7 Tips for Choosing the Best Photographer for Senior Pictures
There are thousands of photographers out there, so how do you know which one is the best photographer for your senior pictures? How do you choose? What should you look for? How do you make that decision when there are thousands of photographers? Not all sessions are the same, so you’ll need to decide what’s important to you! These tips are designed to make sure that you’re picking the perfect senior photographer to capture your senior year!
Tip #1: Do your research.
Ask around. Ask other moms and seniors about their experiences with photographers that they’ve used. Additionally, you should ask each photographer you are considering for references and reviews. Check the photographer’s social media. Dig through their website to see if their style matches yours. When you’ve done all of that, make sure that you feel confident that you will be comfortable spending an hour or more with this person. You want to feel a connection not only to their work but to them. Again, you only experience senior year once. Make your senior portrait session count!
A good way to gauge what your experience with a photographer will be like is by noting how quickly they respond to your emails, calls, or texts. Does it take days or do you usually hear back from them within 24 hours? It’s important to have reasonable expectations and to realize that you are not their only client, but you also want to feel like you are important to them. Make sure that you have a good feeling when you communicate with your photographer. Are they excited about your shoot? Are they giving you helpful advice? (Psssst…my goal is to make EVERY client feel like my ONLY client!)
Tip #2: Don’t let price alone dictate your decision.
I get it. Teenagers are expensive! Car insurance, prom, college, life…it’s never ending! Price is the first thing that most people ask about. Don’t let price be the roadblock to getting the look and experience you want! These are your senior photos! If you go with the cheapest photographer or have a friend take them, are you going to get images you love? Will you have envy or regret about your senior pictures? This is a rite of passage, one of the most important milestones of your teenage years.
Find someone you love and believe will deliver the best experience and images! You’re only going to do this once! And this is super important…try to find someone who will guide you through the process, help with styling, and offer ideas for product selection. While there are times to hire a hobbyist, hiring a professional is definitely worth it when it comes to senior pictures.
I know there is a wide range of prices out there, and I know I’m on the high end, but that’s because of what I offer and what I deliver for each and every client.
Tip #3: Choose a photographer that specializes in senior pictures.
Many photographers think it is best to offer a little of everything, and some do it very well! I used to be that photographer, the one who took newborns and families, seniors and engagements, pretty much anything that was requested. Over the years it became very obvious that my true passion is working with teens and seniors, and when you love what you do, it makes all the difference in the world!
If a photographer only works with a few seniors here and there, they may not be the best choice. Being an amazing family or newborn photographer doesn’t mean that they’re as good at photographing seniors (although they may be!). This is why it’s important to ask to see a full session and really look at their portfolio before making a decision. Are there a lot of different seniors shown? Do they show both guys and girls? You want to be sure that you hire a photographer who is an expert and knows how to help you look and feel your best. You’ll also want to be sure you’re not just a number to them, but a priority. If you hire a wedding photographer, they will likely be focused on brides. If you hire a newborn photographer, they’ll be great at posing babies but may not be able to help with styling.
By specializing in senior pictures, it allows me to keep up with trends, have a dedicated Style Closet, and have years of experience working with teenagers. My first seniors were the Class of 2011, and after a few years I began only doing sessions for teens and seniors. Now, I get recognized regularly by industry leaders and published in magazines!
Tip #4: Choose a Professional Photographer
One of the most important tips for your senior pictures is choose a professional photographer! You’re only a high school senior once, so why not hire the best? These days, anyone can buy a “good camera” and “become a photographer.” It is a great hobby! But for your senior pictures, please be sure to choose a professional. You don’t want someone who is just starting out to document such an important milestone! I’m a full time professional photographer. My goal is to produce beautiful, timeless portraits for you. This isn’t a weekend gig or something I do just for fun. Think twice before you ask your BFF with a cell phone or your favorite uncle. While they might be good, they do not have the skills and artistry to capture your unique personality in photographs, and have limited time behind the lens.
You also want to make sure that if it’s required, your photographer has permission and/or a permit to use the location you select. This is a HUGE deal and a big difference between a professional photographer and a hobbyist! While it maybe isn’t always required, it is always best to ask if you’re in a public place! Some of the parks require permits for day use, some places strictly prohibit photography. Please be respectful on their decisions. I’ve used restaurants, stores, and even private residences…but never without asking first!
Professional photographers have standards to uphold and are always improving their skills to you the best. This is done for a reason! I want you to be confident that I will produce amazing portraits for you!
Tip #5: Take your session to the next level.
Who doesn’t want to feel amazing when they are being photographed? Being pampered on the day of your session is not only fun but it will make you feel more confident and beautiful. Find out if the photographer has a professional hair and makeup artist to help you achieve the look you want. Make sure that the photographer is willing to meet with you before your session! It is often hard to open up to someone you’ve never met. Find someone who is easy to reach and responds to your questions. You don’t want this to be a stressful photo shoot! Getting helpful advice and knowing exactly what to expect at the session is a plus and goes a long way to calm nerves and make both you and your parents feel confident.
Tip #6: The truth about portfolio building.
Often people will try to cut costs by hiring a new photographer or someone who is portfolio building, but here’s why that can be a problem. Are you paying for a senior session that represents you or for your photographer to build their portfolio? I always remind my clients that this is their time, not mine. I’m here to provide my talent and experience but it’s not my session, it’s yours! I’m happy to suggest locations that offer interesting backgrounds or give a certain vibe. If you’re unsure about what to wear, I’m happy to help you choose outfits. This is all part of a photographer’s job!
However, if a photographer is telling you what they want for your session, it’s important to ask yourself if the photo shoot is more about them than it is about you. Your input and creative expression are key! If you need ideas, I’m full of them, but even when I use similar ideas or locations, I don’t want your pictures to look to like your friends’ pictures. I want you to have something different! Is there a limit on locations or outfits? Often photographers will only let you change once or twice, or don’t have a place for you to change if you’re outdoors. Be sure you get all the details before you commit!
Tip #7: Include your parents.
This may seem like an odd thing to look for in a senior photographer, but it’s still essential. Having one or both of your parents involved in the session is important! Make sure the photographer allows a parent to be present at the shoot at all times. A good senior photographer will shoot for both you and your parents and provide you with images that everyone in your family will love. A few sessions this spring I had both Mom & Dad at the photo shoot and it was phenomenal! It makes me feel like we’re all in this together! (And just as I typed that I heard High School Musical in my head, which wasn’t intentional!) Plus, sometimes I convince them to step in for a quick picture. Go ahead, let the tears roll down your face.
There you have it! I hope that these tips have been helpful and will help you pick the best photographer for you. If you think we might be a good fit, I’d love to meet you and offer you a free in-person consultation.