Best Portrait Photographers in Mesa, AZ | Professional Senior Pictures

Best Portrait Photographers in Mesa, AZ | Professional Senior Pictures

Choose the Best Photographer for Senior Pictures

I believe that a great reputation is earned and built over time–and it takes a combination of great clients, a desire to continually learn, and a passion for what you do. It’s about more than just being voted the best or having a huge social media following.  I’m always looking for ways to deliver a unique experience for graduating seniors, as well as provide Mom and Dad with photo shoot fun that will forever remind them of their kiddo’s exciting day. Of course, the heirloom keepsakes I design after the photo shoot don’t hurt either! Storyboards, images boxes, and heirloom albums are always a hit, and there are plenty of creative portrait gifts the grad can choose for family and friends too.

In both 2019 and 2020 I was voted one of the Best Portrait Photographers in Mesa by! connects people with the best local professional photographers. Portrait photographers are rated on more than 25 variables across five categories, resulting in a hand-picked list of the best portrait photographers in Mesa, AZ. Over 160 photographers were nominated this year, and then selects the top photographers based on the following criteria: Reputation, Qualifications, Experience, Reliability, and Professionalism. Don’t take my word for it. Go check out the complete list of the  Best Portrait Photographers for 2020!

Best Portrait Photographer Mesa AZ

Best Portrait Photographer Mesa Az

These days online reviews are everywhere, but isn’t it frustrating when you’re searching reviews for a particular service and one site gives 5 stars, but another site gives 3 stars? How do you know? Top Rated Local helps take the guesswork out of online ratings by combing reviews from several sites. Every month I receive an updated report and I’m proud to say that since joining in 2019 I’ve had a 97% rating! Here is the most recent update from October 2020.

Best Senior Pictures Near Me


Reputation: A history of delighted customers and outstanding service.

5 Star Google Review Mesa Photographer

Since 2009, Magical Memories by Michelle has had the honor of photographing clients from all over Arizona! High end portraits are my number one priority! If people didn’t love my portraits, I wouldn’t be in business. By treating each client with respect and collaborating together to create their dream portraits, then finalizing with top notch quality prints, wall displays, albums, and custom artwork, I’ve earned a perfect 5 star rating across every review site! I want every single client to be thrilled with the process and the final images! Feel free to check out all of my online reviews!

Website | Google | Facebook | Yelp

Qualifications: Building customer confidence with licensing, accreditation, and awards.

While I didn’t necessarily start out strong, I did start out right! Magical Memories by Michelle has been licensed with the State of Arizona since 2009 and became an LLC is 2012. I am also an active member of PPA, Professional Photographers of America and my membership allows me to be insured and provides numerous resources and classes. Feel free to visit my profile there too! In June, Senior Year Magazine published a special edition for the Class of 2020. I had 8 images selected featuring 6 of my seniors! Just last month I learned that 5 of my teens were published in the premier issue of Teen Years Magazine. Since 2014, I’ve had 38 images published nationally and internationally in 12 of the industry’s leading magazines and had dozens of teen and senior images featured over the years!

 Phoenix Senior Photographer Guys Best Chandler Senior Photographer Girls Top Phoenix Senior Photographer Top Senior Photographer Mesa Az Mesa Teen Photographer Magazine Best Arizona Photographer Modern Style

Experience: Masters of their craft, based on years of practical experience and education.

As an artist, it isn’t easy to hear about your mistakes and flaws, but it is necessary. I’ve spent years having my work reviewed by my peers, because let’s face it…my family and friends always think I’m amazing! Annual classes and workshops keep me at the top of the field for senior pictures and ensure that I am able to offer the best experience to graduating high school students. With a wide variety of skills, my sessions take place during the day, and now we can even shoot at night for a completely unique look! I’ve even been named one of the Top 200 Senior Photograpers Worldwide!

Senior Year Magazine Top Photographer AZ

Reliability: Consistently approachable and responsive, so customers never feel ignored.

