three things I learned from my busiest senior photography season

The podcast is back!!  I know it has been a while and for anyone out there listening to this episode…thank you for your patience and for coming back to listen!  I owe all my listeners a big apology for the longer than expected break from recording podcasts!  I am sincerely sorry!  What started out as a small break to get through my busy season turned into a longer break and then it got harder and harder to get back to the podcast!  You how it is, the intention is there and you know you need to do it but other things would come up.  And then months crept by and I hadn’t recorded a new episode!  Yikes!

Those other things that came up included the fact that I didn’t realize what being a senior photographer and a mom of a senior was going to be like.  I was photographing more seniors than I could handle and trying to be a mom of a senior and not miss out on all the things!!  Then summer hit and I just wanted to soak him in before he left for school!  We went on a family trip which was amazing and got him all prepared for college.  There was tons of shopping for dorm stuff and my priority shifted to him.  Then we moved him in and I did not anticipate the lack of motivation to do anything.  I don’t know if you have had kids go to college yet, but the hardest part for me was not sitting around crying all the time about him being gone (even though I shed plenty of tears) but the lack of motivation to do anything.  I spent weeks just not wanting to do anything but sit on the couch.  It was such a strange feeling and not one I am used to because typically I am go, go, go until my head hits the pillow at night.  Then I get up and do it all again.

Slowly but surely I got used to the new family dynamic of just myself, my younger son and my husband and got back to work!  It makes it easier to know that my oldest is having the time of his life and loving school.  Plus I do see him a lot!! :). I have been back photographing seniors, educating and coaching other senior photographers and now I am back to recording podcasts!  yay!  I hope you are as excited as I am and thank you so much for listening (or reading these show notes!)

During all this time away from the podcast, I have been learning and growing and wanted to share with you today:

Three things I learned from my busiest season yet!

I feel like 2022 was a crazy year where everyone wanted senior photos.  I don’t know if you experience that but I wonder if it had anything to do with covid?  I mean there was a time when no one could get photos because of covid and these kids didn’t go to school because of covid so when they were finally seniors it felt like an even bigger celebration than ever before and more seniors wanted their photos taken.  That was the experience for me!!  It also could have been that my child was a senior so more seniors knew who I was than ever before.  But no matter what the reason, it was a busy year for senior photos!  And as always I am grateful for the business but busy does not always mean successful!!

#1 The number doesn’t tell the entire story!

What do I mean by that?  Well let’s take the number of seniors we photograph as an example.  If you photograph 75 seniors, are you considered successful?  Most would probably say that number with a bit of a proud tone right…I photographed 75 seniors!!  And yes, it is a number to be proud of, but it does not tell the entire story.  Did you photograph 75 seniors and charge $200 each?  Even though that is a good amount of money it probably isn’t as much as you could have made.  And because you photographed 75, you are probably overworked, tired and possibly burnt out.  It isn’t a model to repeat over and over.  On the flip side of that number, let’s say you photographed 5 seniors.  A great accomplishment but I would guess if you love photographing seniors and want to make that the genre you specialize in you may want more seniors, am I right?  You could have just started photographing seniors and five would be a great starting number.  But you want to grow from there. 

So the bottom line is the number doesn’t tell the entire story. 

In my busiest season ever, I photographed 65 seniors and that was a lot.  And that number alone doesn’t tell the entire story.  I was definitely overworked and I would not book that many again.  Because volume isn’t my only success factor.  The number is an important thing to track but it is just one piece of the puzzle. 

The best thing to do is set a goal number of booked seniors and make sure that number is in line with how many seniors you need to photograph to make the amount of money you want to make as well as make sure that number is based on what you can handle and still have room for your life, your family and your friends. 

Make sure that number allows time for editing and reschedules and make sure that number allows you to work on other things in your business.  Once you set that number, work toward that goal and then you can always determine if you can take on more.  But without a number in mind, you may just book and book and become overworked.  And this leads me to the second thing I learned (well I knew this already but I had let it slip) which is…

#2 Set Limits!

What are you willing to do and what are you absolutely going to say no to?  These are things we learn from running a business and my limits may be different than yours.  I know when I first started, I said yes to anything and everything, maybe you are currently saying yes to anything and everything.  But as the years went by, I learned that I can say no and I can and should set limits for myself and my business.  And you can too.  And setting these limits before you get into your busy season is key! 

