Zeke Moreno of Chalkboard Photography has always had a passion for giving back to the community. Through volume photography, he aims to engage and broaden students’ experiences beyond the typical classroom setting. Inspired by the people who made a similar impact on him growing up, Zeke went on to play professional football for 9 years and spent 4 of those years with the San Diego Chargers. “Football has been a blessing that’s opened many doors for me and allowed me to build relationships—in doing so, I’ve met many people in this industry of photography because of it. Where I’m at now is where I’m meant to be.”
After his football days and with an already flourishing construction company, Zeke started looking to diversify his business. Although volume photography was always in the back of his mind, a couple of years ago he and his brother finally went to SPAC; after a few courses, they decided to give it a try, thinking “if we get one school, we’ll see how it goes—and that first school we got, we still have today.” It was a trial and error process, but they enjoyed the experience, became more organized and dialed in, and Chalkboard Photography was created in 2014.
A Reason to Smile
From the beginning, Zeke wanted to approach volume photography a little differently by providing something unique to the schools and the kids that could have an actual impact. He wanted to get involved, incorporate motivational assemblies, bring in past and current athletes to talk to and engage with the students, and truly give back to those around him. His mission became “we’ll give you a reason to smile” beyond just saying “cheese.”
Growing with PhotoDay
Upon hearing about PhotoDay at MVP in San Diego, Zeke said, “it was an eye-opener—I need that!” At the time PhotoDay didn’t have every tool they needed, so they tested it out with some of their sports teams and smaller projects, and realized it was an instant time saver. As PhotoDay kept developing, so did Chalkboard.
“Being a business owner, one of the main things we value is time—time with family, at the schools, and in the office.” Once they saw how they could save time by eliminating some of the tedious tasks, they were all in. “And that’s PhotoDay. It’s for the everyday user, the high-volume user, the user with multiple jobs, and the user wearing many hats.”
How Things Changed
Like a lot of studios making the transition to online sales, Zeke was a little nervous at first. “I think I had Lisa on standby before I used the Capture app for the first time…‘I have a photo shoot tomorrow, and I’m going to call you!’ But once I got over that fear and began trusting the system, it was perfect. We didn’t have to use QR cards anymore, there was less room for user error, and no more asking the school to help us identify a subject.”
The key to trusting the system? Repetition. By using Capture over and over, their process became seamless and gave Zeke a leg up when COVID hit: “We were already paperless, direct-to-home, and remotely checking in students.” Chalkboard Photography had a successful “curbside picture day” where they used Capture to check in students from the backseats of their cars, had them hop out when it was their turn to smile, then hop right back into their car. Easy, fast, and zero contact.
A bonus? Once you have the data and reference images from one semester, you have them for the whole school year, making the process even easier as time goes on.
Sales have gone up! "Even with COVID, our average AOV jumped from $33 to $39. The PD100 cha-ching is heaven throughout the day, and I can't wait to get a full season in for the next school year.”
3 Ways PD Has Helped
- Time management. “PD saves me from printing countless flyers and cards. When you’re the owner and the photographer doing all of the tasks involved, those seemingly simple tasks are easily overlooked.”
- Better means of communication. “The way we communicate is changing—the younger you are, the more you’re going to want support on-demand, and giving parents control is a game-changer. Now they can opt-in and receive their flyers digitally. Additionally, being able to use the apps while on the go gives me better control of my studio and allows me to respond more quickly to customers.”
- PhotoDay’s quick response time in the bubble and on social media for both studios and customers has been crucial. “It’s a new era of photography, and change is hard—it’s even harder if you’re not tech-savvy or are pressed for time during the transition. But PhotoDay helped us make that change.”
We asked Zeke if he started all over again, what would he do differently? He said that at the beginning, they were a bit redundant by doing things the old way as well as the new way with PD. “It was time-consuming, but we were still dating, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to propose at that time! I’d tell myself to just buy in and trust the system from the start. Everything worked out great. The Capture app was our biggest concern, but once we got the hang of it, it was easy and consistent for us. We even have our volunteers doing it now.”
At PhotoDay, we’re always going through the “what if” scenarios before we even write a single line of code. We want you to feel confident in your workflow and able to tackle any shoot using our system.
So how easy is it to resolve when something doesn’t match up right in private galleries? Zeke answered, “With any software or system, there’s always someone or something that can go wrong. The system makes it easy to manually identify, match, move, and correct any issues when that happens.”
Words of Wisdom to Anyone on the Fence
“Do it! Well...if you’re in San Diego, don’t do it—it’s the worst system to use. Just kidding, we can take the competition!” Zeke suggests that the best way to try something new and see if it works for you and your business is to try it with a smaller job. “The minutes it saves you on that job will be hours saved on a large job. You won’t be the only one to notice the new simplicity...the staff and school will notice it, too.”
Always Giving Back
Zeke is always giving back to the community—through education, youth sports, photography, and now PhotoDay as our newest trailblazer.
“I’m excited to be a part of this community now, too. We’re here because we believe in the system. It’s helped us, and we want to help others. We’re building a community. And by saving time, hopefully, they’ll also give back to their communities. Even if it’s just by making picture day better.
PhotoDay wants to make the process easier so you can focus on making it a good experience for the kids. They’re excited for picture day, they want to have a good smile, and make their parents proud without feeling rushed. By saving time with the pre-picture day tasks, you can spend a little more time with each subject. The quality enhances, as well as the experience.”