History of Lifetouch

For more than 80 years, we have been the professional photography choice for schools and families.

  • 2018

    2018: Shutterfly Inc.

    Shutterfly purchased Lifetouch for $825MM
    Shutterfly (NASDAQ: SFLY), the leading online retailer and manufacturer of high-quality personalized products and services acquires Lifetouch, the national leader in school photography.
    By bringing the two companies together, they are able better serve all of our customers via Shutterfly’s cloud-photo management service, product-creation capabilities, mobile app, and broad product range.
    Lifetouch becomes a public company as it joins Shutterfly, Inc.
  • 2000’s

    2000’s Revenue & Acquisition Milestones

    Lifetouch purchased Jostens’ school photography business in 2006 then acquired the church and studio photography business of Olan Mills.
  • 1990's

    1990’s: Expansion

    Products and services offering greatly expanded

    Lifetouch innovated in products, services and technology. It created an underclass photography business in the spring to supplement the traditional fall school picture. It expanded services from picture rolls and seating charts to ID cards, images for school administrative systems and child safety. It also invented and patented film and digital camera and other equipment which enabled it to accurately and efficiently photograph and deliver more than 58 million images each year to every state and province in the United States and Canada. As recognition of this amazing legacy, two of the Company’s patented cameras were added to the collection of the Smithsonian Institution as a reflection of the iconic role school photography and Lifetouch played in the history and culture of the United States. In 1994, Lifetouch entered the church photography market by acquiring United Photographic Industries.
  • 1985-1990

    1985-1990: The Acquisition Era

    Enterprise School Photos, Max Ward-Delmar, and United Photographic

    In the mid-eighties, a successful acquisition strategy launched that eventually led to the acquisition of over 250 regional and national school photography companies including the school photo business of Jostens and Herff Jones across the United States and Canada.
  • 1984

    1984: Lifetouch Inc.

    Company is renamed Lifetouch

    Following the acquisition of Kinderfoto, it was decided that the combined company needed a name that reflected its expanding business and vision. “Lifetouch” emotionally reflects the memories and mission of the growing professional photography integrator that offered “Photography for a Lifetime.”
  • 1983

    1983: Kinderfoto

    Acquisition doubles the size of the Company

    In 1983, National School Studios purchased the studio business of Kinderfoto. Through its business with JCPenney, Kinderfoto was one of the largest photographers of infants and toddlers in the U.S.
  • 1978

    1978: ESOP Formed

    Bruce Reinecker, Founder, gives full ownership to employees

    In 1978, looking towards retirement, Bruce Reinecker transferred 100 percent of the Company’s ownership to the employees through one of the first Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) under a newly enacted Federal law encouraging employee ownership.
  • 1970's

    1970’s: Lifetouch’s First Acquisitions

    Universal Publications and Prestige Portraits

    Following Eldon’s death in 1972, Richard Erickson, one of the more successful territory managers, joined Bruce in running the Company. National School Studios expanded its school products from individual portraits and classroom groups to include high school seniors, proms, dances and sports. Bruce acquired Universal Publications, which enabled National School Studios to create the elementary school yearbook. This was the beginning of the Lifetouch yearbook business.
  • 1950's

    1950’s: Color Photography

    Company pioneers use of color in school photographs
  • 1940's

    1940’s: Partnership Model

    Rapid expansion through partnerships with regional photographers

    Bruce and Eldon developed a unique business model that allowed them to scale the business rapidly. They partnered with photographers throughout the U.S., providing them with an entrepreneurial opportunity to develop a territory for National School Studios. The photographers were empowered to build relationships through their local presence, backed by financial support from National School Studios in the form of equipment and production services. A little more than a decade after its founding, National School Studios had become one of the largest school photography companies in the United States.
  • 1936

    1936: The Beginning

    Eldon Rothgeb and Bruce Reinecker launch National School Studios

    Lifetouch became the world’s largest photography company “one portrait at a time”. The Lifetouch story began in 1936, when Bruce Reinecker and Eldon Rothgeb made plans to bring their “School Photography of Distinction” to one-room schoolhouses throughout rural Minnesota. With $500 in start-up money, they set to work. Sharing a tiny apartment, a cramped office space, and a dream, the two hopeful and ambitious young men poured their skills and talents into their company, which they ambitiously named National School Studios.