Locations Q&A


Senior Photography: Break the Mold


Lesson Info

Locations Q&A

I notice you do a lot of color pictures and the really colorful you do black white, sepia tone mixed killer with black and white I mean, yeah, yeah, that is interesting I think the reason that I have so many on here that are that are color is for me I'm drawn mohr to the colors vibrant, vibrant colors but throughout a normal session, if there's sixty images that we deliver just showing for a regular senior session, I would say that probably ten of them would be in a true black and white because the software that we have we can always go in as we're showing the client we can always just hit the black and white button and show them what it would look like in black and white. But if I added a lot of them in black and white, I can't click on a button and show what looks like a color I have to go back to the original, work it off and then show them so I leave a lot of money and color and you know they're going it's part of my brand, you know, I think I'm more known for the vibrant colors an...

d textures and s o for me I kind of prefer more the color, but for like tight headshots and some of the serious moods, I will shoot some black and whites just depends on your personal preference, but that is a good question. Has a lot of these are color, and I think it leave him that way. Two for show purposes, I think they're prettier to look at sometimes whenever they're in color. So great question, randy. You know what? We have lots of good stuff called good segment. All right. First question is from charlie, and he asked, how do you get the time to do these shots on a wedding day? Everyone always seems to be in such a hurry to get to the reception. Yeah, it's education charlie that's the biggest thing from day one when a client calls they're educated on what it takes to get these kind of images. So you have to educate your client into knowing that, hey, you know, before we get to go into for you, don't you know that what you see here is not easy to get, and it doesn't just happen. This is going to take a lot of work, it's gonna take a lot of work on your behalf to be able to make this happen. So I start every single about every single one of my weddings. I started two and a half to three hours prior to the ceremony time. And that allows us plenty of tom ing to go out and do everything that we need to do so you know if it means that you have to give them an extra hour of your time to be able to get what you want then then go for you know then go for it and don't be afraid teo pull back and say man, I really don't want to be there for seven hours but you know, I guess I'm going to give him one more hour but well, if you want one more hour it's gonna be an extra two hundred fifty dollars for me to create what I want to create like not so education is the biggest thing you have to educate him, you have to educate them and put the fear of the lord in them and you say listen that's what I say say so help me if you're not ready at three o'clock when I get there you are you're going to be in some serious trouble look at him and tell him that and their consultations say if you're not ready, so help me you just be ready or else I'm just kidding no but seriously be ready because I let him know you're on ly hurting yourself with may I'm going to get what I can get so you're only hurting yourself if you're not ready so education is the key to everything educate and communicate what else do we have? Okay, this next question is from marky mark photography and I'm wondering if he knows the funky bunch that's right but anyway he's asking what do you do for locations like that run down gas station as far as getting permission to shoot there do you just go guerilla style and shoot without telling him one yeah now I definitely definitely do not recommend that because again it looks terrible to your client if you're there shooting and you'll know you'll know if you're not supposed to be there because you'll see somebody pull up your black holes you're crazy right here and they pull on the gases excuse me what in the world you think you're doing that's nohow I guess my southern accent by the way do you think you're doing boy and that doesn't look good doesn't look good to your client doesn't get to you because then you look like an idiot so what I do is I went to there there was a hobby store next to that area is a hobby store and I went in the hobby store I said sir who owns this building and he said his three sisters that live in new orleans I'm not really worried about three sisters from new orleans coming up and running me off of a gas station so with that one I did I went on I weighed it so I went in its public basically I mean it's right on the main road it's not pulling out take my images and I leave if someone would walk up you know don't get attitude with him saying, you know, sir, I'm terribly sorry I meant no harm whatsoever I asked try to go through the appropriate channels and I heard that you were in new orleans way would never damage anything even when I'm here to be honest with you, I'm doing you a favor, but I pick up some of this trash that people throw out so turn it into a positive and say I actually clean this place up for you, you know, subconsciously I didn't even realize it, but I'm doing you a favor, you know? And then if they say get out of here than saying no problem we're along somewhere I got thirty eight other places that are even cooler than this yes never ever go completely rogue style at least have some ammo in your bill that those ladies showed up and said, I'm calling the police for trespassing and I'm going to say, well, you know that's cool dude, what do you think I'm leaving here's one of my cars that they want to come get me because I knew all the police in town and they all love me and they don't know you from adam's hat man so they're going to be on my side but you know if you want to call him my friend got all their number's on speed dallas you on that's another good thing is get the police in your town on your side oh yeah I got that um there's a second part of that