I get it, saying no is not easy but you have to remember that when you say yes to one thing you are saying no to another.  So if you say yes to that extra shoot that you know you really don’t have the time or energy to do, you are saying no to family time or sleep or time for something else in your business.  For me, this past spring I said yes to too many sessions, partly because I knew so many of the kids that were graduating since they were friends of my son’s.  But every time I said yes to one more shoot, I was saying no to quality time with him, his brother, my husband and frankly myself.  Looking back, I should have said no more.  As business owners we have to be disciplined enough to set boundaries.  Every time we think, “I can squeeze in one more shoot” we could be impacting ourselves and our businesses in a big and possibly negative way.

#3 Price Yourself For Profit

Pricing yourself in a way that allows you to shoot less and make more, say no to those extra things because you aren’t desperate for a little more money is a huge lesson to learn.  When you are getting booked and photographing tons of sessions, it’s time to look at your pricing and see if you can raise it.  By raising it to make more of a profit, you may get booked a little less but you can shoot less sessions and make more of a profit.  Pricing yourself for profit allows you more freedom in your business.  More freedom to not get overworked and burnt out, more freedom to say no and not feel bad about it because you know you are bringing in a profit and don’t have to say yes to one more shoot and more freedom to know you are running a profitable business that is successful. 

After every senior season I look at my pricing and make sure that it is where it should be.  And if I am booking sessions like crazy, then I know I have room to raise my prices.  Stop pricing yourself too low and working too much to not make a profit.  Make the changes.  Do it for yourself so you can stop staying up all night editing all those sessions that you probably didn’t charge enough for.  Do it for the vacation you and your family deserve.  Do it for that extra bit of time you can enjoy with your kid before he or she leaves for college or if you have little ones do it for them so they remember their mom being able to play with them and spend time with them.  Do it so you aren’t spending all your time working for not enough profit!  Being busy is not the goal.  Being profitable is!

Are You Profitable?  Free Training

If you want to find out just how profitable you are currently in your photography business, I’ve got a free training just for you!!  Sometimes getting the courage to raise your prices comes from that place of realizing you are working way to hard and too much for not enough profit and sometimes getting the courage to raise your prices comes from seeing the numbers in black and white!!  It can be very eye opening and can immediately give you the courage and the confidence to raise your prices!!  And not only raise them, but be able to share them with potential clients and not feel bad about it!!

Get the free training by clicking HERE

So if you want to sign up for the Are you profitable free training, click the link above!  You will get immediate access to this training!  This training is just a small taste of all the work we do inside The Seniorologie Semester to make sure you are priced for profit.

In the words of one of my students, “when I started the seniorologie semester I was unaware of how little I was actually profiting in my business.  Leslie challenged us to sit down and look at all the numbers, from the amount of money we spend on equipment, subscriptions, our time invested in our business and more…I was seriously blown away by the numbers and how little I was profiting.  With Leslie’s help, I was able to restructure my pricing and increase my margins by 225%!”

This can be you too!  You don’t have to do it alone.  You don’t have to continue working so hard, putting everything you have into this business and not getting out of it what you deserve.  I would love to work with you.  The next round of the seniorologie semester is now open for enrollment.  The program starts in January but you can enroll now and save $1000!  If you are ready to build a more profitable, successful senior photography business, let’s chat!  You can set up a discovery call so I can help you see if this program is right for you or click the button to go ahead and apply now to the semester. 

Apply to The Seniorologie Semester Now!  Click HERE!

Thanks so much for joining me today!  I am so glad to be back!!  If you got something useful out of this episode, I want to hear from you!  Send me a DM on Instagram or share your favorite tip from today’s episode on social media and tag me so I can see it!  And if you would do me a huge favor and leave a quick review about this podcast that would be amazing!!  I have so many great episodes coming your way but if you have anything specific you want to hear on The Seniorologie Podcast, let me know!  

I’ll be back next week with an all new episode!!


Are you a member of the free Seniorologie Community on Facebook?  If not, I would love to have you join to continue this conversation and many more!  The Seniorologie Community is a great place to get to know other senior photographers, share your wins, ask advice and much more!  To join, click HERE!

Have we connected on Instagram?  If not, I would love to get to know you!  Come say hello and send me a DM so I can thank you for listening to The Seniorologie Podcast!

Seniorologie’s Instagram & Leslie’s Instagram

Need help with your senior photography business?  I’ve put together lots of FREE resources to help you in your business!  You can have access to these awesome free resources HERE!

Ep 74 – 3 Things I learned from My Busiest Season Yet (and a life update)


heck, yes i do!

You, want in?

We're busy curating all the best resources, trends, and opportunities for creative women in business - just like you!