I’ve been doing dance photography in Tampa for about 10 years now. It’s quite a bit different from most volume school type photography mostly because it’s full-length. Sure, there are sports that you photograph full-length but most of them are photographed outdoors. Shooting full-length inside, on white, can be a challenge.
Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different setups before landing on the one I use now. The lighting has to be small enough to fit in a tight studio where you will also have a table for sign-ups and a bunch of parents and kids. At the same time, it has to be lit evenly all the way across the background and the floor. Plus, of course, you have to light the dancer!
My latest session was at Next Step Dance in Lutz (a suburb of Tampa).
How Dance Photography Ordering Works
One of the things that I do that is different than any other studio is the way that I run the order side of dance pictures. I require each parent to buy a minimum package the day of the shoot. Then, they receive a coupon code. The images are posted online and they can pick whatever images they desire and whatever package they desire, then enter the coupon code and have that amount deducted from their total. If they don’t go online and pick their favorites, I pick for them and print the package they already paid for.
Why do I do it this way?
It’s all about the delivery. When I first started doing dance photography in Tampa the biggest complaint that the studio owners had was the long wait for delivery of images with past photographers. This happens because parents aren’t always quick to go online and select their images. So, everyone waits while those parents are tracked down and pressed into ordering. (Because of shipping costs, it’s not feasible to order multiple times).
So, I created a system where the people who want to order online can do so, the people who don’t want to order online can do so, and everything is delivered quickly.
Occasionally I get a parent who doesn’t want to pay up-front but that is easily solved with our 100% money-back guarantee. If you look at the images online and don’t want to purchase any we will give you back every penny of the package you purchased. So, technically, we photograph your child for free.
Finally, there’s the price. Over the years I’ve had calls from dance schools who wanted to use me for their Tampa dance photography who end up going with someone else because they sell the images cheaper to the parents. I had one owner tall me, “My people need to be able to buy one picture for $10.”
Is Dance Photography Expensive?
My minimum purchase package is $45. You get several prints and you get a facebook-sized digital file that you can share online. This is the price point I have to be at in order to make it worth my while. Believe me, I don’t make much money when it’s all said and done. What I always smile about is what I hear when I ask, “Why aren’t you using the person who did it last year?”
“They didn’t do a good job.”
“They didn’t deliver on time.”
“They didn’t deliver at all”
“They went out of business.”
This is what you get when someone says they can set up, shoot, process, order and deliver 100 kids with a minimum purchase of $10. They either don’t have the infrastructure to do it well and on time (because no full-time pro would charge so little) or they go out of business (because they spent 80 hours on the job and clear a couple hundred dollars after expenses). I never like to talk about money in these blog posts but it’s important to understand that good photography costs real money. It’s also important to understand that good photography actually becomes more valuable over time. Go back to any parent who’s child I photographed 10 years from now and offer then $100 for the image. They won’t sell it. It’s more valuable now than it was when they bought it. Believe me, 20 years from now know one will care that the awful image of their child was cheaper.
I hope this clears up a few things about how Tampa dance photography works. I see you at the studio!