It is never too late to start a senior model program. In fact, now is the best time of the year to define your program and select your models. Every market is different, but most of us slow down in the winter months. We have photographed the bulk of the senior class in the fall, however there will be a few spring senior's sessions that book right before graduation. This is the time to prepare for the next class. Jen Basford with 3 girls photography and Seniors Ignite joins us for another article highlighting how to plan your senior model program and at what times to execute your marketing for the new year.
The beginning of the year is the optimal time to begin planning for a new senior class. At some point during these months is when Basford considers the best time to meet with your models. Invite them to your studio or home with their parents to discuss being a part of your program. At this meeting, inform your attendees of the benefits they will receive, and have your interested models sign-up. As mentioned in prior articles, this is the time to have them invest or make a down payment towards their individual senior session for the year. Not only does this help fill your calendar, but the money received will give you cash flow in your slower months.
This is the time to gather your new group of models for their first time in front of your lens. Basford suggests instead of doing one large photo shoot, give each model a 10-15 minute mini-shoot. This gives the model one look and gets them excited without taking away from their senior session. Basford refers to this as peak time to get your work in front of a new group of seniors. It is very important that these images start circulating with your new team before school lets out for the summer. This gives your models time to promote their experience and your brand to their friends. Having your marketing so early will also give you a jump-start in bookings for the summer and fall.
Many seniors don’t think about booking their senior session until the fall of their senior year. If bookings start slow for the summer, schedule photo shoots with your models and keep fresh images and marketing going out to your audience. This will entice them to book early and fill your calendar before they go back to school. Basford also emphasizes, regardless of the time of the year, that you should photograph your models. Stylize small group shoots throughout the year or try to do a styled session every season to build excitement.
The above timeline may not be exact in your area, adjust a few months to make it work for your season. Basford stresses that you should start a senior model program regardless of the time of year. A senior model program will help jump-start your business and create a flow of referrals. On behalf of Fstoppers, we would like to thank Jen Basford for teaming with us on this series and for providing a wealth of knowledge to senior portrait photographers.