Magazine Article


Super Seniors


Across the U.S., the Seniors portrait market is as energized as the students themselves. From marketing to makeup, senior portrait photographers who stay in touch with the style and spirit of

HIGH-TECH, HIGH-TOUCH When asked the secret to their successful seniors photography, Frederick Green, who runs Wilderness Studio, Inc. (, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, with his wife, Lon Marie, credits their high-tech, high-touch approach. "It's helped us to create the best possible experience for clients each and every time they're photographed."

The "high-touch" part begins during the portrait planning session, when along with getting to know their seniors and their fashion sense, the studio team develops personality profiles of the subjects-the single biggest part of their success, says Green.

On portrait day, Green keeps the photos simple, timeless, free of unnecessary props, letting the teens find their own poses and comfort zones, and keeping clothing changes to a minimum.

The studio's Chromatic Renderings (above) are a big hit. Says Green, "The seniors think they're very new. The parents think they look like Andy Warhol originals. No other studio in our area has created a similar look."

Green shoots with the Canon D60 in the studio, tethered to a large TV monitor, so students and parents can see the images instantly. On location, they use the Canon 1Ds-"an awesome tool"-and prints previews and final prints on the Epson Gemini System-"the most superior system we've ever used." To display smaller prints, they use Art Leather. Says Green, "Even with changing technologies, never underestimate the impression a well-designed Art Leather Senior folio can make."

Preferring to give students and parents the freedom to purchase their favorite views, even if it's just a set of wallets, the studio's done away with packages. Instead they give seniors Wilderness Permits for use at dances to purchase photos or DVDs created at the events. "This idea alone has grown our senior market year after year," says Green.

POWERFUL PRESENTATIONS IMAGES DESIGNER PORTRAITS of Moreno Valley, California, wowed the senior class with their (right).

"What separates us from the rest," says president Ralph Mendez, who runs the studio with his wife, Rosemary, "is how our seniors see their images for the first time. When we present their photos in a Kai's Power Show on a 17-inch LCD along with music, the students absolutely love it and Mom and Dad are moved to tears."

Mendez then makes the show available on CD, which has brought a dramatic rise in senior sales. Included are 12 image proof sheets presented in a spiral-bound booklet for at-home review and selection.

"Our other big hits," adds Mendez, "are cool new products like Mini albums by Capri Album, and our Friends frame, with seven wallets placed behind a framed mat spelling out 'Friends.'"

The studio is getting ready to launch a brand-new website,, in October.

CUSTOM SET DESIGN COLLEEN & CO. ( of Halifax, Pennsylvania, is enjoying great success with their new Set Design concept (below), developed by Colleen Gonsar, owner, and Darty Hines, manager, during a shopping trip to an Ikea department store. Explains Gonsar, "Ikea store displays show what your house would look like with their merchandise. We wanted to offer the same kind of

"Often we'll hear seniors say, 'I wish I had this in my house,'" says Hines. The studio's marketing campaign this year, explaining what they can expect from Colleen & Co. that they won't find with other studios, has worked well. Among the things they can expect is the Ellie Vayo Senior Year Album by General Products, which includes information on specialty products. "With this album, sales have risen on products that were difficult to describe," says Gonsar.

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