I’ve spent a lot of time with families of Seniors the last few years, and one thing I’ve learned from them is that Senior year is BUSY!!
There’s deadlines and tests and college applications and decisions to be made that you’re just not ready to make yet. It tends to get a bit stressful. I get it.
But I always tell my clients that your Senior portrait experience should be the least stressful part about that final year. In fact, I think it should be one of the most anticipated events of Senior year! It’s finally a chance to celebrate all that they’ve become…and also to get those precious glimpses of what will be.
I strive to make my Senior Portrait Experience a stress-free zone for all my models and clients, helping them every step of the way from the styling to the ordering. But I realize that sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to even know where to begin in choosing your photographer.
Here’s a few questions and tips to consider when choosing your Senior portrait photographer, that I feel will help you make the absolute best choice for your family.
START LOOKING EARLIER THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO!
I can’t say it enough…it’s never too early to start thinking about Senior portraits. If you’re not sure who you’re going to choose, then I highly recommend that you start researching your options at least during Junior year. Most photographers, including myself, book Senior sessions months ahead of time. When you do find your perfect photographer, it would be a shame to miss out on your preferred date due to lack of availability.
If you’ve got a few photographers that you’re considering, it’s a smart idea to give them a call as early as possible and see when they start booking. If you’re wanting a session in the summer between Junior & Senior year, you may need to book a potential date during spring. I always recommend that summer is a great time for Senior sessions. Not having to schedule around homework or school activities is a big plus
If you’re thinking you’d like to wait until Fall, you still need to get a date reserved as quickly as possible, since Fall dates tend to fill quickly. Here in Ohio, the months between August – October are crazy busy with sessions since parents have suddenly realized “I’ve got a Senior!”. Inquiring during the spring or summer months about available dates for the Fall could really save you some headache later on.
WHAT STYLE ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Every photographer has a “style”, so it’s important that the style you’re wanting for your portraits matches the style of your photographer.
Are you wanting traditional, studio portraits with a clean look to them? Do you want portraits that are “out of the norm” with a distinct edgy feel to them? Are you looking for more of a fashion inspired session? It’s important to ensure that the vision you have for your final images…or what it is you’re expecting your images to look like…match up with the vision and the skills of the photographer.
There’s a few different ways to make sure you and your photographer are on the same page:
1. Check out their website and their social media sites. For any professional photographer, you should see a similar look and feel to their images. That doesn’t mean they all look the same! It simply means that some photographers have a soft, romantic feel to their images. Other photographers might use dramatic lighting or bold colors. If you take a little time to look thru their galleries you should get a good feel for which images you’re drawn to and start getting some great ideas for your own session.
2. Meet with the photographer in person for a consultation. Most professional photographers will gladly meet with you in person or at least have an in-depth conversation with you on the phone about your expectations. Discussing wardrobe choices, locations, products and budget should all be a part of the conversation. After talking with the photographer you should feel comfortable if they understand what you’re wanting to accomplish with your portrait session.
WHO DO YOUR FRIENDS RECOMMEND?
A great referral from a friend is priceless in any situation. So be sure to check around with previous Seniors to see who they recommend. Not only can you see up close how their images and products turned out, but you can get the added advantage from the parents to hear how they describe working with the photographer.
A few important things to ask about is the communication, if their expectations were met (or hopefully exceeded!), how smooth the ordering process was, and the quality of the products they received. Friends are usually more than happy to tell you about a good, or bad, experience with any business.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR PORTRAITS?
It’s a very simple question, but it’s funny how many clients I have that really seem surprised when I ask this question. “What do you want to actually DO with your portraits?” When you have an idea how you’ll be displaying your favorite images, that helps you narrow down your choices for a photographer.
If you’re wanting some impressive products to display your favorite portraits, you’ll want to make sure your photographer offers those. If you’re only wanting a few small prints for friends, then you may look for someone that only offers a CD of files you can print yourself. If you’re dreaming of custom items such as Graduation Cards, Keepsake Albums, and unique printing options, then a boutique photographer is probably best for you.
Most photographers have sample products for you to look at before you ever have to commit to a session. Even if you think you’re only wanting “this or that”, take a look at everything they have to offer and you may find some great products you didn’t even know existed!
WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
Yep, it’s a fact of life. Our budget will often determine our choices for things. You’ll want no surprises when you choose your photographer so be sure to get all the pricing information before you make any commitments or sign any contracts.
Studios often have minimum purchase requirements, booking fees, or product packages in place for Senior sessions. If you’re able to have a clear picture of what you’ll be spending for everything you’re wanting, it makes it so much easier to plan and budget.
It’s also helpful to find out about payment plans and timelines for payments thru out the experience. For example…Is full payment due upon ordering or only a partial deposit? Is your preferred credit card accepted? Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you can think of concerning pricing, or anything else, before you make your final choice.
I hope these tips help take a little bit of the stress out of this super busy, super special, Senior year. Good Luck!