What's In My Camera Bag?

Some of the most popular questions I get (especially through Instagram) is about the equipment I use when shooting senior sessions. So I thought it might be a good idea to have all of it listed out for you guys.

I’ve recently made a switch over to Sony, and I’m absolutely in love with the quality of the images. There has definitely been a learning curve but well worth the time invested.

Off Camera Flash Senior Portraits. What’s In My Bag. Jena Golden Photography.

Sharing behind the scenes images on my InstaStories from senior sessions also strums up a lot of questions about my lighting. While I do love natural light (it’s so beautiful), there is just something about off-camera flash that I am drawn to. Maybe it’s the consistency of the white balance, the crispness of the images, the beautiful catch lights or the ability to get those beautiful blue skies in my images. And let’s not forget the flexibility of being able to shoot any time of day!!!

SENIOR SESSION CAMERA AND OFF CAMERA FLASH LIGHTING GEAR. WHAT’S IN MY CAMERA BAG FOR SENIOR SESSIONS.

So here ya go guys! All of my equipment details below . . . enjoy :)

Camera Equipment

Lenses

Lighting

Extras

Other things I take with me on sessions are an emergency bag of things like first aid items, bug spray, lint brush, hair spray, bobby pins, oil blotting papers, scissors, rubber bands, change for parking meters, etc. This has saved me several times!!

So now that you know what I use. How about you? What are your go-to tools for your senior portrait sessions?

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Setting Your Senior Photography Business Apart In Your Market

I couldn’t be happier and more honored to have Kristin Jones of Any Angle Photography as our very first guest blogger here to talk to us about setting our senior photography businesses apart in our markets!  

Kristin Jones

Any Angle Photography

Photo Credit: Belle Marie Photography

Kristin is an amazing senior photographer and is such a gift to our industry.  She’s based out of her residential studio in Maple Grove, MN and averages 35-45 seniors each year.

A little bit of her story . . .

Seven years ago she took a photoshop class just for fun and was told she needed a better camera.  Of course she bought one! After taking pictures of everything her own high school kids were part of, two of her son’s friends asked her to take their senior pictures.

She never looked back.  

Kristin has been in business for 6 years now.  Last year she quit her ultrasound tech job of 25 years to pursue photography full time.  And we are so glad you did girl!  

Here’s a few of her most recent accomplishments:

Voted Senior Style Guide Hot 100 Icon Status the 2 years 2017, 2018

Voted Senior Inspire 50 to Follow the last 2 years 2018, 2019

Voted The Twelfth Year Top 50 Established Photographer 2018

TCPPA (Twin Cities Professional Photographers Association) 3rd Place Senior Photographer of the Year 2018

TCPPA Board Member 2019 (Member at Large)

Published in Modern Teen Style Senior Magazine 2018 and 2019

I twist balloon animals and can do magic tricks. 


She also has a witty sense of humor if you caught that last line.  That helps with photographing seniors!!

And with that, I will turn it over to Kristin :) 

How To Set Yourself Apart In Your Local Senior Market

Do What You Love and They Will Love What You Do

I picked up a camera for the first time at the age of 45. I learned how to work my camera photographing my sons’ high school theater productions.  I loved capturing them on stage and quickly learned I loved capturing all the kids on the stage.  Any pictures I took, I gave to the directors to use. My first pictures were not good, but I loved taking them so I kept at it.  Through this I met many of the students involved in the productions and once my kids graduated I had improved my work and started to receive compensation for photographing the shows.  This evolved into taking many of these students senior pictures. I continue to photograph the shows (just finished my 8th year), now take pictures of all the choirs, bands and orchestras at our local high school and take several senior picture sessions each year.  

This has been successful, I believe, because going into this I already had a deep love for theater, band and choir and loved photographing the enthusiasm of the students on stage, behind the scenes and in the pit orchestra.  It has always been work I enjoy and that comes out in the images I take year after year.  

Through photographing the musicals and subsequently taking many senior pictures of the participants I have learned how much I love to capture a senior doing what they love.  I started with musicians and performers, but I equally love capturing athletes, seniors with their favorite pets and seniors with their different talents and passions. The love they have for their “thing” comes out in their faces and body language, and we create amazing images collaborating and working together. 

These students are unsung heroes.

