Portrait Day
Alright. a dance school wants to work with you, now you just need to figure out how and when you will schedule portrait day.
I’m going to briefly cover some ways to photograph recital portraits but if you’re wanting a more in-depth explanation, you can check out the article on 4 Ways to Photograph Dance Recital Portraits.
How are you Going to Photograph Recital Portraits?
- Individual portraits only at the dance school (with Signup)
- Groups and Individual portraits at the dance school
- Individual portraits at the dress rehearsal
- Group and Individual portraits at the dress rehearsal
Once you have figure out what the studio wants and when they want it, you need to select a date.
I have found that photographing on weekends are ideal for people and would avoid photographing during their actual class time, if you can avoid it. (Very Time Consuming and Not Efficient)
It all depends on the size of the dance school and the length of time you are going to spend taking pictures.
For example, let’s use the above option with photographing individual portraits only at the dance school with signup (Which is my go-to option)
You would talk with the dance school and find a day that works best for both your schedule and theirs.
Then you would provide a signup sheet that has spots for people to fill in their name, 5 dancers every 15 minutes.
Or whatever you feel comfortable on how many dancers you can photograph in a given amount of time
From there, providing a signup, organizes everything and gives people a specific time to show up to the dance school on portrait day.
You don’t want everyone showing up all at the same time. It will be very hectic and unorganized.
If the dance studio wants group pictures then you would just have them schedule each class every 15-30 minutes to give you time to photograph the group then each individual portraits.
Keep in mind, you have to understand the size of the dance school.
From my experience, I usually have around 40-50% participation on portrait day.
It’s just the name of the game. You will not be able to photograph 100% of the dance school.
Larger the dance school is, the more people there are, which means more likely there are going to be people that have schedules that conflict with portrait day
Take NOTE: The most important thing you have to understand about photographing dance recital portraits is the majority of dancers have multiple costumes or are in multiple classes.
When scheduling you have to factor in that just because you might have 30 people sign up you may actually be photographing 90 costumes (each child having 3 outfits).
DON’T Freak Out. This is actually a GREAT thing. More costumes + more pictures = more sales
The number of costumes is the key and not the number of kids when scheduling.
Once you have a date set and determined how you are going to photograph, you need to communicate with all the parents to make sure they know when portrait day is and who you are.
Promoting Portrait Day
If you want the portrait day to be successful and a high attendance rate, then you need to do a little promoting to help get the word out.
Don’t assume the dance school will do all this.
Be proactive and provide all the information to them so they can help communicate with the parents.
If they are paperless then you will just be sending everything digitally and not printing anything.
4 effective ways to promote:
- Paper Flyers
- Lobby Poster
- Social Media / Website Graphic
You want to ask the dance school first, what is the best way THEY communicate with their parents.
E-mail a template to the dance school to forward to all the parents.
You want to include:
- Dates (Portrait Day)
- Times (Start and End)
- What you are offering
- Who you are
- Frequently asked questions
- Portrait Checklist
- Website address, for additional information (pricing, FAQ)
This should be sent out a month or two before portrait day so people can put in their calendar.
The same information you have for the e-mail should be included in a flyer.
I would recommend designing the flyer so its easy for people to find the information and read
PRO TIP: I print everything in half sheets from a standard 8.5×11 sheet of paper and then cut in half. This saves on paper and ink.
Most of the time the dance school will hand out recital packets that explain’s everything they need to know about the recital.
They would either place your flyers in their packets or hand them out separately.
Just ask the dance studio how many families they have and print that number of flyers.
This is another great way to get the word out.
When parents bring their child to dance class, they normally wait in the lobby and watch their child dance.
Having a poster that has all the same information from the e-mail, but with some sample photos and graphics will help inform them, while they’re just sitting around.
You can keep this real simple and either print off an 8×10 poster or something larger for them to see and notice (11×14 or larger)
I use Richmond Pro Lab for all my printing and they have special rates just for Poster Prints.
As with all other promotional material, KEEP IT SIMPLE and to the point
Just cover the main information
- Date / Time
- Some FAQ
You don’t want them to get lost in the details. They just need to know when to show up
Social Media / Website Graphic
If you want to go the extra mile, then create a simple graphic in photoshop with a few sample images and then the date/time.
The dance school can post and promote this image on their website or on their social media page.
A lot of parents get their information from these platforms, so you want to make sure you are where they are.
