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Segment 2 - Getting Started & Research Your Market

Lesson 4 from: Senior Portraits: Create the Ultimate Experience

Leslie Kerrigan

Segment 2 - Getting Started & Research Your Market

Lesson 4 from: Senior Portraits: Create the Ultimate Experience

Leslie Kerrigan

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Lesson Info

4. Segment 2 - Getting Started & Research Your Market


Class Trailer

Day 1


Bonus Video: Beach/Park Senior Shoots


Bonus Video: Concept Shoot


Segment 1 - Why Senior Photography


Segment 2 - Getting Started & Research Your Market


Segment 3 - How to Get Started Q&A


Segment 4 - Branding: Your Ideal Client


Segment 5 - Branding: Define It


Segment 6 - Visual Branding Tips for Websites & Blogs


Segment 7 - Educating Your Potential & Current Clients


Segment 8 - Get to Know Your Senior Client: Questionnaires


Segment 9 - Senior Portrait Experience: Plan the Shoot


Segment 10 - Senior Portrait Experience: What to Wear Guide


Segment 11 - Senior Portrait Experience: Building a Style Closet


Segment 12 - Interview with Senior Photographer: Jared Rey


Segment 13 - Wardrobe Consultation with HS Senior


Day 2


Segment 14 - Senior Session: Hair & Makeup


Segment 15 - Senior Session: Guy Wardrobe & Locations


Segment 16 - Senior Session: Posing Girls vs Guys


Segment 17 - Rooftop Shoot: Senior Girl Part 1


Segment 18 - Rooftop Shoot: Senior Girl Part 2


Segment 19 - Workflow & Post-Production Overview


Segment 20 - Leslie's Editing Process


Segment 21 - Senior Session Q&A


Segment 22 - Social Media & HS Seniors


Segment 23 - Interview With Teen Photographer Sara Cooney


Segment 24 - Senior Panel: Teens' Perspective


Segment 25 - Senior Panel Q&A


Day 3


Segment 26 - In-Person Ordering Session


Segment 27 - Ordering Session Q&A


Segment 28 - Pricing for Your Market


Segment 29 - How to Build Your Collections


Segment 30 - The Formula for Pricing and Q&A


Segment 31 - What is a Senior Model/Rep Program


Segment 32 - What Makes a Great Senior Rep & Rep Marketing


Segment 33 - Senior Rep Program Q&A


Thanks + Credits


Segment 34 - Marketing Tool: Concept Shoot Part 1


Segment 35 - Marketing Tool: Concept Shoot Part 2


Lesson Info

Segment 2 - Getting Started & Research Your Market

How do you get into senior photography? And it's some of you, um, already photograph seniors. Some of you out there probably already do as well. But maybe there's some that haven't yet branched into it. So we're going to talk a little bit about how you can get into it. And even if you have already started your senior portrait photography, some of this stuff will help you grow that. So So that's what we're gonna talk about now, the first thing to Dio is researcher Market. This is so important because with seniors particularly, it's different all over the country on. And if you don't know how it is in your area, then how are you gonna market Teoh? How are you gonna get your business out there? So what is senior photography like in your area? I actually talked to a couple of people all over the country. As you can see on this map, Um, and asked them, you know, what is it like for them? Is it a yearbook photo or is it a senior portrait experience or is it both there? Those two things are d...

