Jamie Plack - Image Courtesy of Foreground Studio

The work of Jamie Plack Photography can only be described as unique, colorful, and absolutely spontaneous. It’s obvious she puts a lot of care and thought into each individual senior she photographs, making sure their personality is showcased in the most fun, fashionable way possible. I had the opportunity of interviewing Jamie, and I must say I am an even bigger fan of her work now after getting an insight into what makes Jamie Plack the phenomenal photographer that she is.

Sit back and relax as we take a look into the world of Jamie Plack Photography!

1) OK, let’s take this old school...tell me about when you FIRST got involved in photography in general and what happened to make you make the jump into going into it professionally?Also, have you always done seniors from the very beginning of your professional career, or did you specialize in other genres? If so, what else?

I first got involved in photography in high school. I then took a couple photography classes in college as part of my journalism minor and had an internship with a local newspaper. I started working for a family of newspapers including shooting sports and feature photos. This led to people asking for other types of photos--family, seniors, weddings, babies. I dabbled in it all. The weddings, coupled with some life changes, caused me to lose all interest in photography. I sold all of my equipment and retired.

Fast forward 10 years to my nephew, Alex, then a senior in high school. He asked me to take his senior photos. I said no. Not happening. I had no equipment. I hadn’t picked up a camera in forever. Everything was digital now. Finally though, I gave in and rented some equipment. The rest is history. I fell back in love with photography and knew I wanted seniors to be my focus. I just went full time last April. Seniors are about 75 percent of my business with families, headshots and modeling portfolios making up the rest.

2) Tell me about your education in photography. Is it formal as far as you studied photography in college, or is it more informal as being self-taught/conferences/workshops?

It is a mix. Like I mentioned earlier, I had a few classes in high school and college, but many things I have learned on my own along the way.

3) In your opinion, what makes "Jamie Plack Photography" unique?

We all nitpick ourselves and are always our own worst critic, but tell me what you LOVE about your work/unique eye for portraiture.

As a commercial model for many years, I think that gives me the unique ability to help the seniors with posing and feeling comfortable in front of the camera. That is one reason I love shooting seniors as it is the most like a fashion shoot. I also love building their self-confidence and seeing them blossom.

4) What is the biggest piece of advice that you would give someone starting out in the business of photographing seniors?

Look for the light--both for your photos and in your seniors.

5) Editing / Post Processing: How do you define your editing style and what programs or plugins do you like to use if you don't mind sharing? You have a very distinctive color POP to your images that's very eye-catching.

Sometimes I feel like it depends on my mood or the day. I edit in Lightroom, but my goal is always to get it right in camera as much as possible. When I get on a roll though shooting in the moment, sometimes that doesn’t always happen. That pop is a preset from Pretty Presets.

6) When you're shooting for YOU, what types of projects do you typically love to schedule ?

This rarely happens, but if it does, I like it to be a creative, collaborative project with my hair and makeup team. I like it to be something different from a typical senior shoot.

7) When it comes to your valued customers, what do you want them to remember after walking away from your overall experience?

I hope when my clients walk away from their time with me, they remember a personalized, unique, fun experience feeling pampered and like their best self. My assistant is my sister-in-law and we are always joking and having fun.

8) I've asked you to give me some of your favorite photos. Think back to those shoots. There is bound to be something unique about it to make it stick out as one of your favorites. Was there a bit of luck involved where the planets aligned for the perfect environment with your killer skill thrown on top of it where it all came together? Tell me about them and why they're your favorite shots.

Ok picking six favorite photos was utterly impossible. I have changed my picks so many times.

#1.This was my first time using a parachute dress. I love how she looks like she is in a perfume ad running through an alley in Europe not small-town Indiana.

#2. This senior spends a lot of time at the lake, so we incorporated that into a lot of her session. I just love the colors, the light, the reflection, everything.

#3. This is the same senior at the end of the night. It reminds me of the“Wicked Game” video directed by Herb Ritts in the ’80s. I love the texture the sand gives. Plus, give me all black and white.

#4. This senior’s nickname is Waffles, so he suggested shooting part of his session at a waffle house, which I loved! He also is an actor which made for a shoot full of personality. I know I have had seniors put flowers, leaves, hands, etc. over their one eye. Why not waffles too? :)

#5. Again black and white is always timeless. This is a favorite because it was shot at Menard’s (like Lowe’s).