question I was going with but I cannot remember awkward do you get permission to shoot there? Just go guerilla style not telling anyone when I said have your ammo ready at least I did go and talk to someone around there and I can put that connection we yes, sir. I asked, you know, dean over here at the hobby shop he told me that you guys living in new orleans so at least have a have a little bit of a back up plan to go to yeah absolutely makes sense. All right, so we're gonna continue on the location theme because there's a lot of questions on locations the next one is from pro photographer and saying in the circumstance after talking after watching the plumbing shop video he asked after talking with the property owner, would you also get written permission? You know, that's a good idea, but with him that time I would get written permission is that there were multiple owners he's the only owner of the place, so I'm not worried about someone coming up and asking me you know, do you have permission to be here on my property? Well sir, you know tony korea he's the on ly person that owns this so that there are multiple owners that's when you want to have something in writing from someone that that is one of the owners and you know make sure that all everybody's on the same page make sure that one owner doesn't say yes and then the other one knows nothing about it you know, even if it means you don't get access to that location to the ground were put together but yes, great question and I feel like that's a that's a really fallon answer that, you know, like you're just saying, like just that little bit of legwork we'll save you so much headache in the long run and also establishes again you're trusted a place in your community, people that know you and then they talk about you more yes and only good things can come from that and I'll tell you something else has been good to from those locations is people have started that they started seeing me of these location now everywhere I'm at people blow the horns blare people know they're like, hey man, I saw you the other day at their own twenty nine you have that girl out there on that fire truck and doing that I would like to see those so everybody has grown to expect that and they're going to talk about it and they're going to run want it so we have another one we sure dio do you ever pay to use someone's property? Absolutely not now I never do that just because I feel like there's there's enough out there that you can gain access to without paying you know, I just I don't believe and paying someone to use a property it would have to be it would have to come with his own photographer I did that like you know about pain and you're going to take the pictures too, right? So personally I think there's enough out there not tohave too, but that is a very valid question in a very good point, you know, if you found yourself without a lot of leg leg work time and you don't feel like going out on a scouting if you wanted to offer up some money for the perfect location that was just absolutely perfect you know, if it's within your costume goods then throw it in there throwing in there okay, it looks like roger has another question for you safety you're always try my liability yes he really skilled out and it's safe tell them some lie boo to release right it's all in our model release form everything in there has been documented in our workflow that everything is covered so in the very initial like when they first come to the studio we have them sign off on everything we haven't paid their session fee it's all in the model release form that they signed so that's why we do that very first we don't wait until afterwards or after the pictures have taken you know and we flipped that thing ever and that whole backpage is full of all the general liabilities that takes it off of me and kind of puts it on back onto them so it's very important tohave all that stuff done and have the proper workflow have the proper paperwork because you just never know like I said these days I mean it's it's a scary world we live in and you can lose your business in the blink of an eye blink of an eye one little pickup your whole business is going everything he worked for back just a little bit to the beginning of the segment but it's art by anna and you had kind of a checklist of things that you wanted to cover and one was a permission slip from parents if the parent didn't go on location and you have them sign a permission slip can you talk about that a little bit more? Yeah, the reason I put that in there is that something I did like the very first year I started working with seniors because I said, well, you know, do I asked? I didn't know what I was doing, so I said, yeah, that's fine, but then I realized like, well, I need to have some sort of permission tto take them to a certain area and this is what was stupid guys, but why reason I put that in the end, I'm glad you asked that question, I would actually put a senior in my own vehicle and drive them to a location, and I didn't realize I was like, what's the harm in that I'm just saving their gas money that's prime, one of the stupidest things I could have done. What if I got into an accident and I don't have my llc set up? I didn't have everything set up so that if something did happen, they could come after me, but they could come after everything that I own. Well, you've got to make sure you have all your stuff set up just right. So if something does happen on ly, one thing is liable, not everything that you own so I would have, like a permission slip that gave gave me permission to drive them much like a school would have for your child to get on the activity bus, but really the more I started doing, I didn't for about two months and had a conversation with my insurance guy and he literally just about punch me in the face like you're doing what any grammys like, what are you doing? He said don't ever put clients in your own car and I was like, what just seems crazy to have them drive I want to get separated is like I don't care, he said, think about it and I was like, oh my god, that is so stupid! So