3 Tips to Sell Portraits to High School Seniors

Andy Bondurant


Andy Animoto

Over the past 5+ years I’ve had the unique opportunity to watch some of the top senior portrait studios grow and evolve.

During this time some things have changed and will never be the same (don’t see many foam cut numbers these days). However, others have simply evolved into a new and better product (i.e. the transition from ambassador/rep programs to the new “model” programs).

Despite these types of changes and the radical shifts in our economy over the last few years it is still possible to start or grow a senior portrait business in sales, volume or both. Let me share with you 3 things I see successful studios do to reach, connect with and sell to their senior clients.

1. Project a (fun) image or brand.

Change is again the optimum word when it comes to creating a brand aimed at high school seniors. What has stayed the same is projecting a fun and unique image. What has changed is how you do the projection.

Masquerade Senior Portrait

The old way says create a mail marketing campaign through post cards, catalogs and brochures. The new way says you can achieve some of the same goals through social media.

Mail marketing still has it’s place, but platforms like Facebook, Twitter and more recently Instagram help you to daily sell your studio as THE fun place to be. The popularity of video on Facebook and YouTube make using a service like Animoto the perfect way to help brand yourself.

The key of course is to purposefully create AND show fun, funky and attractive images.

A few photographers who are doing a great job at this are John Pyle Photography ( in Georgia, Richardson Studio ( in Indiana, and Antisdel’s Photography ( in Kansas. Every time I click on their Facebook page or Twitter account I see more fun images from TODAY’S session.

2. Know the trends.

Stunning Senior Picture

More than any other style of portrait photography your ability of a high school senior photographer to spot and recognize new trends is critical. Being able to highlight a necklace, pair of shoes or brand of jeans in an image could mean the difference a good sale and a great sale.

The typical high school senior lives and dies by the latest trend, so you need to be right there with them on what’s coming and what’s gone. Here are a few places you can go to find the latest trends:

  • Look at “fast fashion” sites like H&M, Urban Outfitters, or Forever 21. Fast Fashion is just that, places that take the elite clothing trends and bring it to the masses in a matter of weeks.
  • Register at Pinterest and find a few boards that you can regularly go to for good updates.
  • Another great site to check is Polyvore. It’s similar to Pinterest, but it’s specifically for creating and showing off the creator’s fashion sense (and great for photographers who want some ideas on trends).
  • spa Connects – Senior Portrait Artists is a business that is run by Todd and Sana Antisdel (my in-laws). It’s all about helping you figure out high school senior trends and styles.

3. It’s all about relationships.

Senior Portrait

Being able to quickly develop a relationship may be the most crucial element to running a successful senior portrait business. The more comfortable a senior and her parents are with you, the better experience they will have. The better experience a senior has, the better sale you will end up with.

Again, social media and the evolution of the internet in general has changed the way high school seniors and their parents connect with photographers. After visiting your Facebook page, Twitter profile or Instagram feed, they should feel like they know you.

When they walk into the session (or consultation) you should take the responsibility to work to connect with both the senior and her mother (and/or father). While you will encounter some seniors who naturally connect well with adults, many will be shy, embarrassed or nervous. It’s your job to make conversation and get them laughing and talking.

My wife, Kia Bondurant, is a natural at this. She portrays a sense of confidence in both herself and the subject, which rubs off on the clients. She smiles a lot and helps fill the slow parts of a conversation. It is a key aspect to the success of the studio’s senior business.

For more photography video ideas try our pro photography page!