Breaking into Senior Portrait Photography

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by CraniumDesigns, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. CraniumDesigns

    CraniumDesigns TPF Noob!

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    Hey Folks,

    I mostly do landscapes, but sometimes I have nothing to shoot, so I wanna get into senior portraits and other outdoor natural light photography. I wanna avoid flash and just use the sun and reflectors. Some questions...

    What legal things do they need to sign?
    What equipment do you recommend?
    What do you charge for? (sitting fees, raw files, prints?) and how do you figure out what to charge?
    What books, if any, do you recommend? (I've been looking at Jeff Smith's books so far on amazon)

    THANKS!
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  2. Aayria

    Aayria TPF Noob!

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    1. As far as equipment...lenses with nice wide apertures are great for senior portraits and portraiture in general. I mostly use my 50 1.4...but also on the list would be the 85 1.4, and the 135 2.0. The 135 is AMAZING for outdoor portraiture when you have lots of room to step back. If you're going to be doing a lot of shoots indoors with window natural light, etc... A body with good ISO performance may be a must.

    2. You can view my prices on my website if you're looking for ideas... The best thing I found was to find other photographers who were in a similar field with a similar style to what I'm aiming for..and see what their prices ranged. I am still towards the lower end of the spectrum in price range...but going much lower put me more in the bracket of the "cheap" photographer..and I really don't want people just coming to me because they can get a "deal" kwim?

    A good rule of thumb is to test the market. Start higher, and lower your prices as needed to meet supply/demand. Keep in mind, that as your work and reputation grows...so will your demand. It's always easier to lower your prices than to raise them.

    3. I have three main photography books that have been INVALUABLE on my photography journey so far. They're all recommended constantly around here: Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure, Learning to See Creatively, and Beyond Portraiture.

    Other than that..I try to study tutorials online, and one of the best resources I've found so far is the tutorial section on " ilovephotography.com" It's a forum dedicated to child portrait photographers, but it also deals with family portraits, seniors, and bridals.

    Hope that helps, best of luck! =)
     
  3. CraniumDesigns

    CraniumDesigns TPF Noob!

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    thanks a lot for your detailed response! i can't seem to find the tutorials there. can u point me to a more specific url? thanks!
     
  4. Aayria

    Aayria TPF Noob!

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    http://ilovephotography.com/forums/index.php?showforum=311

    That should take you there.. But as far as I remember, you need to be a registered member to view the content.
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In addition to Aayria's excellent response, I would suggest a contacting your local Adult Ed schools; most will run courses or seminars on small business and entrepreneurship. These will invaluable as far as giving you an understanding of business strategy, how taxation works in your area, and generally what the requirements of running a business are.

    As far as "What things you need to sign", you must have a contract in place which spells out your obligations to the client, and their obligations to you. It's well worth the few hundred dollars a lawyer will charge to get this written correctly.

    One often-overlooked thing is networking. Start getting to know other photographers doing similar work in your area and in your price-range and try and develop recicprocal agreements with them so that if you suddenly can't make a shoot, you have someone who may be able to pinch-hit for you (also make sure that this is detailed in the contract).

    Practice, practice, practice!

    Good Luck!
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Unless they are 18, their parents would need to sign the usually retail photography business paperwork (consult a qualfied attorney):
    1. contract
    2. model release
    3. injury waiver
    Usually all included in 1 document, along with your Terms & Conditions.

    Flash is just as natural as any other kind of light.
    The nice thing about strobed lighting is the photographer has total control over the intensity, quality, and direction of the light placed on the subject. Further, by using strobed light the photographer can control 2 seperate exposure levels in the same photograph, substantially broadening the creative opportunities.
    That's why most top pro's use strobed lighting when shooting outdoors in the daytime. It allows them to produce a wide variety of artistic results, regardless the time of day or the density of any cloud cover. That usually translates to being able to command higher fees too.

    I would recommend learning how to use strobed light, and adding a couple of softboxes to the reflectors. Also very important would be the capability to diffuse direct sunlight.

    Steps to determine your prices

    Also check out the Wacker familie's books about senior photography, particularly for marketing guidance.
     

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