The key to my success has been staying low volume. I always thought I’d need to shoot hundreds of clients annually, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that’s not what works best for me or my clients. You’re not just a number to me, I want you to feel valued. By never having back-to-back sessions you’ll never be rushed out to get the next session started. I only schedule a maximum of 8 sessions per month, so there is flexibility to reschedule due to illness or weather.

Professionalism: Providing service with honesty, reliability, and respect.

I can honestly say that I’ve had very few client issues throughout my years as a photographer. By using only professional print labs and having a relationship with each one, I’m immediately notified of any problems. They call if I mess up…and I have. I’m not perfect, but I am a perfectionist which means I will require a lab to reprint artwork with even the smallest flaw. I’ve only had one product that was damaged over time, and that was replaced within three days.



MMIW Awareness | Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

MMIW Awareness | Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

MMIW: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

One picture, just one is all they asked. What is MMIW, you ask? Until I heard from Kate and her mom, Tara, I was unaware as well. Tara asked that we recreate this image for Kate so that together we can support her in her desire to bring awareness to these tragedies.

Threaten our Existence, Expect our Resistence – MMIWUSA
Indigenous women are ten times more likely to be killed than the average national murder rate. There are more than 5,700 cases of missing or murdered Native women documented with murder being the 3rd leading cause of death for Native American women. All I ask is, why? Why do some hunt indigenous women who are proud to represent their heritage? Why do some strip them of their freedom and innocence? I do not know them, yet they are my sisters. Moreover, my sisters do not deserve this. We do not deserve to be hunted for our history and our cultural values. We will never be silent again. No more stolen sisters.

Meet Kate

My name is Kate. My family and I come from a proud history of Native Americans as members of the Muskogee Creek Indians in Oklahoma, via The Removal. Oklahoma is ranked 10th in the nation for MMIW. It frustrates me to see what is happening to indigenous peoples who represent our culture. It hurts to know we are ignored and discriminated against while our sisters, mothers, daughters and aunts are hunted and discarded without care. We have decided to speak out. No more shall be hunted for wearing their honor proudly.

MMIW Arizona Photographe

Tara and Kate, thank you for bringing awareness to our community, sharing your story, and allowing me to be part of your journey.


Photo Shoot to Celebrate Your Teen | Phoenix Photographer

Photo Shoot to Celebrate Your Teen | Phoenix Photographer

Phoenix Teen Photo Shoot

Everyone always says that time goes too fast. They wish they had taken more pictures. Did you know that you don’t have to wait until senior year to have a fabulous photo shoot for your teenager? Let me tell you a secret. They’re gonna change a LOT from the time they’re 13-14 until they graduate at 17-18. I’ve heard concerns that they don’t want to ruin the fun by having another session as a teenager. I’ve heard moms say that senior year is special. It is…but so are the rest of the teen years! Think about it. They started 6th grade as one person, grow up a bit in junior high, change at the beginning of high school, soon they’re driving and then bam! Graduation! Blink and you’ll miss it! So ask me again. Do I think it is important to have a photo shoot for your teenager? Yes, absolutely YES! And here’s why…

Boost of Confidence

I hear it from every mom that walks into my office. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

“My daughter is beautiful but she doesn’t see it.”

“My teen works so hard at sports and school, but she’s still lacking confidence.”

“I thought my child would be in the same sport throughout junior high and high school.” 

Yes? You’re not alone! I have been through all of these things with my teenagers and it’s why I believe that taking a time out and celebrating your child at this age is so important!  My teen photo shoots are very similar to a senior portrait session. You can do daytime or a combination of daytime and nighttime. You can include your pet, your sports, and your hobbies, but most definitely your personality!!

Meet Marissa

This girl has got to be one of the luckiest kids on the planet! She’s from Idaho, but every summer she visits her aunt and they do something special together. When Aunt Heidi realized that they hadn’t had professional portraits done of Marissa in quite a few years, she gave me a call and we started the planning! The hardest part was keeping all of this a secret from Marissa’s mom since it was going to be a surprise for her.

