Seniors Ignite Series - Why You Should Have A Senior Model Program

Seniors Ignite Series - Why You Should Have A Senior Model Program

Over the next couple of months, I am teaming with Jen Basford, owner of 3 girls photography and co-owner of Seniors Ignite. If you aren't familiar with Seniors Ignite, it is one of the best resources out there for senior photographers.

Founded in 2012 by Jen Basford and Nanci Nardi, Seniors Ignite offers online educational resources as well as a hands-on convention every year. Jen and I are going to be tackling some of the most sought out answers for those starting or running a senior photography business. Jen began her business in 2005, which focuses on offering seniors a boutique experience. This year she has 60 senior models and represents over 10 high schools within two hours from her studio. Jen shared her key ingredient to photographing 100-125 seniors a year - a senior rep program. 

Some photographers believe the senior rep program is "old school", but when formed correctly to target the right audience it will promote your business year round. Jen has done exactly that by creating a program around relationships and brand exclusivity. She further explains that her senior rep program is the foundation that sets forth all other marketing. Jen has done her research on what this generation wants out of their senior portraits, thus creating a unique experience for each client. This experience continues to grow her new client base through word of mouth. It is important to her business model that she engages her reps year round through photo-shoots and other activities. She has forgone the term "rep" and defines seniors in her program as "models", that term alone indicates high-end and fashion forward. 

Without a senior rep or model program, it would be hard to engage this generation. They are connected to social media, but place value on what their friends are saying and doing. This generation is one of the most easy to spread information to, if you know or have worked with someone in the inner circle. Having their senior pictures taken by a certain photographer or being in a senior model program is a status symbol. Jen ensures that her models have a different experience than regular clients which is why so many want to be apart of her program. Your program should be offering them something exclusive that their friends don't have access too. Not only does this bring you more reps in the future, but it builds your reputation of being different and better than your competition. 

We are so grateful to have Jen Basford with us over the next couple of months talking all things senior! Stay tuned for this new awesome series. Our next interview with Jen focuses on the structure of her senior model program and things you should consider when designing your program to give your business the best return. 


Jen Basford/3girls | Seniors Ignite | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | SnapChat: jenbasford

Lindsey Pantaleo's picture

Lindsey Pantaleo is a wedding and high school senior photographer based in Central Missouri.

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So do the senior "models" get a free session to help build buzz or do they pay for their session and just get special treatment (e.g. Free hair and makeup of a wardrobe consultant or simply a discount on their session)? Also, do you recommend a "shoot and share" single price model or siting fee, then prices for digital files and/or prints?

Hey Jason, our next article is all about the details of the senior program. I definitely don't recommend a "shoot and share" model as I think you are leaving money on the table. I charge a session fee and all prints/digital files/product are additional. Check out the next article, I think you will get several of your questions answered about structure :)