Over-priced school photos in public schools - Why don't schools take any initiatives?

The class/ group photo pricing in public schools seems to be ridiculous; not sure about other states but this is for NSW. For example, a Portrait photo is for $27, Group photo is for $29 and so on. There are packages priced even higher but unfortunately none of these options includes a 'digital' copy of the group photo. So, if you want a class group photo, then you have to spend ~$29 and you get a physical print in return.

I think that it's a big rip-off. Particularly in public schooling system where there are families from all different socio-economical backgrounds, cost of any such activity/ item is a sensitive subject and the schools should be doing something about it. Prices can easily be one-third of the current amounts and I believe the photographers (or the businesses involved) would still make money. In fact, they should just sell digital copy for a cheap price (to avoid people sharing digital copies) as that's what everyone wants. A digital file can be preserved safely for a very long duration and can be printed whenever required. Not sure what purpose they serve by offering only the physical print and that too at such an expensive rate in today's era where cost of photography has gone down significantly! One can scan the physical photo but its clarity/ resolution is never going to be the same as a digital file.

What I find surprising is that schools are approving this pricing every year and not taking any action to reduce the cost or make digital copies available to the kids especially when everything else in public system is kept cost-effective. I understand that it's not compulsory to buy the photos but most of the kids end up buying them under the peer pressure or just to keep a nice memory of their schooling days (as they should).

I would love to hear your thoughts.


        • Then they're going to charge according that your not going to be purchasing any prints.

          Unfortunately, that will probably mean that if less and less people buy prints, then the overall cost to customers will continually increase (assuming most of the profit margin comes from prints).

        • +1

          Very rare for professional photographers to sell digital files for that reason, no repeat business. They also then have their images plastered all over social media without recognition, and they can be reprinted. If a pro sold digital images, they need to sell for such a price as to cover loss of revenue that way (ie stupidly expensive).

          It's easy for OP to just say "it's too expensive" without any other justification, and in fact states this:

          but the prices seems to be equally bad across all those providers in schools and childcare centres too.

          Kinda says something if there's no 'budget' option. This is the market price, and it's a 'like it or lump it' situation.

          • @spackbace: I've always been able to get the digital files from the photographers at the snow. They will even provide you the raw files if you ask. They provide the jpegs by default because the raw files are huge and it's great because I can do some nice post processing. They don't care if you reprint from file because it's only for that year anyway. You're not going to come back 12 months later and ask for last years photos 'cause you get another lot for the current year. School photos should be the same.
            I can understand that with the group photo they would loose out because no doubt the file would be shared so maybe they could hold that one but the individual photo why not.
            And scanning of the photo produces a pretty good result provided you have a half decent scanner and crank up the DPI. Good enough for memory purposes anyway.

        • +1

          I'd charge more for a digital than a print as you cant control use or duplication.

  • +2

    Doesn't sound unreasonable for professional photos

  • -1

    OzWhinge. My favourite forum.

  • +4

    I think you make a good point OP. It seems thet haven't moved with the times post digital photography. The price for a group photo is very high when you take into account how many are receiving it. The cost to the photographer would be much cheaper than taking random portraits of people, at a school they have a production line waiting.

    A digital copy as part of the package would go a long way.

    I'm sure many parents couldn't afford that cost. A school photo shouldn't be considered a luxury. At those prices I consider it to be.

    • I'm sure many parents couldn't afford that cost. A school photo shouldn't be considered a luxury. At those prices I consider it to be.

      Precisely my whole point.

    • -3

      If $60 breaks your budget as a once off a year then maybe you and or "they" shouldn't have had children.

  • Cynical but perhaps truer than anyone wants to believe…

    The public schools/Government force all children/minors to have school photos taken so they have a reasonably up to date photo to share with other agencies (think police and child welfare) when "required".

    It also gives the school access to the students digital photo to produce student ID

    The school also use the photos to produce "allergy walls" where staff can see the student, students photo and allergies all in one place to become familiar with the needs of the student.

    In short, the Government gets more out of the photos than the families. Personally given the cost, i believe it should be part of the school fees.

    It's compulsory and the only way to avoid it is to miss the two days the photographer's are on site.

    I do believe it's a total breach of privacy because families are not told about the use of the images and never are asked to given permission for the use of the images of minors

    • In Victorian public schools you can ask for an exemption of use of photos of your child for a variety of reasons. Enrollment forms to have all of this information, there are also strict rules and codes of conducts for department images (school photos). More good (identifying students in fights, from cctv, in an emergency) than harm (privacy) comes from having these available.

