The Unforgettable Senior Experience

The Unforgettable Senior Experience

The Unforgettable Senior Experience with Alissa Zimmerman

In the United States, graduating high school is an important milestone. Around the country, documenting this stage in life is a great way to celebrate the end of an era and a new chapter. High-school seniors, especially girls, are thrilled to get the chance to be a model for a day with our studio. It’s not always about the pictures for our clients and their parents, however. The main reason our studio has been so successful with high-school seniors is the unforgettable experience we provide from beginning to end.

Grab Their Attention

Be bold in your marketing so you stand out from the sea of photographers in your area. Use imagery, design and messaging that represent your brand and the kind of experience your potential clients can expect. The worst thing you can do is push out false advertising to your market and not deliver to their expectations.

Our studio is known for big, dramatic Hollywood-style senior imagery. While every image from the session is not edited or shot this way, we still deliver at least one or two signature-style images to every client.

Online (both on your website and Facebook page), showcase your work, but don’t overwhelm your audience with too many images. Show what you think best represents and sells your brand, and show only your best work. If you’re unsure, have an unbiased person look through your portfolio and give you feedback about which images best represent your studio.

Make It Easy

Don’t overcomplicate the booking process from the beginning. Why make your clients jump through hoops to get to a session with you? We have a contact form and our phone number on our website for potential clients to get in touch with us. From there, we send an informational email giving them more details on our studio and what to expect from the session. We include how much money the average family ends up spending so they are not shocked by pricing when they come in to view and order their pictures. We are upfront about expectations: how long the session will last, how many outfits, turn time, etc. Our messaging in that initial email is clear and concise—but it also gets them excited about the experience.

There are two specific pieces in our initial booking process that add to the overall uniqueness of our senior experience.

  1. We offer destination sessions for our clients at no additional cost. We give them the option to meet us in a city we will be in for a once-in-a-lifetime senior session. I send them a list of our travel dates for a six- to 10-month window and see if we can arrange our schedules to meet them in a different city. We love destination senior sessions because we can dedicate half a day to one client and provide a unique experience and amazing images that no one else in their school will have.
  2. We offer dresses to our seniors at no additional cost. We use dresses from Enception Rentals for an extra look at the end of the session and some incredibly impactful shots. I work one-on-one with the senior in stylizing and selecting the dress that best fits her personality. We save the stylized dress shots for the end so our senior is warmed up and confident in front of the camera. These images end up being the ones your client orders as big wall art for their home.

Your Personality Matters Most

The number-one piece of the puzzle that is too often overlooked is personality. Teens want to work with someone they can relate to and enjoy being around. Who wants to work with some creepy guy with a dud personality? Who wants to spend hours with someone who doesn’t enjoy what they’re doing?

Having a male/female team is also beneficial to our senior experience. It gives us balance and helps things go more smoothly. We each have our own roles. Sal is the creative director and visionary, and I help assist with wardrobe, changing and other things a grown man should not be doing with a female teenager.

If you’re having a bad day, brush it off the minute you are face-to-face with your client. Clients feed off the energy of their photographer and anyone else assisting on the shoot. If you’re not enjoying it or getting excited about the images you’re creating, chances are your client isn’t either. In fact, you’re probably giving your client a complex by not getting excited about the pictures coming off your camera with every new scene.

Be creative, be expressive, engage with your client (and the parents) throughout the session. We love showing our seniors and moms the images on the back of the camera as we’re taking them. It’s so much fun to build that momentum throughout the shoot so they cannot wait to come in and see the final edited images in our studio. This excitement guarantees sales.

Most of all, be yourself. Trying to be someone you’re not will be completely transparent and will actually have the reverse effect of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Get Social

Welcome to 2018, the world of social media, where if you didn’t snap a photo and post it to Instagram or Snapchat, it simply did not happen. Take advantage of this with your seniors. There’s no reason for a senior photographer to not have social media accounts on the following platforms (rated in order of relevance based on our experience): Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook. Twitter is dead for us now because our seniors don’t use it anymore.

Most of us document our lives on social media with pictures and video clips, especially teens. Adapt to the times and get in with the kids if you want to sell yourself to them.

During our senior sessions, Sal and I take videos and behind-the-scenes images. We post them to our accounts and tag the seniors we’re working with. This is another way to get potential clients excited about the experience. Many of them will want the same experience.

These kids are getting ready for a new stage in life and are ready to celebrate an adulthood they are just entering. Find your brand and your X-factor and celebrate this moment in time with them. Make them feel like the most important person to ever step foot in front of your camera.

Get the full story

To read the full article, launch the digital version of the March 2018 magazine.

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