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Finding your ideal client in Senior Photography

Finding your Ideal Client in Senior Photography

Inclusive Senior Photography

Mary Vance Photography

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IG: https://www.instagram.com/maryvancephotography

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“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.

Stacy Kamler | Photo Native Student Review
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Q: How have you grown as an artist since attending Photo Native?

Photo Native didn’t only teach me about new photography techniques to use for my clients, but also taught me about my personal life.  Coming back home after Photo Native, I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone and only checked it twice a day.  I became more present in my life and with my friends and family.  Actually getting out to see the world (even if it was my own backyard) has helped me stay refreshed and creative.   I also learned that sometimes the things that you fear the most is the thing that could be holding you back from your greatness.  This year I have spent a lot of time working to build my business so I can take it full -time in 2018! 

Q: What business skills have you implemented since attending Photo Native?

I went to India Earl's class and she had talked about how to become friends with your clients.  I took so much out of this class and have implemented some of her techniques and questionnaires to take place before, during, and after shooting.  I have become friends with so many of the my clients this year and that has led to a more fulfilling job and happier clients! 

Q: You mentioned you LOVED the community and friends you made here, can you expand on that? 

I still keep in contact with a few of the girls that I had become friends with.   Having a community all over the USA is great.  It didn’t matter where you were at in your career whether a hobbyist or made it a full-time career, you could learn from everyone. Everyone was so supportive.  My favorite was being around that many creatives.  My wheels came home turning with ideas of what I wanted to shoot and what I wanted to implement in my business.  

Q: What is your #1 takeaway from Photo Native? 

My number one thing that I took away from Photo Native would be the drive to take my business full-time.  I have been working so hard this past year to set up 2018 as another successful year.  This conference pushed me to do more, be more, and see more in a different perspective.  

Loved getting to know our feature student? Follow us on instagram for more inspiration.    

Megan Hess | Photo Native Student Review
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Q: How have you grown as an artist since attending Photo Native?

The way that I view myself as an artist and business owner has grown immensely. My worth and purpose is more than what it used to be. It was like I was thirsty and didn't realize how thirsty I was until I attended PN2017. During those few days, I drank...and drank... and drank. I was so drunk with power and self worth! I left feeling like I could conquer anything. I had my most successful year following Photo Native. I give most of the credit to the ah-mazing classes/instructors but, I'll also give myself a bunch of credit too. I wrote down everything and then went home and DID something about it. I implemented the changes I learned about!

Q: What business skills have you implemented since attending Photo Native?

My financial world has flipped upside-down (for the good!) I actually kept track of all my spending, earnings and taxes this year! I'm so much more organized and feel empowered with the knowledge I learned in the financial area. Also, I really took to heart something that Ben Sasso said. He mentioned to only show what I want to shoot. I immediately went through my instagram and website photos. I took down everything that didn't excite me. Now I'm shooting more couples and families that fit the style I love most. I think this is mainly because I only show what I want to shoot most!

Q: You mentioned you LOVED the community and friends you made here, can you expand on that?

I signed up to room in a hotel with 3 other women. I had never met them before but I shared a bed and ate breakfast with my new fast-friends. Our passion for what we do immediately bonded us. We had similar experiences and could laugh and cry about it all. Making friends within classes was so easy. It was like kids on the playground and we all wanted to play the same game of tag and no one was left out. I still closely follow on Instagram most of the friends I made. Some of them may be my competition but, that doesn't matter. I want them to succeed and I root for them! I loved meeting the faces behind the camera!

Q: What is your #1 takeaway from Photo Native?

Ooooh, that is such a hard question! I filled a notebook during Photo Native so, choosing ONE takeaway is torture! I'd say my #1 takeaway was shoot what I love. Don't just take pictures because someone is paying you to. Finding what I loved most was such an adventure. I realized that I was just working to work. After making big changes to my brand & what I photograph, I love every single second that I'm out shooting. Photo Native was an inspiration and brought fresh cold water to my drought! 

Loved getting to know our feature student? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.