Phoenix Az Photographer Artistic Photo Shoot


What to Wear for a Teen Photo Shoot

The guidelines are the same for nearly any photo shoot. You’ll want to choose outfits that you feel good in, and be sure the clothes fit you properly. Plan to bring at least 6 changes of clothes so we have a good variety. Not sure if you have the right styles and don’t want to spend a lot on clothes you’ll only wear a couple of times? Problem solved! Just check out these awesome outfits from my Style Closet! Since Marissa was visiting and hadn’t planned on a photo shoot, she took full advantage of all the different outfits available for my clients. She loved the vintage floral style paired with a red necklace, but then she selected one of the most popular dresses in my collection, the blue and white floral, which is beautiful in the water. She had her white shorts, so we paired that with a green crocheted top and leaf print wrap. It all came together beautifully!

Best Phoenix Photographer Teen Photos

This young lady looks fabulous in yellow, and shows is perfectly in this popular jump suit. During her Arizona visit, she also had her hair highlighted, which you can see just a little in this image.

Phoenix Arizona Photography Teen Photos

This is who she is NOW and in a few years she may decide she likes her natural blonde or some other hair color. But seriously, it’s stunning!!! I guarantee Mom will be thrilled to have these as Marissa goes through junior high and high school, and will not regret having them even once she has senior portraits taken.  I just had to get a picture of this beautiful new color, it turned out perfectly!!

Phoenix Professional Photographer Teen Photo Shoot

A Special Note from Mom

Marissa has the greatest laugh, her creative mind and love of writing makes her stories fascinating to read. It is very heart warming to watch her mentor the young 4H kids, and the way she explains how to show rabbits. Her smile and laugh are so infectious, looking forward to watching her make the world a better place!

The greatest laugh? Yes, I’d have to agree! Believe it or not, this image was taken just off the side of the road and we loved all the yellow, summer colors. This romper is one of 3 in this style, each a different size and color so there are lots of options. Another concern I hear from parents is braces. Should I wait until their braces are off? Well, I guess you can and I would have thought the same thing. Turns out I LOVE my kids in braces and it’s such a short part of their lives. I know it doesn’t seem like it at the time, but choosing those fabulous colored rubber bands is kind of a rite of passage! So don’t worry about it,

Phoenix Arizona Photography Teen Photo Shoot

Let’s Help Them Feel Beautiful

Did you know that I submit my images to many national and international magazines for publication? I’ll admit, when I first got published I was beside myself, couldn’t even contain my joy! Now that feelings have shifted. Of course I still love the acknowledgement from my peers when an image gets selected. But you know what’s even better? Spreading that joy to my teens! They’re all so proud and excited when I get to share the news! It’s a big deal and the magazines are beautiful. Marissa though, was lucky enough to have TWO of her images published in the premier issue of Teen Years Magazine! Below are her two winning images.

Marissa is quite the artist. She had seen an image I did years ago of a high school girl with her sketchpad and we decided to use that as inspiration for this picture. It was a treat for her to share her beautiful artwork with me. I can’t tell you how much I truly enjoy getting to know all my clients and watching them grow. I have a passion for photography, but getting a glimpse into their lives is something I love even more.

Best Phoenix Photographer Teen Photo Shoot

Marissa’s second winning image was taken at a nearby park towards the end of her session. During these early teen years I love how they go from growing up right back to childhood. Marissa has always loved swings so I didn’t even have to convince her that this was a good idea. Every piece from this outfit is from my Style Closet and it looked great with the light blue sky and green trees. Although we did have a few mishaps with the hat flying off!

