Finding your ideal client in Senior Photography

Finding your Ideal Client in Senior Photography

Inclusive Senior Photography

Mary Vance Photography

Visit more of her work



“Senior photography? That is… intense…” she said.

I recently spoke with a photography mentor and friend about what senior photography means to me.

In my industry, successful brands lean toward exclusive experiences. Many photographers drape their models in high fashion clothes and use complicated posing or setups to capture their subjects. While I admire this style and recognize the success of these brands, I have found that the key to my own success is inclusivity. When I focus on inclusion, I open myself up to the hearts of the people I photograph.

Each of my clients bring a different experience and background to a shoot. Some of the seniors I photograph experience anxiety or have decided to take a gap year after high school. They don’t always follow influencers on Instagram, but are passionate and engaged in the world. My seniors are real people, experiencing real things; some struggle with their gender or sexual identity, or are navigating a physical or developmental disability. Others are working through tricky relationships at school. They can be high-flyers, academics, athletes, or artists.

When I photograph my seniors, I don’t just see an opportunity for artistry. I recognize the organic beauty that already exists within them. This is when the best moments are captured—the glint in a senior guy’s eyes as he picks up a football. The love that radiates when a daughter hugs her mother, or the joyful giggle that bubbles up as the wind blows through her hair.

My goal with every photoshoot is to let my clients know that THEY BELONG. I want to create a space for them to be transparent, to feel valued and loved, without having to change to fit any standard that the world want to push on them. And when I’ve done that, then I have done my job well.

Senior photography can definitely be intense, but I think that the intensity of inclusion is worth it.

Intentional Commercial Filmmaking with Emily Mitchell

Intentional Commercial Filmmaking

With Emily Mitchell

from Every Day Film School

It’s no secret that video is becoming increasingly popular to help tell the story and share the vision of commercial clients, and this video by Emily Mitchell showcasing the Ira Loves Mae spring clothing line is the perfect example of lifestyle meets commercial. During her Native Shoot at Photo Native, Emily Mitchell, founder of Every Day Film School, created a film that revolves around three main elements: a young family, fun and playful interactions, and a setting that is curated and styled to complement the clothing and overall aesthetic.

With a documentary style approach and some open-ended direction, the outcome resembles a relaxed catalog shoot with heartfelt emotion. And that setting? It’s the perfect amount of modern meets classic, complimenting the wardrobe perfectly. 

Registration for Photo Native 2020 is now open, and we would love for you to join us in Santa Barbara next February!

Come stretch your creativity, learn new skills, and arm yourself with the tools you need to overcome the hurdles and challenges you're facing.


“I was really blown away with Photo Native, I didn't know what I was expecting but man, one of the best investments I’ve made, if not the best. I loved that we really got to make friends and had to opportunity to mingle over meals. But my favorite thing about Photo Native was that there were so many varieties of photographers, that they weren’t all similar style. I think it was my favorite because you truly get to admire their art and creativity for what they are and got see and feel their passion and how they got to where they are. ” - Millie O.

Photo Native Attendee

Rebecca JohnsonComment
Palm Springs Poolside Fashion Editorial with Heather Nan

Palm Springs Poolside Fashion Editorial

with Heather Nan

Lounging by the pool in the summer sun has never looked so good - thanks to the incredible styling of Benjamin Holtrop and photography of Heather Nan. This poolside fashion shoot - sponsored by Richard Photo Lab - was more than just a stunning portfolio piece for attendees at Photo Native in Palm Springs California, but came with some invaluable knowledge as well. 

Heather Nan walked the attendees through the process of taking a killer idea for a shoot and fostering it from its conception, expanding and molding it into a solid concept, and successfully executing your vision with an all-star team of stylists, models, MUAH, and vendors. Heather unraveled the world of communicating clearly and consistently with your team through mood boards and call sheets, work effectively with model agencies and stylists, educating yourself on fashion to strengthen your vision, and building lasting relationships with brands. 

But enough about the learning, let’s talk about this gorgeous styling! Taking inspiration from the laid back nature of Palm Springs, this shoot brings together fashion & nostalgia. This palm springs fashion editorial portrays a group of three chic women poolside on their Palm Springs vacation taking time away from their busy NYC schedules. The play between the models and their environment emits a calm and classic vibe, blending together fashion photography, portraiture, & lifestyle.

“Fantastic shoot! Heather was a wealth of information and was highly organized and ran the shoot in a very efficient way.” - PN2019 Attendee Desiree Deli

“Heather was informative, answered all questions, and was willing to help me with my newbie film skills. She left me inspired to create a styled shoot for my own self!” PN2019 Attendee Shelbie Arana

Let’s help you develop the skills to make your “Big Magic” come to life!

Join us next February 17-19 for Photo Native 2020 in seaside Santa Barbara, California, where you will learn from industry leaders and creative powerhouses.

Tickets on sale now!

Photographed by: Heather Nan

Sponsored by: Richard Photo Lab

Styled by: Benjamin Holtrop

MUAH: Beauty by Carrie Purser

Models: Freedom Models Los Angeles

Location: Ace Hotel Palm Springs

Swimsuits: Onia

Accessories: Intentionally Blank