Charity Toy Drives with Amanda Reed

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Each year we kick off November with our annual Charity Toy Drive Sessions. For three consecutive weekends in November we will open our studio doors and photograph our clients on our popular Night Before Christmas and our Caroling sets. This is the most popular and important incentive of the year and I want to share off all of the information with you my friends to inspire you to recreate this incentive or give it a new spin. I can’t wait to see what each of you do with it.

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In July, I begin looking at the calendar and planning our sessions for November. Establishing the reservation fee, price points, products offered, marketing and set design are all established at this time. This year I decided on opening my calendar to fill a minimum of 48 sessions in November. On August 3rd our marketing campaign went live and we booked 24 sessions within 3 hours.
Here are the booking details:
A non refundable reservation fee of $100 is due at the time of booking  as we typically have a waiting list, a non refundable fee is essential to avoid no shows.
The reservation fee is applied to the client purchase.
A new toy valued at $35 is due the day of the session for each person to be photographed. For example if a client has 3 children being photographed, the client would pay the $100 reservation fee at booking and bring in 3 new toys valued at $35 each on the day of the session.
Collections start at $100. I deeply discount sessions for these events as I want to make them affordable for all families and maximize the giving of toys to organizations in our community.  This year $100 will purchase the client 5 gift prints or 1 digital file with a reproduction release. A la Carte products are also very sought after among our clients such as the Folio Box, Christmas Cards, Gallery Wrap Canvas and Metal Wall Portraits all from Black River Imaging. While our collections start at $100 for this amazing event our clients spend as much $1800 on these quick yet heirloom sessions. For presentation purposes please have all of your available products on hand for your clients to feel and see the day of the session. I display my own personal images from my families own toy drive session during the event. I chose to have a metal image that hangs from Satin Ribbon on my studio door in lieu of a wreath for the holiday season as well as my home door and it is a great alternative to the expected evergreen wreath.

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The day of the session all clients will sign in with their name and contact information as well as fill in our electronic contract and model release hosted on my Photobiz Website. After sign in is complete I love taking a quick image of my clients with my cell phone and the gifts they have chosen to give to a family in need for my social media accounts. I allow one hour for every session, I could possibly double the number if I wanted but I want the children to be relaxed and so we talk, we sit and we even play to make sure that everything goes comfortably and we reach the desired results. Last year clients drove 4 hours from out of state and when little man was asked to then perform for pictures he was not feeling it. Luckily, I had built in that time and as mom set on the couch and worried that we would never get a photograph, he allowed me to befriend him in those 45 minutes as we played and talked giving me that final 15 minutes for the images his mom dreamed of having.

As I mentioned, this is the most important incentive of the year, this was born out of an act of kindness bestowed on my own family as a teenager when our family was having a difficult time making Christmas happen for myself and my two brothers. This is my way of saying thank you.
When the session wraps up the children and parents are invited to have a cup of hot cocoa, a candy cane and of course chocolate chip cookies. When all sessions are wrapped up on Saturday and Sunday they are soft proofed and uploaded to ShootProof for online ordering and proofing. This has made a huge difference in sales as our clients can now share those galleries and online shopping carts with friends and family who are able to purchase their own products at their convenience.

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Last year we collected over $2400 in toys for our community. This year our toys will be donated to the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, an organization very dear to my heart. I encourage you to give back to your community this holiday season and host your own charity toy drive or give it your own twist, collect non- perishable food items, coats, shoes, pet food. You may be one person, one small studio but you can be a huge difference in the lives of those around you. If you were inspired to give back due to this information please email me some of your images that I can share to social media at or upload to Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and  use #ARtoydrive.

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