Just in time for the Class of 2015 (and 2016) we have collected some excellent senior marketing and photography tips/tricks from our SmugMug photographers for you to enjoy!
“So many things go into creating an exceptional senior portrait, including location, lighting, creating mood, and the using the right tools – but all of those are trumped by successfully capturing the senior’s true personality…and that requires paying attention and building rapport during the initial consultation.”
-Jaki Good Miller Photography (http://www.jakigoodmiller.com/Seniors/Home)
“Introduce yourself to every high school student and parent you possibly can. Saying hello, handing over a business card and letting them know how much you would love to see them through your lens, goes a long way. This means getting yourself to places where there will be high school students. The mall, movie theaters, local sporting events. Don’t be a creeper and approach everyone you see. Be selective so the ones you do approach feel special. Every fall, I volunteer at our local high school. I visit the yearbook class for one hour a day for one week. I teach the students how to use their cameras, how to compose great, thought provoking and emotional shots. This is great exposure for me as a photographer. Many of the seniors I shoot every year come from the yearbook program. It is also a lot of fun!”
– Jones Photography (http://www.cindijonesphotography.com/)
One tip I have for senior photography marketing is to market for the parent just as much as the senior. The parents are the ones who ultimately make the decision and finance their senior’s pictures. A good way to do this is 1) have competitive and reasonable prices and 2) display senior portraits on your site that would be attractive to both seniors and their parents. So avoid any shots that may be considered “risqué” by parents.
Another tip I have is related to the actual picture taking. When you are on a shoot with a senior make sure they are comfortable. Take some time in the beginning to talk to them and get to know them. I always ask before I start shooting if they have any poses or backgrounds in mind. You always want to make sure they get what they want. If they have no suggestions, then just start shooting. Watch their body language to see if they are comfortable with the pose or not. Just being observant really helps a lot!”
– Nicole Leanne Photography (http://www.nicoleleanne.com/)
“Senior year can be the most exciting time – and often the most stressful- in a senior’s life so far. It is important to make the session as relaxed as possible – if they’re uncomfortable, it always shows in the images. I usually “Facetime” with my senior a week or so before the session to discuss outfits, props, etc. It not only gives me an idea of what they have in mind, but it allows us to communicate the way teens usually like to communicate … with technology. You’d be surprised how much you get to know about them this way … even when you’ve already met them. This always gets us off to a great start. Don’t forget that seniors often have their own ideas. Even if you have to gently pry it out of them, it’s vital to the experience. But even when it’s not something you would normally recommend, shoot it anyway! With enthusiasm! And when you get a great shot, show them on your camera and build on that excitement. This is when they’re opening up and trusting you – and it can be a turning point in a session. It may not be the image that makes the cover of the graduation announcement … but you usually get a priceless shot for mom. And don’t forget to snag some serious faces too. Grandma wants the smiles, but it’s often the serious faces that make the cut!”
– Janet Masterson Photography (http://www.jmastersonphoto.com/)
“LOVE what you do. I mean, really love what you do. I think if you love what you do, it shows in your work. I always, always get a sneak peak up for my customers that same day because I know how excited they are to see it. I have been doing this for almost 5 years now and I am just as excited to post a sneak for them as they are to get it too. Most times with a senior session, this is their first experience with a photo session, they are a little nervous about being behind the camera. I usually suggest for senior sessions, on location because then we have the room to walk around, discover great little areas for photos. The whole time, talking to them helps put them at ease and makes them feel comfortable. I love at the end of my senior session, they tell me what a great time they had and the experience was better than what they had hoped for!”
– Christy Mitchell Photography (http://www.christymitchellphotography.com/)
“When a senior in high school contacts me about doing their senior portraits, I always reply back with a hello and thank you for considering Courtney Darce Photography. After discussing for a period of time and the agreement has been returned, I schedule a good time to call via telephone. This is to get a feel for their personality, likes, dislikes, and any preferences for the shoot. The day of the session has often consisted of myself and the boy or girl senior walking around downtown picking out great spots and talking about life. I really think of my clients especially my senior representatives as friends, encouraging them and listening to them talk about their dreams and future plans. I enjoy this very much. Be a professional with what you have to offer but don’t be afraid to be yourself. I find the seniors nervousness break down and character really opens up when you approach them as a friend. This makes their photos come to life and really capture the essence of who they are as young men and women in that moment of their lives. ”
– Courtney Darce Photography (http://courtneydarcephotography.smugmug.com/)
“I work with local boutiques shooting their clothes for social media, magazines and billboards and my seniors are the models. The boutiques get
great images and my seniors love the experience and seeing their images on billboards around town.”
– Cindy Shaver Photography (http://cindyshaverphotography.smugmug.com/)
“Remind the kids and their parents of these details:
· make sure that girls nails are either polished or not — but never chippy and ragged.
