Senior Rep Inspiration – {Mango Mahalo Photography}

June 19, 2013

A lot of times photographers think that they need quantity when it comes to reps.  More reps equals a better rep program.  But I believe that starting out small is the way to go.  This not only gives photographers a chance to try out their rep programs, but it allows you to figure out what you like and don’t like and how to make it work for your business.  So go for quality over quantity!

And that is exactly what Michelle Anderson of Mango Mahalo Photography did for her first year doing a senior rep program!  Michelle said, “I’m starting small with 1 rep so I can learn how I want to run this side of my business, and in just a few months I have learned a lot!”

Read what else Michelle had to say about her program and learn from her.  Thanks for sharing Michelle!!

How did you come up with the theme for your rep shoot? Instead of planning my senior rep shoot around a theme, I plan it around the individuality and likes of my senior rep.  My foremost goal is to display and define my senior in her element, whether it be in her style of clothing or doing what she loves most.  In this case, my senior rep is devoted to her horse and she wanted the majority of her session to feature the indescribable relationship she has with her.  My professional goal with each session, whether a senior rep session or a regular senior session, is to create an experience that is formal, bright, fabulous, stunning, fashionable, unique and individual.
Where did this photo shoot take place? What time of day were these taken?  This session took place at two times, morning and late afternoon.  The morning session started shortly after sunrise, at her horse’s local boarding facility.  It had gorgeous warm light breaking thru behind the trees that lined a small field of wildflowers, which turned out to be a yummy snack for her horse!  The morning session concluded with at a location near her high school where she wore her ballet pointe shoes.  The afternoon session occurred in her the downtown area of her hometown, Redlands, California, and at a local park.
Did you collaborate with the seniors to come up with the clothing for this shoot?  Absolutely!  Something my seniors (especially my reps) learn about me is that I like to plan everything to a “T.”  I encourage my seniors to buy new outfits for their sessions but to stay true to their style.  My senior rep had several weeks to put together her favorite outfits.  She brought them over one afternoon and we hung them up on a clothes rack, pairing shoes and accessories with each outfit.  In doing so, we found what worked best, and what alternative accessories we could use.  I had many of the locations already picked out so it was a true collaboration pairing the outfits with the right locations.
What camera, lens or other equipment was used for this shoot?  I’m a Nikon girl!  I used a Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-700/2.8 lens, and a reflector.  That’s it!
Can you share any post-processing techniques used when editing this session?  I photograph in RAW and start my processing in Adobe Camera Raw, adjusting exposure and temperature just a tad, if needed.  In Photoshop CS5, my exclusive go-to actions are from Michelle Kane’s Creative HeART and HeART & Soul action sets.  Typically I use 2-4 actions to complete my editing.
How did you find your reps/models?  I chose my rep (my very first one) during a six hour drive to Yosemite.  I was brainstorming on how I could grow my senior business and realized I needed to start a rep program.  Fortunately, the rep I chose was available when I called her and her mom, and both of them were interested in the opportunity.
How many different high schools do you have represented with your reps/models?  Just one.  Since this was my first year of launching a my Mango Mahalo Photography Senior Spokesmodel program, I chose to start small, with only one rep.  I wanted to take the time to see what was right (or wrong) for my business and not be so quick to “buy into” the rep marketing programs for sale.
What qualities do you look for in a rep/model?  Naturally, I wanted someone who could best represent the senior side of my photography business.  I wanted someone who is outgoing, cheerful, well-rounded, driven, and fun to be around.  I also wanted someone who could commit to campaigning and recruiting seniors and future senior reps for my business.
 Could you share the incentives that your reps/models receive for referrals?  Since this is my first year having a rep, I know how I will evolve my incentive program.  This year’s senior rep received a free mini session, which took place after a brief local snowstorm.  She also received her full session at half-off.  She was given the opportunity to be used in all my senior marketing material in print and on social media, and she received custom designed senior rep cards to hand out to her friends.  My senior rep and her mom attended a Senior Information night I hosted.  She invited may of her friends and their moms to my house one evening where I put on a short presentation/slideshow of the senior portrait experience with me.  I had a raffle for the girls who attended, and each of them left with a gift certificate towards a discounted session or free prints.
How many years have you done a rep or model program?  This is my first year!
What is one tip that you would give another photographer on how to build a successful senior rep/model program?  My advice is to start a senior rep program, with one or several reps, whichever you think works best for you at the place you are at in your business.  My business is small, and purposefully so.  I have 3 small children to tend to and I book my sessions around them and my husband.  I did not want to launch a massive senior rep program at multiple schools because I do not want to have more than I could handle.  My goal is to increase my senior reps by 1-2 a year until I know I have the right number for me and for the steady growth of my business.  I have always thought that if I could only shoot babies and seniors, I would be a happy photographer.  In a couple years, I might try to push myself to that point.  

What is your favorite thing about this photo session?  My favorite part of this session was the relationship that grew between my rep and me.  We both worked very hard to pull off a great session, one which she is proud of.  Our collaboration continued as we planned the senior information night with her friends.  As a photographer, many times relationships with clients are only “active” when we are in the midst of a session or delivering prints.  I learned that having a senior rep engages them in my business for a longer period of time, and creates a lot more professional and personal memories.