Confession: I’m in my lazy clothes this afternoon, wearing my purple University of St. Thomas spirit jersey that I excitedly purchased when I committed to 4 years of education. It ironic because not even 3 months after I bought this spirit jersey (and a few weeks before school started!), I withdrew my enrollment from St. Thomas and went full time in my business. I will always be a firm believer that the Lord had everything to do with the way my business flourished so quickly, but there was also an aspect of my success that came from the way I served my clients. In the beginning, I was specifically focusing on my seniors!! I get asked all of the time about how I built my Senior Photo program (I’d be willing to bet everyday!) and I thought I’d start dedicating Mondays on the blog to letting you in on different aspects of my business so that you can get rockin’ & rollin’ in your own!
There are three steps I take with every Senior to be sure I establish an awesome relationship with them. This is important because it allows seniors to not only love you, but ultimately connect with you so that they can fully trust you during their session! When your clients are comfortable being themselves in front of you, it’s a piece of cake to capture who they are on camera. You’ll be thrilled when you have photos that you are proud of, but even more importantly, they, along with their friends and family, will be able to look at their Senior photos and vividly see their unique personalities, which is what the Senior photo experience should be all about!
1.Give them a WARM welcome!!
Scratch the handshakes and nervous hello’s and fill the first minute of your session with all the energy it needs to thrive! If you’re new to senior sessions (or photography in general!), you may feel as nervous as them at the beginning of the session. I get it, I was the same way my first few sessions – Talk about sweaty (and shakey!)
Here’s a freeing thought: this is all new to them and YOUR have done this before. This is YOUR domain! Those fields you’re going to be roaming and city skyline you’ll be wandering for the hour? Welcome them into that space like it’s your own home!
Whatever your personal energy might look like, exude excitement & confidence that from the moment you step on location! I always welcome my seniors with big hugs (and a big compliment to follow!) and ask to see their outfits so that I can plan where I’ll take them on the location for everything they brought. I’ll always make sure they save their favorite for last because this is typically when they are MOST comfortable with the camera & me! After seeing their outfits, I’ll give them a quick rundown of the hour and then we’ll start out walk to location #1!
2. Share in THEIR interests, not your own!
Alright, you know how I just talked about that walk you take with them just moments after meeting with them? Yep. I know. It can be daunting sometimes. WHAT do you talk about?! Especially with the guys?! The answer is simple, share in their interests, not your own! Throw away all of that nerdy talk you want to have about how the light is hitting the horizon just perfectly and engage with them about them!
Who are they? What high school do they go to? How does it feel for them to finally be a senior?! Do they play sports? Where do they love to shop? What’s their plans for after their session?
Where can you find them when they’re NOT at school/sports? Hey mom, if you could describe Courtney in one word, what would it be?! Bonus points: I love chatting it up with mom & dad. They are there because they are equally as excited about this season as the senior themselves !
I ask my clients all kinds of questions as we walk and talk during their session for a few reasons. I care, I want to continue to fill the experience with the same energy I approached with, and I want to know them by the end of all of it!
3. Be GOOFY with them!
I know it guys, we all want our Seniors to bust out their goofy side! But here’s the reality, a camera and a person they just met is standing in front of them and that is a very vulnerable place to be! If you’ve rocked out the first two steps, they should be calm, engaged with you, and ready to do whatever you ask… but that first time you ask them to whip their hair like Beyonce, they’re probably going to be a little hestitant. And thats okay!! Do not get discouraged, it’s natural! Accept that you have to be the goofball first. When you ask your senior to channel their Beyonce, you better channel yours too!!
You can catch me at all of my sessions demonstrating a good old “frolick in the field” or rocking my favorite “the money hands” (which I created on a whim one day when I was feeling creative!) I even teach my senior dudes how to strut their stuff; I call it the man strut. Ever seen a girl do a manly squat before? My senior guys have!! I do my best to crack jokes, too, but we aren’t comedians and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to bust out a dorky “hehe” to encourage their best giggle as well. Be yourself and encourage your Senior to do the same and when they do, celebrate that!
If you haven’t caught the gist yet, what I’m really trying to say is be confident, welcoming, and yourself!! I carry enough energy in my pocket during my sessions to carry everyone there through the hour! The hope is that my Seniors feel that and bring all sorts of energy to the camera, too!!
When you can be confident in who you are and willing to put in the work that it takes to gain your clients trust throughout the hour, you will reap the benefits and so will they! So dive into your next Senior session, get to know them, and celebrate that! It’s their day!!