Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Seniorologie Week- Day Three

Courtney DeLaura, is the type of girl you want to hang out with, the businessperson you want to get to know and the photographer you want to learn from.  She is just one of those girls that you must know!!

I was lucky enough to meet Courtney in person at a workshop she created called Folio Love. This workshop was a unique opportunity to photograph several different styled photo shoots in one place and build your portfolio with gorgeous images.  I had so much fun at this workshop and my favorite part was hanging out with Courtney.
In addition to Folio Love, Courtney also founded Get Schooled, which is a school portrait marketing guide.  She details how she started out in upscaled school portraits and gives you all the tips she learned along the way.
Even thought Courtney has her hands in several successful businesses, her first love and main focus in her photography business is Seniors!  Courtney owns Peachtree Studio in Knoxville, TN and it is one of the leading senior portrait studios in the area.
I had the opportunity to interview Courtney on her senior portrait studio and her love of photographing high school seniors.  Below is what she had to say!  Thanks Courtney!

Tell me about yourself...I'm a wife and mother of two, Nick who's 13 and Marly who's nine.  My family and I live in Knoxville, TN but I am originally from Northern California.

How did you get into photography?   My uncle was a high fashion commercial photographer in the 80's so I was always around him and at his studio.  I also modeled as a child, and my uncle always needed young models for ads for Macy's and many others.  My dad was an artist and sculptor.  When I was 15, he built a darkroom in our house and I would spend lots of time in there with him developing film.  I stepped away from photography for a while and then picked it up when I had kids.

Any formal training?  I think being around it all my life, I picked up things that I didn't even realize.  Things came second nature to me when I decided to pursue photography because I had been around my uncle and dad and in different studios all my life.  I also think lots and lots of practice helped too.

How long have you been in business?  5 years

How long have you been photographing seniors?  4 out of the 5

Do you have a specific senior season?  If so, when?  I am usually booked between April and November then have a break between November and March

How would you describe your photography style? Classic, clean and simple.  I look to Gap, J Crew and Banana Republic for inspiration.  They seem to withstand trends...the same chinos still are made today that were made 10 years ago.  I want my seniors to look back on their photos and it look classic.

What is your favorite thing about photographing seniors?  I love the ability to give them images of themselves that are beautiful during a time when they may be unsure of themselves.  I love to see the reaction in them and their moms when they look at the images for the first time!

Do you have a senior rep program?  Yes

Can you share with us how it works?  I have spokesmodels that are nominated every year.  I usually contact the kids from my current year and ask them to nominate their friends for the following year.  I then contact the nominated girls and boys and tell them that they were nominated as a spokesmodel for Peachtree Studio.  I do a parent/spokesmodel meeting and explain everything.  I like to try and get 9-10 spokesmodels from schools in my area.  The spokesmodels have to have one referral before they get their senior session free.  Every referral after that, they receive $50 print credit.  I wait until the end of the senior season to have spokesmodel ordering sessions.  That way they have had a chance to build up credit for what they want to purchase.

How do you feel this rep program benefits your business?  I think it gets kids talking about my studio.  They post their pics on Facebook and share them with their friends.  High school kids know the name Peachtree Studio and that helps my business.

What are your most popular senior products?  The area that I live is not super trendy when it comes to products.  They basically want gift prints, digital images and large wall prints.  They also love the double -sided wallets.

What is in your camera bag?  Old Canon 5D that I absolutely love!  24mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.4 lenses.

What is your favorite lens? 50mm 1.4 lens!

What is one tip you can share with photographers who want to break into the senior market?  I am a very strong marketer and I feel this really helps in the senior market.  I think it is super important to practice and shoot and build up your portfolio before you start to market yourself.
Becoming really comfortable in your shooting skin is also extremely helpful in the senior photography market.  If you are unsure of yourself, they will pick up on it.  Continue to talk to them while shooting and give them praise and instructions.  They will feel more confident if you do that.

(Interview by Leslie Kerrigan from Seniorologie.)


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