Keep is simple and eye-catching with bold lettering and bright colors.
Now that you have scheduled portrait day and promoted it to the parents’, let’s get into why you’re really here. Photographing the Actual Dance Recital Portraits
Step 4. Photograph Recital Portraits
The big day is finally here.
You have some butterflies in your stomach with all the excitement and the unknowns but realize all the hard work you’ve done, comes down to this day.
Don’t worry you will be fine.
Just keep these few points in mind
- Have fun
- Be professional
- Positive attitude
If anything goes wrong people will notice if you’re panicking and upset.
As long as you are cool and calm, you will be able to work through any issues.
REMEMBER, It’s all about the experience for these kiddos and parents.
The last thing you want is an upset child or parent, and a more upset photographer. NO good
In this section, I’m going to cover
- Where to Setup
- Posing & Taking Pictures
Alright, let’s get to it.
Now I’m not going to go much in detail with the exact equipment to use, you can check out my resource page, where I have a list of everything I personally use.
And I’m not one of those photographers who will debate you on what is the BEST brand (Canon vs Nikon vs Sony) and everything else under the sun.
Come on guys do you want to spend all your time focusing on things that at the end of the day will be outdated a year later.
Just do a little research, choose what you’re comfortable with, you can afford, and move ON
The main takeaway I want you to understand is you just need 3 things:
- DSLR camera + lens
- Strobe Lights (Studio Lighting)
That’s it, not very complicated, right?
The great news is you don’t have to spend a lot of money to photograph dance recital portraits.
If I wanted to go in on a budget, I can buy a camera for $500, some lights for a few $100’s, and then a background that you can find for under $100.
Now, there are a few other small things like light and background stands, umbrellas or softbox, and miscellaneous items, but the main point I want you to understand is affordability.
The saying goes, you do get what you pay for, but if you’re just starting out, I don’t want this to be a deal-breaker for you.
If your already a portrait photographer you should already have some of this equipment, so it shouldn’t cost you much to photograph dance portraits.
Now that you have some lights and a camera you’re probably wondering…
What background should you use?
There are tons of options out there but I always recommend to again, KEEP IT SIMPLE
If you have a themed background, guess what, you probably won’t be using it again the following year (which means spending more money).
If you are consistent with your background year over year, parents will love you for this.
They can see the progress of there child growing and are not distracted by the background. (Just my opinion and what I hear from parents)
You can either use a:
- Muslin Background
- Seemless Paper Background
Both have there pros and cons but I personally use a Muslin background.
You can check out a more in-depth article on Choosing the Best Background for Dance Portraits that can help decide the best option for you.
When it comes to the color of the background I would recommend:
- High Key White
- Light Blue
- Medium Brown
You want to use a color that is neutral and that won’t blend with the costumes.
Here is what it looks like using a Bluish Grey Background
This has been my go-to color over the years and just recently took it to the dry cleaners for repair and cleaning.
That is HOW MUCH I use it and love it.
I have NEVER had ONE single parent complain about this background. It just works
If you want to use a white background here is what it can look like if you light everything properly.
I have an article on How to Photograph on a White Background that goes more in-depth.
The key to using a white background is to also light the background so it overexposes it and takes out the wrinkles (using simple terms here guys)
If you want to take it up a notch you can also use a Marley floor for the foundation.
This helps create a flat smooth surface for the dancers to pose on. It also gives a little reflection so it doesn’t look like the person is cut out.
I have another article on the 4 Benefits of using Marley floor for Dance Portraits.
You don’t have to use this flooring but does help A LOT when photographing on a white background.
Again, KEEP THE SETUP simple with the background!
Lighting Made Simple!
Ok as a photographer I’m not going to tell you how to be a photographer.
Everyone does things different and is unique in there own way.
I know photographers that photograph dance recital portraits and use a complicated and elaborate lighting setup.
Their images are amazing and beautiful so I’m not going to knock them down.
Hey, this can be a selling point for your business and can make you stand out from your competition.
But for me personally, I stick with simple flat lighting that is well lit. You eliminate any issues with parents complaining that there is a weird shadow somewhere on the child.
Hey, can’t parents just let the photographer express themselves creatively?
Well NO, unfortunately, most parents don’t see it this way. You can explain that the lighting you use creates a mood and is art, but they don’t care.
