So it’s almost here prop junkies… senior portrait season! Spring is just around the corner, and it’s time to work up your senior reps.. get them lined up, gear up, and ready to work it up for you!
And to get US pumped up for the up coming season… we have the specialists in senior portraits ready… SENIOROLOGIE!
At SENIOROLOGIE you can read about the top senior portrait photographers in the industry… and, get yourself on their “senior portrait photographer directory”, so the seniors in your area can find YOU!
What is SENIOROLOGIE? It’s THE place to meet, find, be inspired, and learn all about senior portraiture. Lucky for us here at PI… we get a special insight into this fabulous, and magical, art, from the gal (Leslie the great) over at SENIOROLOGIE.
We put together a special Q&A just for prop junkies… and senior portraiture artists alike! Ready for it? Here is comes…
HELLO SENIOROLOGIE! First of all… which of you fabulous gals is doing this interview?
Leslie…Believe it or not it is a one-woman show…I am the woman behind the curtain, so to speak! 🙂
And of course, give us all of your links… site, blog, facebook, twitter, etc… any and all of your social networking!
We put together a special five (5) Q&A tailored just for you… ready for it?
1) Is a senior rep program THAT important? And of course… your reasons “why”?
I think the RIGHT senior rep program is very important! Senior rep programs are trial and error and figuring out what will work for your specific senior portrait business can make your rep program very successful! Rep programs are also a great way to get into the senior market! We all have to start somewhere. I think the best senior rep programs are those that are created by doing your research, making changes in your program if things aren’t working and being consistent with communication to your seniors. A rep program is a great way to get your business out there and in the minds of the seniors or juniors or even sophomores. The misconception I think a lot of photographers make is they think they have to have tons of reps or they think they have to have it all figured out. No!
Most photographers started somewhere with their rep program and have changed it over the years to what it is now. You really just need one senior to begin this process and from there it will organically grow into a full-fledged rep program! It is kind of like the saying in that baseball movie that I literally couldn’t sit through but…”if you build it, they will come!”
Start with one girl and grow your rep program from there! I promise it will happen if you work at it!!
2) What is the first step in getting started in the senior portrait biz. For those of us who are established as family photographers, how can WE step into the senior portrait biz??
Do your research!!! Find out what your area high schools do for photos. Talk to people that have children in high school or friends of friends. Find out all the info you can on each high school, what their rules are for photos for the yearbooks and who currently take the photos. From there, find one girl (like I stated above) and give her a complimentary photo shoot!
I have met no one that will ever turn down a free photo shoot! Make sure to be clear on what they will receive from this shoot. Do not give away everything like I did on my first major senior shoot. Make this person work a little for photos so you can begin your rep program. That girl will then talk to her friends and show off her photos on Facebook, etc. and this will have a domino effect for your business.
If others don’t call right away, then do another shoot. Make sure to do shoots that you want to showcase and this will give you great photos for your portfolio and make others take notice on this side of your business. Be patient but keep working at making those connections with seniors and it will build from there.
3) And we must ask… how important are PROPS for senior portraits? Do they tend to bring their own, or should the photographer supply the props?
I personally think the most important thing is to gear each shoot toward that particular senior. If you do a pre-shoot questionnaire then you will find out a lot about the senior and you will be able to gear their shoot toward them.
You can ask questions like, “what is your dream photo shoot?” and “what types of activities do you really enjoy?” Their answers will tell you what type of props you need.
For instance if they love ballet then ask them to bring their ballet shoes for the shoot and that is a great prop they can wear or have in the photos in some other way. If they mention they love vintage records or clothing, then work with the senior to pull together some of these items from their collection or from your own. If you gear the props toward what they love, then they will probably have what you need for the shoot.
Of course, it is always nice to have some things that you want to try out as props but use those when you have a senior who is willing to let you sort of play or when you are doing a complimentary session for a rep. When using props, don’t forget the detail shots!! A lot of times we think of details only when it pertains to weddings but details of any shoot can help tell the story of the subject and can help sell an album! Props for seniors can be anything from what they are wearing like a special hat or shoes to other objects such as their favorite instrument. If you have a senior that is into photography, have an old vintage camera or two in the photos.
I think props are always a fun addition to any shoot and sometimes it gives the subject something to play with or pose with and that helps make them feel comfortable.
4) When it comes to “what to wear”… how do you recommend the students dress, and outfits to bring, etc?
I encourage photographers to use these posts to send to their clients as inspiration. You can also follow me on pinterest, where I have a senior board that I pin things to to help inspire seniors on what to wear.
The best advice I can give as to what to wear is to talk with your client and help them with their wardrobe!
Have them send you pics via text as to what they are thinking of wearing. Tell them to bring a couple of options so you can give them several looks during their shoot. I always tell my clients to bring at least a dressier look and a more casual look. By dressy, I don’t mean ball gown and by casual, I don’t mean sweats! 🙂 Usually my senior girls will bring a pretty dress for one look and then jeans and a nice top for another look. Layering is always great for photos. Just by taking off a sweater or adding a scarf to an outfit, you can get a totally different look!
And accessorize! That is really important. Some of these things can become “props” in the photos and the senior can play with her scarf or necklace to give a different pose for the photos.
I also think determining what to wear based on the location of the shoot is a good idea. A really pretty flowy dress and a straw hat looks perfect in a field of tall grass but maybe not the best outfit for the funky, graffiti-filled downtown area location. So make sure to plan ahead so your senior will be able to dress for the situation.
5) Lastly…. what is the best way to MARKET to the senior portrait clientele??
Seniors are always on facebook so by giving every client or rep five facebook photos from their session you are guaranteeing that others will see your work! Post on your reps facebook walls and be sure to stay in touch with them. Comment on their cute photos from their prom or congratulate them on winning an award or getting into the college they wanted! I even go support my girls in their high school pageants or other events.
Seeing me there always makes them feel like I am a friend and not just their photographer. I have helped many of my girls with sorority recommendations and advice on schools. They text me, call me, email me with questions about stuff. I do this because I truly love the girls that I have photographed and I love that age and remember what it was like in high school (even though it was a million years ago). This definitely helps with my marketing but I don’t do it for that reason.
I just truly believe that maintaining a relationships with your clients, whether they are seniors or not, is the best way to having a successful client relationship.”
And with that prop junkies… GET ROCKIN THOSE SENIOR PORTRAITS… and enjoy every second of it! It’s an honor to be a senior portrait photographer, in such an important time in their lives!…