Topics Discussed and Key Points:
- The lackluster quality of most stock photos depicting seniors
- What it is like to work with 80+-year-old models, including those with cognitive disabilities
- Why Tom incorporates stories into his photos
- How senior living facilities can improve their marketing by showcasing quality photos
- Justifying the cost of quality photoshoots for marketing purposes
- Rebuilding trust in senior living communities post-COVID 19 through photography
In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Tom Sanders, a professor of photography at Savannah College of Art and Design and the founder of Senior Living Photography and Senior Stock Photos. He is the author of the coffee table books The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of WWII (2010) and Vietnam War Portraits: The Faces and Voices (2020).
Debbie considers Tom to be the best in the senior photography niche which, she laments, is severely lacking. She notes the oftentimes routine, inaccurate, and sometimes even silly representations of seniors in traditional stock photographs. One reason for this, addresses Tom, is that many senior living companies are unwilling to invest in high-quality photoshoots.
Debbie also criticizes run of the mill photos as idealized images of prospects that lack relatability (i.e. models are often a decade or two younger than the usual senior living demographic). Tom, on the other hand, is unafraid to literally get up close and personal with the people he is trying to represent. Debbie points out that many of Tom’s photos clearly display the wrinkles of his 80+-year-old models. They are posed simply, their humanity, personalities, and vulnerabilities all laid bare.
Tom encourages more photography companies to take advantage of the stories that seniors have to share, so as to bring out the individuality of every single model. It is this level of care and openness that helped The Last Good War to earn the title of “Non-Fiction Book of the Year, Editor’s Choice” by the Forewords Review Magazine.
Companies should be willing to invest in better quality photos of their seniors the same way they are already used to spending on photos of their facility. After all, a marketer’s job is to sell lifestyle, not real estate.