They are talented, diligent and work hard to perfect their craft. I have been the lucky one to be able to capture images for them that show their abilities and their personalities.   

Volunteering at my local high school created my business.  Building rapport with the students, leaders and teachers led to senior pictures booked with next to no marketing.   Students came to me and asked for pictures. Once friends saw those images, others asked. 

How can you do this in your own senior photography business?

1.  Identify what you like to photograph then identify ways you can create business around that.  If I had started photographing sports, I don’t think I would have had the same success.   

2.  Find a way in.  Is your kid or other relative involved in an activity you could photograph? Any friends involved in something you could photograph? Work through your contacts and find those in authority over what you enjoy to photograph and then volunteer.  Let them see what you can do for their organization. Be generous to them.  

3.  Once your value is seen, find ways to advertise your other services through their organization.  Flyers, promotions or emails, word of mouth all work.  

What Not to Do

Do not volunteer your services, then hold the pictures hostage. This should be a good will gesture. Make sure intentions and terms are clear at the beginning and there is good communication. Prove your value, then renegotiate terms.  

Reaching out to offer your services is not comfortable.  It’s hard work.  There is competition and the rejection is hard to take.  To be successful, you have to keep trying. It only takes one successful job to engage another, then another.  Find something you love to photograph and find a way to volunteer your service. Hopefully you will find the same fulfillment I found and create a successful senior photography business of your own too.  

Thank you so much for your contribution to Senior Studio Success and to the senior photography industry! We wish you many more years of success!

To find Kristin online visit her here:

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Here’s a little bit of Kristin’s awesome work with seniors too!

senior-photography-marketing-06.jpg

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Honeybook: My Favorite Senior Studio Management System

Honeybook: My Favorite Senior Studio Management System

It used to take me hours to get through all of the steps to bring a new senior photography client on when booking a new session. And inevitably I would forget to do something.

I looked at Honeybook several times in the past before finally making the leap, and man, I wish I had done it sooner. I would have saved hours upon hours here in the studio doing meaningless tasks.

Read More

In Person Sales vs Online Sales

There was a time in my life where I needed the simplest sales model ever for our studio. I chose all inclusive sessions and online sales, basically shoot and burn. It worked fine for a while, but I knew I was giving up income. When life settled back down I went straight back to In Person Sales (IPS) because I had seen the value and increased income from it before. Best decision ever!

As a photographer who has gone both routes, I can definitely say that there are HUGE benefits to In Person Sales, and I will never go back to online galleries.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each method.

Online Galleries / Shoot and Burn Method:

Pros:

  • It’s simple and easy (if you set it up well and get your money up front)

Cons:

  • Sales are capped

  • Clients take FOREVER to get back with decisions

  • Images are copied or stolen

  • Full editing is necessary before galleries are released

  • Client reactions to their beautiful images are never seen

  • Quickest way to burn out

I could go on and on. There are just too many to list.

In Person Sales Method:

Pros:

  • Full control of the sale

  • It’s easy to up-sell

  • Immediate feedback from clients

  • You can help your clients decide which images will work best for them - for their wall galleries, albums, graduation announcements, etc.

  • The sale is finalized that day, no more decision making

  • Only minor editing is needed for the image reveal, final edits are on purchased images only

Cons:

  • It can take some time to get comfortable running the sale

  • It does take another appointment for both you and your client

  • There is a learning curve for overcoming sales objections

The Value of In Person Sales

You may not realize it yet, but there is so much value in offering this service to your clients. There is a huge difference in a client clicking an email to open a gallery on their tiny laptop versus sitting back to watch a beautiful slideshow unfold to soft music in front of them on a big screen. These are completely different experiences which lead to completely different sales.

Your client will be overwhelmed and know nothing else to do with the images in her gallery other than to share them on facebook or instagram. Guiding her through the session premiere will help her envision all the possibilities and combinations of that artwork up on her walls.

In the Session Premiere you can compare the images side by side, help her decide which ones will look best together, what size will be perfect for her piece in the foyer and so many other things. This takes such a weight off of her shoulders because she trusts your expertise to help her make the right decisions for her family.

This is truly an invaluable service for your clients. If you want to give your clients a premium experience then choosing In Person Sales is the way to go. And because of this service you can charge a well deserved premium price.