ifferent, but in certain parts of the country, there yearbook photo is their senior portrait experience. So we have Britain clues who is here in Washington. She has a very distinct senior season, and the reason for that is because her clients can submit their own photo to the yearbook. Um, they hire a photographer, whoever they want to hire, and they get their great photo session and then they pick one from that to put in the yearbooks. Everybody's photos different. Um, I'm sure there's some people that probably submit IPhone photos, but then some people, you know, submit these great photos by Britney or somebody like Britney. So that's important to know and because of the way that they do it. She knows that her senior season is a certain amount of months, period, because she knows that everybody coming to her is trying to get that photo for the yearbook. And she knows the deadline. So she knows she's got a amp up her marketing before June or right around June and market through September 30th and book up those months. That's when they're going to have it taken. After that, the yearbook photos do like October 1st or so, so she knows she's done at that point until the next season. So that's important to know for you in your area, because that way you'll know when and how to get out. There s oh, that's Britney on then local in Dallas, Missie Davis and hers. There is, um, two separate things, which is a lot like what? It isn't in my area in some other areas. In other words, the high schools contract out this big, you know, photo company. I think you know, there's a couple of different ones out there on the students go to the school. They have a generic backdrop they might wear, like one of those Drake black great things. The guys probably wear that fake tux thing asleep. That's what they do in my area. And I think that's the same in Misty's area on DSO. They have to have that if they want to be in the yearbook and then separate from that, they would hire somebody like Misty or myself or whatever to take a completely different photo session more about them or about the personality. Let them wear whatever they want aware. But those aren't the ones that go in the yearbook. So knowing that that you have to be able to market. Why do people need to come to you? They've already had this yearbook photo taken. That's kind of what was for me. People knew the yearbook photo and thought that was their senior fortunate experience. And I'm like, No, no, no. There's the whole another thing out there that you can dio and educating your area if it's something similar to Misty's or mine eyes really important because you've got to tell them why they need to come to you. They've already had this yearbook photo taken water. They need another one. Well, because we're going to give you a better experience. We're not going to give you the exact same pose that every single other student in your class had. We're not going to make you tilt your head some weird away. The other day I asked a senior, and she was like, Oh, my gosh, it was so on. I felt so weird because they kept saying tilt tilts more tilt more till Tamar. She's about the job. They got it where she loaded. I think she was like this and she felt odd, you know, And generally I hear from them that it just isn't what they want It It's more, you know, just that generic voted right. But that is what I can give them. That's different. So knowing that and knowing your if you are somebody that can you submit their own photo, then you need to know that deadline because you need to know when you've got to get those clients in and when you got to get them edited and when you got to get him back. So that's important. If you are somebody that has an area where you know, separate photo shoot for your book and then you give them something else within. You've gotta educate that client to tell them why they need to do both. So those are some of the things that you really need to know to really get into senior photography. So you know how to market your business, how to build your business, what you're gonna offer that's different. Those air, some things. They're very important. In my area, there are a bunch of different high schools. So the next step is to really know what each of those high schools have in place. What their when they take their yearbook photo. Usually it's July for my area. Some high schools. It's August, but it's usually the summer before their senior year. So knowing that, um, I do a good job marketing before they go take that photo when they take that photo don't necessarily have some great experience than they automatically think of Mayo. I gotta call her. I didn't really enjoyed that or it wasn't me. So that's important. No. One. The difference is important. What is the difference? 20 year book photo and a senior portrait experience. Now, if you are somebody out there that wants to be the contracting photographer and you want to do that, that's great. But the type of senior photography that I do and that I think all of you do here in the audience is different than that Contract ID photo shoot. It's more of an experience, so let's talk about the difference with a boutique photographer or senior portrait photographer experience, you know, they get to wear whatever they want, aware they don't have to wear black Great. They don't have to wear this fake tux thing. They can wear whatever, however many that you let them wear. They can really showcase their personality through their style. I mean, take what I'm wearing. For instance, I love color this saying who I am without me saying a word. I mean, you know, to me, like you've got some impression of me about the fact that I have on these bright colors and these, you know, this big necklace and whatever so style is important, and then being able to express it is important. Maybe their urban. Maybe they're a little more grungy. Maybe they are hipster. Maybe they all these different things. Maybe they're a combination of all of them. They can do that in a senior portrait experience. They can change. However many times you want them to change. You can limit that. You can not. Depends on your business. That's different than the yearbook yearbook photo. Most likely, they're going to have to wear black drape, and they're going to look the same. And I get that because in a yearbook, it looks nice. I mean, let's be honest. It looks nice. In my yearbook, everybody wore different things. Granted, that was a long time ago. We won't mention the year, but everybody wore different stuff and oh my gosh, we had this backdrop. Can I tell this? It dates me because of the backdrop. I actually wore something that would have stood the test of time. It was this black sheath dress that I mean was popular in the sixties seventies eighties, you know, like all but the backdrop gives me away. It's got these, gosh awful like laser beams going across my head there, like purple and blue and pink and no, no, thank you. It