there's two things that I do now, number one I don't even let a client see what the inside of my truck looks like. I'm like no get away I only want you near my truck so they drive their own car if we're going to location, that is a must an absolute must and a parent always has to be present the whole time, not drop her off and then come back and pick her up. A parent has to be present the whole entire time reason being you know for me what if I get a girl from, you know, from a high school that just has, you know, everything is not clicking all the way she's kind of one of the weird girls and she gets this obsession that she's, you know, something's weird, and she says, well, blair, you know, he he came in the dressing room when I was changing clothes and I didn't want to tell you about that, mom, but it was it was kind of weird and then her mom's like needed what? Of course I would never do that, so I make sure mom's there I'm never going to dressing room, I never cross the threshold, you've got to think about it so mom or dad or grandma or guardian has to be present basically right by her side the whole entire time. It's a great question, and I feel like I was a really legitimate answer as well, so I think we're ready let's jump back in and I want to share one more little story and then we'll move on. We'll move away from some of those wedding stuff and I try to kind of co mingle it a little bit in case there were some of you out there I know there's a lot of people, you shoe seniors and wedding, so try coming with just a little bit of the two. All right, let's, take this wedding, for instance, great location this is going to be rocking wedding here we're in a photograph, every image out in the parking lot, this is gonna be awesome, no, this is where my senior mind kicks in, I'm like it's, a senior in a prom dress, senior in a prom dress. And she's got all her friends in a prom dress. This is not a wedding. This is not a wedding. This is not a wedding. We go into the town, I say, hey, man, listen, I got a bunch of hot girls out here he'll come remove this rennes in advance so I can use this area, you can check him out and it's all like, oh, ok, and he comes out moves the rennes center van and I use his area for wedding pictures same thing here that I'm looking for texture and color, everyone I was saying texture and color, but here I'm probably only going to do one or two pose because there's, not a lot to pose with that there was a bench or a table or something there I would use it more, but I'm able to use it, maybe the work now this oh, yeah, this was back when I was a rogue photographer, like the first year I started. And I realized this thing it was the door was shut and I could not get it open to save my life and all the reason for that because they didn't want people in there, these business owners knew that this place was a liability the roof could have caved in because look at all the water inside but I realize that if I got there enough kicked it really really hard I could get the door open which is what I did I kicked the door hard way we went in and I made it work now I have learned from my mistakes which is why I'm showing you guys this stuff I've learned not to be that rogue photographer anymore and you'll be amazed at how many people you see in your town that do that they're shooting in areas and you're like oh my gosh what are you doing? And I never thought about it I never thought about it I just saw location you know I was there I was on it loved it like the guys in there and I go back by this location now and it's it's terrible because it's for sale but in the middle you look back inside now and the whole roof has caved in and I mean it you can't even go in there no one wants to buy it because it's terrible so spend for sale for like fifteen years and even little things you confined like that's a pallet over there there's a palette that I raised up I brought my own chair that day because I knew I would use it eyes old ladder I grab the ladder throw it up is something to pose with oppose them with it then I put them on it make it your own and I know from experience being in this area oh gods like we're going right around the corner here too I think there's a there's a cool garage door over here that we're going to use but I know from experience by going there I start to know where things are so if I get over on the east side of town, I say I'm a backup plan is the north east out of town there's this little district right in here in the south side of town all right, call the southwest part of this town there's a cool little area right in here and I can make it work you're walking about people will work for you I want by this old tire shop and I said, man, look at this blue door this could work and running their own like hey, how are you, sir? I'm blaring I'm shooting a wedding today or I'm photographing a high school senior today and quick question for you, man, what are the chances I know it's probably aggravating what are the chances if I helped you, I could just help you pick this thing up and I just pull this door too for like, five seconds to get a really, really awesome image and these people here they're going to remember you each and every one of them because I point out the name of your business and anytime they have a flat tire there, coming right here, the general tire, I can promise you make fun with it, you know what the guys like? Look, I don't have time for that and say, ok, no problem, sorry to bother you, but not out of ten thousand were all right. Let's do it. I'll help you close the door, you make it happen. And then from there hey, there's, a persecuted street here, let's, go use a street. Why not? So don't get so complacent in. Well, I don't have that. I don't have the all those cool sets that you do, like you've got the dream studio who couldn't create pretty images there. Well, don't do that that's being negative, you know, and take all that negative energy that we all have because we all have it in the next two hours. We're all gonna be negative about something. Give me something, we're going to negative about, you