They want a well-lit portrait of there child, in a fun pose, with a cute outfit.
Save that creativity for custom sessions or when taking pictures of the advanced and older dancers, from the dance school.
You can charge a different rate and set up differently, but for 80% of the Dance School KEEP IT SIMPLE and focus on the child.
Heres an example of one of my setups.
2 lights with 2 umbrellas (can use a softbox)
Personally I believe in flat – even lighting with YOUR MAIN focus being the dancer
Where to Setup?
Make sure you arrive well before the start of your first appointment or group.
You don’t want to be stuck in traffic or feeling rushed.
Depending on how and where you are photographing you have 2 locations
- At the Dance School
- At the Dress Rehearsal (Performing Art Center)
If you are Photographing at the Dance School
Your setup will look a little like this.
Typically dance schools will have a few rooms where they teach classes.
You want to set up in one room, have another room for changing, and then a waiting room or sales area.
WATCH out for mirrors
This can throw your lights off and be a distraction to the little kiddos
You want the dancers to be looking at YOU and not at themselves, in the mirror.
Setup in a way that people can easily access your background and won’t be tripping over any cords
If you are Photographing at the Dress Rehearsal
Dress rehearsals typically are located at Performing Art Centers or PAC’s which are stand-alone facilities or are attached to a school.
They will have a bunch of side rooms and sometimes will have a large lobby
Here is what your setup could look like if you are setting up in the lobby.
The key here is to be VISIBLE so people know where you are at.
If your hiding in a room or are not visible people will forget about pictures and your sales will be low.
PRO TIP: I would recommend setting up in an area that you can control the flow.
If you have dividers or tables, use them to create chock points so people are naturally driven to an area you want them to go, ie: entrance to your background
Side Note: Always recommend photographing at the dance school if you’re just starting out.
Don’t bight off too much and avoid photographing at the dress rehearsal until you are VERY comfortable.
Posing For Dance Portraits
Ok, so this is one thing you SHOULD NOT get caught on.
Trust me, I know a lot of portrait photographers who have never taken dance recital portraits and do just fine, not know anything about dance poses.
If your not comfortable with what poses to use, ask the dance studio if they can provide a teacher or hire them, to help you out.
They can do all the posing and all you have to do is take the pictures! That SIMPLE
I have a VERY helpful article 5 Best Dance Poses that Parents Want, which shows you the main poses to focus on.
When your photographing dance you will come across
- Musical Theater
All of these types of dance have very unique and different poses.
If you photograph a dancer in the wrong pose it JUST won’t LOOK right and people will notice.
I also have a FREE guide to Dance Poses that can help you quickly reference dance poses, on portrait day.
The Complete Guide has over 300 dance poses and tutorial videos to get you up to speed so you can become a master at this.
PRO TIP: once you have gotten the hang of photographing dance recital portraits I would advise that you learn how to pose yourself. This is a HUGE selling point to dance schools and you can quickly stand out from the pack in order to GROW.
Here’s a quick preview video of Doug Showing you How to Pose For Tap
Alright, so we got all the pictures and posing out of the way but now your probably wondering how do I actually make money with all these pictures you took?
Step 5. Sell Your Cute Dance Pictures
The sales process doesn’t have to be scammy or hard. Remember your pictures will practically sell themselves.
You just took adorable pictures of kiddos in cute outfits with parents who WANT to buy from you.
You just have to make it easy for them to and show them the value.
I’m not going go into much detail on each of the ways and have a detailed article that covers 6 Ways to Sale Your Dance Recital Portraits
But in order, from easiest to hardest you have
- Pre Paid Order Forms
- eCommerce – Online Ordering
- Pre-Printed Packages
- Printed Proofs
- Viewing Stations (Computers)
- Bulk Rate
Pre Paid Order Forms
This method of selling pictures has been around for ages. You see this a lot when photographing school or little league pictures.
You would offer preset packages that offer a variety of sizes and options. Parents would then choose what package they want and pay before pictures are taken.
This is a great way to make sure you are walking away with sales!!
The only difference is when it comes to dance portraits, most kids have multiple costumes, so they would need to order multiple packages or fill out multiple order forms.
This option would require you to have someone collect both the order forms and payment.
Online Ordering Through eCommerce Site
This is one of the easiest and least sales approaches.
Instead of people having to fill out an order form and make a payment on portrait day all you need to do is collect contact information or e-mail addresses.
