Specializing In Seniors: Can you feel the HEAT?

Do you ever feel the heat in this genre? Now, coming from Arizona, I have to laugh at that question.  We FEEL the heat out here WAY MORE than I’d like. In fact, we avoid shooting most of the summer because of the sweltering 110 degrees that we can hit, so, it’s a little comical for me to ask this. But I am wondering, as a senior portrait shooter, do you feel the heat?

Is the senior market competitive in your area? Are there other photographers around you that you are in direct competition with?   My answer is YES… absolutely to all of these questions! The more I specialize in Senior Portraits, the more I see that this is in fact a very competitive market.

I have been very blessed to see my business grow over the past 3 years, along with my spokesmodel program. Believe me, I am so grateful for this, but the truth is, I don’t get to just sit back and enjoy the success. I can’t get comfortable, it’s too competitive. I feel it. I am constantly challenging myself in this industry because I know if I ease up and get comfortable, my business will feel it.

There is someone in this industry that made a statement that really home with me. You may know him, his name is Sal Cincotta. He said, “innovate or die.” Now, I can’t quite remember if he was quoting someone, or if he was the one actually saying this, but his message really hit home for me. I’ve come to see that you either move forward or backward. You really don’t just stay put.I’d love this actually, but our target market, high school seniors, is constantly in motion. They want fresh ideas. They seem to actually enjoy change and movement from what I have observed. They DON’T want to do the same things over and over from year to year. They want freshness in their senior photos. They want something that excites them.

So as I continue to specialize in this genre, I am constantly trying to be creative. Shoot at new locations. Do new types of promotional shoots with my spokesmodels. I am constantly trying to keep things fresh and exciting. I rent new lenses to see if I want to bring a fresh look to my images. I look for ways to connect even more with my clients. How can I make their experience better? What can I do to truly make each senior I photograph feel special and unique?

It’s a little exhausting. Sometimes I wish I could just figure this out and go into auto pilot. Truthfully – that would be nice and easy. But this is not really possible with Senior Portraits. And that’s ok. It challenges me personally as an artist and a business owner. It also constantly inspires me as well.    One thing I’m trying this year is offering a BFF shoot to my sessions. No one in my area seems to offer them, so I decided to make that available this year! I’m super excited and I’ve booked my first one already!

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So, I’ll ask again, can you feel the HEAT?

If so, I would simply like to encourage you to ask yourself some of the questions I listed above. It’s a good exercise. If you ARE feeling the HEAT – welcome to Senior Portrait Photography!!

Now use the HEAT to help your business continue to grow and evolve.

It’s a good thing!
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