Successful Senior Photography: Specializing within the Senior Market
If you were having problems with your knee and decided you needed to see a doctor, would you prefer to take a trip to the general practitioner or would you rather see a bone & joint specialist? Since the knee is a joint, most people would probably rather see a bone & joint specialist – or even better, a bone & joint specialist that exclusively treats knee injuries. You would likely have to pay a premium to see this specialist because they have more extensive knowledge about knee injuries – they have special training, expertise, and experience with knee injuries.
Why am I talking about doctors in a post about photography? Because, like doctors, photographers can choose to specialize and become experts at a particular type of photography – and people are willing to pay a premium to work with experts. If you specialize in senior pictures, that’s a good start, but specializing within the senior market is even better! (Disclaimer: this does not mean you need to specialize and certainly you can photograph seniors, children, families, etc – but specialization is the business model I will be discussing today.)
For example, I am a senior portrait photographer that specializes in outdoor, natural light, natural looking senior pictures. My website is full of these kinds of pictures, most of which are taken out in the country with tall grass, gravel roads, trees, ponds, etc.
My clients tend to be fun, confident and easy-going. Some bring their animals with them (which I love) and some choose to use my vintage props to ‘stylize’ some of their pictures.
My website and all of my marketing material, packaging and branding compliment my specialty and reflect my style. This helps attract clients that will highly value me as an artist and who will most likely be happy with my work. It also helps deter clients that have something else in mind for their pictures, therefore saving me from experiencing dissatisfied clients.
There are other successful senior portrait photographers in my town that focus on glamorous, high fashion, highly-retouched senior pictures. That’s another example of specializing within the market. As long as there is a demand for the types of pictures you offer, you can specialize in whatever makes you happiest!
Now, just because you specialize in a specific type of photography doesn’t mean you can’t do other types of sessions, too. When I first decided to tailor my business towards seniors, I didn’t stop taking other sessions; I simply marketed heavily to seniors and began shooting more seniors than any other type of portrait photography. Now, about 90% of my inquiries are seniors because I’ve established the reputation as a senior portrait photographer.
You also don’t have to limit yourself to one specialty, although, I would recommend two or three at the most and to establish one at a time. This year, I have added lifestyle family photography to my business and one day I may add a specialized boudoir component.
How to start specializing in senior photography:
If you like the idea of specializing, where do you start?
- I began by finding young, senior-looking models and offered them free sessions. I shot the sessions exactly how I envisioned them.
- Then I blogged those pictures and put them on my website and all over Facebook.
- I tailored my branding toward my specialty and I explained my style on my website. Slowly I began to attract my ideal clientele.
Establishing yourself as an expert or specialist takes time. But once people begin to see you as an expert, they are willing to pay more to experience your premium service.
What type of photography do you want to specialize in? I’d love to see everyone’s responses in the comment 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: Posing High School Seniors
All images in this post were edited using MCP Four Seasons – Summer Solstice Actions.
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 www.annbennettphoto.com or Facebook page www.facebook.com/annbennettphotography.