Phoenix Arizona Photographer Amazing Teen Photo Shoot

Want to see more of our teen photo shoots? You might enjoy these posts:
Alex and Mavery: Best Friends
Published in Teen Years Magazine
Teen Photo Shoot at Night
Meet Skylar: East Mesa Teen Photo Shoot

Best Friends | East Mesa Photo Shoot | Mesa, AZ

Best Friends | East Mesa Photo Shoot | Mesa, AZ

Best Friends Senior Pictures

You’ve been through everything together, late nights studying, stressful classes, boyfriends, summer vacations, and more. Your BFF is there for it and you get through it together. Celebrating with a special photo shoot is a perfect way to celebrate your senior year experience! For these two girls their birthdays are only a couple weeks apart so we made this a birthday/friends photo shoot. Alex and Mavery are both seniors at Desert Ridge High School this year! Woohoo!!!!

If ever there was a quote about these two, this is it.

“It’s not that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but it’s your best friends who are your diamonds.”
-Gina Barreca

Just Be Yourself

I know being in front of the camera can be intimidating, but when your best friend is with you the tension disappears. You’re always welcome to bring a friend to help with wardrobe selections, touch-ups, and of course share your most embarrassing moments! Mave and Alex are two of the sweetest young ladies, but when they’re together the giggles start. This is when where we started, in my favorite ditch where we can have the space to ourselves.

Let’s get started! Ok girls, let’s try to get a sweet headshot of you together…um, really? NO, not like that!! LOL!

Best Phoenix Senior Portrait Photographer

Take two, this should be easy with teenagers, right? They aren’t little kids and they should be able to follow directions. Let’s try again…just about had them set when this happened. But I’m not sorry I caught this moment! They crack me up!

Phoenix Photographer Friends Photo Shoot

Third time is a charm right? Yep!!! Finally, heads together, bright eyes, and beautiful smiles! Success!

Phoenix Senior Photographer Best Friends

Ok, now close your eyes and take a deep breath, slowly let it out, then stare straight into the lens. Of course, this took several attempts because neither one could keep a straight face. Good thing they did though because this image was selected out of thousands of entries to be published in Teen Years Magazine!  There is one more winning image in this post. Do you want to see the other winning images? Here they are!

Phoenix Photographer Best Friends Photo Shoot

Some of my favorite poses for teenagers are doing piggyback rides and bumping hips. I love that they had matching jeans too!

Phoenix Photographer Best Friends Pictures

Photo Shoot for Teenagers

While we’re out, I always get some individual shots as well. We brought this hat from my Style Closet and let me tell you, this girl can nail the serious look perfectly!

Phoenix Photographer Senior Photos

Mave loves this polka dot skirt and lace top from the Style Closet, and this white hat is brand new so we decided to try it out. Remember, if you’re going to be in the water make sure you have flip flops and a towel.

Phoenix Photographer Senior Pictures

And the outtake to prove that getting twirly shots isn’t always as easy as it sounds, especially with a hat! Yep, several times Mavery flipped around and the hat went flying!

Phoenix Senior Photographer Girls

A Lesson in Locations

I want to take a minute to talk about locations. Clients are always worried about choosing locations and it is one of the most-asked questions I get. However, look at these two images below. Can you really tell where they were taken? Well, the first one maybe a little, but the 2nd one could be taken nearly anywhere as long as the light is good. When I tell you that the location is only secondary, these images show exactly that. They were taken in the desert but there ins’t much around to show that. Instead, I chose to focus on Alex. Sometimes I do shots that include more of the background, but every mom will always love beautiful pictures of her children!

Phoenix Photographer Teen Photo Shoot

The image below is another award-winning photo that was published in the premier issue of Teen Years Magazine! So that’s two…but there are more! I had a total of FIVE images published! Want to see the other winning images? Here they are!

Phoenix Photographer Sweet 16 Pictures

Let me tell you, even though it was just for fun this was not an easy shot to get! They collided a couple of times and were rarely synchronized, but eventually we did get one that was a keeper.

Best Phoenix Portrait Photographer Girls

Want to see more of this location? Try these posts!

What to Wear for Senior Pictures
Unique Locations for Senior Pictures
Gilbert High School Senior Photos

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