As senior photographers, we aren’t just working with our clients, we’re working with their parents too! More often than not, those parents are the ones footing the bill. So the way we communicate and meet expectations is important. In this blog post, we’re going to cover all things working with parents, navigating expectations, and mastering communication. 

Working with Parents: Navigating Expectations and Communication

Understanding Parental Expectations 

Parents play an integral role in the senior photography process. As photographers, it’s essential to understand their expectations and communicate effectively. This not only ensures a successful session but also fosters positive relationships that can lead to referrals and repeat business. First things first – it’s important to recognize that parents are heavily invested in their senior’s photoshoots. It’s a momentous occasion, a rite of passage, and they want the best for their child. So, what do they expect?

Creating a Memory

Parents want photographs that capture their senior’s personality and essence. Remember that most likely the last time photos were taken of their child could have been when they were in fact a child. Now that they are a senior, they have grown and changed and become almost an adult. Ask the parent what is it about their senior that they want captured, what makes their senior unique, and what vision they have for the senior photos.

Sending the parents a questionnaire just for them is a great way to start the conversation about what they envision and want out of the senior’s photoshoot You can also discuss the parent’s vision with them in your pre-session consultation. Finding out what makes their child unique to them is crucial. As important as it is to get to know your senior, it is also vitally important to get to know your parents. After all, these photos are memories that the parents are going to cherish most likely more than the senior ever will.

The Final Result

Many parents place importance on prints and products rather than digitals because they want to see their senior smiling back at them in a wall print or an album. Seniors place a lot of importance on digitals because they want to show their photos off on social. So offering something for both the senior and the parent as the final result of the photoshoot is crucial.  

Remember each of these are our clients so we want to make sure both get what they want.

The parent is most likely the one who will display wall art in their home. The parent is most likely the one who will flip through the album to see their child’s smiling face when they are missing them next year. Make sure you talk to the parents about what they want as the final result or product to help them display their senior’s images. Setting expectations upfront will help both the parent know what to expect and you know exactly what to shoot for.


You will notice that some parents prefer to be actively involved in the process. Others want to leave it entirely to the photographer. Make sure that upon first meeting and connecting with the parents of your client, you are fully aware of what level of involvement they are looking for! Do they want to be incorporated into photos? Do they want to be present on shoot day? Do they want to know all the details in advance? Or are they handing everything over to their senior to handle? Ensure you’re clear about their level of involvement.

 Effective Communication Strategies

Now that we have a better understanding of what parents are looking for, let’s explore some communication strategies that can make the process smoother! For me, the first step is the initial phone call! Any time I get an inquiry, even if it is an inquiry from a senior, I get the parent’s info as well. I make a phone call to the parent because ultimately they are the ones paying for the session. want to make sure I talk to them, tell them my process and pricing, answer their questions, and more. Sometimes teens don’t share all the information. Transparency is key. By talking to a parent I am able to detail the entire process including pricing and collections and avoid any surprises later on!

The Pre-Session Consultation

You know how I feel about pre-session consultations! Schedule a consultation with the parents and the senior. This is the perfect time to establish a connection, understand their expectations, and get clear on their vision. It’s also a great time to discuss things like locations and outfits.  I always want to make sure the senior is getting what they want but I want to also make sure the parent is on board too. It is also a great time to showcase prints and products so both the senior and the parent get an idea of what they can purchase after the shoot.

The Contract

Having a contract in place to outline your timeline, policies and procedures, and any other specifics is important! It helps avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunications. 

And let me just emphasize the importance of this. You NEED to have a signed agreement or contract for every client. This is just so important for protecting you and protecting your clients. Make sure you have a solid agreement ready for every client! And make sure this is signed by the parent.

Regular Updates throughout the process

Keep parents informed about the process by copying them on the emails as well as providing progress reports of the photo shoot, editing, and delivery. This reassures them and keeps the lines of communication open and doesn’t rely on you hoping the senior will tell them.

Handling Challenges and Concerns

Despite all our best efforts, and implementing all the suggestions we just covered, challenges are going to arise at times. Here’s how you can address them confidently and kindly:

Parental Interference: 

  • If parents become overbearing or overly critical during the session, diplomatically guide them to trust your expertise. 
  • Highlight your desire to create the best experience for their seniors.
  • Maybe even consider involving them with another job during the shoot such as grabbing behind-the-scenes content on a cell phone.

Delivery Delays: 

  • In the event of unforeseen delays, communicate the situation honestly and offer solutions. 
  • I know that it can feel nerve-wracking and stressful when you think you won’t make a due date, but remember, we are all human! 
  • Maintaining transparency can ease frustrations with parents. It’s always a good idea to keep lines of communication open wide! 

Building Trust and Referrals 

A successful interaction with parents can lead to repeat business and referrals. It’s not just about capturing the moment but creating a memorable experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to build trust and get some referrals! 

Exceed Expectations: 

  • Go above and beyond to deliver exceptional photographs. 
  • Surprise parents with a few extra images, personalized touches, or unique locations.

Request Feedback: 

  • After the session, request feedback from parents. This shows you value their opinions and are dedicated to improving your service.


  • Stay in touch with parents and seniors after the photoshoot. 
  • Send occasional updates and reminders about upcoming graduation announcements and other related services.

Working with parents in the senior photography process is a delicate dance. By understanding their expectations, communicating effectively, and addressing challenges with professionalism, you can create a memorable experience for everyone involved. Remember, happy parents lead to happy seniors, which in turn leads to a thriving photography business.

If you need more help with growing your senior photography business, making 4 -figures per senior session, and becoming the go-to senior photographer in your area, The Seniorologie Semester is for you! You can learn more about it by visiting

Working with Parents: Navigating Expectations and Communication


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