      You also have the choice to purchase these images, it isn’t forced.

      • It's everywhere, mate. No one is forcing to buy the photo, nor to get it used by schools. School forms have permissions as you mentioned.

    • +1

      Nek minute parents complain that their child wasn't accounted for during a fire because there was no photo ID, or worse yet they gave the wrong medication to the wrong student because of a mixup since photos weren't avaliable.

      Can't win with parents these days. Seems most of them just want to whine and pass off their carer duties to the State while claiming to be special

  • +1

    My kids school negotiated a deal with the photography company. Every family gets the base photo pack and can order more if they want them. This is included in the school fees.

    • +4

      This is included in the school fees.

      So… it's not free then

      • Not free, no. I was more making the point that schools are able to negotiate for a better deal if they choose to.

        • Yes, that works on the basis that the photography company has a guaranteed revenue and cost since every family gets a base.

          In op's scenario, revenue is not guaranteed. Hard to bargain when you not in the position of power.

  • Ask a fellow class mate to order two copies

    • Two copies aren't cheaper. Same price as 2*price or one copy.

  • +1

    My mum only bought my graduating class photos in Yr7 & Yr12, i'll be doing the same with my children. But I fully agree, the price is high but its been a rout since I went to school in the 90s, nothing new.

  • +1

    Yep its a rort. With 3 kids we only buy the class photo. Even then, last year we bought the school yearbook instead, since it had all the class photos in it. Too bad you need a microscope to see the kids the photos are so tiny.

    If they made them a more realistic price, more people would buy them. Vote with your feet.

  • -1

    I did some lunchtime back of napkin stuff and landed at around $4,000 - $10,000 per school (net profit), depending on the count of students (thus customers), costs, margins and average order.

    Not unreasonable to build a good business if you had around 50-100 schools on your books ($200,000 - $1,000,000 net profit). But what is the cost of keeping these schools on books and is there a price-cutting game eventually going to play out?

    There's obviously more lucrative and lower risk opportunities for a workforce of 5-8. Photography has a very low cost of entry.

    But good luck to them and it's fair to say that everyone deserves their pay if someone is willing to pay it.

    • -2

      "Photography has a very low cost of entry" Ha.
      Not Good photography, see the post by Rolts at the top of the page.
      You get what you pay for, its also quite expensive and there is a lot more work than expected + liability.
      Its amazing how many people think its so cheap and easy.

  • -3

    Well Aussies just sit home and act like yes man!

    Go to the schools, rally the parents, go protest, burn the school, trash the Principal's car.

    Violence initiators always win. Ask Captain Cook and co.

    • +1

      Why would I want to burn my kids' school down? They would then just have to attend a crappier one.

  • +1

    The photographers do deals with the schools.
    So whatever the price the schools have a lot to do with it.

  • +1

    My mum was a crackpot who bought the Deluxe Mega Package (the most expensive one) every year. When I turned 18, I threw most of the photos away and kept the class/grade ones. I have a lot of them on USB which we had to pay extra for. SMH

  • +1

    The prices are a joke but they're in line with what baby, children, santa, professional photographers charge.

    What annoys me most is that all I really want is a high quality digital photo because I don't really need or want physical ones floating around the house. But they know this and it always works out the same price as a massive combo which includes a digital copy. And it's always a minimum $50.

    Oh well.

  • Photography is a tough gig, if you want to do it properly. Try taking individual and group photos of 1000 kids in 1-2 days. Class photos, sports team photos, sibling photos etc. You may need more than one photographer. You'll need to maintain your equipment and store all those photos. Then some of the parents don't buy anything. Take a look objectively at your costs. Staff. Equipment. Transport. Insurance and business registration. Printing. Re-printing. Camera gear. Backdrops. Lighting. Computers and software. Oh and by the way you'll have to deal with a lot of parents hassling you for months over wanting re-shoots because their kid squinted or let their hair down. You can't do a large school shoot on a single dinky camera and just slap the photos on some web site.

    What does annoy me is that photographers won't do all you can eat digital packages. $100, all the digital photos at full res. Because for a handful of parents, you will be able to extract $300+ out of them. They're worried about people complaining about the imperfections and give cropped edited work to protect their reputations. But that's not very useful if you like to do your own editing.

