Archive for Senior Portrait Photography
Although these may seem like silly obvious examples, they do bring up a good point. Who are you targeting in your photography business and senior market?
Knowing your customers and your market is important. And realizing that not everyone is your customer is even more important. Some people do not value photography and some people just may not value your photography. So how much time should you invest (or waste) trying to convince the wrong (fit for your business) people what you and your work are worth?
The first step is to understand that people pay for what is important to them. “Too expensive” doesn’t necessary mean that they don’t have an adequate amount of funds to exchange for a good or service. It may just mean they don’t see the value of what you are selling or what your business provides. And it can also mean that they don’t see the value or place any value on photography.
As an example, there is a chain soup/salad/sandwich store that opened up in our town a few years ago. It costs us nearly 20 bucks to eat there. This place is “too expensive” for me. Why? Because I don’t value what they have to offer. Not because I can’t afford it. At this place you stand in line to give your order and sit down. Then you get back up when they call out your name to get your order. Then you get back up each time to fill up your drink (and to get napkins, etc.) Finally, after you are finished, you have to clean up your own table and put the bowls, plates, silverware, and trash away. Now I will gladly pay triple the amount (of what we would pay at this place) at our favorite restaurant because I see the value in eating there. Read More→
As a professional are you more knowledgable of your “perceived” competition than you are of your customers and your own business? If that is the case then why are you shocked when your “perceived” customers go to your competition?
The photography business and senior business has gotten extremely competitive. I am grateful for being in a competitive business in the past. My wife and I spent ten years in pharmaceutical sales before becoming a full time photography studio. There is no doubt that you need to know your competitors (the real ones) and what you can offer that they don’t. But use your limited resources (e.g. time) to explore creativity, learn business, and promote yourself instead of obsessing over any competition.
As an entrepreneur and a small business owner there is nothing more important than the success and happiness of your customers. Everything else plays a role but nothing else is more important to the lifeline of your business than the exchange of a customers’ hard earned money for your services. That is how your business keeps it’s door open. If that fails then so do you.
Focus your efforts where they need to be focused. Read More→
“How’s business?” is a frequent question we get asked. You probably get asked this too. But are you ever the one asking the question. I encourage other photographers to look outside of their industry to examine other businesses. This is a valuable resource that should be utilized.
There is a restaurant here in our city that my wife and I frequently attend. And when I say frequently I mean 2-3 times a week…for the last 8 years. If you follow my twitter feed (@johndpyle) you can probably guess the place I am talking about. In fact my parents went Friday night and we went Saturday night to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. Now I do love their food. It is superb and prepared perfectly. But that is not the main reason we go. There are a few other places to eat that have decent food in town. They are also the one of the most, if not THE most expensive place to eat in town. So we don’t go there to save money. We go there because of the experience. The staff always recognizes us and greets us by name upon arriving. The bartenders know my wife’s favorite glass of wine and have it poured before we even sit down. The staff is always pleasant, excited to see us, and appear to go out of their way no matter what. In fact the owner comes over to personally greet us every time we visit. The food is always perfect and they always go above and beyond. Now I am not narcissistic enough to think that we are the only ones they treat like this. And I know this because there is a 30-90 minute wait on weekends to eat so other people must feel this way too. But we are made to feel like we are special and that we are the most important costumers they have. They know, understand, and implement flawless customer service and an unmatched experience. Read More→
We just returned from our 2011 senior portrait conference (spa) in Palm Springs California. We had our 3rd model winner in a row from across the country and she won the Top Model award! We are so proud of Kristen!
There were some great images out at spa but this year I “observed” a lot more than I have in the past. We followed Kristen and her mom around on day #3 of spa where she has session with other photographers to see them work and teach.
One of the things that spa celebrates is the best of the best in high school senior photography. And the best of the best senior photographers are all there. A consistent theme that I saw with these photographers was the “connection” they made with the subject, the speed at which they connected with them, and the ease in which they did so. This, of course, translated to a an incredible experience for all the seniors chosen to attend, the photographers, and allowed for some gorgeous images to be created. Read More→
I’m a husband, a father to an 18 month old daughter, and a high school senior photographer who makes a living by bringing a camera around 17 year old girls. I am also sensitive (maybe hypersensitive) to the appropriateness of the images I create AND the images we release online.
A few months ago a woman in passing (not a customer but a regular viewer of our website) made a statement to me and my wife that she would NEVER let her daughter take senior pictures in a swimsuit. Now that is fine with us. We don’t ask senior customers to take pictures in their swimsuits nor do we advertise swimsuit sessions for seniors. But she repeated this opinion several times throughout the conversation, and it felt more like an “insult” directed at us. And, yes, having a Masters in Psychology allows me to deduce that from the conversation.