was not. That was not good, but that's what that's what it was. That was what was popular record. But anyway, so knowing the difference. Okay, so what's aware is the big thing. They have to wear certain thing for a yearbook photo in most places, but with you they can wear anything they want. They have showcased their style. Okay, so then when they have their photos taken, that's different dependent on your market, which is again, back to the research. You need to know this my market. I can take their photos anytime between the summer before their senior year fall of their senior year. We don't really do winter all the way up until they graduate. That's when my market is. I know that with the yearbook squeaky sorry with the yearbook photo, they have to have it done in July or August period. That's it. And they can't make the date that was set. I don't think they have another option. They may have won makeup date, you know, So that again is more personal. It gives them a more personal experience. They can pick when they want. Always tell girls they called me and they say, You know, when is the best time to have your photos taken And I'm always like, Well, do you love the fall? Do you love spring? What do you love, toe waiter. Personally, I love spring and summer closed the best, so that makes sense to me to have it done. I love the weather. I love the you know, the I love warm weather. I love the colors and stuff like that, but there are some people that love fall. They love coats and they love jackets and they love scarves and boots and all that stuff, and they love the fall leads, so that's a perfect time for them. So again it goes back to being personal. You don't have to have it taken when somebody didn't takes to you that you have to have it taken. So that's a big difference. Background on location. As I mentioned, laser being background would not have them much choice, right? No, thank you. I had a senior a couple of years ago. She's excellent baby sitter. She didn't know what the backdrop would be and showed up. And it was a red brick backdrop. She had own rid, so she basically was camouflaged in her photo. So with with a senior portrait experience with the boutique photography type experience, you can find out from them. Do you have a favorite place? Do you have, you know, a look that you won't? Do you like a country, you know, kind of feel? Do you like a field open field with that sort of romantic type feeling? Or do you like an urban look? You can go to these places or do you like both? And can you incorporate both into a session and give them the ultimate experience where they can do, you know, all aspects of their personality? So that's important, because again, with yearbook photo it's most likely in the school, gym or library or wherever, inside the school that's set up if you're somebody that loves to shoot in a studio. If you have a studio there again, you can still personalize it by finding out you know, something unique to the senior, incorporating that into a backdrop like a glitter backdrop or drop it. Modern has amazing backdrop. So that's something you want to incorporate. You can find out from your senior, you know, what do you like and then find a backdrop that more fits them instead of just a generic backdrop that everybody would have so backdrop in location Important on Ben? What order? You know you guys have the ability to create collections or packages are all a cart that really speak to your clawing it. You can kind of research what they've been buying and then make a package accordingly. Like what are your most popular items? Whereas maybe the yearbook photo is just a generic package, they can't probably change it a lot. And you think about your kids photo packages that you get, you know, in elementary school or whatever. I can't change it that much. I mean, it's, you know it's this, this or this, and that's it. But with with a boutique photographer or senior fortunate spirits, you can created however you want. So there's air the differences, and I think that's powerful information because again, you can build your specifically to be different than that yearbook photo. If you are somebody that has that type of senior photography in your in your area, so that's a little bit about that. Um, can I jump in with a question for you? Because, really, it's really great to hear how you're approaching this and also the type of education that you might have. Teoh educate your clients, your potential clients as well. But I have been talking about, but folks were wondering, How do you actually get that information next life? That's eso exactly. So how do you How do you find out? Yeah, yeah, we'll talk about that for sure. Yeah, because you do have to do some research. You do have to find out. It's not necessarily mean again. If you don't have a student, you have a child that that age. You probably don't know this stuff. So yet, So that's when profiling your area. High schools coming into play information to gather on each high school will answer some of these questions for you. Um, let's talk about OK, so simple things. Name of high schools Address. Where are they? Contact info Website. These air. Great ways to find out. You know what high schools are in your area. I know for me there seven public high schools in my immediate area. I know that there are three private schools in my immediate area. This is just Internet search or just knowing and talking to people on Ben. I know there's several other high schools in the outer lying areas suburbs, if you will, of Greenville. Not agreeable. Huge. So it doesn't really have suburbs, but still easily is a tale like 20 minutes away. Simpsonville thes towns outside of Greenville. I could potentially market to if I wanted Teoh. So no one. How many high schools is an important thing to find out about your area because you want to figure out which high schools you want a market. You need to know the name of them, you know, again, where they are the address. Because if you are going to be marketing to the students and that high school you're most likely going to maybe have to travel to that area. Or maybe you have them come to you. But knowing the distance is a good thing because, you know, like I say, time, time is money. So if you're if I'm gonna market to easily, which is 2030 minutes away while I gotta figure that into my pricing remains thes things help that helps build that on then other things is like I say, distance from you. Number of students and your senior classes. Um, I know Angela hears from Dallas, and they have, like, a 1,000, senior students in their Their high schools are humongous, but she knows that. And you know what? She knows that she can't physically probably shoot every senior, but then she doesn't have to worry about that. She needs to use the market to her ideal client because you can't physically shoot every 1000 kid in your in your high schools or whatever. So no one that that can come