10 Key Components in a Senior Portrait Photographer
Oct 6, 2018 | By: Boston Photography
Can you believe it… Your baby is growing up? Or maybe you are the one that’s getting ready to graduate from high school and getting ready to jump into the daunting world of college and/or adulthood. Now is the time to get on your pearly smile, capture your personality and really showcase who you are in this pivotal point in your life. Senior portraits should be tons of fun and scream all about you, the student. They should embrace your current style, loves, stage in your life. In the world of photography, how do you go about choosing the best photographer for your senior portrait session? With our 14 year studio experience, check out our top 10 tips that should help you choose the right Senior Portrait photographer for you.
1)Style- Be sure to take a look at the photographer’s style. Style, not necessarily just in the sense of what your photographer is wearing, but yet the mood of their work, how they edit, where they use to capture portraits, how will they utilize lighting. While some of these things might sound above your expertise, take a look at their work and see if you get an overall feeling that indicates that you will love your portraits taken by this photographer. If you feel like you were looking for a more realistic and fun shoot, you might not want to choose a photographer who’s portrait style is dark and moody. I often recommend not just checking out their website but maybe a full gallery, their Facebook, their Instagram to get a better idea of the photographer’s style.
2)Personality- We all know there are tons of different personalities in the world. It is, by the way, what makes the world go around. Some people have personalities that clash with others, some people have personalities that bring out the best in others. It’s important to choose a photographer that knows how to capture the best personality for your senior. The senior should feel comfortable with the photographer so that they can capture genuine expressions. There’s nothing worse than a stale stamped-on smile or some weird awkward positioning. I’ll talk about consultations in a few moments, but this is where I really learn the personality of my clients and also showcase my own personality to make sure we are the best fit for each other. I tend to be quick moving, high energy, talkative and often a jokester if need be just to get the real smiles.
3)Products- In this day and age I think that photographers often do a disservice to their clients by simply providing them with a disc of images. At our studio, we definitely have electronic portrait options but most of our clients are wanting finished products. By finished products, I mean things that are ready to hang on your wall, album to display on your entry table, graduation announcements to place in the mail, a canvas display, and of course gifts for the grandparents, family and friends. I am with my clients from the beginning until the end, I will help them figure out exactly what to wear, what they need for their home and gifts, to how they should display these in their home if they need my expertise and yes, I even attend many of my client’s homes to help them hang them on their walls. Prior to searching for a senior portrait photographer, it is best to have an idea of what you want as your end product? This will also help you later on when we talk about budgeting.
4)Studio vs. Outdoors- This is truly a personal preference on whether or not you want your senior portraits done in a studio, outdoors or maybe you want both. In many areas it may be hard to find photographers with store fronts or studios, so if that is the look you were going for you may need to expand your search to get the right fit. At our studio, we have the option for our seniors to use our studio with over 60 backdrops and hundreds of props, outdoors at our studio, or another location that they choose. If the person you are choosing to use as your senior portrait photographer is also the person that is going to be submitting the pictures for the yearbook, most likely they will have to have a studio or a studio setup to capture the formal cap and gown, drape, tux, or suit portraits. I use my studio for a lot more than just our portrait sessions. Most of my local clients see me at least three times during the portrait process, first for the consultation, then the session, and lastly to come back in and view their portraits and order from their session. Often they get to see me a fourth time for pick up as well :-)
5)Availability- Senior schedules are tough! Often seniors are involved in extracurricular activities, have jobs, are busy applying for colleges, are trying to get in all of their social activities before the school year ends, and many other things that take up tons of their time. It’s best if you can find a photographer that has flexible hours to work around senior schedules. It’s often not conducive for senior students to get out of school to have to take senior portraits. If they are wanting the best lighting and they wanting outdoor portrait sessions, the sessions will often need to be scheduled either first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening. Sometimes during the week just does not cut it and it’s helpful to find a photographer that has weekend appointments.
6)Consultation- There is no better way to plan for your session, learn the personality of your photographer, see if their style and products offer what you would like, and determine your budgetary needs than doing an in-person consultation with your photographer. Consultations are so critical at our studio. We use them as a tool to learn more about our client’s needs and everything just discussed above. It also gives us an opportunity to find out exactly what the client wants and make a plan for our session so that everything goes perfectly. This is a great time to look at additional samples of the photographers work and samples of the locations that you were going to shoot.
7)Involvement from both Parent and Senior- Your photographer should be taking suggestions from both the parents and the individual senior. It’s important to find something for both of these particular clients. You want to make sure that the senior is definitely able to express their style and personality with the portraits but also keep in mind these are going to be hanging on the parent’s walls for years to come so this also needs to fit within the home. It is so critical to meet both needs. I find it extremely helpful to also have the parent or parents at the session.
