This is YOUR time! Senior portraits are a rite of passage—they will set you apart and feature your personality and talents. So, you have a BIG decision to make… how will you choose your senior portrait photographer?
Ask these 6 questions to find the best photographer to capture the real you:
They say it takes 10,000 hours of experience for someone to become a master of their craft/art, so ask how much experience the photographer has. Be sure to ask to see an extensive portfolio of their work. Ask them what some of their favorite shoots or sessions have been. Do they have a degree in photography? Are they certified? Are they a member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America)? PPA photographers abide by a strict code of ethics and have unique skills and training in the artistry and technology of creating beautiful images that will reflect your unique personality and talents.
Some photographers’ styles are more retro, some may be more “sexy,” some edgy like in a magazine, some photojournalistic, some more classic and clean…which one appeals to you? You can get a good idea of a photographer’s style by checking out their website and viewing their senior picture image gallery; but it’s a good idea to ask them about it too! When you look at a photographer’s portfolio, look for images that speak to you and that you can see yourself in.
If a photographer does not offer you an in-person consultation to get to know you and understand your needs, you may not want to hire him/her. This is valid whether the photographer has a studio or the meeting happens at a local coffee shop or in the comfort of your own home. A meeting is super important because you need to know if you’re going to click. Feeling comfortable during the photo session is the most important thing—if you don’t like the person behind the lens, it will show in your pictures. This is the time to ask the photographer lots of questions. See how friendly and knowledgeable they are. Do they communicate well? Do they seem accommodating and flexible? Pros should encourage you to bring along anything that represents you – musical instruments, athletic gear, dancing shoes, purses, pets and BFFs! When you’re relaxed and comfortable around someone, you become more natural in front of the camera, allowing for great pictures.
As you shop around, be sure and ask for samples of full sessions (not just a small selection of the best). Photographers can shoot hundreds of images, but may only get three that are good. You don’t want to be limited to just three choices, do you? That’s why you need to see an entire session to tell if the photographer is consistently good, or just lucky every now and then. When you look at an entire gallery of images, picture yourself in the photos. Are these the types of images you want? Is there enough of a selection for your tastes and desires?
You only have one chance to capture your senior year. Make it count! Most people don’t know that photo/portrait printing is an art that takes tons of experience to master. Take a look at the photographer’s canvases, albums, wall portraits, and keepsakes like phone cases, key chains, etc. If they can’t show you examples of each, there is a good chance they don’t have the experience or expertise that you deserve. Remember that printed products last forever. Insist on a full-service photographer who gives you prints instead of a CD that is just going to end up at the bottom of a drawer.
Try to remember that your senior portraits are an investment, rather than an “expense”. These are images that you (and your parents!) will keep forever, so go into the selection process with an open mind, but make sure you understand what you are paying for. Is it just for the session or does it also include prints? How long is the session, where will it take place, can I wear more than one outfit? How many proofs can I expect to receive? How are the proofs delivered and how long after the shoot?
Once upon a time, a high school senior could look forward to a traditional portrait – girls wearing a black drape, guys in a classic tuxedo. But times have changed, and this ain’t your mama’s senior portrait anymore!
A professional senior portrait is an opportunity to highlight your accomplishments, personality and good looks. Given the importance of the occasion, choosing a photographer is no easy decision. To help you in the selection process, we’ve compiled 10 tips to assist in making your pick.
At such a busy time in your life, it’s easy to choose a photographer based on what a BFF or classmate recommends. But your senior portrait is about YOU! So find a photographer whose style suits you. To do this, review and research a variety of portfolios and images to determine what you like – and what you don’t. While someone parasailing or taking a reflective walk through the woods may make a great photo, would you want that to be YOUR image? Does that tell YOUR story? As you peruse images, don’t stop until you find something that speaks to you.
The connection you feel with your photographer is just as important as your style. You want a photographer with whom you’re comfortable, someone who is going to take the time to get to know you and ask you what you want out of your session. This doesn’t happen in five minutes, so spend some time seeking out and establishing the right connection.
It’s your time to shine so why not hire the best?! Professional photographers have unique skills and training in artistry and technology, so they know how to capture your unique personality and interests in images. The pros have standards to uphold and membership in professional associations like PPA Professional Photographers of America).
Ask a photographer about retouching, what they typically do and don’t do, when and why. Because, while no one is perfect, it may take just a quick computer brush stroke to make your photos look amazing! On the other hand, you don’t want images so retouched you no longer recognize yourself! So, don’t be afraid to ask about what happens behind the scenes.
As you look for your photographer, good customer service should be high on your list. This is when references, reviews and testimonials can help you find a photographer that will deliver the customer experience you want.
Any good photographer knows that the key to great images comes from having the right lighting. As a customer, it’s not your job to know an F-stop from an aperture, but as you review portfolios and websites, pay special attention to the photographer’s use of light – in doing so, you’ll see how an expert can use light to take an image from OK to amazing!
You’ve probably been there – a photographer asks you to position your head “here” and your shoulder “here,” and suddenly, you feel like you’re in a bad game of Twister. A good photographer shouldn’t manhandle you, but gently guide you through a series of poses. As Kent Smith of Kent Smith Photography says, “Seniors want to look ‘natural,’ natural does not mean posed.” Smith goes on to say that it’s the photographer’s knowledge of lighting and how to flatter a figure that makes all the difference in posing.
As you shop for the right senior photographer, look for someone who can offer multiple options. Look at albums, collages, wall frames and everything in between. Discover what you like - informal, casual, fun and/or serious shots. A good photographer will take your ideas, show you what will work, what may not and why. Also, don’t be afraid to ask to see the whole enchilada - the entire photo shoot. This gives you greater insight as to the photographer’s whole body of work, not just selected images.
Yes, a senior session is all about you. But, parents (and their wallets) typically have a vested interest in this experience. Parent and teen should be involved in the process and the decision. As a senior celebrates this milestone, it’s also about the people and support system that helped make it happen.
While you may think you can’t put a price tag on the experience, actually, you can and your photographer will. Again, this is where parents most likely come into play. But understand that everything has a budget and a cost. Often things are flexible, and you can probably switch out and substitute things that are really important to you.