When her husband was given an opportunity he couldn’t refuse with his job, the Huff family packed up and moved from Indiana to North Carolina. But with that move, Flavi had to start all over again in another state. Rebuilding her senior photography business proved to be quite a challenge, but she made it happen.Read More
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 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:
Here’s a little bit of Kristin’s awesome work with seniors too!
This decision to niche down in your photography business can be such a tough one, right? I’ve been there. You need the money to keep things afloat, but you don’t want to do work you don’t love. It’s quite a dilemma.
But here’s the thing . . . you can’t be great at all things.
The best restaurants are the ones who specialize in a certain cuisine. Why? Because they make the same type of foods and use the same ingredients day in and day out. The chefs know what their customers want and expect. They have honed their craft and are specialists in their field. Those are hands down the best places to eat!
The same goes for photographers. Yes. We need to niche down. Whether that means weddings, newborns, family photography or custom high school senior portraits. Find your passion and go with it.
Be the specialist in your area, not the jack of all trades.
This is the best decision I ever made way back in 2009. I made the switch to only photograph high school seniors. Our studio quickly became known as the senior studio in town and I was finally happy doing what I loved. Don’t be afraid to make the switch. I don’t regret it at all! My happiness and profits increased dramatically :)
At the end of the day, does it really matter?
I think a big fat YES is in store here! Wouldn’t you rather be serving your ideal client running a profitable business you love instead of just doing sessions because you need the money to pay rent? Think about it. You started this photography business to make money doing what you love and to provide for your family while fulfilling your dreams. Right? So, yes. It matters. For your sanity, for your peace of mind, for your bottom line, for you.
5 Steps To Niche Down and Specialize In Your Photography Business:
Go through your galleries. Which images move you the most? Which ones light you on fire?
Think about your sessions and past clients. Which ones are your favorites? List reasons why.
Once you have it narrowed down to where you want to be in the photography industry, start researching your area. Is there anyone else doing what you want to do? Are your styles similar? Know your direct competition, but don’t obsess over them.
If you don’t quite have enough image samples in your portfolio it’s time to start adding to it. This might mean a few discounted sessions, gift certificates or trades with a hair and makeup artist in the area. Perfect your craft with this segment of the market while beefing up your galleries. You have to show what you want to sell.
Once you have your galleries where you want them it’s time to own your new speciality! Market like crazy. Not in a cheesy used car salesman type way. But fill your social media feeds with what you want and love to do. The clients will come. You just have to show them why. You are now the best at what you do in your area ;)
What’s your passion? Have I convinced you to go for it? I sure hope so. It’s so worth it friends. Let’s keep in touch. Let me know how it’s going, and if you have any questions about niching down in your photography business. I’m happy to help!