Let’s Talk Real Numbers

Even when I had all inclusive sessions I wasn’t a “cheapo” mom with a camera. I had 3 collections way back then: $900, $1200 & $1500. Clients usually bought the middle and top collections. But I was stuck. Nobody ever spent any more than $1500.

Now with In Person Sales our senior collections start at $1250. Last year our senior average was $4250, and some of our top sales hit 7k. Not too shabby, right? Do I feel like I was tricking our clients? Selling them something they didn’t want? Absolutely not!! With IPS we can actually talk through what our clients want for their home. Our clients hire us (and I’m talking about ALL OF US) for our artistic vision. They trust us to create something beautiful that they can display in their homes and hand down to their children one day. If we just load their images to an online gallery we are doing them a complete disservice. We need to see them through to the very end of the portrait process, until those canvases are hanging on their walls.

If you are struggling with finding the confidence to charge what you are worth, do yourself a huge favor and read Worth Every Penny by Sarah Petty. It’s a game changer for every photographer out there.

How To Transition From Online Sales To The Session Premiere - at your studio or in their home

The Session Premiere (Image Reveal, Ordering Appointment, whatever you choose to call it) is my 2nd most favorite day of the portrait process. It’s exciting to see our clients’ reactions to their images as they relive the session day and think about how much their baby has grown up. With online galleries all of that emotion is lost and rarely seen or even talked about.

When booking new clients this will be easy. You just explain to them the ordering process. For transitioning previous clients to your new method, it may be a bit of a challenge. But don’t worry. You got this! Talk to them about how much you’ve learned over the years and how you constantly want to improve and enhance their experience with you. This is a new premium service you will now be providing for your clients. You may need to stand your ground with some clients, but it’s doable. Just let them know that this is the new direction you are going with your company. Remember, it’s your company. Not theirs ;)

In Person Sales Vs Online Sales. Which One Is Right For Your Senior Photography Business?

Tools You Will Need For In Person Sales

You’ll need to get set up correctly to host your Session Premieres. There are several options, and you can always upgrade software and equipment along the way. Here are a few things you might want to look into though.

Display Options: Some photographers like to display their images on a big screen tv in their studio. That’s what we do. Some like to go with an ipad that their client can hold. If you are going to your client’s home I would suggest a projector and portable screen that’s easy to set up because you never really know what sort of tv or connections they will have at their home.

Software For Sorting Images: I’ve used several software options over the years. A lot of photographers use ProSelect. I did for years and years until I finally switched to Fundy because I like the functionality a bit better. We design our albums with it as well. Lightroom or Adobe Bridge are also good options to use especially if you are just starting out.

After The Sale: A great hybrid approach would be to use ShootProof. Yes, it is for hosting online galleries. But it can be used for choosing favorites in the Session Premiere as well. We use ShootProof after the sale if our clients have purchased digital files. I wrote about all the reasons we use ShootProof here in this blog post, but in a nutshell . . . clients can order additional prints straight from our lab, from prices we set, have their orders shipped straight to their door and ShootProof never takes a cut of the sale. I love this company!

Lastly, you are going to need a beautiful pricing menu. And of course, samples. You can’t sell what you don’t show. So, if you want to sell large wall portraits, be sure you have them! Most labs will have special sample pricing. Take advantage of it. Clients will want to hold and touch the products before they purchase them. This is not the place to go cheap!

I sure hope I’ve convinced you to give up the exhausting and sale stifling shoot and burn business model and switch to the premium service of In Person Sales. If you have any questions or need a little mentoring here please let me know. I’m happy to help :)

In the meantime . . . do you know how much you should really be charging for your session fee? Download my free worksheet below to find out if you are charging enough for your time!

How much should your hourly rate be?

Let's figure it out!

     

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    10 Reasons We Chose ShootProof For Our Senior Client Galleries

    The majority of high school senior photography clients purchase digital files. Because of that we wanted to offer them the opportunity to reprint their senior images from reputable labs with lasting quality. We needed a tool that would give us flexibility in hosting images, offered printing from professional labs, had the ability to offer digital downloads and could create mobile apps for our seniors, all while allowing us to make a profit.

    Enter ShootProof. This studio management tool does it all and then some.