from the school's website. You need a pleasure of information from schools website that you know they have to have it only or anyway, so you can go find out, you know, income or parents jobs. Really? They'll tell you it will tell you that. Don't tell you how many kids are in the whole school to tell you how many graduate will tell you how many go on to college. There's a lot of information you can get. And then simply picking up the phone and calling the secretary times of them. Yeah. I mean, I just called her after I'm like, hey wins your yearbook photo deadline. What? Who is the company that takes him? And she told me I called, you know, like I had made a list of the high schools that I really wanted to market to have. I'm actually not houses smack dab in the middle of Riverside High School and East Side High School. I literally could walk to those. So I knew immediately I wanted Teoh market to them. They're in my area. I knew people that, you know, might have kids that go there. Whatever. So I picked up the phone. I called the secretary. I said, Hey, you know, you guys have a deadline for your book. Yes, we do. It's such and such a date. Do you have a deadline for ads in the back of the yearbook? That's important, because if you are at a in an area where they have to have a yearbook photo, a lot of students will then buy an ad in the back of the yearbook and put one of your photos in that because they want to show who they are. They might put a photo of them when they were kids or babies or whatever their parents might about its ad, and say, You know, good luck, Amy or whatever and shows photos throughout her years. So no one that's important to you and they'll tell you that generally my yearbook deadline for like, ads and stuff is very early. So know that ahead of time because ah, ah, lot of time. Some seniors will wait till the very end of every year to actually have their photo sessions on. So that way they've missed that deadline to possibly do that. So educating them, saying, Hey, you know, this is something you're thinking about. Really, make sure you book a session the summer before your senior year or September, but I think mostly they're due in October. So you got to know that, but yeah. Finding out how they handle the yearbook photo again. Information you can find out just from talking to people. If you know anybody that has a student or has had a student. Yeah. Yeah. So you deal with the yearbook? Probably. Right. Um and so one of the things that, um, other photographers can also do is go online and call the secretary and find out who's a journalism teacher and email them because they know all of the deadline. That's right. They know all the deadline. That's right. And if you have a student or a past client that was on your books down, Yes, you can find it out from there. Yeah. Just don't be afraid to call him the worst they could do with a Sorry I'm not telling you that. And they won't. That that's the worst thing, you know. Yeah, that's a good tip. Journalism. I went school for journalism anyway, So Okay, so you have to find out how they handle the yearbook photos. Find out. When are these photos taken on? Do all of that? Good stuff to be able to really get this knowledge of, um, of your area. Do you have any questions? So we absolutely do have questions, but we also have people commenting about what it's like in their area. So sharing for particular parts of the US and we want to hear from. You have here international as well right here about what markets are what people do in your countries as well. But we have a photo who says my area is diverse here in our local area. The seniors can only use those school photographers images in the annual yearbook, but normally have had shoots for school. And then they normally I get clients that have had those shoots. But then they come to me to get the ones that they actually want to own. So similar to what we've been hearing in que pool in Southern Michigan, or at least her part of it. Yearbooks, photos were taken by school photography companies and senior portrait's are taken by professional photographers. So just starting, getting to know what it is like random. And maybe we can hear from some of us. So what it's like in your areas as well? Yeah, Lindsay. Importantly, they used my picture for the year, but you and so it's a really short season for me. The same. Also, the weather is right. I wen thing I've offered in the past because I'm basically full through September, which is kind of when their yearbook pictures air due November 1st is if people want a book. After that, I just do a little mini session and do a yearbook picture. It's a little more time for me, but then I can extend my season season, right? Yeah, which is great. That's awesome. Yeah, something you can dio that season when you have such a distinct season. Good. Maybe even do family senior photos. You know, like that would be a good idea to that relationship with clients. Maybe even give them, you know, the ones that booked, Maybe give them some sort of freebie. If they book a family session, then you could do the family sessions later in the year. Yes, we have a deadline. You know me? Yes. I think that's a good idea. I thought of offering, like, for the next summer, doing like family, many sessions. So I do sometimes shoot family. So just right before they go to call it like college moms usually won't that, or at least in my area, they want to capture their family before their little girl goes off. You know, it is a great marketing tool and would extend your season. No. Can you shoot? Um, what months can you shoot? Because the weather I am happy to shoot any time. I mean the weather, it's starting in October. It's questionable. I shoot November or December at all just because rescheduling is so crazy, right? And then winter, like January tell May is slow. OK, so most seniors want to wait until the end of August because they want to have a tan, right? They want the end. Yeah. There's not a lot of time in Oregon to get a tan, right pack a man. Yeah. So I have August. It's always And what do you do it right? A lot. I had a shoot on Tuesday night in the rain. So you just so it just kind of depends on the client. If they're OK, it wasn't pouring. If it was pouring, we reschedule. Okay. Got it. Yeah. Funny. We've had shoot here, and it started sprinkling and you do you have to work with what you got. Especially we live in an area that it rains. You probably don't have the luxury of rescheduling a whole lot. No. Well, this time of year, when I am. But then there's not a lot of time to schedule. And I have you work with a makeup artist so that I have to work with her schedule also. Yeah. Yeah. So anybody else wanna share about how it isn't yours? Singer Fifth Harvey is Wait. So we have Christie cousins who is joining us from the UK. Oh, good. Oh, good. And so she says, it's all really new here. We've been having problems for a few years, but you're Rex