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9 Tips to Creating an Amazing Client Experience for Seniors

9 Tips to Creating an Amazing Client Experience for Seniors with Jenn Lewis

Want to have high school seniors telling all their friends about their amazing experience with you? Follow these tips to give them something to talk about!

1. TAKE THE TIME TO MEET THEM IN PERSON

When a client inquires with you, start by offering to meet them for an in-person consultation! Whether you treat them to coffee at a local coffee shop or have them come by your studio, they’ll feel important because you want to take the time to get to know them before they book. If you’re meeting at your studio, they’ll also have a chance to see your working space, product samples, and more, which can all help you create value in what you’re offering.

Pro tip: If you’re meeting at your studio, offer them a beverage upon arrival (I keep sodas and water in a small fridge). If you’re meeting them at a coffee shop or similar, avoid that awkward “Who buys?” moment by arriving early, and purchasing your beverage of choice along with a gift card for your client. When they arrive, hand them the gift card and tell them to help themselves to whatever they’d like, and you’ll be there waiting for them when they’re ready.

2. PAMPER THEM

I love having a professional hair and makeup artist to pamper my girls before their shoot. They love this part of the experience, and it gives them time to relax if they’re nervous (most of them are!). My hair and makeup artist comes to my studio, and while my girls are in her chair, I chat with them about their locations and outfits, and we fine tune our plans for the shoot day. We also take that time to get to know each other better. The girls feel so much more confident and camera ready after they have hair and makeup done! Make sure you and your HMUA are on the same page with the look your senior is going for and that it matches her outfits and locations.

Pro tip: Ask your artist not to use anything too shiny on the skin that might have to be fixed in Photoshop (glare from lights can be a pain!). A great job from a hair and makeup artist will save you so much time with post-processing. I show my clients their images straight out of camera, so this is super important to me.

3. PROVIDE A STYLE CLOSET

I have a style closet in my studio, and any of my senior clients are welcome to borrow from it. I keep things that they may not normally purchase as everyday wear (think bling, sparkles, leather, and fur), and I have a variety of styles and sizes, from XS to XL. My always-growing closet consists of coats, dresses (boho style is very popular), tops, skirts, and jewelry. I order from places like Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, and Shein. Many websites will give you a discount for your first order with them, and once you’re on the list, you’ll get an email for every sale they ever have. I hit up Plato’s Closet on the reg too, as I always find a ton of great deals on super-cute clothes and jewelry there, so make sure you’re checking out your local secondhand shops.

Pro tip: keep clothespins, safety pins, and double-sided fashion tape handy to ensure a great fit.

4. HELP THEM PREPARE

My seniors always have questions before their shoot, and I want them to feel prepared so that they’re more excited than worried or nervous. Instead of them having to text me questions (or being too worried about asking a “silly question” to text me at all), I send them guides before their session. The first one is sent after they book with me. It’s called “10 Tips for Planning Your Session” and includes lots of ideas for locations, things to bring, outfit choices and more. A few days before their session, I’ll send them another guide called “Preparing for your Session.” This guide is filled with tips and reminders such as making sure their clothing is wrinkle-free, bringing appropriate undergarments, and avoiding sunburn or crazy tan lines.

Pro tip: I created these guides on my Photobiz website, and I keep them as hidden pages, only accessible by the link I text to my seniors. This makes it super easy to update.

5. FEED AND WATER THEM

One of the tips I include in my Preparing for your Session guide is to make sure my seniors eat lunch before their session. Hair and makeup typically lasts just over an hour, and the shoot takes around three hours (more if I’m feeling inspired), so it can be a long day. We live in North Carolina and shoot in late summer and early fall, when the temps can reach 100+ degrees. I keep plenty of soda and water in my fridge, and lots of salty and sweet snacks in the studio as well. We pack a cooler with snacks and water to take on location to make sure our seniors are staying hydrated and feeling great during their shoot. If at any point they need a break, we will stop at a convenience store or drive-thru to let them get whatever they’d like, and I always pay for it.

Pro tip: We always begin our sessions with the studio as the first location to capture our client with fresh hair and makeup, then move to any indoor location that might be on their list, and finish up at their outdoor location after the heat of the day lets up, just in time for sunset.

6. SHOW THEIR FRIENDS THE FUN THEY’RE HAVING

We always take behind-the-scenes photos, videos, and boomerangs during their photoshoot and post them to our Instagram stories. They love getting to relive their day watching it later, as just like a wedding day, at the end it’s all kind of a blur. They know that many of their friends watch my stories as well, so they are always up for doing something fun for social media. Many of my Instagram followers love getting a glimpse behind the scenes of a shoot, so we’ll showcase our locations, our lighting setups, our seniors’ outfits, and more.

Pro tip: If you tag the senior in your Instagram stories, they will be able to share to their own IG stories!

7. BRING AN ENTOURAGE

I always have an assistant working with me during senior sessions. I don’t want to entrust expensive gear to the mom or friend that my senior brings with them (no one needs that type of pressure), so I have my assistant carry equipment, set up lighting, man the light stand and strobe, and sometimes take behind-the-scenes photos for me. But my assistant is there for my client as well. He brings her water and snacks, fluffs her dress, fans her in the heat, holds things for her (sunglasses on a sunny day or a jacket in the winter), and whatever else she may need. We make sure our girls feel like rock stars on the day of their session. Whatever they need, we’re there for them.

Pro tip: If you shoot in the summer, keep small fans in your gear bag … you can pick up a small, battery-operated fan, and I always keep a folding accordion fan. But reflectors work perfectly too, and you may find that you love that windblown look for a few of your images.

8. SHOW THEM THEIR IMAGES IN PERSON

After the excitement of the shoot day itself, the seniors can’t wait to see their images! In-person sales sessions are the way to go to be most profitable while providing the most valuable thing to your client—printed products. Even in these days of digital images and social media, teens still love choosing images for their albums and wall art. I recall one of my seniors recently saying at her order pickup, “Seeing them on the TV was cool, but seeing them in the album is completely different. This is absolutely amazing.”

Pro tip: When they pick up their order, take photos of them with their new album and wall art to post on Instagram stories.

9. MAKE THEM FAMOUS

After the ordering session, my seniors love getting to choose which photo is posted on social media, because they know their friends follow. I then continue to periodically post images from their session. Seniors love for their friends to see their images, but don’t want to look narcissistic by always being the ones to post them.

Pro tip: When I post the first image after the ordering session, I mention the products the senior ordered. This helps set expectations for future clients.

Bottom line, this is their day to be the star of the show. Make them feel important and amazing, and they’ll be your biggest fans.

Get the full story

To read the full article, launch the digital version of the March 2020 magazine.