Specializing in Seniors – The Heart of Your Business

I love words!  In fact, you could say that I am a word person. If you come to my home or my studio, there are words everywhere.  I am thrilled that words have also become so decorative.  I have many of the currently popular WORD SIGNS all throughout my home and I LOVE them.  They constantly inspire me.

As my started photographing seniors, there were a few word signs that I came across that actually had a dramatic impact on me and my senior business.  They kind of stopped my dead in my tracks because they somehow captured the HEART of what I wanted to do as a senior photographer. They have become powerful description of the heart of my senior business.  I do believe that your business has a heart to it, a core.  Of course I know there is so much talk about business branding, and it is definitely vital to your business.  Words for me are at the core, they are a very big part of my brand.

The first sign I came across simply said, “Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful.”    I found this adorable sign the first year I had a spokes model program.  It seemed to define what I wanted for each of my seniors. My hope for them was to see and celebrate “their kind of beautiful” through my photography.

The next word sign that I came across seemed to really simplify it even more for me.  In one word, it captured what I really wanted my photography to be about for each and every senior that I had the opportunity to work with.

That word is be.YOU.tiful     I LOVED this….

It just had such an impact on me, this one word, so carefully and creatively crafted.  It has basically become the heart of my senior portrait business and my brand.  It is my tagline, my goal, my mission statement; you name it, every time I photograph a new senior.

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As you begin to specialize in seniors, I just think it is very valuable to try to define the heart of your business. I know this can tie into branding very closely, but it is something that can really solidify you. So let me ask you this, aside from becoming a profitable business, (of course that is what we all hope for), what is your goal when specializing in seniors? What will be at the CORE of your senior business?

Is it for your seniors to have fun?  Is it for them to have a memorable experience? Or to help them look like the fashion model they are always dreamed of looking like? Maybe it’s to create images that are just edgy and cool?  The answer is different for every business.  I believe that when you define this, you are well on your way to creating your brand and solidifying your business in the senior market.

Every day I see images of senior all over facebook that blow me away… they are AMAZING!  So many of them have such an editorial feel… the makeup is perfection, the gaze of the gorgeous senior girl is perfection , the clothing is perfection…not to mention the talent of the photographer in exposure, composition and post production is…well, perfection!  I am constantly inspired!  I love stylized shoots, I think they are amazing!  I LOVE IT ALL….

But at the end of the day, for me, my favorite images of my seniors are the candids.  They are the   “looks” that mom so immediately recognizes, the giggle or smile that comes out when I ask my senior girl if she has a boyfriend.  I LOVE when the personality of that senior really shines through. I am not interested in making them look a certain way, or making them dress a certain way.  Of course there are good clothing choices and bad clothing choices, I am in the business of photographing seniors, I understand that, but there is much more to it.  I am interested in capturing and celebrating who THEY are, THEIR style, how THEY dress.  For me, my seniors are most beautiful when they are themselves. So, I really try to celebrate who they are during this important milestone in their lives.

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As photographers, we can find their beauty, capture and share it with the world thorough our photography.  We can affirm who they are, and that is no small thing….    That is MY heart in this business.

So my  little “be.YOU.tiful” WORD SIGN that I found at T.J. Maxx one day was certainly a big score for me.   I had no idea it would be so useful in helpful me define my business.

Last year I began to have my seniors find THEIR OWN words.  Every shoot I ask my seniors to find 2 words that best describe who they are.  At the end of the shoot, we write those words on their hands…and they kind of “own” those words.  In a way, it’s my way of affirming them.  It’s a small way of telling the world who they are.  It’s fun and my seniors seem to love it.  Their personality shines through.

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So yes.. I love words and it has become a big part of how I do things.

So of course I have to ask, what are YOUR WORDS?     As you specialize in seniors and define the heart of YOUR senior business, what words help define you in the Senior Market.  I think it is vital to know, so I’ve listed a few questions for you:

What are 3 words that best describe YOU?

How is YOUR personality invested into YOUR business?

What is your goal for your seniors? (Not for you)

Describe your photography in 3 words?

List 3 words for how do you would like your seniors to feel during their shoot?

These are just a few… I’m sure there are plenty more questions, but it’s a start.  Hopefully your answers can give you some insight about you and your business and what you hope it will become. My desire always is to encourage and inspire you in some small way – so that your goal to specialize in seniors can become a reality, so THANK YOU for taking the time to read this!

Also I’d love to invite you to come back and  join me in two weeks for my next topic on the Senior Style Guide Blog: Specializing in Seniors – Defining Your Business Model.

Until then, happy shooting!!

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www.patipakulisseniors.com