· that guys arrive freshly shaven unless they are going for that stubbly look
· to bring more outfits than they intend to use so that we can make choices on the spot
· to carry their clothing pressed and on a hanger and NOT wadded up in a gym bag — It happens!
· if girls are going to change clothes in public, suggest that they wear a cami so that they won’t feel like they are exposed between outfits
· to remove the hair tie from their wrist.
· to spit out their gum”
– Shelly Chetty (http://www.spccreative.com/)
“One thing I do
know for sure is that Seniors are using Facebook less and are gravitatingto other social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. When
marketing on Facebook for seniors, you are really marketing to the parentsof the seniors. This can be good, as they are the ones who will be paying for the products.”
– C. Williams Photography (http://www.cwilliamsphoto.com/)
“My best tip about marketing for seniors is that you can never start too early. I will market to seniors all year long. I have 4 local proms that I do pictures for, and they have to enter their email address and their graduating year. So I instantly have a direct line to all the local juniors. “
– Crystal from Falls Studio Professional Photography (http://www.fallsstudio.com/)
“Show your model their progress by periodically showing their progression straight out of the camera and constantly reinforcing what a great job they are doing. I often hear, “Wow! Your camera takes great photos!” And I have to tell them that it’s not the camera, but them that makes the picture beautiful.”- Renoda Campbell Photography (http://www.photosbyrc.com)
“~Take the time to connect with whoever you are photographing no matter what their age, two or seventy-two. It will show through in the images you create and how they respond to you and the camera.~Always move around your subject. Start at one angle and then photograph them from three-four more angles in the same pose. You will be amazed at how the lighting and shape of your subject(s) changes as you move your feet.~Some of the best images happen by accident when everyone lets go of expectations, always have your camera ready when you ‘think’ the shoot is over.~The learning never stops. There are always ways to improve, new tricks to try, and new situations to conquer with your camera. Push yourself!”
– Smooch Photography (http://www.sealedwithasmooch.com/Seniors-Portal)
“I love photographing seniors in gorgeous outdoor settings and look for open shade. I love to use a long lens and off camera flash for fill light in the later part of the day. I always take time to walk around with them and talk about them. After I get a couple great shots I show them how they are looking and then go for it! If they see me getting excited and having fun they do too!”
– Janette Paule Photography (http://www.paulepics.com/)
“When shooting senior portraits, I try my best to make the senior comfortable and to make the shoot fun.
If they are having fun, the photos are more natural and reflect their personalities.
If the senior is self conscious, I show them a few of the shots and let them know how good they look.”
– Unique Impressions Photography (http://www.uniqueimpressionsphoto.com/)
“Marketing: Embrace Facebook and Instagram. I give all my Seniors permission to post a shot from their gallery on Facebook or Instagram, as long as my watermark appears. Each of these posts can reach hundreds of students, and they end up generating a significant portion of my work.”
-abp photography (http://www.apbphotos.com/)
“I get my seniors by word of mouth and by donating a session with a few low res images at the high school benefit auctions. I set up the display at the auction with books, large prints, etc. but don’t include them in the auction. I obviously try to use a senior from that particular school, if possible.”
-Missy Weiner Photography (http://www.missyweinerphotography.com/)
“Be yourself! Sometimes I feel people read bios of other photographers and try to emulate their style or their business model. This is not the quickest path to financial success maybe, but it is solid and pretty reliable. Do your best work every time, don’t be sloppy with your editing, be 100% reliable, and be nice. This applies to everyone, not just to seniors. I think though, as you get older, you develop people skills that some younger bucks don’t have, so use that to your advantage.
One last thought .. I have not found social media to be particularly helpful in producing income. Lots of hype, likes, kudos etc., but not really for generating income. My time I believe is better spent in keeping up with clients, sending emails and making calls to remind them you’re still around.”
– Photography by Vanessa K (http://www.vanessak.com/)
“Like with any other portrait session, getting to know your client, or in this case your “senior” by spending time with them before the portrait session is very valuable.
Try to incorporate “Who they are” at this time of their lives, with the setting of their portraits whether it be outside on location, or in the studio. And include special props of their own personal items, like a sports equipment, musical instruments, etc.
Things to ask:
What is your personal style?
What is your vision for the images?
What are you involved with in school? Clubs, sports, music, art?
What do you do outside of school? Hobbies, for fun, for leisure?
What are you going to do with your images? Prints, framed wall art, and album, post them on Facebook?
During the process of getting to know your “senior” you are actually developing a relationship with them, and they are getting to know you as well. By getting to know your senior, everyone will feel much more comfortable during the actual session, and have a lot more fun. This is what truly creates great final images!”
– Kelly Taylor Photography (http://www.kellyshotthis.com/)