Enhance your photography income with high-volume work such as sports, school, and dance photography! Here’s what you should know…
What is High-Volume Photography?
When it comes to being a photographer, you may experiment with a number of genres. Figuring out the best opportunities for your business is part of building a successful career as a photographer. But there is one niche within that often gets overlooked: volume photography.
Break it Down: How to Work in Volume
This type of photography refers to the type of photography where you:
- set up a single backdrop or photo location
- photograph a number of subjects within that same setup
This niche is often straightforward to set up, simple to achieve great results with and can be lucrative for your local business. Volume photography can also connect you to a number of clients for other types of work if your studio shoots other genres as well.
What is it Like to Work as a High-Volume Photographer?
Some photographers only work as high-volume photographers. Most of these entrepreneurs have been working in the same business for their entire careers! They are making a good living, have a consistent stream of clients, and have a solid workflow that allows them to deliver a high volume of photos quickly and easily for their clients.
Why Should You Add This Niche to Your Business?
Adding this niche to your business can create consistent income. When you build up a regular base of clients in this niche, you always know that your clients will be in need of regular imagery. Many photographers who work doing high-volume images have clients who call them on a seasonal or yearly basis. They usually maintain a steady contract with these clients.
Perk: Not a Lot of Editing Work
Because the setups tend to be constant, not a lot of editing work is required for this type of photography. This gives you more freedom to work on other projects or with other types of clients. Volume photography can be low-stress for many photographers who are well-equipped with reliable lighting set up and structure for each session.
Earn a Loyal Customer Base for Your Business
There are few other types of photography that create such consistent and loyal clients. Once clients hire you for bulk image-making, it is likely that they will stay with you for a long time (or until you decide to move on.) The ease of this niche allows for a low-stress experience for both the client and the photographer.
Examples of Volume Photography
Some examples of this genre of photography are:
- school photography
- sports photography
- wedding photo booth business
- fundraiser portrait booth
- branded photo backdrop at a red carpet event
- animal shows and competitions
- dance photography
- headshots events at commercial offices
These are just a few examples that require minimal creativity but create high-volume imagery. Once you have your lighting and background setup figured out, it’s easy to shoot a large volume of pictures within a small window of time.
Get Consistent, Multiple-Year Clients
Why is this niche so lucrative for photographers? When you work in schools or sports photography with a regular client, for example, you can enjoy multiple years of contracts with that school. Provide great service the first time around, and they’ll likely continue to use your services, over and over.
Seasonal Work: A Sure Thing
Sports teams tend to require new pictures on a seasonal basis. Organizations typically schedule a single day each season when portrait photographers will make the sports teams’ photos. This saves the school or club both time and money and enables them to obtain consistent imagery year after year.
You Need a Winning Workflow to Create Consistency
You can’t shoot bulk images without a solid workflow. Your clients will expect a quick turnaround on their finished photos, and you want to deliver while their excitement is high. If you’re shooting with consistent light, color, and exposure, the only thing that will change from picture to picture is the subject matter—the individuals or groups you’re shooting.
So, how do you create a reliable process that will keep your clients happy and your studio busy?
Here’s How to Add Volume Photography to Your Studio
To add volume photography to your studio’s repertoire, you must accept a level of flexibility with your shooting schedule. Because you’ll be working with schools and organizations, it’s reasonable to expect most of your sessions to take place during the week.
Weekday shooting is great for:
- wedding photographers who typically only shoot on weekends
- dual-career shooters who work another job during the week
- parents who want their weekends free to spend time with their family
Create room in your schedule for weekday sessions if you want to add bulk photo-making to your business!
Prepare to Take on a Hefty Digital Workload
Once you begin shooting volume, you may be shocked by the insane quantity of images you pull from your memory cards! This high-quantity work means you’ll need:
- ample hard drive space
- a fail-safe backup system
This type of business demands great tools for shooting and top-of-the-line systems for post-production.
When Possible, Use Artificial Light
Volume photography works best with a studio light set-up. We love natural light as much as the next person, but studio lighting empowers you to efficiently create a bulk collection if consistent pictures. From one frame to the next, your clients should see little to no change in quality.
Invest in the Right Equipment
Once you know what your clients want and need, you’ll have a better understanding of the gear required. Some clients may want custom backdrops; others will need an off-site studio space for their pictures. For school photography, you will likely shoot in the school itself; for high-volume portrait or family work, you may find it cost-effective to establish your own studio space where you can arrange your artificial lighting and leave it there, ready to work.
#ShootProofPRO Tip: How to Create Consistency with Natural Light
The Match Total Exposures tool in Lightroom is a miracle-worker if you shoot your bulk images in natural light! Here’s how it works:
- Create each of your natural light pictures in the exact same setting
- When you open a series of photos in Lightroom, edit only one to your exposure standards
- Select that edited image, then also select the images you want to match to it
- In the Develop panel, select Settings > Match Total Exposures
- Watch the miracle happen!
Your selected photos will all be auto-corrected to match the “perfect” photo you’ve already edited!
Are You Ready to Create a Volume Photography Workflow?
Photographers who create large quantities of images must have a repeatable workflow.
Not that family portrait photographers don’t need a similar system, but your workflow structure is especially critical when you’re managing files in bulk. When you cull headshots or portraits, for example, you tend to prioritize images with different angles, unique lighting, and flattering poses. When it comes to high-volume work, the emphasis is on consistency from frame to frame.
Group Pictures: What Matters Most
The beauty of volume photography is how easy it is to retouch and edit the photos. If you’re photographing a group, for example, you want to deliver pictures with no one blinking. With a consistent collection of pictures, you can easily copy a subject’s eyes from one photo to another in short order. This kind of editing is often overlooked, but it means a lot to the folks you’ve photographed!
Cull Your Images FAST
When you’re delivering images in bulk, the “perfect” shot is less important than making sure everyone’s eyes are open and pointed at the camera lens. Speed up your culling with Photo Mechanic or similar software. These tools work fast to render a photo clearly and allow you to flag it, rate it, or even delete it. (Who wants a whole bunch of rejects clogging up their hard drive, anyway?)
Photoshop is definitely not the ideal program for culling, since it’s geared toward heavy-duty post-production on individual images. Photo Mechanic, however, is great for quick culling that doesn’t exhaust your computer’s processing power.
Other Options for Photo Culling Software
Some photographers prefer to cull using Bridge or Lightroom from Adobe suite of products. Figure out what flows fastest for your needs when you’re working through a massive series of photos.
Another option? Outsource your editing to a company who specializes in culling, or employ a production assistant who can do this work from home.
Minimize Your Color Corrections
You shouldn’t need to perform a lot of color correction or editing in this photo industry niche. These clients want true-to-life colors and tones—none of those moody presets or dramatic filters. Focus on producing quality skin tones and accurate clothing colors. (Everyone’s team jersey should be the same correct shade of blue!)
Get Started with Volume Photography
To get started with high-quantity photo work, you must market yourself in your local community.
Build your portfolio by volunteering with local organizations and teams. Start spreading the word, and create word-of-mouth referrals through your best clients. You can also reach out to local schools and let them know you’ve added this genre to your services.
The bulk photo niche can be quite lucrative for your business. If you work in other types of photography, we encourage you to consider developing a separate brand for marketing your school and sports team photos.
If you give volume photography a try, tell us how you’re doing with your all-new revenue stream!
Megan Breukelman is a Brooklyn-based photographer, marketer, and host of the Photo Opp Podcast. She aims to eat cupcakes and help photographers build on their passions.