Understanding the business of senior portraits
Video: Understanding the business of senior portraitsUnderstanding the business of senior portraits provides you with in-depth training on Photography. Taught by Derrick Story as part of the Photographing High School Senior Portraits
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Understanding the business of senior portraits provides you with in-depth training on Photography. Taught by Derrick Story as part of the Photographing High School Senior Portraits
The senior portrait is a traditional rite of passage for a high school student. But senior portraits aren't what they used to be: staid, format portraits shot in front of a mottled gray background. These days, an effective senior portrait conveys the personality of its subject, and is often shot on-location or outdoors.
In this course, photographer and educator Derrick Story details the art and the process of modern senior portraiture, from working with the subject and his or her parents to plan a shot list, to shooting indoors and out, to delivering the final shots. Along the way, he examines gear and workflow considerations, including lighting, sharing proofs, and post-processing.
And because senior portraiture is a potentially lucrative business, the course concludes with a discussion of various business angles, including developing a pricing strategy, connecting with local high schools, marketing through social media outlets, and more.
Understanding the business of senior portraits
You may not be a professional photographer, but it never hurts to act like one. And I have a few tips here to help you make your project run smoothly. I'm going to start out with the shot list. I think the shot list is very important even on a simple portrait shoot. Now, for a wedding of course you have to have a shot list because there's so many different events. But, even for a portrait shoot they come in handy. Because you're a photographer, not a mind reader, and you need to know what your client expects from the shoot.
So, I just interview them, and it could be at a coffee shop. It could be on the phone. And just jot down some of the shots that they want to make sure they get during our session. Then I put those in an email, send it back to them, say are we on the same page here? Once I get that response, then I know that they and I are thinking about the same sort of poses during the session. So, I think a shot list is very helpful. Another thing that I like is the agreement.
And this is just an agreement between myself and the subject. And I use this for next door neighbors and friends, too. Again, just like the shot list, the agreement, you write down what you're going to do, when you're going to meet, where you're going to meet. When I'm going to deliver the photos. Both parties sign it and then you have it down on a piece of paper. Now, you can get sample agreements for photographers from websites such as Docracy, I have it up right here, ASMP, there are a number of sites where you can get sample agreements and then you can shape them for your own.
This is another tip that I've learned over the years and I get a model release while we're at the shoot. And the reason being is that you may get a shot that you really like, a shot that you want to enter in a contest. Or have it be part of a magazine article. And if you have the model release up front, then all you have to do is contact the subject when the big event happens and say hey, you're going to be in this magazine article, we already have the paperwork taken care of. I just wanted to let you know.
It is much easier than trying to get the paperwork later on. 'because they've already lost interest in the shoot. So, getting the model release upfront is a very, very good idea. And finally, this is the bonus tip, this is the one that really finishes off the job nicely. If we meet afterwards, and we often do, sometimes the handoff is a DVD or a CD, sometimes it's a download where they just go to a website. But often, clients like to get together afterwards just to kind of put a finishing touch on the job.
What I do is I make a couple prints. Some of my favorite prints from the shoot. Prints that I think show them off in a very nice light, and I give them to them as my gift to them as a thank you for letting me take their picture. I'll tell you, this really finishes off nicely. And in a business where we depend on referrals, and you may not be thinking that you want to be a senior portrait photographer. But suddenly when people start showing off your work, you may decide, hey you know, people are calling me.
This is not such a bad thing to do. So, giving the gift of a print at the very end, I think is a good finishing touch, leaves a good vibe to what hopefully is a successful shoot. So, just by following these few basic tips, you can give your project a very professional feel.
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