While it seems that we can’t always keep up with the teens these days, some things never change. Our senior clients want to be seen, acknowledged and heard.
Today’s teens want to make a statement and a difference.
Generation X wants to be involved in planning their sessions. Collaborations are totally their thing because it tells them that we value what they have to say!
In order to make that happen as their photographer, we have to get to know them the best that we can before their senior session day. So how do we do that? A few different ways really . . . consults and questionnaires are our most favorite tools of choice though :)
The Senior Session Consult
We are low volume in our studio which allows the time to meet with my seniors before the session. Sometimes this is in person, but most of the time it is through video conferencing with an online tool like Zoom. If you haven’t used it yet, you really should try it!
We use Calendly to let the girls schedule their video consults with me so there is not a lot of back and forth email to plan it. They love to do the consult from their bedroom so they can pull clothes out of their closet to show me. And I love this because they are letting me into their space just a little bit.
Mom is usually sitting nearby (we encourage this), and we chit chat about the colors in their home and how it’s decorated (because clearly it’s not the same as their daughter’s bedroom! Haha!). This is also when I plant more seeds about where to hang their wall portraits, the album that will be on display in their living room, graduation announcements . . .
Before the consult I go over the questionnaires that I’ve received, both from the mom and senior. As we are talking I can reference back to things they have told me. It makes the consult go so much better because I’ve already got a good idea about what they want before we even start talking.
The purpose of the consult is mostly to get the senior comfortable with me. Yes, I want to see the outfits, and we get a good bit of the planning done. A vision for her session comes together, but the most important thing to me is that we have formed a bond. If I can get her to laugh and find something in common with her, then that is a big win in my book!
The Senior Session Questionnaires
I’ve always had a questionnaire for my seniors, but they have definitely gotten better over the years! In the past sometimes seniors wouldn’t turn them in. When we started making it less of a checklist item and made them the center of the story, it felt less like homework and we got a much better response rate form our seniors! Be sure your seniors understand the reason behind the questionnaire if you choose to include one in your senior workflow.
And here’s our secret weapon: Mom gets one too!
Now let’s talk about the details . . .
The What, When, Why and How Behind The Senior Session Questionnaires
What: It’s a questionnaire, not a final exam. Ok? So don’t make it too long! We don’t need every detail of their lives. Ask things like their favorite candy (to have it in the studio on their session day), their favorite music (to play during their session) and their favorite types of images. Whatever you do, make it fun!
When: Be sure to send questionnaires out at least 3 to 4 weeks before their senior session. This gives them time to put it off (typical, right?), time for you to remind them that you still need it (haha) and time to study it before the consult and session.
Why: Teens love to talk about themselves! They want us to know #allthethings, but they don’t want to appear selfish or self-centered by just coming right out and requesting lots of stuff for their session. BUT if we are the ones asking the questions they will definitely answer. Parents love to brag on their kids too. We actually tell the moms that this is their moment to brag all they want about their baby! They love to tell the same cute stories they’ve told to everyone else over the years. We’re somebody new who hasn’t heard those stories yet, and she’s gonna spill the beans! I love reading these because I never know what to expect. Sometimes I’m laughing and sometimes I’m crying, but either way it’s always a blessing.
How: Honeybook is my jam. It’s our studio management software, and I love it! We have the questionnaires set up to be sent out automatically in our senior workflow so that we don’t even have to think about them anymore. They’re so easy to print out and review. Plus Honeybook has a 3 day file reminder that goes out if they haven’t filled them out just yet. Genius!
We’ll be discussing Questionnaires in our new Facebook Community soon! Be sure you are part of the discussion! How do you get to know your seniors before their session? Are we missing the boat on something? Let’s chat!