know, my foot hurts, my head hurts, I'm tired, nobody want to hear all that keep that to yourself, you know, make this a positive world and the opportunities that aren't there tournament opportunities make stuff happen it's you and me against the world and that that's pretty much it that's how everything is going to work from here on after I feel I feel terrible for my daughter because it is her against the world can you imagine what this place is gonna be like in twenty five years from now so I'm trying to talk her I'm going to tell her light look on a picture photography is bad you don't want to be a photographer okay have kidding should be whatever she wants to be but yeah it's it's not a not uneasy world out there so why don't we go back to the internet and see if you have a few more questions there? We love the questions there are quite a few people that would love clarification on insurance you know, there's a lot of people are just starting out they don't have all the paperwork in order or perhaps they don't have all the money to do an llc incorporate. So what are the best first steps to get basic insurance? Where did they go on? The best thing to do is you have to find an insurance agent that can explain things to you in a way that you can understand them and not a lot of insurance agents they want to impress you and they get into talking about the lingo you know, you can't have this and you've done it I know you have and I've done it too just like you know rainey you could tell me a story like do you know that place I'm talking about this over and and after a while if you keep trying to explain and I'm just going to say oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah over there but yeah yeah I want a bit more know what you're talking about a man in the moon but I'm just going to agree with you and that's what we do we're going to the insurance office as they start throwing all this lingo were like oh okay okay okay I got you we have no clue so if it means shopping around several different insurance agents before you can understand them then that's what you do and then ah blanket policy he'd be amazing this a two million dollar blanket policy is probably I want to think that I spent about eight hundred dollars a year for a two million dollar blanket policy and that and that's probably not even on the high side if I had to guess I don't know but I think it's around eight hundred dollars a year now that's not my business insurance that's a blanket policy for when I'm away from the away but your accountant you want to make sure that you are saving the most money you can if you have employees through payroll taxes what they need to be set up is an s corporation what you need to be set up is an el el see limited liability corporation your setup is an llc then that means that person is on ly limited to this one particular business I don't have everything under one blanket so that if someone sued the pants off of me that they could get my business my house and my daughter you know like that's not gonna happen so do your proper homework and go and talk with everybody you can and you know reach out to those photographers in your area that may have been doing it for a long time and if they won't befriend you than you know don't worry about it but if they wield and say look man I need some help I need some guidance here I'm not trying to hurt you I'm trying to make photography a better thing here and most of the time they're probably going to say yeah I'm sure you are buddy but we'll see you later and I never want to be that guy so anybody that approaches me I give off when I want to give what's another one just to let you know people are really liking your philosophy in life like what you're saying even saying blair for president just let you know start making those that probably wouldn't be about out here right now right now we're not gonna go there all righty let's, go back to all the actual questions here. Uh, let's see, do you know people are wondering? Okay, so you're in a small town, they're using a lot of these locations on your own and, you know, there's, there might not be another photographer doing exactly what you're doing in that town, but people who live in larger cities that have a lot more competition where, you know, they're doing very similar style of photography. Do you have any agreement when you find that really perfect location and you talk to that plumber and start a really great report and business relationship with them? Do you ever have, like, a kind of like an agreement? Hey, like, don't give this to anyone else, please come this be my little secret, do you her? Can you do that? I'll tell you how I do it and it's through your being genuine and is through your personality and what I did prime example, this guy, the plumbing shop, is a really wiry guy when he's wide open, just like I I am, and I figured out a way like I said before, to feed his ego, to make him feel like someone is paying him attention like, yeah, I am, I am somebody around here, and this is a true story. I told him I said, you know, man, I lost this area I said you have just done such an amazing job with accumulating all this crap you know, great job man parent would be real proud and I said, man, if there's any way you know that maybe you would never let anybody else come in and do this said I'm not trying to be crazy but you know, this is a dog eat dog world you know me what I've expressed to you no one is going to take care of your crap the way I will like I'm going to treat this crap like it's my own crap you know I'm saying right I said other people are going to come in and they're probably going to rearrange everything and move self and breaks off I said so you know, just between you myself in the fence post, you know, is it cool? Like if if I'm the only one here he said, yeah, what do you mean part of the area was fenced in, but he had a big field full of old fire trucks and I said, well, there's some other people said when they start seeing these images, they're going to be over here messing with your stuff and he said, oh, don't worry about it, I'll