So the process goes like this
- take all the pictures
- organize images (individual folders)
- upload to an eCommerce website.
- Send out an e-mail with a link to view/order
The beauty of using an eCommerce site like Zenfolio, is they do all the heavy lifting.
Once you have set up your packages and uploaded your images, the eCommerce site takes care of the rest (payment and processing orders).
If someone orders prints, the photo lab prints and mails everything.
Same If digital images are ordered. They automatically send a link to download.
The only thing you need to do is make sure you are reminding parents to go online to view and order.
PRO TIP: I recommend setting a deadline to order. This creates a sense of urgency so people don’t forget. Send out a few e-mails at first, and when the deadline gets closer, send them more frequently.
There are a lot of great eCommerce sites out there and you can read the article I wrote about Zenfolio vs Smug Mug.
Most people would never think of, let alone try this option, but it does work (with some risk)
This is where you take all the pictures, whether one pose or multiple poses, and then print them all out in various sizes and packages.
At this point, people have only taken pictures and money has not exchanged hands.
You would then take all the printed images and then setup either a sales day or set up a booth at the rectal.
People would view all the images, pay you, then walk away that same day with all their pictures.
You will have some people not purchase, but if you sell your packages at a high enough rate then that will offset any extra expense.
This is all about instant gratification and making it easy for the parents.
Print Proofs + Ordering
This option is similar to the pre-printed package option, except you are not printing full-blown packages and just proofs (normally 4×6 size prints)
Doug only uses this option and does really well selling his dance portraits.
After portrait day you would set up a sales day for people to view their proofs and then make a purchase.
You can create specials that if they order a certain amount, then they would receive their proofs for free or have some other type of deal.
Again, this method capitalizes on instant gratification and being able to make a purchase with someone there to help answer questions or sell to them.
Viewing Stations (With Computers)
This is my go-to option when it comes to all the sales methods.
I would not recommend this option to any beginners because it does take a small investment in computers and being a little tech-savvy.
With this option, directly after pictures are taken, people can view and order their images.
Here are a few pros with this option
- Sales are complete same day
- Increased customer experience
- Multiple poses and options
- Everyone leaves happy and know what they get
Having this option gives you a leg up with your competition and is a selling point to the dance schools.
Again, you don’t have to do this method to be successful with dance recital portraits but if you are wanting to photograph a lot of dance schools, I recommend migrating to this option eventually.
It allows you to scale a lot faster and easier, with all the added benefits listed.
Bulk Dance School Rate
This method is not common but has a lot of benefits for both you and the dance school, for instance.
You’re able to negotiate a set rate to photograph all the dancers.
You would either provide all the digital images or have set packages that you print.
The dance school would either give this option to the parents to choose or automatically add to their recital fee.
You would end up taking pictures of everyone, edit, organize, and then send the dance school a master link for everyone to download their images.
The dance school writes you one check, and then you go on your merry way.
Eliminates all the guess out of sales and you walk in knowing exactly what to expect.
Alright, once sales are taken care of we move on to the last step, processing orders.
Step 6. Process the Customers Order
After picture day is over you need to do one of two things, depending on what sales approach you took.
You need to either upload your images to your online ordering website or you need to process the orders.
But before you do anything you need to stay organized with
- Download images to a computer
- Backup images to an external hard drive
- Import into Adobe Lightroom
- Prep images and adjust for lighting and color
- Export images
- Upload to website or process orders
- If processing orders log in to your photo labs ordering software
- Decide if you are going to drop ship to the customer or send everything back to you.
For all my print, digital, and specialty order I use RichmondProLabs.com
Here is a list of other photo labs
- Millers Lab
- Bay Photo Lab
- Nations Photo Lab
- Full Color
Once you have processed all the orders and you have either delivered to the dance studio or drop-shipped to parents, you are all done and just have to wait to handle any customer service
Next Best Resources
Some Final Words From Me…..
I know it can be overwhelming and confusing when first starting out or if you have already photographed a few dance schools.
I have been in the same exact shoes as you are right now.
Photographing dance recital portraits is an amazing service you can add to your business and it doesn’t have to stop at helping one dance school.
The beauty of this service is once you have it down you just repeat and grow.
I hope you enjoyed this article and if you would like to say thanks or have any questions, I would love to hear from you in the comment section below