Guest post from Isaac Coffy, owner and head photographer of Coffy Creations:
In this modern day of social media and technology, teens see photos in whole different light. Many call them the “Selfie Generation” because most teens love taking photos of themselves.
Cameras on smartphones have made it easier to capture and social media has made it easier to share. This has caused two things to happen in the photography industry:
(1) The demand for the photograph has increased substantially because teens can’t get enough of them.
(2) The value of the photograph has decreased substantially because of the increased availability of quality photographs through smartphones, cheaper DSLRs, etc.
Turtlenecks and Feathered Hair
When you ask someone that’s 30+ years old about their senior photo experience when they were in high school, you’re bound to hear the same story: “I wore my best turtleneck, feathered my hair, sat on the posing stool, and gave my best head-tilted smile.”
Okay, maybe the turtleneck and feathered hair part isn’t always true, but the experience is almost always the same: boring, cookie-cutter, cheesy. Senior photos were not something you did out of desire, but rather out of necessity.
Just as fashion changes through the years, so does photography. This millennial generation or the “Me Me Me Generation,” doesn’t want just the typical photograph (or pose) that 50 other classmates have. They want photos that truly represent them.
A photograph, by definition, is a picture made using a camera and a portrait, by definition, is the likeness (or representation) of a person.
We can take beautiful photos of a high school senior all day long with perfect lighting and composition, but that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily capturing their beauty.
How do I capitalize on changing times?
In the Little Red Book of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer explains that one of the keys to successful sales is to explain why your product will benefit the customer, not just why your product is great.
This is HUGE…especially when dealing with millennials! Show them how you’re going to make them feel and look good!
How do we do that? By turning our senior portrait sessions into senior portrait experiences.
The Senior Experience 2.0
Last year, we were evaluating all of our previous senior sales and identifying the weak points. That’s when the lightbulb went off, and we overhauled everything.
When we realized we needed to make our sessions more focused around the seniors and less around our own style, that’s when things truly changed. The referrals and reviews came flooding in and a true buzz was created in our town.
What exactly did we change?
(1) We hired hair and makeup artists – NOT FOR THE UPSELL. It was important for us to build this into the cost of the experience, rather than try to sell it as an add-on.
We made sure every senior got the full treatment because it was “free” to them. This adds so much value to the experience as a whole and the confidence boost is amazing!
(2) We ditched the session fees. When you’re buying a house, you get a realtor. The realtor shows you houses and offers expertise during the whole process. It’s not until the very end that the realtor makes any money.
I know realty is different from photography, but the point stands that when you charge a session fee, a dollar amount is placed on your time rather than value on the end product. We ensure we meet a certain dollar amount in sales by offering three different session types clients can invest in. (See photo)
(3) We threw out the packages. With our old pricing, we offered collections (or packages) during our in-person sales sessions. We got so many requests to swap out these wallets for these 4×6″s, swap these 5×7″s for these 8×10″s, and so on and so forth.
Now, there are a few technicalities that come along with each of these changes, in order to make it all work: price increases, different marketing tactics, revised payment schedules, etc. This is how the typical senior experience will look:
- Pre-consultation / Planning Session
- Hair & Makeup artists call senior one week before session to plan hair and makeup
- Session Day – hair & makeup beforehand
- Reveal & Ordering Session – 1-2 weeks after the session where they see slideshow and edited proofs
- Product Delivery – branded packaging and top-notch products
Reaping the Benefits
After overhauling our normal process of doing senior portraits, we’ve had nothing but success, increased sales, higher demand, word-of-mouth referrals, and more.
It took a lot of trial and error to get our senior experiences to where they’re now, but we feel that we’ve finally found the key to senior portraits of the millennial generation. It’s all about them…in a good way!
Gone are the days of senior photos; now are the days of senior portraits.
Coffy Creations is a full-service wedding and senior photography studio based in Ashland, OH.