A while back, I was involved in a workshop on creativeLIVE on the business of Senior Portraits. When I was in high school, all we did was get the tuxedo shot and the cap and gown shot, and that was pretty much it. These days, senior portraits are much different. They're more in line with the individual teen theses days. They're in different outfits, in different locations, with themes that the kids are into. Each senior shoot is an experience, not just getting their photo taken. And the market for these sessions increases every day. It was amazing to watch.
But as I watched, something occurred to me. This workshop was only geared to working with seniors graduating from high school. But what about four years down the line? What about when these kids are about to graduate from college and head out to the working world? These types of photos would be of no use at that point.....unless they were going on to a modeling or acting career. Soon many of them will be applying for fellowships, graduate school and going out into the working world. For most, the last time they got a formal photograph made was when they had their senior pictures taken. But they’ve changed and those photos won't work for them for all these things. It would be a good thing to show the world how much and how mature they are now. What they’ve posted on Facebook just won’t do. They need pictures for their applications and their social media portfolios, especially LinkedIn, to demonstrate to their prospective schools and employers that they are serious about their futures.
So, I thought, why not approach the career services departments at the local universities to set up a time when students could get professional head shots that would be more in line with what they are going to need once they're moving on. Only one university responded to my inquiry, the University of North Florida. Right off, Rick Roberts, the director of Career Services, saw the benefit in this and was interested, but wary. They had someone do this in the past, but they were not happy with the way it went, and neither were the students. I sent them some samples of my work, which they liked, and we talked about how we could make the whole experience a positive one. They were having some career fairs for their students and he thought it would be good to offer this to the students as an added benefit. So we did.
And it was a great success. The students were a joy to work with and were very appreciative of what I was doing. I ended up shooting 77 head shots that afternoon. Here are some samples of the images I made.
They look like studio shots, right? They were actually shot in a large hallway in the building where the career fair was held. I was right there amongst all the employers. Even one of them was interested in me working with his company to make head shots of his employees.
I also did the same thing at another career fair they had and we had similar results. The career services folks are already talking about me coming back to do it again in the spring. Yes, I'm looking forward to it. I wish that my college would have offered something like this when I graduated!
If you know of anyone that needs head shots or would like to schedule something like this, please contact me as soon as you can. I think it would be a good thing for so many organizations to offer to their constituents. Let's chat about it!