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A letter from our Executive Director

This time of year has always been one of my favorites for this industry.  Traditionally it has been a time of reflection and planning after a typical grueling fall.  I always loved the senior planning and preparation, classroom groups, yearbook focus and the preparation for spring pictures.  It has also been a great time for learning with so many different winter conferences like SPAC and Imaging.  For me, it has always been a great time of year.

This coming Monday our Governing Board will be meeting and reviewing some large topics which include things, such as a healthcare benefit for members, using our combined numbers and collaborative efforts to find a potential industry member healthcare and other insurance coverages.  It is cooperation and vision like this that unites us and benefits everyone.  In addition to these, our board will also be making decisions on many items related to the strategic direction of the organization.  

Things like this can only happen when leaders put down their pride and ego and work together for the betterment of the industry.  It is such an honor and privilege to be surrounded by so many leaders that live this motto which has helped build what SPOA is today.  We are not a conference, we are a trade association dedicated with a mission to educate, advocate, promote, protect and preserve the great traditions of school photography and yearbooks.  When people all rally together for a large cause, it's incredible what can be achieved.

Just this week we had a company reach out that did not understand why we (SPOA) built a standard and guideline for school administrative software.  Here is a summary of what I wrote: 

While I understand your concern, the entire point of the school administrative software export standard is to do exactly what was done 30 years ago with the yearbook industry.  In a nutshell, there are hundreds of school software companies already and more are being developed everyday.  Why would our industry allow a software that the school or district paid for demand for free, that you provide them with an export for them, so they can use your images while also demanding the file structure, size and format it is done in? The point is too have one (1) universal export that all software companies accept and support.

The software standard is not a printable image; it sets many boundaries on how the image can be used and clearly explains that all software providers that accept this standard for the most part it has been agreed upon that the school picture company will most likely continue to provide this complimentarily, similar to the yearbook standard.  Those who wish for companies to make a specific file size, structure and format, should identify to that individual photographer where that charge should go, whether to the school or to their software company, if they so choose.

More importantly, the export provided back to them is simply:

Data File

The data file (FromPhotographerIndex.txt) will contain the following data fields.

1. Unique Record Identifier Used by the School Administrative Software

2. Unique Record Identifier Used by the Photographer or Lab Mgt Software

3. Image File Name

4. Gallery Link

In almost all cases not only does this meet federal and state regulated student data privacy laws but exceeds it.  The only people to know the school, city, state and details of that student are the SAS system, because of the unique identifier, and the school photographer.  Anyone else that somehow gains access to the export has no way of knowing anything else about that child.  

The point is, we (SPOA) are working on some huge industry topics for ALL and EVERYONE in the volume, school photography and yearbooks space, regardless if your company is a member or not.  But imagine what we could do if everyone in this space joined SPOA.  Imagine if every lab was a member and partner.  We have already tackled and made huge changes for the future and the betterment of our industry.  Again, just imagine if everyone joined how fast and how much we could get done to ensure our industry is strong for generations to come.  Imagine what healthcare would cost and the options we would have because of the volume, imagine the leverage of a national buying power and the cost savings to every member on items like shipping, background checks, paper, so many things we all use and don't compete on, but could work together to save on.  It can be done and will be done; the question will be does it happen this year, next year or in ten years.  

So I would personally ask you, if you have been sitting on the fence, call me immediately. My personal cell number is 615-924-4780. Learn what SPOA is doing day in and day out for you.  Help our industry, get involved and make a difference.  

As always, thank you for all you do and thank you for making memories that will last a lifetime through the lens of photography and yearbooks.

Have a great rest of your February!

David Crandall

Executive Director


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