haven't really come in so that I have your books and the thing as far as she knows. So she's wondering about approaching a local school and seeing if they're interested. We also have We have. I know there is a good question about this. Where I'm from this is D Bertolucci, where I'm from. Senior photography isn't really a tradition, but I'd like to be the pioneer. So what would you recommend? That I dio Not even in the area well, and same thing for me. I mean, when I started, it wasn't the thing again. People thought that yearbook photo was the only photo they took. So it took me a little while to sort of educate my area. I mean, I remember the first year may be photographed one girl, period. How did you do that? Well, that one I got because I started talking to people, and that's really important. You know, more than you think, you know, as faras like, because I get people all the time, so I don't know any seniors. I promise you. Somebody you know does so My very first senior that I photographed was because I knew somebody that knew knew somebody basically and I, you know, you start reaching out to these people just like you did when you started photography in general. Maybe you offered some free sessions here and there, You know, with families or kids or whatever. And then where it gets out and you start showing what you want to shoot, we'll talk about that a little bit later too, when it comes to branding and stuff because you really, definitely have to show what you want to shoot. But concept shoots come in handy for this, which again, we'll talk about a little bit later, more in detail. But setting up shoots and showcasing that this is a possibility will start to educate a market that maybe doesn't realize you got to tell him that it's an option. So find, you know, the very first seniors are shot were actually sophomores, so they weren't even seniors. I asked a friend of mine, Brantley, who who is has a son at the time. He was not in high school, but he ran on the high school, attracting. So we knew a bunch of students. So she knew a bunch of students. So I called her and I said, Hey, do you know anybody? That's really good for this would be good for this photo shoot that was trying to do. And it was a concept shoot and actually did it with another photographer. A teamed up with her at least Carpenter. But anyway, so we teamed up together and we did the shoot and we had a blast, and it was a New Year's Eve party tight. Same. So we you know, we have balloons and confetti and they were all dressed up and it was super fun. And the girls had a good time and I started putting that out there and, you know, just constantly working it and showing and constantly shooting. You're not shooting seniors. They won't call you immunity. May Night. If you're constantly putting newborns up there, you're gonna get a senior going out there is just no way they're not gonna go you. So that's a way that you have to start. You have to start educating your your area as far as what it's possible. So do the concepts. You don't think you have to just shoot an actual senior, get a sophomore, get a freshman. Anybody between the ages of, say, 15 to maybe 18 is that range of a senior. So those photos will start attracting that age range on. Then the best thing about that was eventually those girls became seniors and I did all their senior portrait. So they got ah, fun session when they were sophomores. And then when they got to be seniors, they were like, Hey, let's call Leslie, you know, domain, like I was the first person that popped into her mind, and I like I say, I had taken the time over those years continue to educate my market on Just put yourself out there. So that's that's one way. I mean, it takes time. It does. It takes time. I mean, it's not an overnight thing. I remember going, Oh, guys, the senior ever gonna call me. This is what I want to do. Aren't people calling me And a lot of times you may still have to supplement your business with other things, and that's okay, but maybe you don't show it as much. You got a sort of wean your way out of the things you don't want to shoot. So I didn't show is many weddings. I you know, I actually second shot weddings more than I did my own leading, so I just never showed those photos. But I got tones of practice, you know, domain, a new a new after one or two weddings that really didn't wanna shoot weddings. But I kept doing it for the experience because you can learn a great amount of photography just shooting weddings. But I just didn't show it. I didn't show it because that's just not what I wanted to do. I don't ever show a newborn because again, I'm sorry. It makes the sounds. I mean, I love babies. It's not that I just not a great baby photographer, but don't show anything. Not mean at all. I tell you, I have photographed seniors. I photographed babies. I thought that that was what I wanted to dio. It's really hard. It's very hard. And so you have to be very dedicated, very and patient. And we have other classes, right? Right. But again, you may have to supplement your business with some things that maybe you started. I mean, you know, you might have started with kids. You may have to keep photographing kids, but gosh, asked those mothers if they have a baby sitter promising you they do and most baby sitters or teenagers. So that's another way to find that age group. If you are part of a church, a youth group, um, you know, ask, ask the youth director. They know seniors that will start getting you those first seniors on start shooting them, and maybe you do have a period of time where you discount your pricing or you portfolio build and don't even charge. I I didn't charge when I first started photography in general. So why not treat seniors the same weight because you need the portfolio stuff actually go to, You know, I mean, see neurology tour or there's tons of shoot outs, or there's tons of events that you can go to where you can portfolio, build the market in the genre that you're trying to get into, and then you have a ton of photos to put out there. So those air great things. I mean, I know we do shoot outs all over the place, and that's what people are coming for. Maybe they don't have enough clients yet, but they need that. You know that thing to show because I mean, seniors only care about what you can do for them when they're teenagers. They got a lot of stuff going on. If you can't show them right off the bat, what it is that you want that you could do for them there? They're going to the next website, so you do have to have that kind of a Catch 22. It's like the job interview that you need experience for to get the job. But you can't get the job because you don't have the experience. Kind of the same thing. You gotta you gotta shoot What you want to shoot and you know, good and well, the more busy you are, the more your phone is gonna ring. It's like, you know, that's just the way it is. What is it, Murphy's law or something?

