SPOA 2023 Recap

What a Ride!

We’re back from the SPOA conference, and boy, was it a blast! This was the second SPOA conference ever, and it did not disappoint! Held in the beautiful – but oh so humid – Greenville, South Carolina, our team traveled from around the world to gather and see old friends and make new ones. Follow this blog to learn more about the SPOA organization and our partnership.

Now, sit back and relax as we dive into this exciting recap.

Training Session: Picture Day to Sale in Minutes with Fotomerchant

Our training session on July 11th was a big hit! Peter Koop, our friendly Canadian expert, took center stage and showed everyone how Fotomerchant can take you from picture day to sale in mere minutes. The room was buzzing with excitement as attendees learned handy tips to streamline their workflow. This friendly Canadian really knows his stuff!

Parent and School Findings Talks

On July 12th, James Anderson and Luke Calo took to the stage and dropped some serious data-informed knowledge bombs during their talks on the Industry Report. With one discussion focused on the parent data and the other on schools, no stone was left unturned. They revealed fascinating data on parent buying habits and educator opinions. We hope you all enjoyed seeing behind the curtain with us!

General Report Talk: The Scoop on the 2023 Industry Report

Hold onto your hats, folks, because the general report talk on July 13th was a whirlwind of information! James Anderson and Luke Calo gave us a high-level overview of the 2023 industry report and explained how data can revolutionize your studio. Plus, they spilled the beans on how we’re updating the report in the future. 

Welcome Party: Southern-Style Fun

Now, let’s talk about the highlight of the conference, the Welcome Party! It was a Southern-style extravaganza in Studio 220 @ NOMA. With ice-cold drinks and a bluegrass band that had everyone’s toes tapping, the atmosphere was electric! We couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the conference. A massive shoutout to our partners, SPOA, for helping us host this unforgettable soirée!

The Better than Half Price Sale

Oh, you thought the fun was over? Not a chance! Our Better-Than-Half-Price Sale on Portal had everyone rushing to get their hands on this incredible deal. Existing customers could snag a Portal license per school for only $49 (usually priced at $99). Click here to learn more about Portal.

Missed out? I have great news; this promotion is available until the end of July. You don’t have much time left, so get in contact now to claim this offer!

Our Tools to Revolutionize Your Workflow

During the conference, we showcased some of our top-notch products that’ll transform your workflow for the better:


Our Capture product, with its lightning-fast transfer speeds and data security, had everyone swooning.

Say goodbye to uploading woes and hello to stress-free photo management!

Template Builder

We aren’t stopping there! Our new Template Builder product stole the show with its flexibility and versatility. 

From ID cards to proof sheets, all your design needs are covered. It’s like having a personal design genie at your fingertips!


Let’s not forget about our new Portal solution. It’s the gateway to your schools, granting them the freedom to manage, search, and report on their students. 

Happy school, happy studio, right?

Lab Bridge

Last but not least, our Lab Bridge (DP2 connection) makes integrations with labs a breeze. 

No extra workflow steps, no headaches. Your labs will be thanking you for choosing Fotomerchant!

Wrapping Up

Well, folks, that’s a wrap on our SPOA ’23 conference recap! We hope you enjoyed our SPOA journey. We want to give a big shoutout to everyone who attended, our fantastic speakers, and of course, the team at SPOA for putting on a stellar event.

Until we meet again, keep capturing those special moments!

Fotomerchant’s School Photography Insights

Informing, Educating, and Inspiring Growth

We’re thrilled to welcome back the School Photography Industry Report for 2023! This year’s edition is better than ever, building upon the success of last year’s report. As a joint initiative between Fotomerchant and School Photographers of America, we aim to provide you with valuable data to inform, educate, and inspire your organization’s growth. 

At its core, this report aims to uncover what parents truly want when it comes to school photography. It serves as a source of truth, helping us understand their preferences, needs, and expectations. We can foster continuous growth and improvement in the historic School Photography industry by delving into the insights provided. What’s not to love?!

This blog will present a high-level view of the report, and we highly recommend you take a look at the full report to gain an all-encompassing view of the data. For now, let’s look at some of the highlights. Strap in. We’ve got some transformative data to reveal. 

The Power of Data

Last year’s report was well-received, and we’re grateful to announce that our survey respondents have increased by an impressive 44% this year! You beauty!

With this expanded participation, we have been able to evaluate and compare data gathered over the past couple of years, giving us a comprehensive view of the industry’s progress and changes. We’re pumped to see what the future holds and how this report can continue to benefit the school photography community. To further the growth of this survey in future years, read the bottom of this page, where you can find out how to share the survey.

Let’s Dive into the 2023 Report

We’re not joking when we say this year’s report is better than ever. We’ve received invaluable feedback from 44,000 parents who shared their opinions on various topics, such as print size, photo quality, likes and dislikes, and more. Our survey covered 74,000 parents from 50 states across the U.S., representing 2,500 schools. That’s a whole lot of opinions! 

