How do I get Started in Senior Portrait Photography?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 January 2019
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Senior portrait photography can be a very competitive business. Getting started requires an aggressive marketing campaign as well as strong photography skills. Many people mistakenly believe that a talent behind the camera is all that is required to become a success. The fact is, without strong business sense, even the most talented photographer will have trouble making ends meet.

Senior pictures are an important part of high school life. When you combine the significance of senior portraits with the peer pressure that most teenagers face, you begin to realize the difficulty a new photographer can face when entering the field of senior portrait photography. This shouldn’t discourage you however, because it works both ways. Once you develop a reputation as a senior portrait specialist, teens and their parents will flock to you.

The first step to beginning a career in senior portrait photography is to have some samples to show. If you know some kids that are seniors, offer some free pictures. While you don’t want to do this too many times, it is important to build your portfolio so that you have something to show potential customers. Of course, you should work out in advance how many photographs you will provide to your model as part of the offer. Prints can add up quickly.


Ideally, your models will do some of your work for you. If they are happy with the pictures, they will be inclined to take them to school, post them on websites or otherwise show them off. You can draw a huge number of new customers in this way. A new photographer, with new poses and different accessories, will be a hit with teens if they see that the photographer knows what they are doing.

Once you have your portfolio, it is time to get aggressive with the marketing phase of your new business. Senior portrait photography is big business, and if you want to make it your business, you have to be prepared to aggressively go after customers. Offer up your services to take photographs at homecoming, prom and other events.

As part of your marketing arrangement with the schools, offer a drawing for a free sitting for senior portraits. This marketing plan has several advantages. You will quickly build a mailing list of potential names and addresses from the entry forms. Also, while the free sitting will cut into your profits, if you are good at what you do, you should be able to make some money by selling the prints.

Your first few years of involvement in the senior portrait photography business can be tough. If you are able to stick out and develop an aggressive marketing plan, you will find that your business grows each year. Even as your business expands, it is important to continue to market your business, as you will have a new customer base each year.



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