take care of buddy true story this man shows of my studio one day wonks and red in the face you see blair breathing all hard and he's like yeah this rain this big girl off over here and he has no filter and I'm like whoa don't you know easy he's like yeah they're taking pictures of the fire truck just like he said and he said don't worry about it they put out his phone and he had went got no trespassing sign and wrote on the bottom except blair phillips photography I swear to you guys and drove him in the ground and when you write by was so obnoxious I mean you're right but I was just like all in the ground right here on the felt so terrible but a backstory that it is going to be harder in a metropolitan area, you know, like here in seattle if I walk out of here there's a beautiful park right down here with a lot of very nice home people that are recognized yesterday I didn't recognize them, but a lot of people there and I can't on that area, you know, I can't say you know, hey, you have a camera in your pocket book, I think I just saw you with the camera you need you need to get to stepping all right? You can't do that as a public place, so what you have to do there you have to pour on your customer service, you have to pour on the lighting you have to elevate supposing that elevates you work, you're gonna have to do it bigger and better than the person that's alongside you is going to do you know? And they're gonna be watching you when you roll out your lighting on your light card, they're gonna be watching them like and then when you're not like me trying to take pictures that you see and what you're doing and before you know it, you know they're gonna be nipping at your heels want to do what you're doing, but I'm telling you it feels good to try to be the top dog I'm not the top dog, I want to be the top dog, but I want to try to be the top dog I'll never get all the way to the top, I'll get really close and then somebody kicked me in the forehead because it's so large and I mentioned yesterday and I will get kicked back to the bottom, but then I'll key out climb right back up and I'll keep going and along the way I'll pick up some things that I had overlooked along the way so the moral of that is if you are in a large area there's no way to completely overcome that, but the only way to completely overcome it is just don't fall victim to it don't be a hater don't talk bad about people trying to use your own area you're not the first person that ever photographed there I can promise you you know you're not the first person what else we got we got one more I just like the way you network with your community were making friends so down to earth and get out there and make friend if anything ever goes down in my town oh I'm covered trust me I got I got homies everywhere everywhere all right, all right, how about the next question from a ninja flasher asking how much time do you actually allocate for, like, one photo session location that's a very good question to an average senior is two hours, two hours and you know if it's more than that, then I'm losing money because you know, kind of calculated, you know, okay, every hour that I'm open and my studio is costing me x amount of dollars because I have to factor in the overhead you know, factor in payroll taxes, unemployment taxes at the pai you know, insurance everything and all that stuff you look at, what you're making are you look at the total sale and you have to subtract all those things out of it and then when you're done, if you have anything left over, then that's your profit so two hours is what I allocate and that allows me plenty of time just to chill out and not have to rush and hurry and hurry to get done because I got to get to my next one and it keeps him on a schedule and I let them know hey listen, we got two hours so if you want to dilly dallying around and mess around for thirty, forty minutes it's just going to burn you a thirty or forty minutes of your shooting time um you know, I don't see any need to go any more than two hours personally because I can get a wide variety in two hours I mean and that's even traveling to some other locations so when I'm traveling to those locations try and pick a location that may have four five opportunities within one space don't drive thirty five minutes across town to get to this old barn is torrente this about to fall down and you love this one shot right in the middle of this born you know, find a barn's got four five different opportunities around it and then find a an area that same one that has three four opportunities next door to it use your use your head a little wisely and be very efficient but two hours you're shooting more than that unless you're really charging some crazy money you know you're you're wasting time in my opinion in my opinion

Class Description

Are you ready to add a new, lucrative dimension to your photography business? Join award-winning photographer Blair Phillips for an introduction to everything you need to know about taking portraits for high school seniors.

In this three-day course, you’ll learn about how to market yourself to the high school audience, no matter where you live or who you know. Blair will discuss his signature techniques for effortless, versatile posing. You’ll also learn everything you need to know about both off-camera and natural lighting, including how to create foolproof lighting setups, even if you’re working without an assistant. Blair will also cover strategies for creating a productive workflow and working confidently in a wide variety of settings.

By the end of this course, you’ll have be equipped with the core marketing techniques and one-of-a-kind photography skills needed to connect with high school seniors, give them results they’ll love, and grow your business.


a Creativelive Student

Blair is great. This class is packed full of great info and is a genuine good hearted person.. Really like his approach with high school seniors. I recommend it.


Loved watching Blair Phillips. He has so much energy and is very entertaining to watch. He was extremely well prepared and did a fantastic job.