8)Suggestions- Since your seniors are only seniors once, the photographer should not expect them to know how to pose, how to dress, the best locations etc. It’s important to rely heavily on the photographer to make the best suggestions for your senior sessions. I like to work with my clients exclusively and provide my opinions and expertise so that the senior portrait session is exactly what they want, yet is planned for success.
9)Game Plan- Speaking of planning, I have a game plan for every single session I do regardless whether it’s a senior portrait session, a newborn portrait session or an event. It does not mean that I can’t work on the fly because of course we have to do that often in life, it just means that we are typically able to work more efficiently and combat any little thing that may come up. Often for senior portrait sessions, we will be shooting multiple locations and often have multiple outfit changes. We can adequately use our shoot time best if we have already planned these things.
10)Budget- The last thing that I will discuss as being critical for choosing your photographer for your senior portrait session is your budget. Please understand that you are not necessarily paying for the piece of paper that your portrait will be printed on, yet you will also be paying for the talent, time, education, experience that you will be given by the photographer. Be sure that you understand the value of the items that you will be purchasing and have a list together of the things that you would like to have for your home prior to the consultation so that all of this can be discussed and budgeted for ahead of time. It’s important to ask or understand the difference between the cost of the session fee, versus prints, products, and/or electronics. Most photographers are going to require the session fee to be paid prior to the session and the print or product invoices to be paid upon placement. Some Studios may even have a payment plan or will allow you to place multiple orders to fit your budget!
When you are choosing a photographer, be sure that you are thinking about having fun for your senior portrait session. This is a great time to capture this early adulthood. We often find that the next time that the seniors are professionally captured is for their own wedding so trust me you will definitely want the senior portrait session.
Just a little about the lovely senior's below pictured:
Marissa is a Senior at Camden County High School close by in Georgia. She excels in her advanced coursework as a student. She is a Varsity football cheerleader, Varsity competition cheerleader and a Varsity soccer player. She plans to attend Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA after graduation. Marissa is very hard working and passionate about her interests. She is the best big sister to her two younger brothers. When asked why they chose to use Boston Photography, her Mom Casee replied, "We chose Kellie to capture our family well over a year ago. From my very first contact with Kellie, she was attentive, creative and energetic. When it was time for Marissa’s senior pictures there was no question as to who would take them. Kellie listened to her ideas and made them become a reality. Kellie gives excellent direction during the shoot, which is why the end product turns out so well. We are never disappointed!"
I have to say I have easy subjects as well with this crew :) Their family has also been a delight to work with and are always ready for the next session.
Michael is a Senior at Yulee High School here locally. He’s been in dual enrollment through FSCJ since sophomore year and will graduate one or two classes short of his associates degree. He’s wrestled since his freshman year of high school and that is truly one of his passions. His goals this year and wrestling are to make it to state and to get a career total of 100 wins. He is looking at some schools in Nebraska Kansas Arkansas Alabama and is being recruited to wrestle at school. He wants to be A High School teacher and eventually a wrestling coach. When asked why the chose to use Boston Photography, his Mom Dana wrote, "Because you’re doing amazing job of showcasing your subjects personality in their portraits".
I have to say that I absolutely love this. I met Dana years ago through a dog rescue that we were both volunteers for! I love how friendships often turn to clients and visa versa.
3rd Set- "Riley"
Rylie is currently a Senior at Dakota High School in Macomb Twp, Michigan. After graduation Rylie is planning on attending Grand Valley State University where she plans on pursing her nursing degree. Rylie is a free-spirited girl with a big heart and zest for life. One of her favorite places is the beach so when planning the summer vacation to Amelia Island they decided it would be a perfect location for her Senior Portrait Session. Rylie's Mom Teri said that she looked into several photographers and then was "lucky enough" to come across our website (Boston Photography). Teri further said, "I was impressed with the style and quality of the photographs and after speaking to Kellie, I knew I had found my photographer. Kellie was extremely knowledgeable and was an absolute pleasure to work with. She helped make my daughter feel comfortable and made the experience enjoyable. I am absolutely in love with the way the photographs turned out and would highly recommend Kellie!"
The feelings are mutual. I love that this family was great communicators from start to finish. Especially designing a portrait experience for our vacationers, communication is key because we often do not get to do an in-studio consultation before our session nor meet! Being able to learn more about Rylie prior to the session helped me suggest locations, attire, etc... I felt like I already knew her before she arrived.
All of these Seniors are going places! I love that I get to capture these moments. Be sure to watch on our website as all 3 of them will get a place there as well! If you would like to know more about our Senior Sessions, feel free to call our studio at 904-412-8178.