A Better Picture Day | Exploratory Community Survey


The purpose of this page, and the survey at the bottom is that Rana and I are currently doing a little bit of market research to see if there is real demand in the area for us to try and take over the local school photography contracts. This will only take about 5-10 minutes of your time, and we will send you a $50 gift certificate to use on one of our new Mini Shoots in exchange for completing it.

So Here is what you do:
1.) Read through this entire page
2.) Fill out the short survey at the bottom of the page

3.) SHARE the link to this page on your own facebook to help us get as much feedback as possible 
4.) Email me at photo@brandonbartee.com to get your $50 gift certificate

Please be as honest and thorough as possible, as your thoughts and opinions do very much matter to us and will directly affect our next move.



I want to start off by saying that if you read this post in the wrong context, it could come across as though we are blaming the school districts and their staff for your child having bad school photos. In reality, that could not be further than the truth. The schools use the "National Portrait Company" for one reason only - up until now, there has simply not been a better choice. Having graduated from this area, I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that our local school system is a large part of what makes living in this area so great. I owe a lot of who I am today to the teachers and staff at Eastern High School, and again, this is in absolutely no way shape or form meant to disparage them in any way.... 

Southern Ohio School Photos

Shouldn't school portrait day be a better experience than has been offered in recent years?

As photographers, and perhaps more so as entrepreneurs, Rana and I are constantly evolving by trying to find new ways to not only develop our skills, but also to find better ways to solve problems that are out there in our community today. In our 7 years in business in the area, we have been asked dozens of times by our clients, "When are you guys going to come and do the school photos for our school?! I HATE the ones that we get every year and most of the time that I don't even buy them!"

Now I'm not gonna lie, up until recently we had absolutely no interest in doing school portraits. "Picture Day" is an entirely different ball game than what we do on a daily basis and something about it just doesn't seem all that fun! 

Until someone showed us something that changed our mind...

When I was in school (EHS class of 2006!), our "Picture Day" photos were never that exciting, but they weren't terrible. They were boring and not terribly creative, but they weren't BAD. That is how I thought things still were.

Our views changed dramatically when one of our clients brought us her child's photos that she got that year from the national portrait company (that shall remain nameless out of respect). She didn't say anything about them - she just laid them out on the table for me to look at. I was floored by how BAD they were!

I don't mean lack of creativity bad, because lets be honest, you can only get so creative when shooting 800 kids in one day. 

I don't even mean lack of image or print quality bad, because they were printed on the same paper and probably with the same printers that we use for our high end clients. 

What I mean by bad, and the reason that I was most floored, is that the kids eyes were half closed in the photo, his mouth was half open, and his uniform was on crooked. Isn't it the photographers job to make sure that your child is at least looking at the camera and ready for you to snap the photo?

But what really got us thinking was this...

Even then, we still weren't terribly moved to do something about it. It wasn't until later that night that we were really swayed. As I went home I talked to Rana about it and this is what came up:

For a lot of families in our area, school picture day is all that they have. They can't really afford to hire us for a private photo shoot, because let's face it, our Signature Sessions are not cheap! So the only "Professional Portraits" that they are able to have of their children come from the school.

Do they not deserve a little better?

The Problem, and our Solution

The problem with the national portrait companies is this:

They only have ONE customer, and it isn't you.

The national portrait companies are not accountable to you as a the parent, and once they get their foot in the door with the school and are under a 5 year contract, it doesn't matter how sloppy the photos are, what your child looked like, or how unhappy you are as a parent with your child's school photos. What's worse is that not even the school can do anything about the quality either! 

No matter what happens, their business and income are not in danger because:
A.) They still have 4 more years left in their contract or
B.) They take advantage of the school with the fact that there is no one else around even if the school wanted to find a replacement. 

What makes us a better choice?

Simple. We NEED you to like us. 

We don't have a corporate headquarters 1800 miles away. We aren't some nameless company that you have no real connection with. We don't have the luxury of not having to live with our mistakes.

We live and do business right here in South Eastern Ohio. We work with A LOT of you every year for our private portrait sessions. 

What this means is that if we were to show up to a school, do only the bare minimum that is required of us in our contract, take poor photos and go home - we would be HURTING OUR OWN reputation which directly impacts our livelihood. 

Like I Said, We NEED you to like us. We can't afford to do a bad job because that would be the end for us. 

and finally... the point of this survey...

In case you couldn't already tell from the text above, Rana and I intend to move into the school photography market in the next year. We see a need, and we think that we can fill it with a higher degree of excellence and integrity than the National Portrait Company. 

Please know though - we are not promising you that if we get these contracts that your children's portraits will be the most creative thing that you have ever seen. Like I said above, there is only so much you can do in 30 seconds with each child. I am not even going to promise you that there will not be any hiccups at first, because there probably will be! 

However what we do promise you is this.

We promise simply to DO BETTER. Even though you aren't going to win an award for innovation with a school portrait, based on what I have seen there is A LOT of room for improvement in this area...

We promise to CARE. If we take a photo of a child with their eyes closed, we will TAKE ANOTHER one with their eyes open. We promise to care about what your photos look like, because after all, our jobs depend on it. 

We promise to keep a package that is affordable to everyone.

Most of all, we promise to serve not only the school district, but also YOU, the parent. We will cater to both of you... 

and after all is said and done, we do promise to throw in a little bit of creativity and innovation into the process as well :)

What what do I need you to do?

First, I need you to fill out this short survey with as much detail as possible. I will be using this information to not only make a decision on pursuing this, but also in presenting to the schools themselves. 

Then, copy the link to this page on facebook with a little description about what it is for so that we can get as many responses as possible. 

FINALLY - email me at photo@brandonbartee.com to let me know that you have completed it, and I will email you back with your $50 gift certificate. 

THANK YOU - and here is the form for the survey (finally)

Name *
An example would be Buttons, Posters, Banners, Retake Days, etc