    10 Reasons We Chose ShootProof For Our Online Galleries And Proofing In Our Senior Photography Studio

    10 Reasons We Use ShootProof For Our Online Galleries And Proofing In Our Senior Photography Studio:

    1. Digital Download Delivery: When selling digital images clients can easily download their digital files through their ShootProof gallery all the while we have complete control over the file size.

    2. Custom Mobile Apps: Clients are impressed when we tell them they can have their very own mobile app included with their senior portrait order. We’ve seen an increase in brand awareness and word of mouth referrals because of the ease of sharing their app.

    3. Social Sharing Options: Everyone loves showing off their beautiful session images and ShootProof makes it easy for our clients to share straight to social media platforms like FaceBook, Twitter and more.

    4. Emotional Galleries & Slideshows Set To Music: We love creating an emotional experience again and again when our clients browse through their images by adding music. ShootProof has over 14,000 songs to choose from making options endless.

    5. Full Control of Products, Pricing and Print Fulfillment With Professional Labs: Different studios sell different products, and we love that ShootProof has taken this into consideration. We can pick and choose which items we will offer our clients, whether they will be fulfilled by a professional lab like White House Custom Color, Miller’s Pro Lab or Black River Imaging (there are lots of others) or fulfilled in-house. Pricing is also set by us, not the labs or ShootProof. Doesn’t get much better than that!

    6. Commission Free Sales: Since we are talking about pricing . . . you’ll be glad to know that every penny of profit comes back to your studio. ShootProof does not take a commission on any portrait sales.

    7. Professional Contracts & Invoices: Keeping clients connected and paperwork to a minimum is really easy with ShootProof. You can upload your own contract or purchase ready-made professional templates from photography industry leaders like The LawTog and The Youngrens. Clients can sign and pay right from their digital device.

    8. Professional Branding So Your Proofing Site Flows Beautifully With Your Website: This feature is super important to us. We wanted a platform that would seamlessly tie into our existing website. Customizing brand colors and watermarks is really easy. Have multiple brands? Not a problem. ShootProof can support that too.

    9. Automated Emails & Customizable Email Templates: Keeping in touch with clients has never been easier. Quickly shoot an email to check in or set up automated gallery expiration emails and so much more. Automation = less brain power. Yes!

    10. In Depth Dashboard: Quickly get an idea of what’s going on in a glance at the dashboard. Everything is right there - gallery stats, visitor activity, order information & sales history.

    ShootProof makes life simpler in our studio.

    Ready to simplify and up your sales?

     

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    Top 5 Studio Tools We Use Daily

    I’m often asked what are my most favorite tools that we use in the studio. And that is not an easy question to answer, but I narrowed it down to the 5 tools we use the most in our photography business. Below you’ll see products that have great functionality, easy user interfaces, and most have the ability to sync so that they are accessible even when we are out of the office.

    Running a full time photography studio and needing team members to be able to access information at different times, these are all important options for us. Plus, it just makes life so much easier even if you’re a one man / woman show!

    5 Tools I Use Daily In The Studio.jpg

    5 Tools We Use Daily In The Studio To Maximize Productivity And Profit:

    1. Trello - Hands down number one would have to be Trello. I wrote a complete blog post about how awesome this productivity tool is. You should definitely check it out.

    2. Fundy - We use Fundy for custom album design for our senior albums and also for In Person Ordering Appointments. It’s very user friendly and has helped us cut our design time and costs so much.

    3. Honeybook - This is our client management system. We are still learning the power of this beast having moved over to it recently, but I am falling more and more in love with it every day. Our workflow automation is on point with HoneyBook! Get 20% off Honeybook here :)

    4. ShootProof - While we are 100% in person sales we do host images for clients who purchase digital files. ShootProof is perfect for that and they work seamlessly with our lab to offer professional quality prints to our clients. We also create and host our mobile apps for seniors with ShootProof as well. They love these on their phones! So do the mamas!

    5. Photobiz - I’ve been with Photobiz for years and have always been so impressed with their customer service and forward thinking in the photography industry. If any photographer is ever looking for a website Photobiz is exactly where I send them!

    So there you have it. These are the 5 tabs that are most likely open on my desktop at all times! Oh, and probably one for Amazon because you just never know when you’ll need to add something to your cart, right?!

    What’s your favorite tool you use in your studio?

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