After teaching sixth grade for six years and witnessing the angst of her own children through the ages of 10 to 13, Lara Blair returned to her photography business with new purpose: to center her work around tween portrait sessions that would bolster the confidence of kids during this tumultuous time of life. Here’s how she delved into the process.
EXPLORATION. She and a stylist friend did a test run of the concept with four of Blair’s previous students, creating costumes that reflected each subject’s favorite colors.
NAMING. She dubbed the sessions “Kaleidoscope,” since they’re intended to draw out all the colors of the subject’s personality. She markets the sessions with this tagline: “A portrait experience that validates, elevates, and celebrates your child.”
MARKETING. To advertise the sessions and their benefits, she shares social media posts explaining why this experience is important, “especially during COVID, when tween self-esteem seemed to be nosed-diving,” she says. She posts Instagram reels showing sessions behind the scenes—the stylists swirl around the subject creating a celebrity photo shoot vibe. She also interviews subjects and their parents and posts those testimonials.
CONSULTATION. A week before the session, Blair and her team sit down with the subject and parent at the studio to discuss what makes the tween feel special and which characters in books and movies they admire. Based on those responses, she creates a list of items they’ll need for the session—sporting equipment, books, artwork, pets, dance clothing, etc.—and settles on a theme. “Whatever makes them them—that’s how we want to capture them.”
SALES. The minimum order for these sessions is a custom album and one piece of wall art, which she makes clear to clients from the get-go. “The underlying premise is, why would we spend so much time shooting multiple looks when these images aren’t going to live anywhere?” she says. She builds a print credit into the session fee, which makes the sessions significantly more expensive than those of competitors. That’s intentional because it shows clients this isn’t the average portrait session. “We want potential clients to have skin in the game with upfront investment,” she says.
REWARD. Selling top products is great, but even better is the reaction of her subjects, says Blair: “Absolutely every move we make during their session shines the spotlight on them and all the wonder they bring to the world. My stylists and I even wear black so we fade into the background, showcasing the star of the show. I know our clients feel this because they tell us so.”
Amanda Arnold is a senior editor.