It’s The Law
My friends, please find below the exact language of the New Jersey State Law regarding senior portrait yearbook photography. This law was enacted specifically to deal with the problem of big company, out of town photographers having a contract monopoly on senior portraiture. Students and families felt “forced” to use a photo they did not like in the yearbook. That had the net effect of locking out ALL other portrait photographers work from school yearbooks. So even though the photo taken at the smaller, local studio is much better, yearbook advisors were not allowing them in the yearbook. Why?
Follow The Money
That’s right, welcome to New Jersey. High schools publish and sell yearbooks. To do that, they need Senior Portraits, underclassmen photos, faculty and administration photos, sports teams photos and action candids (that’s 35-40 teams over three seasons), all clubs and activities, and ALL events. All means all.
The photographer provides these services to the schools free of charge. Photos are of course available to students and families for purchase. That’s how the photo company makes money. It’s also how they fund all of the operations required to meet the school’s needs. The school gets what they need, the photographer sells pictures, everybody is happy. Sounds great right?
What you probably do not know is that, in addition to a multitude of FREE professional services, professional photographers across New Jersey and across the country PAY THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS commissions on their sales. Usually it’s about 10-15% of sales. This money was intended to go to the yearbook staff’s account to help defer the cost of individual yearbooks for students and families.
A “greater good” kind of thing. It never happened. What actually happened was the publishing company, the third party here, would “pad” the school’s invoice (I have seen it, JOSTENS) and then include a ”photographers contribution” on said invoice. Pay to play or robbed systemically by the publisher, either way guess who REALLY pays…YOU.
Are you thinking about it? Because…it gets worse!
Schools actually want even more from the photographer. One local district I spoke with recently wanted three 4x8 FOOT banners with ALL the senior portraits on it AND 60 24x30 inch photos for display around the schools every year. All while at the same time telling me that they want the “best possible price for their students and families”. It’s malarkey of the highest order.
Here’s what well educated school administrators can’t seem to grasp; The more free things they want from the photographer, the more he/she has to charge for the photos they sell to make any profit. So every time a public school asks a photographer for “more”, said public school is actually INCREASING what YOU pay for school photos. Because guess what gang, the photo company is not giving your school THEIR money…
the photo companies are giving the school…
Read the Law
P.L. 2003, CHAPTER 313, approved January 20, 2004 Senate, No. 2567
AN ACT concerning school photographers and supplementing chapter 18A of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.
BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. A board of education may enter into a contract with a photographer for the taking of pupil yearbook pictures. The hiring of a photographer shall not prohibit a pupil from engaging a photographer of the pupil's choice nor prevent a picture taken by that photographer from appearing in the yearbook if the picture meets the specifications of the yearbook staff.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill provides that a board of education may enter into a contract with a photographer for the taking of pupil yearbook pictures. The hiring of a photographer would not prohibit a pupil from engaging a photographer of the pupil's choice nor prevent a picture taken by that photographer from appearing in the yearbook if the picture meets the specifications of the yearbook staff.
Provides that school board may contract with photographer for yearbook and may not prohibit use of pictures made by other photographers.
§1 - C.18A:18A-49.3