#6. I really don’t make all my seniors get in the water hahaha.I just love the textures of the water, rocks and lace and the clarity of the water.

9) All photography aside for a moment: what is it that drives you? This can be interests outside of photography, family, pets, or a combination of those things or anything else. What makes Jamie Plack...well, Jamie Plack?

My family for sure. My husband and I have 4-year-old IVF twins. It was a long and painful journey to get them here, but they drive all I do.

Image Courtesy of Foreground Studo

Also, during the time when I was “retired,” my mom always tried to get me back shooting. She would talk about my eye and how much she loved my photos, but I wanted nothing to do with it. Now, my mom is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease and doesn’t usually remember that I am a photographer again. I wish she could understand and see all I am doing now. I am thankful for her always believing in me.

10)The big question: Where do you see yourself in 5 / 10 years? Do you have any specific goals you would like to share?

1. Learn how to fold my reflector - LOL.

2. I would like to have my own studio space.

3. I also would like to grow and learn more about the business side of photography. As it happens with so many photographers, we are told we take good photos and jump into the business without having much experience on that end.

It was an honor to be able to interview Jamie. She is a huge inspiration for all of those wanting to step up their game in the senior genre, showing that with hard-work and dedication you can create an amazing and lasting senior photography business.

Make sure to go follow her on Instagram @jamieplackphotography!

Her profile is such an inspiration! Thanks so much Jamie!

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Q: How long have you been in business? Where are you located?

A: I have been in photography for 15 years. I started out doing everything from pets to Bar Mitzvas to families. As soon as I photographed my first senior, I knew that’s all I wanted to do and never looked back. That was 7 years ago.

I have a studio in Evansville, Indiana on the property where I live and it was converted into a studio space from a old barn!

Q: What is a photography skill you consider yourself to be good at?

A: I pride myself on being able to bring out my client’s personality and capture it on camera. I really try to make an effort to get to know each of my clients and do something different or unique with each one.  Whether it is a fabulous property or location, sentimental props, or a big personality I like to make sure each of my seniors has something really amazing to add to their images.

Q: How do you use Instagram to influence and grow your business?

A: Throughout the year, I host model shoots with specific and fun themes, then use them strategically for content and to build buzz onInstagram. Some past themes I have used are fall, pumpkins, and football. I also like to post my most attention-grabbing images from my styled or senior sessions.

Q: How many senior models or reps do you have? What do you find is the best way to organize shoots with their hectic schedules?

A: I have done larger groups in the past but have found a smaller group are easier to coordinate. I also enjoy getting to know my models and find that I get more authentic connections with a small group.

Currently I have10 senior models. Group texting is best way for me to plan sessions, plan meet and greets and stay in touch with the smaller group.

Q: What is your favorite piece of software that is key to running your senior business?

A: Probably for me it would be Pro Select. It revolutionized the way I do in person sales. It helps to show how the client’s images will look on the walls in their own home. It makes the visual decisions more streamlined.

That plus a big screen tv! Both increased my sales from the very first time.

Q: Are you a photography rule follower or rule breaker.

A: For sure a rule breaker!! As long as you know the rules it is totally fine to break the rules. I love to post the rule-breaking images on Instagram.

Q: What is one of the best tips for a new senior photographer trying to grow their business.

A: Figure out that one thing that sets you apart from everyone else and run with it. That really is big. How can you up your experience and always make yourself stand out from the rest? Unique locations, innovative posing, a style closet-anything in your business that can set you apart and add value to your senior experience!

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My first assignment was to interview Selessa Holmberg of Selessa Studio. She was one of the first senior photographers I started to follow when I made my decision to specialize in Senior Photography. If you all have not checked out her work take a moment to look her up! Her bold style and wonderful images never disappoint. She is off to an incredible start this year as well. She was given Gold Elite status at Senior Year Magazine for having multiple images published in the first print edition ever!

When I first contacted her to do this interview, her schedule overwhelmed me just by looking at it. I am honored to have had the opportunity to connect with her and that she was able to find a few minutes to answer my questions. It was so hard not to ask over 100 questions but here is what we chatted about:

Selessa Holmberg

Rebecca: Hello! First of all I want to say I am a huge fan of your work. I love your bold, bright color choices.

Selessa: Thank you so much! You also have a fantastic style of your own.