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Leslie Kerrigan - Concept Planning Worksheet.pdf
Leslie Kerrigan - Welcome Packet Checklist for Seniors.pdf
Leslie Kerrigan - Saras Top 10 Social Media Tips.pdf

bonus material with enrollment

Leslie Kerrigan - High School Senior Questionnaire Template.pdf
Leslie Kerrigan - Gear Guide.pdf
Leslie Kerrigan - Top 5 Essentials for Style Closet.pdf
Leslie Kerrigan Course Syllabus.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Lightfoot Studio

I can't say enough great things about this course! I went into it thinking I gain a little bit of info on posing and social media ideas... boy was I wrong! Leslie covers topics that I didn't even know where apart of Senior Photography. I highly recommend purchasing this course, if for no other reason then for the awesome senior panel that lets you know really want seniors want, are looking for, and actually care about in regards to their photos/social media/etc... I hope to meet Leslie one day and thank you personally! :)

Lynn Powell Roberts

I learned a lot from this course. I watched all day when CL replayed Sal Cincotta's senior course and I wanted a second perspective, so I bought Leslie's course. I'm really glad I purchased Leslie's course because it was a great complement to Sal's course. Leslie covered different things like using a style closet that I especially found useful. She also did a beach shoot with a male and female model, which I found very useful and different from Sal's style. Leslie is so excited about "her girls" that she photographs - it's very engaging. I highly recommend this course.

Student Work