Here in Colorado, May signals the beginning of high school senior portraits. And as the class of 2010 graduates, and the class of 2011 moves in to take its place, there will be a ton of opportunity for you to capture a piece of this lucrative market share.
The difference between a good senior portrait and a GREAT senior portrait is how much you put into it. Can you do something cool and unique the kids will love? Can you use technology to the max, giving seniors a reason to “beg” their moms and dads to use you over any of your competitors? Try out these 7 tips, and work to become the best senior portrait photographer in your area.
1. Start by heading to your local bookstore, and round up every teen magazine you can find. Look at the styles, the posing for the top teen celebrities, and what products are being marketed to teenagers. Then use these ideas to build your own sets and props. Seniors don’t want a boring photo on a plain backdrop or posed against a tree. They want style. They want attitude.
2. Shoot for the buyers. Yes, the senior will love the images with attitude. But the mom will probably love a more traditional smile. Add in gifts for the grandparents, and you’re bound to need a few more traditional poses just to make everyone happy. While the teen will motivate where they have their senior picture taken, always remember that mom pays the bills.
3. Talk with the senior before the portrait, and find out about his or her interests. Do they love to ski? Do they play on the volleyball team? Are they going to college as a music major? Incorporate what they love into their images. They will be more personal, and will instantly open him or her up to a more natural, relaxed smile.
4. Pop some color, or add some magic to your images using Photoshop actions and artistic tools. With just a little bit of production work, you can make a regular image a WOW image. Kubota Image Tools or MCP Actions both have a variety of action packs available.
5. Talk about clothing. Different locations mean different clothing choices. What would work in the warehouse district won’t work for an elegant portrait outside a theater. Likewise, a formal gown wouldn’t be the best choice on a hike in the woods. Also show your clients how to use clothing to blend into the portrait. A bright pastel striped shirt would stand out like a sore thumb in a darkly colored graffiti mural in the center of downtown.
6. Make the day an experience. Depending on your fee structure, think about bringing in a makeup and/or hair artist too. Work with local vendors on special package deals – many of your high school girls would love the chance to have a little glamour and attention for the day.
7. Plan for the purchase. What do you want your seniors to buy? Create your packages first, and then shoot your senior session to fill the package. They are more likely to buy if you can point out several of their images, and show them how well they would look together in a special framing option.