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by Sean Setters
While working with The-Digital-Picture.com has enabled me to become competent in a variety of photographic disciplines, I always find myself coming back to my first love – portraiture. The look on someone's face when they see themselves in a whole new light [pun intended] is such a joy for me.
But alas, there are some types of portraiture I'm just not that interested in pursuing. If someone wants their 2-3 year-old photographed, I will gladly refer them to someone else. Being 34 and not a father, I never acquired the patience it takes to photograph young children. For those who can create great pictures with kids of that age group, I tip my hat to you. But as for me, there are three things I look for in clients:
My ideal clients...
- must be able to follow directions.
- actually desire having their picture taken.
- are interested in creating unique and/or creative imagery.
For the longest time, high school seniors have been the group that I preferred working with most. High school seniors are young, exuberant and usually excited at the idea of standing out from the pack. And with high school graduation being such an important event in one's life, a graduate-to-be's parents are typically willing to mark the occasion with a significant photo investment. All of these factors make high school senior photography very attractive to me (as well as many others).
But it wasn't until this week that I realized another, fairly untapped market existed that also met all the criteria for my ideal client – those with online dating profiles.
We've previously promoted the importance of creating an eye-catching self-portrait
for the purpose of online dating, and even the CDLC provided some self-portrait tips specifically for this purpose
. But until recently it never occurred to me to mention this as an available service to potential clients.
With that in mind, let's take a look at our potential market. In 2014, census data showed that 45% of Americans over the age of 18 were unmarried
. That's about 107 million Americans. Large market – check! And with a seemingly increasing number of single Americans being older and educated, my guess is that here is a lot of disposable income at stake.
From a consumer's perspective, putting your best foot forward in the form of an attractive profile picture is the easiest way to generate interest in your profile (more interest = greater odds in finding an ideal partner). Your first impression – that little profile picture – is big factor in causing potential partners to click "View More Details." And after your detailed profile has been explored, more great images can further increase interest. Let's face it – physical attraction is a part of life (thankfully!).
From a photographer's perspective, if we can help people find their soul mates while making money at the same time, everyone wins. The relatively small investment for a portrait session tailored for online dating may turn out to be the most gratifying and fulfilling investment the client ever makes.
And that brings us to Teddy. Teddy is 40 years-old, single, has a good job and has recently tried online dating. He's been on a few dates over the last couple of months and his dates always noted that he "...looked better in person than he did in his profile pictures." Armed with that feedback, Teddy hired me to take a variety of pictures to replace the iPhone snapshots he was currently using.
Being relatively new to the Savannah area, Teddy temporarily rents the third floor of a large, beautifully decorated home. With lots of interesting rooms to work with, choosing to shoot inside the common areas of the home was an easy decision. And while I packed quite a bit of gear, I ended up using only the following items:
Using a two-speedlite setup allowed me to easily move to different areas throughout the common areas of the home that he and his landlord share. Following are some of my favorite images from the roughly 2-hour session:
Overall, Teddy was extremely pleased with his images and quickly changed his Facebook profile picture to one of the images above soon after delivery. I assume his dating profile images were updated around the same time.
In short, the online dating market is growing because of social and cultural factors, and the proliferation of mobile devices means this market is poised to be very strong for the foreseeable future. Adding dating profile pictures to your advertised list of services will likely generate clients that are easy to work with and eager to get the most out of their session. And maybe best of all, you can help someone find a companion for life while doing something you enjoy. That's rewarding for everyone.