Senior Living Advertising Tips: Residents as Models

We are often asked if a senior living community can use their residents as models for advertising and brochures.

It’s a worthwhile discussion and certainly a solution worth considering. Stock photos of seniors tend to look similar and professional models are very expensive.

Here are some tips:

  • Residents must agree in advance to have their photos used in advertising and promotional materials. These materials may be in use long after they are no longer residing at the community. Having their cooperation in writing is essential and you may want their adult child’s permission as well. I’ve known many situations where an adult child wanted a brochure reprinted when their parent passed away.
  • Residents must have fair warning about a photo shoot. Whoever is selecting models may want to review these people in advance. I’ve seen too many pictures where people are pulled into a picture at the last minute. They aren’t appropriately dressed or styled and the pictures look like snap shots.
  • Plan to provide every resident who will be a model, hair styling the day of the model shoot. They’ll look more current and fresh. This includes the men too. They need to be freshly shaven and groomed.
  • You’ll need a stylist for make-up and wardrobe. They may have the right clothes to wear in their own closets but someone may need to coordinate their outfit. Left to make their own choices, their outfits may be too neutral. Someone needs to be in charge of determining what will be worn for each shot.
  • A shot list should delineate the locations within the community where there will be photography. It may be appropriate to help someone dress up more than they normally would for a picture in the community’s restaurant or bar. The wardrobe should fit the community’s lifestyle.
  • You want to use a professional photographer experienced in taking people’s pictures. The photographer’s personality is key and he’ll need to be much more patient coaxing an extra smile from these nonprofessional models.
  • It’s good if the photographer has an assistant. We recently found that our model wore a hearing aid. When we were taking a swimming picture he wasn’t wearing his hearing device. He couldn’t hear the photographer’s directions but the assistant bridged the communication’s gap.
  • Pre-plan with the photographer when each shot will take place so residents are waiting to have their pictures taken.
  • Confirm in advance that a resident agrees to have their photo to taken. We were all ready to take someone’s picture and learned that she wasn’t interested in participating. This may happen but try your best to secure cooperation.
  • Learn if your resident may have a conflict the day of the shoot. One of our models remembered a doctor’s appointment and someone else needed to be finished by a specific time. Do the best you can working around these challenges. They will occur.
  • Plan in advance how these folks will be compensated for their time. Dinner coupons, flower arrangements, several framed photos from the shoot are all nice touches to say thanks.
  • To not make residents not selected as models feel special too, we took their pictures as well throughout the day of the shoot. These pictures would not be used in our ads but it helped avoid hurt feelings.
  • The photo shoot becomes the activity of the day and even those not selected enjoy the activity that is a departure from usually activities.

If your photo shoot is successful, you may find you have some budding models at your community when you look at the finished product. Best of luck and if you need any more tips, please call The Ehlers Group, 954-726-9228.

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