    • They're worried about people complaining about the imperfections and give cropped edited work to protect their reputations.

      I think they may also be worried about only a few people buying digital packages and sharing with other parents at half the cost or less.

      • If the only digital you are offering is low quality then that's all that's on offer and will still get shared around.

  • You think that is bad, you should see what my childcare charges. Can't get any photos unless you spend a minimum of $40. Anything digital will be north of $100.

  • +1

    Well, you don't have to take one… I managed to get out of it by hiding in the library.

    It's just one of those stupid things I regret now though. It happened long before I knew my parents had setup funds for me in case I didn't find a proper job. I was so anxious back then, and it undoubtedly affected my UAI. At the same time there is a moral hazard with parents telling their children they are going to be okay. It's one of those things Asian parents don't tell you until the time comes, but even then you might not be in that situation. For me, it was always about making business/financial decisions. It's also why I am able to run my businesses really well. On one hand I didn't like my choice, but it did teach me something about the value of money.

    I did manage to take a few photos with close friends. I do treasure that. So if you do decide not to take the group photo or portrait. You can always DIY it yourself.

    Maybe you should put that choice with your child if really can't afford it. I'm sure they will be understanding, and might even grow up, turn out successful like me.

  • +9

    TLDR: Yes it's expensive but think about the background work.

    Here's what I think….

    I organise the school photos at my school.

    We don't actually get much say in terms of the price. There's not much in terms of negotiating the price at all. We meet with the companies and they're all usually within a few dollars of each other. Yes they're all expensive but at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. Honestly, I've got better things to do than to meet every single photography company. It's a bloody long process as well! I have to meet with the companies, work out what's best for my school community, run it by the Admin and Finance Committee and then it has to go through School Council, who have the final say. So all this takes weeks, even months. I then have to try and organise a date for the next year, ensuring that it doesn't clash with anything or that it is too early/late in the year.

    You want a digital copy of the class photo? Sure, go and get permission from everyone in that class and you must guarantee that it won't be misused in anyway at all, whether it be now or in the future. I don't want my students to be bullied later on for whatever reason. No issues whatsoever with the individual shot though. Your kid, so you do whatever you want with the photo.

    You want the photos to be cheaper? So do I! Saves me from having to deal with the complaints that I get from parents. But then…who sets up the data bases so that each kid gets an individual code/envelope/pamphlet for ordering? Who edits the photos after taking them? Anyone who takes photos, know that your original shot isn't going to be perfect so there has to be some kind of editing. Oh and don't forget to multiple that by X amounts of students/staff/group shots. Who pays for the storage as well? They usually keep photos for a certain amount of years (incase you want to order their photo later on) before they get deleted off their servers so there's that upkeep too.

    For the parents who can't afford it, most photography companies will have a payment option if you just give them a buzz. If that fails, talk to the school, they may be able to help.

    Honestly, parents complain about this and that but have they really thought about what goes on in the background? It's not just a simple click and print onto photo paper anymore…neither is it just a simple attachment to your email address.

    • Appreciate you for explaining the whole process, mate.

  • +1

    Nobody forces you to buy the photos. School have more important things to worry about.

    • +2

      But but…my child is special!!!

      • Ahha, makes me giggle. You can probably work out I’m a teacher lol. When you are caring for 150 students each day (that’s calculating if you had 5 class of 30) and even more for heads and the principal, the last worry is to save a few cents. Everything else is pretty much free!!!! And there is no forcing, if you don’t want to buy it’s up to you.

    • Who says? No one said you are forced to buy photos. It's common sense.

  • +1

    I hope the school is in partnership with the photography company so some of the profits goes back to the school to help educate the kids. That had been the pricing for years and we don't like it but each year we get the full package anyway. Just another way to contribute to the school.

    Personally I think we are really lucky that the Australia public education system is so cheap and the quality isn't bad either. It really depends on the teacher you get though. Our school has like a dozen fun raising events each year and my wife always participate in it. Sometimes volunteering to help out the canteen or uniform departments on her days off.

  • boo hoo you're in public schooling you're already getting a break. Literally crying about $29 get a life

  • -1

    I tossed all my yearbooks in happy glee, mum has the photos but I have no interest in my school peers after graduating, I didn’t enjoy school. Hate most of the photos. Ask your kids if they value them I guess before splashing out on them

  • +1

    Last year the photographer at my kids schools photoshopped smiles onto the kids. Was quite unnatural and obvious and looked really creepy like Jack Nicholson as the Joker.

