School plays can present lucrative opportunities if you approach them with the right mindset. Think of them almost like a wedding; there's a featured group of participants (the cast), a rehearsal (dress rehearsal) and a large group of friends, family and other potential buyers (the audience). Photographers who have covered plays effectively often photograph the entire cast together, then a series of subgroups, and then each actor individually. The dress rehearsal presents an ideal opportunity to get some action shots. Opening and closing nights offer great sales opportunities, whether you choose to print in advance and sell on-site, or take custom orders for later shipping. Print packages and specialty products work well, and online sales may be a good option for action shots.
High school proms offer a good opportunity for photographers who can work quickly on-site, or who can stage fast-moving events in their studios. Beth Forester, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, does the events both on-site at the prom venue and in her studio (Forester Photography). For the on-site shoots, she sets up a mobile studio and photographs couples as they enter the prom. These shoots are higher volume, and she might photograph 100 couples during the course of the evening. Packages are basic, usually one or two poses with images chosen by Forester and rates ranging from $25 to $75, with an average around $45.
For the in-studio prom sessions, Forester blocks off a chunk of time the evening of the prom and promotes the sessions to all of her senior portrait clients. Scheduling the sessions is critical, she says. "If it's just an open time frame, the kids will show up in a huge group, and everyone will be in a hurry. That's very difficult." The in-studio shoots are lower volume than the on-site jobs, maybe 25 or 30 couples, but the package averages tend to be higher, up around $100.
PPA Members can read about more special event ideas.