Class of 2011 The Direction of Senior Portraits

Senior Portraits is something I do, it is pretty much all I do.  I have a unique perspective in that I market to seniors to get them before or after they take their yearbook photo at their contracted photographer and for 3 high schools I am the contracted photography studio.  Working both side of the fence I see the pros and cons of both ways of doing business.  Before anyone starts sending me the “you contract, you are evil” messages, that me explain something,  I am a business person that does business within the structure that was set up before I was born.  I work hard to help my high schools produce a yearbook, that without my studio’s help they might not be published, especially with the current budget conditions.  I enjoy working with my high schools but if contracting were no longer done I would do just as many seniors, so I really don’t care which way the wind blows.

You can protest against contracts, you can blame every company that contracts as the reason why you don’t have the number of seniors you want, but that really isn’t the problem.  If there weren’t contracts, you would have countless photographers aggressively going after each and every senior leading to the same end result.  Contracting isn’t the problem, everyone has to do business within the business structure that is established and the structure may change, but you have to make a living until that structure changes.

Understanding the senior market is the most important part of working within the structure that is in place in your area.  While we can’t go into every detail in this short post, you have to separate fact from fiction and learn that there are differences between what excites us as artists and what a client will actually buy.   Just the other day I received a really slick image that was taken by one of the leaders in senior photography program.  He used an extreme wide-angle lens and had the girl extended her foot toward the camera which gave the image a very unique look.  He then “Over-Photoshopped” it and he had created an image that was “eye-candy” for Photographers.  I was very impressed by this image, at first, then I noticed that extending the leg did in fact make the legs look longer but it make her foot look really big and you know how much women like their feet to look really big!

This is what I mean when I say separating fact from fiction.  When a photographer shoots samples for himself (or program) he/she doesn’t have to worry about the salability of the images they create.  It is easy to create an image when you don’t have to worry about the ego, self-image and areas of self-consciousness of  the subject/client in the portrait.  The problem is that many young photographers go home, photograph their clients in the same way and wonder why the portraits don’t sell.  In my new Book Jeff Smith’s Senior Portrait Photography Handbook it covers every aspect of senior portraits and the senior market.  In it  I have included portraits and over-views from actual sessions, of actual clients that order very large packages.   I am a business person that makes a very good living sell the photography I create.  If it doesn’t sell, if no one selects it to do in their session I find no reason to show it in my books.   To order my New Book go to or click on the book link above.  Join me on Facebook and Twitter


~ by jeffsmithbooks on December 30, 2009.

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