  • Another rip off industry that is eventually going to get 'uberred' in some way.

    Not even getting a digital copy in 2020 is unforgivable really.

  • If you think its expensive, your child can borrow the class photo from one of his/her classmate who's parents availed it. Take a photo with your top of the line, smart phone and print it for a dollar in office works. Also, instead of taking a photo, you can also scan it on officeworks.

  • +1

    As has already been said, get it raised at the school governing council meeting, if you offer to do the legwork investigating alternatives then I'm sure it would be taken up. This is what was done at my kids primary school a few years ago and the school changed to a cheaper mob who also have the option to provide a download link to get a "digital" copy of the photo.

  • Biggest monopoly ever- just get one photo in year 7 and one in year 12 if you really want.

    Spend the money instead at a family dinner at hooters or sizzler.

  • +1

    Photos are not bad. Did you look into uniforms. They cost more than branded clothes.

  • for 1.2m I'd do anything, and to me anything photographing related is less than 1.2m worth

  • -2

    Its easy 1 parent only gets the group photo then you all chip in and make copies at Kmart for 10~50c a copy

    • +1

      Did you read the post and comments? They give only a physical photo for group. So you need to scan it and then take copies from KMart as per your suggestion. Imagine the quality then.

      • -1

        on a good scanner it would probably look 95% same, its a school photo good enough

        • Also I forgot to mention for the individual photo you can just sit your child at home or any setting in school uniform and take picture yourself with expensive camera/ high end phone etc get it printed at Kmart too done, school photos ozb style

          btw I did that once with my kids santa photos, forked out for the very basic package 1 photo only, scanned it, did prints at Kmart, layed out copies and mixed in the original on the table when all the family were over and nobody spotted a difference. I didn't mention that 1 photo is a original and others are copies and nobody noticed anything

  • I have an idea. Some schools have photography/media clubs. They could do the school photos for a reduced fee that covers their costs and make a small profit. Profit could go to the club or p&c etc.

  • +1

    I agree is a rip off, but now I am an adult and I see my school photos, I am glad my parents paid.

    So many memories and good times.

    Buy them, you will thank yourself and your children will thank you later.

  • Sound op is coming from a country where digital piracy is rife and didn't see the repercussions of his suggestion. I myself find school photo is some sort of overpriced and outdated business model that needs to be revamped, just like the taxi industry. However, selling $10 or even $100 per digital file is pretty much filing for bankruptcy, what if all the parents in the class collude together to pay for just the group photos and distribute freely among each other and share them on social media? School photos is not a one man team. My previous employer contracted a photography studio to do similar gig at work for everyone and during that date they had a team of at 3 persons. Imagine trying to coordinate that with the bunch of kids

    • Fair point, mate.

  • +4

    A number of other parents and I in my kids class discussed this issue and we just decided as a group not to give permission for our kids to take part in the photos. The obscene pricing for the photos and refusal to hand over digital copies was just unacceptable to us. Parents in other classes heard about it and did the same. The photo company ultimately decided not to proceed and our teachers just organized for parents to come in and take class shots briefly before a school concert a few weeks later.

    • +3

      this is excellent, I hope more people do this

  • -2

    Welcome to life in a capitalist country, where every day some 'aspirational' is trying to scam you and steal what little money you have. Predation is the essence of democratic economies.

    • +1

      Welcome to life in a capitalist country, where every day some 'aspirational' is trying to scam you and steal what little money you have.

      …and where you have the right to not buy what little products they offer you, or the option of choosing other suppliers who will run the original 'aspirational' guy out of business.

      Yes, it's a beautiful thing.

      • yeah not according to gerrey harvey

  • I couldn’t think it would be much…fun…struggling to get a class of students to stay still, not annoy the persons around them and smile at the camera. And the whole school photos…

    Probably there’s a few professional photographers who share my opinion.

    Then there’s the requirement for a Working with Children Check.

    And then you throw in the staffing and equipment required to take all the photos in a timely fashion.

    And the travelling around (both in time, petrol and vehicle wear and tear).

    Not a job I would choose.

    I would think that there are comparatively less school photographers and thus the cost is what it is. I doubt the school makes money from it at all.

    • Obviously schools don't make money at all. It's the photographers who make money.