So... you've become your chapter's Picture Chairperson, and want some tips on selecting the best fraternity composite service. Look no further than our Fraternity Composite Buyer's Guide!
You're swamped with studying, exams, fraternity mixers and socials, alumni events , working out, and having a life. This is just another item on a long list that you are responsible for. We get it.
In this guide, we'll give you tips for finding and selecting the best service provider, and we'll walk you through a bunch of providers that you can choose from.
Let's start with some basics!
1. Find out what service provider your chapter has used before!
Knowing who did your chapter's last fraternal photo composite is a good starting point. Find out which provider did it, how long ago it was done, how much they charged, and whether or not everyone liked the result.
If there is a long-term photo composite agreement in place, that is important to know as well and you should get a copy of it and read it carefully.
Contact the last photo chairman for your chapter and discuss these things with him and gather insights.
If you are currently under contract with a provider, and everyone likes their previous work, then you can focus on pricing and process for getting them done.
If you're not under contract, then you can work on finding a new provider.
2. Put some deadlines in place so you know how much time you have to get the fraternal composites done
Use a typical backwards time planning technique. Spend a few minutes with your calendar open and go through the following planning exercise:
- Find out what your hard deadline is for receiving the finished fraternal composite for your frat house
- Check this guide for information on how long the process will take from beginning to end and work backwards to put a start date in the calendar (assuming you already selected a provider)
- Add a week or two for the service provider selection process. Remember that you will need to present options to your executive board with data to back it up! Factor that into your time planning as well.
3. Ask your national organization and other chapters of your fraternity what fraternity composite photo providers they have used in the past and if they liked the result.
Now you're gathering intel. Use social media, like Twitter and Facebook, to find out from other guys which services they used and if they like them.
- Start putting a list together for further research
- Add services to the list that sucked and cross them off the list as a no-go.
- End up with a short list of services that were good that you have referrals for.
- Don't be passive during this part, really reach out. Use it as an excuse to stay in touch and network
4. Now add to the list any frat composite photo providers that we have in this post and start researching them
Here are some things you will want to know about each provider:
- Professional photographers are a must! No scrubs! Be sure the provider uses accredited photographers that have passed background checks. They will be coming into your frat house and you want to eliminate the crazies.
- Discuss what poses you want with your chapter and have the composite company show the different possible poses they recommend.
- Look for companies that offer on-site digital pose selection and digital monitors so other brothers can watch to be sure they like your pose.
- You'll want to verify how long each step of the process will take, from scheduling the photo shoot, selection of the final photos, selection of the framing and formatting, and production and shipping of the final product.
- Be sure the provider will give you an itemized price quote that is comparable across each provider. They may try to give you a general quote, but you should insist that they break it down. The quote should include taxes, shipping, Greek licensing fees etc..
- Find out when payment is due, and be sure your chapter is ready to make the payment
- Get familiar with the fine print of the service provider's agreement. If you get comfortable with one or two, that should be enough. Most sections will be similar in different agreements. You just want working knowledge at this stage.
- I recommend putting a spreadsheet together to capture the key differences of each service provider you are analyzing. You can share it with your brothers on Dropbox or Google docs so they can have input.
- Finally, come up with your top three picks and your top choice to recommend to your executive board. Schedule time at the very next meeting to review your recommendations and a time-frame for making a decision.
- Find out who will be signing the agreement on behalf of the chapter, and also make sure the Treasurer is aware of the financial commitment the chapter is making.
5. Decision made, time for action. Here are the steps to take to ensure a good final photo composite
Now that your chapter has made a decision about which service provider you will use, its time to take action.
- Contact the chosen fraternity composite photo service provider and begin the process.
- Verify everything in step 4 above as a double check
- Get the agreement that you will be signing and review it thoroughly. If any brother happens to be pre-law, get his eyes on it, or anyone you think can bring a critical eye to it (an alumni for example).
- Review the pricing breakdown you requested in Step 4 and be sure everything is on it.
- Review the schedule and find out how quickly they can get a photographer lined up.
- After you receive formal approval from your executive board, coordinate with your Treasurer so that once you have signed the agreement, he can issue a check for the deposit.
