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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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

How To Keep Your Senior Model Team Engaged All Year Long

Teenagers are tough, right? Today’s teens are busier than ever and easily distracted! It’s just how they are wired now and it’s the world they live in. So we have to meet them where they are!

Running a successful senior model team can be a challenge. Keeping your senior girls engaged is probably harder than getting them to show up to events on time! And once they have their images it can be like a ghost town. Been there!!

So how do we keep our senior model team engaged?

Simple. We create community. We give them the opportunity. And we stay consistent.

As a mom of 3 boys who are constantly on the go I don’t have the time for multiple group shoots and monthly events with our senior model team. Maybe I will during another season of life, but for now I’ve found ways to keep our girls talkative and “in it” long after their model shoot.

How To Keep Your Senior Model Team Engaged

The most important thing is to give them a place to “hang out”. We use an app called Group Me for our girls. It’s an easy texting app that allows you to not only chat but create events and polls. Plus it has fun features like gifs and video too. The girls love it and it’s an easy place to keep info in one place.

Here are 5 simple ways to create community in your Senior Model Team Program using GroupMe:

  1. Question of the Week - Ok, these can be silly or just opinion based or maybe even about a specific topic. Some of our most popular ones revolve around food! I mean, we all gotta eat! Ask them what their favorite ice cream flavor is, their favorite song right now, night owl or morning person. You get the idea. Just give them something to talk about!

  2. Polls - These are great for anonymous voting for things that you want their opinion on but they don’t necessarily want their name attached to it or for something quick, like does Wednesday or Thursday work best.

  3. Inspirational Quotes - Now, they may not comment much, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention. Sometimes these can spark a conversation. Sometimes you’ll just get likes, and that’s ok! Just remain consistently in front of them.

  4. Celebrate Them - We make a big deal out of birthdays in our studio. They are all added to our Google Calendar to repeat annually. Session days are easy too. Let them know when one of the other girls’ session is coming up and to watch behind the scenes on your Instagram. Give them a shout out if you see something their mom posted to Facebook about them like getting accepted into a college or any other big accomplishment. Celebrating in your group app together is fun as the sweet comments and funny gifs start to roll in. It’s a great way to make someone feel special.

  5. Ask them what they have going on - This is such a simple and easy thing. Be interested in their lives. Maybe they have finals, they’re prom dress shopping or they have a big game. Cheer them on and the other girls will rally around too!

    BONUS IDEA: Model Takeover!

    Let your girls take the lead for the week. This gives you a break and gives them some leadership skills. Plus it lets you get into the mind of a teenage girl. It’s been a long time for some of us! Haha!

What’s some of your favorite ways to keep your model team engaged? We’d love to chat with you about it!

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The Top 5 Things To Outsource In Your Senior Photography Studio

Giving up control of things is not an easy thing to do. Especially when you’ve done it all for so long. You feel like it’s easier, faster and cheaper to just do it yourself! Right?! But guess what? That’s the problem. You will be doing EVERYTHING yourself. And there is only so much of you to go around.

Over the years I have outsourced more and more in our senior studio. It’s a little addicting at this point! It has given me so much peace of mind and personal time back. There’s nothing like it y’all! If you are on the fence, let me try to convince you that outsourcing is the only way to go :)

So what are some things you could outsource in your senior studio? I’m glad you asked!

The Top 5 Things To Outsource In Your Senior Photography Studio

The Top 5 Things To Outsource In Your Senior Photography Studio To Maximize Productivity And Profits:

  1. Editing & Retouching - Turning over our editing and retouching to professionals is by far the best decision I’ve ever made. Was it an easy one to make? Nope. Was there an adjustment period? Yep! But I’m so happy I finally did it. Outsourcing image editing has saved me countless hours of work and given me my life back. Some of my favorite companies to work with are Indy Pro Touch & Rebooku. You can save 10% off your first Rebooku order by using code RefcM7k4li at checkout.

  2. Album Design - I have to give it to Rebooku again for album design. They have beautiful templates for senior albums and have great turn around time on the design work as well. But if you have someone in house to do album design for you, I would recommend using Fundy for custom album design. It’s very user friendly and has helped us cut our design time and costs so much.

  3. Client Management - Gone are the days of spreadsheets, notebooks and word templates. We have been using Honeybook for our client management and absolutely love the freedom and confidence it gives us in the studio knowing we aren’t letting anything fall through the cracks with any client. It’s a lifesaver! Honeybook is giving our readers 50% off their first year with them! How awesome is that?!

  4. Legal - Sure you could write your own contract with your studio’s policies and procedures. But do you know if you’re really covered? I doubt it. I did this for years and never felt safe. Since purchasing our studio contract through The LawTog I feel so much more confident. And yes, it has saved me a time or two with troublesome clients. A studio contract written by an attorney who specifically works with professional photographers is worth every penny!

  5. Branding - Our website and marketing materials set the tone for how potential clients will receive us and for how much they can expect to pay for our services. If you have a flawless professional and artistic design, they will expect to pay a premium. Modern Market to the rescue! They have a site full of Logos, Branding Collections for your marketing materials as well as SquareSpace and ProPhoto Website Design Templates.

Find your wheelhouse. And outsource the rest. If you can make more money in the time it would take you to do some of these things, then it’s a no brainer. Do the things that bring in sales - like shooting - you know, that thing you were in love with way back when you started this business? Yeah. Do that.

Anything else you outsource in your studio? I’d love to know!

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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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