Intro by Skip Cohen
Earlier in the week I posted a story about Erin Zahradka's photo camp for kids. The response was pretty amazing and a number of you asked for the specifics. Well, Erin has put together the complete recipe for what she's doing. It's a great post and perfect to think through over the weekend.
A big thanks to Erin for sharing so much information! For more information on things Erin is doing check out Z-pics.com and her boudoir group, AIBP. Both are loaded with helpful information to help you build a stronger business model.
Seed planted by email and Facebook...
I happen to have two kids, ages 6 & 8. I have ALL of the email addresses from their classmates' parents last year which we are allowed to use & we live in a neighborhood which has its own Facebook group. It has a few thousand members.
I designed a little camp invitation, & blasted it via newsletter so I could track it (I use Mad Mimi for newsletters) & posted it in our neighborhood Facebook group about two weeks prior to camp starting. While the newsletter & Facebook sounds like a huge audience, you can pretty much count on about 1-3 "Yes's" per 50 invites you sent, for something like this. Parents are busy, kids are over-scheduled, end of Summer is here... there will always be a reason for a small return on invites, whether it's "Christmas is coming, school just started, Spring Break Soccer, etc"
I received 4 emails saying "darn, we are out of town, please tell me when you do your NEXT one" & then 5 "YES" RSVP's. (NOTE: The ones that said "please tell me when you do your next one, will definitely be first on my list to invite next time. (That's essentially a call to action for follow up).
Thankfully the small number I had was perfect, & I will tell you why a bit later!
- Pick a date. I did four days. Send invite two or three weeks prior.
- Design a little invitation with Who, What, When, Where, Why, Cost, What they get. Think carefully on the cost. I charged too little- but now that the first one is done & was a huge success, I will charge about 25% more for the next one.
- Email parents the same day you post on Facebook in all of your groups. If you don't have kids or access to classroom lists, use your friends on Facebook to network FOR you.
- Past clients are ALWAYS a great invitee option as well
- Start thinking of supplies & the end result of what you want the kids to take away from this.
Supplies you might need...
One composition notebook for each child
One pencil or pen
Snacks for each day (Costco... just buy fruit or chips)
Small budget for end-of-week-photo for their take-home
Talk about a subject that is easy for kids that age to understand. Our first day we talked about EMOTION in images. I ripped out pages from a photography book that I have, & had each child write down five emotions THEY felt from the image, then five emotions the ARTIST may have felt. We took about 5 minutes per child to discuss why they felt that way & how interesting it is that we all came away from one photo with different feelings, & how beautiful that was to be able to tell a story ... then I had the children pass their photo one kid to their right, & do the same thing.
SNACK TIME! Yes, kids need a break & a snack. I'd say between ages 6-12 they will need a break from the heavy chat.
We did an activity. Usually it was leaving the house. We took a nature walk one day to collect items, then come back & photograph them. Each kid took the SAME items, rearranged them how they wanted to, then we all took turns photographing their arrangement, & they explained WHY they arranged them that way. It was fascinating how each kid REALLY thought of WHY they arranged sticks/berries/pine-cones the way they did.
LUNCH & free-time
Re-cap of the day, answered any questions, etc.
Subjects we discussed...
Mon- Emotion in images
Tues- "Supermodel" Day ... I brought the kids to the studio where they did their own hair & make-up, & photographed each other. They LOVED this day, especially because they were all girls.
Wed- Nostalgia in images...
Thurs- Architecture & Elements of Design
There are a million other subjects, things you can cover, films you can even show the kids if you want to eat up 45 min one day... National Geographic has a movie "Behind the Lens" that BOYS would love on NetFlix... that could even be educational.
Through EVERY walk, drive, subject... I brought it back to photography SOMEHOW. Girls this age can be easily distracted... but it was also easy to bring their chatter back to the meat of the day... for instance if they got on the subject of a singer-crush- I would say: "how fun would THAT concert be to photograph... can you imagine the hands waving in the air in black & white?" :-)
Requirements of you...
▪ like kids, at least enough to do a camp like this
▪ make sure what you're charging is worth your time...
▪ realize that kids are impressionable & if you relate what they love in life back to photography, things click much easier (pun intended)
▪ realize that parents do NOT care, for the most part, that you take a few breaks, let the kids go off-subject for a bit, etc. At young ages, it is about planting a seed & exposure. Parents are just happy to pay a relatively small fee to have their little ones entertained, safe, & learning something new for four hours, four days in one week.
▪ require that each kid have a camera. Whether it's a point & shoot, an iPhone or a 1D, they need their own tools
▪ relax, have fun, & realize that this is not something to be rigid about or over-plan... things will unfold organically the way they're supposed to.
▪ understand that there WILL be one or two kids that seem disinterested in certain parts. That's okay. Take that moment to call upon THEM for questions, or ideas for the next topic. If they still seem disinterested, just be "stoically unavailable to them" & move on. They will "come back."
▪ a "take away" at the end is very important. Kids this age totally love party-favors... so a collage that I made of their week, rolled up with a bow, was like a parting GIFT. Do something sweet like that at the end & the parents will EAT IT UP.
▪ post progress on Facebook so everyone sees how fun it is, that their kids are SAFE & smiling, & ENJOYING LEARNING about what you have to offer.
Now it's time to schedule your NEXT camp!