We’ve also expanded the report to include a dedicated section on yearbooks, incorporating 13 new questions. You’ve got no excuse to sleep on the importance of yearbooks. 65% of parents reported buying one last year, highlighting the clear demand for this product offering.

Insights from Parents

As a starting point, we began with parents, hoping to understand their purchasing behaviors better. We can use demographic data as a baseline to correlate how these factors affect their purchasing habits.

Most parents were female, aged 25-60, and the primary decision-makers in their households. English was the primary language for 96% of respondents. We also found that most parents had children attending public schools, making this report a good reflection of the overall educational landscape in the U.S. With data from many states, we have a rich and diverse dataset to draw insights from. High fives all around here at the Fotomerchant & SPOA HQ!

What Do Parents Think?

To understand parents’ perspectives, we asked them a series of targeted questions. Here’s a glimpse of what we discovered.

How do parents want to purchase their school photos? The top preference for current purchase methods was pre-paying online. However, when asked about their preferred ordering process, most parents chose to receive an online proof via email or an order form. The least popular option was a packaged print ordered at wholesale. The data never lies; it’s clear that parents want the convenience of online proofing.

What do parents think about price, quality, and choice? Opinions on price were divided, with a 50/50 split between parents who found it too expensive and those who considered it fair.

Although, the majority of parents expressed satisfaction with the quality of the photos. 

How do parents want to be notified about picture day? Email and text alerts emerged as the top preferences for parents to receive notifications about picture day. This is excellent news for any studios looking to convince schools of the importance of providing emails for their students.

Alongside this data, it was also revealed that most parents preferred to be notified one month in advance, allowing them ample time to prepare.

Insights from Educators and Schools

There’s no denying it, educators and school administrators play a crucial role in the school photography ecosystem. It’s important to consider their opinions and perspectives to ensure client retention. Here are some highlights of what our report revealed about educators.

What Do Educators Think?

We set out to understand if educators knew how parents preferred to purchase school photos. We suspected a slight disconnect, and boy, oh boy, there was some interesting data revealed here. There was a significant difference between educators’ responses and those of parents. 

For example, prepaying online and prepaying via a paper order were the most common methods reported by educators, while parents showed a stronger preference for online proofing. This disparity highlights the need for better communication between schools and parents to align their expectations.

We also asked educators their opinions on price, quality, and choice. While the majority believed that the price of school photos was fair, there was uncertainty regarding parents’ satisfaction with the cost. 

Similarly, opinions on the variety and options offered to parents were split, further indicating a disconnect between educators’ and parents’ perceptions. An example is the disparity between educator and parent answers when asked questions about shipping options.

The Importance of Yearbooks

Yearbooks hold a special place in the hearts of parents, serving as a milestone and a cherished keepsake of their child’s academic journey. 

Our survey revealed that 65% of parents purchased a yearbook last year, highlighting the strong demand for this product. Price emerged as a pain point, with 40% of parents indicating they would change their minds if the price were more favorable.

Personalization was also highlighted as important, with 61% of parents valuing the inclusion of their child’s photo and name on the cover. You heard them. Parents want personalization!

We want to stress that we’ve only scratched the surface of understanding yearbook preferences. We’re well aware that there are many aspects to this product offering we may not have covered. This year’s yearbook data is an excellent baseline for us to build on in future years. Watch this space!

A Deeper Understanding

We plan to release a separate insights report based on two years of surveys to enhance our understanding further and provide you with even more valuable insights. This upcoming report will offer a deeper dive into the data and trends. Keep your eyes peeled for this.

We Value Your Feedback

Your insights are crucial in making this annual report meaningful and impactful. Please take a moment to share your thoughts on what you found informative and where you think improvements can be made. Your on-the-ground knowledge is invaluable to the effectiveness of this report. Scan the QR code to share your thoughts.

Join Us!

To expand the reach of our survey and gather more comprehensive data, we invite you to sign up to help us distribute next year’s 2024 survey to your contacts. Your involvement will contribute to the collective knowledge of the school photography industry, so don’t take a backseat! The future growth of this report hinges on you sharing future surveys. Sign up by scanning the QR code above and be part of shaping this industry’s future. 

Bon Voyage 2023 School Photography Industry Report

Now that our report is out in the world, making waves, we’d like to extend our gratitude to all the participants and contributors who made this report possible. Your input and engagement are invaluable to shaping the school photography industry. Let’s continue to learn, grow, and provide the best possible experiences for parents and schools alike. 

With powerful data, you can make educated decisions for the future of your business. Remember, without data, we’re only guessing. Let’s navigate the industry together and create a bright future based on a solid bedrock of data.

Hungry for more? Watch our latest webinar, where Lucy Richards and Luke Calo dive deeper into this report. From the minds who helped to build this report, it’s not one to be missed!