10 Tips to Successful Senior Photography: Relating to High School Seniors

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10 Tips to Successful Senior Photography: Relating to High School Seniors

Photography: Relating to Seniors

1. Relate to your clients

To be a really successful senior portrait photographer, you’ve got to be able to relate to your clients. If your clients don’t feel comfortable around you then their pictures won’t turn out well. Most of us can easily relate to adults, but may have trouble relating to high school students. “Kids theses days!” 😉

I intentionally begin to build a relationship with my prospective clients at their initial contact. I primarily receive e-mail inquiries. I respond with enthusiasm at the prospect of working with them and interest in their desires and opinions, and I do so in language that is familiar to them. Here’s a sample of a reply e-mail I might send:
senior response email

2. Ask questions

Sending a questionnaire to seniors allows me to gather essential information about the client for my records as well as ask them questions about their hobbies, interests and style.  The pre-session meeting is also very important. In the last year, 100% of clients who met for a pre-session meeting with me ended up booking their senior pictures with me.  Being upfront with your pricing is also critical because you’ll be wasting your time and theirs if you set up an in-person meeting just to find out that you’re outside of their budget.
sucessfull senior photography: relating to high school seniors

3. Learn about your client

At the pre-session meeting, I do the same things. I ask the seniors more questions about themselves, their style and their interests.  I ask what their plans are for next year and some of their goals for the future. All of this helps them relax around me and helps me get to know them. I give them a folder with pricing information, my contract/liability release form, an FAQ page and a couple business cards. I take some small samples of products I offer, including my favorite product, the custom-designed session album.  I offer to buy them a coffee or treat while they look over my sample album.

4. Explain how your sessions work

Next, I explain what a typical session is like and ask if they have any questions for me.  I encourage them to consider bringing a friend or parent with them to the session. I suggest locations based on what I’ve learned about them and we look at our calendars and finalize the booking. I encourage them to call, text, or e-mail me if they think of any questions.

sucessfull senior photography: relating to high school seniors

5. Social networking with high school seniors

After the pre-session, I “friend request” them on Facebook and “follow” them on Twitter and Instagram. Sometimes I tweet about how excited I am to work with them. Usually the students “retweet” my tweets (free advertising).  If you’re a high school senior photographer, you’ve got to get in the habit of using Twitter.

6. The photo shoot

During the session, I continue to make them feel as comfortable as possible with small talk. Since I already know their hobbies, I’ll ask more about them. For example, if a student is a soccer player, I’ll ask how her games are going, how their team is doing this year, if she plans to play in college, etc. I try to continue the conversation while shooting to help them be as relaxed and as natural as possible. I’ll suggest poses and make jokes and we usually laugh and have a good time.

7. After the session

After the session, I tell them how much I enjoyed working with them and that I can’t wait to show them their pictures. Within a few days I try to post a “teaser” on Facebook and Instagram to get them excited about their pictures. I text them to tell them that I’ve posted a teaser for them and that I hope they like it. They usually respond with enthusiasm and say they love it and that they can’t wait to see more.

sucessfull senior photography: relating to high school seniors

8. In person ordering

When they come back for their viewing and ordering session about two weeks later, I set out snacks and drinks. I have music playing (music I know they like, because I know them pretty well now) and sample products set out.

(Let me pause for a second here and say that I know some people don’t have a studio or a home they can open up to their clients for viewing and ordering. But at the very least, I recommend doing in-person ordering at a coffee shop or even at the client’s home. In person ordering will multiply your sales tremendously – but we’ll talk more about that in another post.)

Once they’ve narrowed down their photos and decided on an order, I let them know that I will deliver the prints when they are ready. In the meantime, I try to do a blog post of their session using their favorite pictures and share it on social media sites so that they can show their friends (I say “try” because sometimes I get really behind on blogging).

sucessfull senior photography: relating to high school seniors

9. Delivery

When the prints come in, I text or e-mail them to arrange a time for delivery. After delivery, I write a thank-you note and try to mail it within a couple of days along with some kind of gift card. Sometimes I try get a gift card that I know they will like based on their interests, but if I can’t think of anything Starbucks is my default.

10. Relate to your customers to stand out

Relating to clients and giving them a memorable experience is key in order to offer a premium service and to stand out above your competition. The most important thing to remember is that high school students are very social and most of them interact using social media and technology daily. In general, they prefer text messages and e-mails to phone calls.  Get to know each client and be willing to be flexible on how you interact and communicate based on their needs and preferences.

sucessfull senior photography: relating to high school seniors

The above information is just an example of things that I do. I encourage you to come up with your own ideas on how to better relate to your clients. If you have any suggestions that I didn’t mention, feel free to talk about those in the comments section!


Need help with posing seniors?  Check out the MCP Senior Posing Guides, filled with tips and tricks for photographing high school seniors.


Up next: Specializing within the Senior Market

All images in this post were edited using MCP Enlighten Presets for Lightroom 4

Ann Bennett


About the Author: Ann Bennett is the owner of Ann Bennett Photography in Tulsa, OK. She specializes in high school senior pictures and lifestyle family photography. For more information about Ann, visit her website or Facebook page.


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  1. April 26, 2016 at 10:59 pm —

    I remember being in High School and taking photos for my senior class. So reading this I can tell that a good photographer cares about what the photos look like, by getting to know the client and making sure that they are comfortable, and like what they see. It would be fun to be a photographer and work with fun people.

  2. May 18, 2013 at 8:34 pm —

    Love this!!! Thank you so much! 🙂

  3. May 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm —

    This was fabulous! Thanks so much. Please share more tidbits soon:)

    • May 15, 2013 at 10:54 am —

      Hi Erin! Thanks so much for your comment! I’ll be doing a series of senior posts about once a week. I believe there are 7 total. I hope you find them helpful!

  4. May 10, 2013 at 10:54 am —

    Great information! Thanks! I do have one question and it is about in person selling, how do you present the proofs? In print or on the computer?

    • May 15, 2013 at 10:53 am —

      Hi Stacy! Thanks for the feedback, I always appreciate it.

      I do my proofs on the computer. I find it just as effective and much more cost effective!

  5. May 10, 2013 at 9:05 am —

    Thank you so much for these tips! They were very helpful!!

    • May 15, 2013 at 10:52 am —

      Hi Tiffany! I am so glad you found the article helpful! Keep checking back for more senior posts (: Thanks for the feedback!

  6. kari
    May 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm —

    Great information! Just want I was looking for. 🙂 Thank you for posting this.

    (p.s. there’s a typo on the image.)

    • May 15, 2013 at 10:51 am —

      Thanks for the feedback, Kari! I’m glad you found it helpful.

      Oops! Spelling is not my strong point (: lol!

  7. Kara
    May 8, 2013 at 1:03 pm —

    Love this !!! Thank you!!!

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10 Tips to Successful Senior Photography: Relating to High School Seniors