It so happened to that the image she was looking at was from a professional modeling portfolio of a college freshman we had posted last summer. The model needed swimsuit images for her modeling portfolio that we created for her on location. The customer and her parents were thrilled with the images and released the images themselves on Facebook with our approval. Now I did explain this to the woman who brought up the swimsuit image and obvisouly didn’t read the blog post…but I doubt she cared to understand it.
Anyway living down in the South, on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, a lot of our seniors have grown up on the backwaters every weekend since they were little…skiing, tubing, jet skiing, riding boats and wave runners, grilling out, and laying out in the sun with their friends and families . They also live driving distance to the beach and the Gulf Coast of Florida. This was and is an important part of their summers, their childhood, their lives, and of course their last summer in high school. And some of our seniors AND their parents ask if their child can incorporate this into their senior experience sessions. Some have beautiful homes, pools, and boats up on the backwaters and in Florida where these are shot on location. Read More→
10 things to jeopardize your senior photography business in 2011:
Everyone always talks about steps to success. They are all over my twitter feed and other blogs especially with the New Year upon us. Some of them are excellent posts. But I do love some funny posts every now and then. Since I am iced in down here in Georgia and feel like being a little sarcastic I decided to write about some great steps you can take to sabotage or stall your senior photography business. A recipe for NOT succeeding if you will. So take a look at these 10 steps and follow through with them if you want your 2011 to be a year to remember.
*Have fun with this post as it was written in a lighthearted manner. And note: I am not looking down on others from the top of my 70-200mm…just posting some funny topics. We have all probably done some of the steps if not all of them. Happy New Year and enjoy the sarcasm!
1. Wing it – Make sure your photoshoot with the senior has no goals or direction. Just show up with your camera at a location of your choice. Start shooting pictures at random places, titling the lens every other picture, and stare at the back of your LCD screen a lot. It is better to look at the screen on the back of your camera than at your subject. Oh and don’t talk much. Customers like it better when you give no direction. Do not give feedback to the senior. Keep her and her parents guessing as to how the image looks.
2. Buy the most expensive equipment, even if you don’t know how to use it – It is always a good idea to get a 1.2 lens even if you don’t know what Aperture or f-stop mean. When shooting a senior with a group of friends or her family as long as you are at 1.2 something in the picture will be “tack sharp” even if it is just an ear. Read More→
Recently I spoke at a local photography workshop and someone made a comment that it has to be easy shooting only “pretty people”. Another photographer jokingly communicated to me that it “wasn’t fair” that we got to photograph all the “attractive people”. To that I laugh and say I’ll take that as a compliment. I do have to say that every one of the seniors that we photograph is beautiful…inside and out. But some people don’t understand that most of the senior girls do not walk around looking like they do for their senior session…just as a bride doesn’t walk around everyday looking like she does on her wedding day.
I think as a professional photographer that it is your job to find what is “beautiful” about your clients and focus in on that for their images. That can be their eyes, their hair, their smile, their laugh,…anything that makes them look good and feel good about themselves. That can only HELP you in creating images the senior and their families can be proud of. Read More→
There seems to always be an area of interest and confusion surrounding photographing guys for senior pictures. We get asked often if we do photograph guys and is it harder or easier to photograph guys or girls for their senior pictures. I have even gotten a lot of emails recently from other photographers asking what do to with guys….”I mean they just kinda stand there”. Senior guys are unique just like senior girls. When we started concentrating on senior photography a few years back I think we had one senior guy. The next year it doubled to two, and the next…4. Until this year we had more than a dozen senior guys. In this article I want to talk about some myths surrounding photographing guys for their senior pictures and what works and doesn’t work when shooting guys. Read More→
The term “artist” is thrown around a lot these days. I see a lot of self-proclaimed “artists” describing their passion for photography, and how they just enjoy creating images for people. They don’t want to deal with all that “business stuff”. Unfortunately passion alone does not pay my mortgage and the grocery store doesn’t seem impressed when I say, “But I’m an ARTIST,” when I go to check out.
This is definitely the case with senior photography. If you want to run a successful business in senior photography, or any genre of photography, then you cannot be afraid or ashamed of the word “business.” You must be a professional in all aspects of your business. Especially photographing high school kids. Last year during tax season I watched my wife’s anxiety and frustration as she sifted through receipts, renewed our professional memberships, added up sales and expenses, etc. I made my Facebook status “there is a big difference between being a photographer and running a photography business.” Today I will discuss professionalism in running a photography business. Read More→
In the last article, I addressed both the importance and the enjoyment of senior photography. To me there are three things to consider before moving forward and making senior photography a major part of your business.
1) Are you LAZY? – The class of 2011 has had me lying on my back at night photographing in the middle of Times Square, dodging waves off the coast of Florida, and looking out for snakes in a creek with a senior from Tennessee. This past weekend I photographed a high school senior who flew in with her family from New Jersey. I photographed her, edited her images, and had them ready to view and order in one afternoon. Read More→