Rebecca: So, to start off with, give me your elevator pitch - A quick little bio of who you are and how you got started in photography.

Selessa: Sure! I graduated from college with a BFA in Advertising, and ran my own small advertising design studio for fifteen years. We had about ten employees plus freelancers. After having two young children, we made the challenging decision to close the business. It was too hard to actually be part of my children’s everyday life, so I took a break for a short time.

My daughter was a dancer and she and her friends needed headshots one day and that was the beginning of my photography life.

Rebecca: When you decided to specialize in Teens/Seniors, what was the biggest learning experience you had? Did it come in the form of a mistake? Lack of information? How have you taken that learning experience and applied it to your business today?

Selessa :I always worked with a lot of seniors and I realized last year that I didn’t want to accept anymore weddings (even though many of my past senior clients are getting married now). I just love this age group! I work with families, help models build their portfolios, provide headshots for business, and I photograph dance studios.

In the beginning of my career, I really didn’t quite know how to pose young teenagers. I thought I would direct and they might do some of their own posing. Right away I realized I would have to study my favorite looks through magazines and other photographers. Luckily, I was able to practice on my daughter.

Rebecca: I noticed on your website you offer three location options for your clients. How do you create unique images when using the same locations on a regular basis?

Selessa: I actually offer more than three locations, but mention large city look, medium city looks, and nature looks. I try to shoot what people are drawn to, but try to make each shoot as individual as possible by highlighting their personality at these locations.

Rebecca: Do you believe it is important to keep up with teen trends in order to adequately connect with and market to teens? How do you keep up with it all and what are your favorite resources to use?

Selessa: Yes. Basically I am watching wha teens post, along with watching trends on social media. We also talk to my model team and clients about what types of things they love.

Rebecca: How do you handle difficult clients/parents? Have you had any difficult situations that have taught you something specific in working with teens and their parents?

Selessa: Luckily, I have had very, few really difficult parents, even though I was concerned about that when I first began this journey. We are taking photos and making memories of the most important special thing in their life, their children!

I did have a client years ago, that was extremely difficult. It seemed as if she really wanted to have me photograph her son, but as it turned out, she had planned from the beginning to stop payment on her check and did so right after she picked up her order. She told me that she was a stay at home mom and if I pursued her she would make my life miserable. In the end it didn’t effect my business at all. Since this client, I make sure that I collect either the total amount or most of the total, before delivering the order.

Rebecca: When you are working with teens, what is your personal style of dress? Do you dress to impress the teens or do you wear what is comfortable to you?

Selessa: Since most of the time it is so hot, I dress casually. I need to feel comfortable. Since I am about 5’ 3” I try to wear some kind of wedge to get more height, instead of flats so that my shots are not looking up at them the entire session.

Rebecca: What do you believe is the one trait you have that not only attracts teen clients to your studio but also allows them to resonate and build a rapport during the session? Do you have meetings with them prior to the shoot?

Selessa: I meet with most of my clients before the shoot, if I can, but in the busiest times, I can’t always meet with them in person. I try to find out what they like most about my photos and which are their favorites, along with other photographs they love. It is important to find out who they really are, have fun with them, and make them feel comfortable the day of the shoot.

Rebecca: What has been a crowning achievement in your professional career?

Selessa: Recognition from clients when they sing my praises to all of their friends online is always so rewarding. I truly have such a blast with so many of them. Also, recognition from my peers is very appreciated and gratifying. I appreciate Senior Year Magazine and all Beverly and staff do for the industry. I am so honored to be on the list of Gold Elite - this was amazing to me, especially when I see so many incredible photographers with so much talent.

Rebecca: Lastly, as artists are always looking for guidance, reassurance and ways to make what we do more easy. What would be your best advice for me if you and I were sitting on the couch drinking coffee and chatting about our work as a whole.

Selessa: Never stop learning! Continue updating your look, editing and pricing. Keep up with what the seniors are doing and loving. Enter competitions, and put yourself out there. This can up your game as well. I am constantly trying to learn how to edit faster, and shoot in a more concise way. I know I have a lot to learn. No matter what stage of the game I am at, I am constantly keeping up with the photography world and updating. If it is required, change your way of working and never forget how important marketing is!

Rebecca: What wonderful advice!! I want to say thank you so very much to Selessa for her time and inspiring responses and to each of you for reading.

Now, go out and make something beautiful!

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