6. Stay on top of things with these project management ideas
The service provider should help you manage the process until the final project is shipped, but here are some ideas for staying on top of things:
- Re-confirm every appointment a few days in advance to be sure things are going smoothly, especially the photographer, as they are usually independent contractors
- Keep your chapter brothers up to date on the schedule. They'll need their suit jackets, shirts and ties ready to go, and be in town.
- Post the date on a bulletin board, shared calendar, or do an E-Vite so the brothers get automatic reminders to be at the house on that day and time
- Once the photos have been taken, re-confirm the schedule for getting proofs (your photos from which you select your finals).
- Once the proofs are in, have a process and time-frame in place for decisions to be made
- Chase down any last holdouts and be sure all selections are made so the service provider can move forward with creating the final composite
- Find out who makes the final decision on moving forward with the composite and make sure it happens.
I've analyzed the following five fraternity composites service providers to give you a head start
- Pricing includes design, framing, shipping, revisions, portraits, and the final product. No hidden fees
- Dedicated professional scheduling coordinator
- Shipping as early as 2 weeks after final proof approval and payment
- Standard shipping is included, but you can get expedited for a small upgrade cost.
- Shatterproof glass
“Thank you for making all of the adjustments I suggested perfectly correct. The composite looks great!”
“Since our chapter is very small, we were very pleased with the pricing and the accommodations that were made to make sure the process went smoothly.”
- Family owned - three generations
- Museum quality glass
- Traditional composites
- Assembled mat board
- Solid wood framing
- Heavy duty hardware and wire for hanging
- Photographers are employees of the company
Just wanted to send a quick thank you for our chapter's composite.We received our composite earlier this week and it came out awesome
There were no mistakes made and everyone is very pleased with the final product..."
“I was very pleased with my experience with your company. In the beginning, our fraternity had some problems with another composite company that was trying to bind us to their confusing contract. Randy, the sales representative I worked with was very helpful and helped to get our house out of that messy situation. The photoshoot went very well and the photographer did a great job overall. When approving the proof, there was a change that needed to be made and the alteration was quickly taken care of. We were most happy with the quality of the composite we received and the fact that we received it in a timely manner. I look forward to working with Fraternal Composite Services again in the future. Thank you so much for your professionalism, excellent service, and amazing product.”
- Lifetime Warranty
- Professional photographers travel to your location
- Composites shipped within 30 days of final proof and payment
- Itemized quotes
- Can schedule up to 4 months in advance
- Receive a scheduling packet 5 weeks before the shoot
- Payment is due on the day of the photography shoot
- Shipping and Handling is based on the number of photos on the composite
She (the photographer) was fantastic. Extremely nice and a great help to the organization. We would love to have her back again, and we look forward to doing business with you all in the future.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Thank you for a very smooth photo session at Phi Mu Alpha Northwestern this week. Cannot say enough good things about Dawn, the photographer, and the overall process!
Northwestern University, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
- Family owned
- Account Specialist will assist you
- Scheduling Coordinator will work with you to schedule the photography session
- Photographers are trained by Vantine
- You'll have an Onsite Representative to work with you on photo selection and finalize design options
- You can log in to the website to follow the status of your order
- Review your proof on the Vantine website and approve
- Composite complete 15 days after final approval
- Here's how Vantine prices: At Vantine Imaging, our one low per person price doesn’t change with style options or the number of people in your Greek organization. There are no hidden fees, so budgeting for your photo composite is easy!
- Vantine has a Composite Officer checklist to help manage the process
Both of the photographers were very professional and fun to work with as well. You could tell they knew what they were doing, and were very well organized throughout the entire process.
Kappa Sigma - University of Kansas
It was very easy... Vantine was helpful in arranging a time that was convenient for us. They called ahead of time to be sure everything was to schedule, and were very personable when they arrived.
Phi Gamma Delta - University of Georgia
- Low flat-rate pricing
- Professional photographer for up to 3 days
- Complete ready to hang composite board
- 11x14 print copies for each member
- Delivery in as little as 3-4 weeks
The website for this service does not have a lot of information which makes it tough to compare to the other services.