Senior Portraits McGyver Style

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by Conner Fuller

The landscape of photography is an ever evolving field. Gone are the days of senior portraits in front of a bookcase holding a rolled up “diploma.”
Now kids and parents are wanting to push the bounds of your capabilities and creativity. Longer sessions, more props, and sometimes, things that
involve a little bit of danger. You see, senior portraits especially have become all about the experience rather than being only about what the final
product looks like.

Nowadays the senior session is all about the experience. They can have a picture taken anywhere, shoot…most of them are taking their own picture 100 times a day. The thing that’s going to get them in your door and keep more people coming is by creating a unique experience. You don’t have to have a brick and mortar studio to do this. Sure, a location away from my home makes it easier for me because I don’t have to keep my house clean all the time when clients are coming. But that’s just my own personality.

There are lots of things that go into creating an experience: your personality, the way you treat your client, the lengths you’ll go to in order to capture the perfect image for them. Some people are natural at “engaging” strangers. I know for me, it’s a struggle. That’s why, thankfully, I have an assistant who initially greets them at the door. However, once they’re in front of my camera, it’s game on! You better believe I’m doing everything I can to make a senior talk about their session to their friends and anyone else who will listen. I play to my “McGyver-like” qualities. If duct tape and zip ties don’t come out at least once during a session, I have failed. Now that might be so that I can light something on fire or fix their shoe or attach a flag to a pole, but one way or another it gets done. Why? Why not?! I want that kid to go to school the next day and tell his friends about how we padded the palms of his hands with duct tape and set them on fire so he would look like a bad mother, “shut yo mouth”! What? I’m talking about senior pictures?!

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Now, not every kid wants to be set on fire, and that’s fine. Not every photographer is going to use their inner McGyver. Luckily I’m fortunate enough to have my mother, Esther, as the other photographer at my studio and her go-to function is to be able to connect with someone and make them feel like they’ve been friends for 50 years! It’s all about finding your strength and playing to it to keep customers involved, invested, and coming back. What better way to do that than by giving them something no other studio can, a piece of yourself!

Here at our studio we have a motto that we may or may not have stolen from our church of all places. We want to create an irresistible environment. We want everything about our studio to be an over the top experience that makes you miss it when you leave. Do we achieve this every time? Of course not! Do we strive for it every day? You bet we do!

From the moment a client walks in until the prints go on the wall, the experience is the top priority! Nothing we do in photography is proprietary. Sure, some people/studios do things better than others, but with some hard work and quick thinking, it can be duplicated. The experience is what can be uniquely yours. So own it. Find your strength and think, if you were the customer and pictures didn’t matter, what would bring you back?

Conner Fuller, of Kirbyville, Texas, became a photographer at age 19 when his mother needed a second photographer at her studio. His competitive drive hurled him towards earning his CPP, Photographic Craftsman, and Master of Photography by the time he was 30 and he eventually purchased his mother’s studio. He loves sharing his knowledge with other photographers and
hopes to be able to help others after so many photographers helped him.