Featured Photographer: Khara Plicanic

Hey everybody!

Dale here! Now that senior season is kicking off, I thought I’d seek out an amazing senior (and all-around) photographer, and MpixPro customer. So, I found one!

Khara Plicanic, MpixPro customer and owner of Kabloom Studios in Lincoln, Nebraska, let me ask her a few questions about the senior market, which she totally rocks.

Why seniors?
Seniors are fun because of the freedom to experiment without the pressure and time constraints of other types of shoots. Of course, it also helps that somehow… my clients are all drop dead gorgeous, trendy, and tend to be mostly female… so there’s always an abundance of fun clothes and accessories to work with. I often wonder what it is that’s in the water (or should I say, the Starbucks) they drink!? When I think back to my own senior photos, it makes me laugh! I must’ve looked like I was still in elementary school compared to the gorgeous gals I get to work with!

How do you stay relevant to the senior audience?
I’m always reinventing the portrait experience and what comes with it. From proof books, to prints or albums… I’m always changing it up, and every year has been different so far. For me, that’s part of the fun. During the infamously misnamed ‘off season,’ I daydream about what I want my sessions to look like for the next year, and after fretting about the risk, I commit and do it. It just keeps getting better and better!

How do you market to seniors? Other than Facebook?
Besides blogging and FaceBook? Well… let me tell ya! My methods are highly technical and based on conclusive evidence from exhaustive research conducted through only the most prestigious of schools. Just kidding! I think marketing is a lot about common sense and harnessing the butterflies you get in your stomach when you’re excited about something. So, my strategy is: I blow my clients away with a great experience, make sure they get something tangible into their hands (a jaw dropping album works swell!), and let their youthful exuberance (and penchant for chatting/facebooking/texting, etc….) take care of the rest.

It’s also important to make sure to get the parents (typically mom) involved. Not necessarily requiring them come to the shoot, but educating them about the process and managing their expectations so they’ll be as thrilled with the images as their kids are. Parents respond to professionalism, courtesy and confidence, so responding quickly and giving them thorough answers to questions they haven’t even thought to ask yet is key. And don’t think that the kids are the only ones who talk! Parents control the purse strings, and they’re just as likely as the kids themselves to find their way to me after hearing about my studio from their friends.
I also offer custom designed graduation announcements/invites that tastefully showcase my studio branding so everyone knows where it’s from. Those types of things present a unified front that can be a force to reckon with! 🙂

Describe your style in 3 words.
i like color. 🙂

What obstacles did you have when breaking into the senior market? How did you overcome them?
My business grew rather quickly, and I wasn’t really prepared to handle the demand (schedule wise). The summer of 2007 was wild (cue the flash back music). On top of 30-40 weddings and countless family portraits, I photographed 150 seniors. By myself. Within a 3 or 4 month time frame. And somehow, lived to tell about it. 🙂
I don’t have a staff, or assistants… I’m a one woman show and at that time, I was so blown away by the response, I didn’t have a grasp on how much time I’d really need to plan, process and produce each shoot, so setting scheduling limits or boundaries was something I had never thought about. At the time, my philosophy was… if the sun is up and I’m not already booked, I’ll be there. Ha! Would you believe I still managed to have everyone’s proofs (albums, etc….) back to them in less than 3 weeks? I was a machine! My middle name should’ve been “efficiency master.” Ha ha!

What do you do for fun?
I love to read! While so much of the world digests things like “Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” or other colorful works of fiction, I’m the nerd who can’t get enough of all the other non-fiction stuff… biographies, business books, and various memoirs. The next three books on my docket are “The Art of Non-Conformity,” by Chris Guillebeau, “Born Standing-Up,” the biography of comedic genius Steve Martin, and “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” by Don Miller.

Another biggie in the past year, had been fitness. One of my brides convinced me to sign up for a running class last January, and now I’m hooked and preparing for my 2nd half-marathon! The hubbs and I are about to order a ‘for real’ bike, and I’m really excited about doing some triathlons and epic bike trips.

Of course, I love to travel… so that’s always part of my fun! I’m presenting at SWPP in London this January, and though I’ve been to England before, I’m hoping to add Ireland, Wales and possibly Morocco to my passport stamp collection while on the trip. We shall see!

What are your sleeping hours?
Like many photographers, I’m very much a night owl. But… these days, with a better life/work balance, I’m making a real effort to make sure I get a decent amount of sleep. Not only because it’s deliriously wonderful, but because it helps you perform at your best.

Favorite app?
I love TanZen! Great for winding down when you need to. After solving all the puzzles in the ‘lite’ version, I caved in and bought the full app. Love it!

Favorite piece of equipment?
Just in time for the infamous senior flood of 2007, I bought one of those cheesy pop-up changing rooms to put in the back of my car to make wardrobe changes fast and easy. Best. Thing. Ever! Somehow it earned the name “Ralph” and the seniors love ‘him.’

What MpixPro product stands out as a must for your seniors?
I’ve ordered tons of the proof portfolios, and they certainly helped generate buzz! Students would take them to school and pass them around to friends…. talk about peer to peer marketing! The accordion books are another great way to feature your favorite images in a portable format that gets something into their hands to show their friends in a way that FaceBook just can’t match (especially amongst parents who may or may not be on or care about FaceBook). Both products work well on display at the graduation parties as well… for even more eyes to see!

2 Responses to “Featured Photographer: Khara Plicanic”

  1. Eric says:

    Great article Dale. Khara’s work is inspiring and it’s so great to get to know what makes such great photographers tick. Thanks for sharing your story Khara, and keep the fabulous images coming!

  2. This photog rox! Thats what I love about you MPIX peeps, you feature cool photographers who I can learn from! Loving her Poppy backdrop BTW. Keep the fresh, modern coolness coming…. we love it over here!