Eye on Business | Are your senior clients making some BIG mistakes?

Are your senior clients making some big mistakes when it comes to planning for their sessions?

Things have certainly changed. I remember back just a couple of years decades ago when I was a big-haired, teen of the 90s. I was a junior rep for a nearby photography studio. In my day, photographers were (maybe) one per town. Not one per street address.

On the day of my session, I gathered the “perfect” outfits, put on too much makeup and teased my perm. I was ready! Back in the day, we shot one session in the photographer’s store front studio. We used the photographer’s props. And all of our pictures looked the same. Not much thought went into my senior session. That’s to no fault of my very proficient photographer. It was just the way it was.

Fast forward. Senior sessions have changed. Our senior clients are wanting more of an overall experience. They are anxious to shoot and have lots of ideas.

But, in the midst of their excitement, they may be making some mistakes that can hinder their experience and the final result of their senior sessions.

I’m Jodee Ball, spinner of all wheels over at JP Ball Photography, and today I’ll be sharing some common mistakes that our senior clients may be making with regards to their senior sessions.

One. The first and BIGGEST mistake. Choosing the wrong photographer! It should be YOU, right? If senior clients are choosing to shoot with another photographer and you know you can offer them something different, something better, then you need to get your name circulating among your prospective clients.

Ask questions to your current clients about why they chose you, how they found you, and what they looked for when choosing a senior photographer. Use that information to drive your marketing to other teens. Get out there and make a statement in your market!

Two. Choosing the wrong outfits. When your clients show up in shorty, short, short shorts and capped sleeved, whitey -tighty tops, you have your work cut out for you. You are immediately constrained on posing and looking at some extra time in editing. I always tell my girls that what may look great on you while you are out living life doesn’t always photograph well. I wrote this What to Wear article on my website that I direct my girls to before shooting. It’s a guide that starts the conversation. And there needs to be a clothing choice conversation!

Three. Opting out of professional makeup. Obviously, this one’s for just the girls. Many of have started offering professional makeup/airbrushing to our senior clients. And, what a difference it makes! If you are unable to persuade any of your girls to commit to this extra expense, offer a few for free or raise your initial cost to cover the fee of the MUA. Whatever it takes, start building a portfolio of girls who have had the professional makeup. Most clients need to see it to agree it.

Four. Not speaking up. Your senior clients are wonderfully creative. They are connected on Twitter, Pinterest, Wanelo, etc. They probably see as many great images online as we do. But, some of our clients may not speak up and share their thoughts with you. One of the worst things to hear from a client after they see their pictures is “I really wanted… and I wish we had…” While it’s not your fault if someone doesn’t share their ideas, you can certainly initiate conversation that will serve to plan out the client’s session that includes their ideas. It’s also good to have these conversations and be clear about your parameters. Not every idea is a good one and you, as the professional, can creatively guide your client’s path of thinking.

Five. Not involving all financial parties in the planning. Many high school seniors are completely self-sufficient. They’re awesome! They are the ones who initiate contact with you. They are ones who aren’t too shy to share their thoughts and ask lots of questions. You send them your pricing and policies. Great. You do a pre-consultation with just them. Great. But… in the end you find out that they haven’t shared that information with the one who holds the checkbook. And then here you are. In a very awkward situation. The teen is upset that mom or dad is having sticker shock. The room is tense during the order session and in the end… the senior client walks away with either an angry parent and great set of images or an angry parent and just enough images ordered to meet a minimum order on your part. Either way, someone isn’t happy. Make sure that you have personally spoken to and received a signed contract from ALL responsible financial parties.

Thanks for spending a few minutes of your Wednesday morning with me! Shoot, share and be happy!