Wednesday, March 23, 2011

9 Things To Do in Preparation for the HS Senior Season

As photographers, we just love to have people in front of our cameras. Being creative individuals causes us to "think outside the box" and come up with new ways to light, pose, photograph and sell to our clients.

However, as small business owners we often fall a bit short of that creative mark. So many photographer I speak with either hate the thought of marketing their business or just have no idea where to begin; many end up doing nothing at all. If this describes how you feel about marketing your studio, you'll want to watch this page as the next few articles will deal with marketing ideas for high school seniors.

There are many facets involved in creating a coordinated marketing campaign, so advance planning is vital. You can't just mail out a card that says "Class of This Year's Seniors Should All Be Photographed Here" and expect that to do the trick. Competition for the photography dollar has never been more challenging.

Here Are 9 Ideas of What To Do in Preparation for a New Year of HS Senior Clients:

1)      Look back at the previous year. You can't tell where you're going until you know where you've been.
- What sold well?
- What items are just taking up space on your price list?
- Is it time to refresh / replace / remove slow-moving or non-selling offerings?

2)      Review your senior portrait menu.
- Is the design still relevant?
- Do your clients understand it easily without explanation?
- Is your pricing still profitable? (Do you need an increase?)

3)      Manage your web presence.
- Change out images on your website from past years so you continually look current. HS seniors (and their parents, who make the buying decision) love to see faces of people they know!
- Make sure you are keeping current updates on your blog.
- Don't forget about Facebook; it's not just for games and socializing!

4)      Decide on your offers and strategy.
- Should you offer a discount on sessions or packages? (Hint: I always discount sessions because the client only purchases one of these. If I discount the portrait packages, I'm now beginning to take money out of my own pocket. And NEVER give away wallets! What do seniors always purchase?)
- Will you mail postcards, post offers on your website, use Facebook, or a combination of these?
- If mailing, have you ordered a mailing list yet?
- When will you make these offers? What dates are they valid?

5)      Schedule model sessions.
- Arrange for a few of next year's seniors to schedule a mini-session in your studio so you can get some fresh faces online. This also gives you the opportunity to try new ideas and perfect new techniques.

6)      Design your materials.
- Whether it will be electronic or printed, design your campaign with a coordinated look. There needs to be continuity in your marketing.

7)      Update your studio / look.
- Perhaps it's time to purchase new backgrounds (or maybe just trade with a colleague to save $$ and still get a fresh look.)
- Make sure your props have a fresh coat of paint and everything is clean and free of dust, cobwebs, etc. (Nothing makes a senior girl cringe like a spiderweb!)
- Walk into your studio as if you were the client. What would you change / clean / repair?
- Schedule an Open House, for clients, colleagues or both! (Nothing makes you take a critical look at yourself as when you've got company coming!)

8)      Challenge yourself to waste less time.
- Seriously, how many frames are you going to show a client? We all overshoot, but sometimes we make more work for ourselves. Remember, the images you capture today you'll still have to edit later.

9)      Unclog the post-production bottleneck by preparing yourself in advance.
- Sick of retouching? Try a service such as You'll still have to do your own "finishing" to the image, but the basic retouching is handled for $5 a file or less.
- How many times have you looked at an image and run 2, 3, 4 or more different actions on it just to see what they do?
- Look at what you've done in years past; retire any effects that are outdated or overused. Decide what look you'd like for the coming year and highlight 6-10 effects that you intend to use regularly. Move them to a prominent spot in your palette along with other often-used actions to save time searching.

The list will continue to grow as you dig deeper, but these tips should give you a head start on preparing for a busy and profitable high school senior season!

- David Grupa

Stay tuned:  More Creative Senior Marketing Ideas in Coming Articles!


  1. Such a great checklist for all photographers!

  2. This is so great David. I am planning on starting a big Senior campaign next year and this info is wonderful!