Harrison Foster’s love of the arts, theatre, and sports help make him the photographer he is today. But, like many of us, he didn’t always know what he wanted to do with his life. Harrison grew up in Miami and had many jobs growing up. Between the ages of 15 and 20, he told me he had 30 jobs – restaurants, movie theaters, crystal shops – you name the job and he probably did it.
After graduating from college and trying some jobs that still didn’t quite fit, he landed on a bike, carrying messages and packages all around downtown Atlanta. He loved the independence, he loved being outdoors and, well, that’s where Harrison’s story really begins…
One of the regular stops on his route was at a photography studio specializing in dance shoots. His positive attitude and work ethic caught the owner’s attention. Eventually, the owner hired him to help out with shoots – and it’s there that his interest in photography began.
“I love working with dance schools and high-end portraiture- and I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to be the very best at what I did,” says Harrison.
Continuing along on his bike route, one of his favorite stops was an office where he delivered fax paper to a special young woman. After many friendly encounters, he worked up the courage to ask her on a date, but she declined because she was moving to New York to care for her ailing mother. A year later, when she returned to Atlanta, she called up her bike messenger friend to see if his offer was still valid. And, sure enough, it was. Heather and Harrison are happily married to this day.
After years working for another photographer’s studio, Harrison decided he was ready to go out on his own. It was 1997, and that’s when he started Harrison Photography. His warmth and energy helped him to build a solid reputation as the go-to photographer for dance, gymnastics, and martial arts. Today, he works with some of the most prestigious performing arts studios in the southeast U.S. covering 7 states.
FUELING HIS GROWTH
Harrison says he’s “not technically inclined, but more of a blue-collar grinder.” In fact, he credits the people at Reedy Photo (his longtime lab) as the ones who encouraged him to move from film to digital. He proudly calls himself “the last film guy,” and shares that “Reedy has nurtured me every step of the way.” They also encouraged him to step up his social media game – so he started out on Facebook, building a base of online reviews – and through those efforts, he picked up 15 new schools.
After 20 years in business doing things the old-fashioned way, he was ready to jump into PhotoDay, but Heather wasn’t convinced. They were one of the very first studios on PhotoDay – testing out jobs even before we were officially launched. A couple things happened right away when they started using PhotoDay:
- He and Heather cut out many backend steps in their workflow. This improved their quality of life and freed up valuable time. “Heather was able to take care of her father [when he was ill] because of PhotoDay.”
- He was able to take a wider range of shots, expressions, and poses. “PhotoDay gives me the freedom to play with subjects.”
- He completely streamlined the backend, post-shoot part of his business. Fewer hours = more profit and as Harrison says, “Any profit that comes in is like pennies from heaven!”
- He upgraded his camera. “I was shooting with an 8-year-old camera with a barcode scanner. I was able to upgrade because I don’t need barcodes anymore with PhotoDay.”
- Parents fell in love. Harrison was concerned about losing the contact he gets at the table selling photos on speculation, but he said he’s opened up a whole new base of people who didn’t like having to buy sheets that end up in a drawer. “Parents can do picture day at their leisure.”
TRUTH IN NUMBERS
Perhaps most importantly, he shared, “The numbers are an unbelievable success!!!” Harrison compared a dance school job that he did two years in a row. Sales were essentially flat with the prior year BUT expenses dropped 43%. His take-home profit INCREASED by 36%!!!
Dance School Job Comparison
|Number of subjects||300||300|
|Sitting fee per subject||$20||$20|
|Sitting fee in cash or check at shoot: 300×20=$6000||$6,000||$6,000|
|Hotel at shoot (5 days)||$600||$600|
|Lab costs (speculation)||$5,000||$0|
|Lab costs + processing fees||$0||$4,200|
|Gas and incidentals||$500||$500|
|Value of time spent ordering prints from lab||$150||$0|
|Commission for sales staff + expenses||$1,500||$0|
|Shipping from home to sale staff||$500||$0|
|Packaging & ID for sale||$800||$0|
|Cardconnect Processing Fee||$200||$0|
WORDS OF WISDOM FROM HARRISON
“Every situation is unique – so find a way to make PhotoDay work for you.”
“Spread your love to the world and it will come back to you.”
PHOTOS FROM HARRISON PHOTOGRAPHY
Innovators, game-changers, movers, shakers… trailblazers. Meet more trailblazing photographers who have tried PhotoDay and are getting results.