Photographers Turn To Photo Yard Signs and Collages

May 14th, 2021
grandmother and graduate attend virtual graduation with laptop

Celebrating our loved ones changed with COVID-19. To share the joy of big events, we shifted from gatherings with family to sharing with socially distant images. Yard signs became a way we could show solidarity, celebrate people and events, and quite literally create a bright spot in our community. This self fulfilled product, combined with creative ideas and Zenfolio integrated vendor-fulfilled products like photo collages and photo buttons, also kept the lights on in many photography studios around the country.  

As we all adjusted to seeing each other with smiles hidden behind masks, the Button project became another thoughtful way that photographers could help Nurses, Teachers, and other essential workers. Many people, photographers included, who spend most of their time working with young children, found it harder to connect when the children couldn’t see their smiles. A large button with their smiling face went a long way to easing meetings with their young charges. 

As our country navigates our second round of graduations that will most likely be far from “normal,” we as photographers can continue to use our creativity to connect with our clients and community. We caught up with Gail Roser, owner and operator of Grand Photography, a primarily high volume school and youth sports photography studio that uses Zenfolio for their website and client galleries, to learn about how they pivoted their business with new products, well-planned coupons, and a consistent social media presence.

How did you adapt your business over the last year?

Grand Photography occupies a 2,000 square foot studio, and maintains a small full-time staff along with multiple part-time seasonal employees.  Our busiest seasons are fall and spring consisting of school pictures and youth sports leagues.  With the unprecedented circumstances that COVID-19 created, our spring business ended with the loss of photographing multiple schools, leagues and graduations.  Like so many of us, this was a situation that we weren’t prepared for or anticipated and we had to quickly change our mindset to figure out how to manage our overhead expenses and staffing.   

So to say COVID-19 definitely threw us all a curveball would be a bit of an understatement.  And while it may not be how we planned on spending our normally very busy spring season that was literally brought to a halt, this put us in position to have something that we always need more of which is time.  The true challenge though is to take advantage of this precious time and use it wisely.  Grand Photography turned this time into an opportunity to roll up our sleeves, get creative, use our imagination, and to get into action on those ideas that had been placed on the backburner, in order to generate some new avenues for income.  We also stayed busy producing new products, such as photo collages, created from images we already had on hand. 

Tell us more about creating these new products!

text graphic "thankful for all Essential workers"
Image credit: Grand Photography, LLC

One new product for us was yard signs.  With most school graduations canceled, families were looking for different ways to support and honor their seniors and yard signs have been a hit!  This was a completely new item for our studio, and it has been a very successful addition to what we offer on our website.  We created our own templates and then set up a pre-order form which includes a variety of signs, as well as allowing personalization for an additional charge.  Yard signs to support a variety of professions such as essential workers, police, truckers, etc. have also been in high demand, and we can also make custom designs based on a customer’s request.

A lot of our schools are K-6th grade and we have been the photographer for most of our schools for many years so we have images of each child for all the years they have attended their elementary school.  We have taken the traditional fall picture for each year and created an individual 8” x 24” personalized collage titled Through the Years.  For those schools that take kindergarten graduation pictures, we add the kindergarten cap & gown picture to the collage.  The completed collage image is uploaded to our website so that parents can view the collage and then purchase it directly through our Zenfolio site.

portrait collage of black child grades Kindergarten to 6
Image credit: Grand Photography, LLC

Giving our customers an incentive to check out our new items as well as the images that we have taken over the past years is a great way to drive traffic to our website.  We have created a coupon campaign for discounts on digital downloads and another campaign for free shipping.  An email is generated through Zenfolio to all of our customers with information regarding our current promotions as well as putting a notice on our Zenfolio homepage.  

We are excited participants in the Button Project. The purpose of the project is to allow children to see the smiling face behind the mask of healthcare workers, teachers, or anyone working with children, but truly all of can benefit by wearing a button to show our smiling face behind the mask. We offer bulk pricing for organizations who want buttons for all of their staff, and work with them to coordinate a headshot for each individual. 

nurses wearing masks holding photo buttons
Image credit: Grand Photography, LLC

What is the best tip you can give other photographers during this time?

Grand Photography also uses social media as a way of staying connected with our customers.  It’s a good way to showcase new products, keep customers informed of current promotions, and obtain new business.  Sharing information about our studio and communicating with our customers is especially vital during these times, and social media is one of the best ways to maintain connections.

Amanda is a member of Zenfolio’s Support Team and the Owner/Photographer of Wild Orchard Studios photography in Southern Maine. A professional Lifestyle Family and Branding photographer for over 10 years, she’s also been a contributing writer and photographer for Maine Women Magazine since 2018. Amanda lives in the wilds of Maine with her husband, two daughters, and grumpy cat. If there’s such a thing as too much dark chocolate, she hasn’t heard about it.