7 Tips for Choosing the Best Photographer for Senior Pictures

How do you choose a professional photographer for your senior portraits? Not all sessions are the same, so get the inside scoop on what to look for to get incredible senior pictures!

No Worries, Just Wonderful Photos: Select a Pro for Senior Pics That Wow

There are thousands of photographers out there, so how do you know which one is the best for your senior pictures? How do you choose? What should you look for? It’s a tough decision to make when there are so many photographers out there, so I’m going to help you out with my best tips for finding and deciding on a professional senior portrait photographer who will make you shine in every image!

Not all sessions are the same, so you’ll need to decide what’s important to you. These tips are designed to guide you as you select the perfect photographer to capture your senior year.

Tip #1: Do your research.

Ask around. Ask other moms and seniors about their experiences with photographers they’ve used. Additionally, be sure to 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’ll be comfortable spending an hour (or several!) with this person. It’s important for you to feel a connection not only to their work but also to them. Again, you only experience senior year once, so make your senior portrait session count!

Professional responsiveness is a good way to gauge what your experience with a photographer will be like. How quickly do 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 you have a good feeling when you communicate with your photographer. Are they excited about your shoot? Are they giving you helpful advice?

She treated us like we were the best clients she’s ever had…but I kinda think everyone probably feels that way with her.

Lisa Newman, Alli’s Mom

(Psssst…my goal is to make EVERY client feel like my ONLY client!) That’s just a small portion of Lisa’s review, but you can read the rest on Google Reviews. This beautiful young lady is Alli, a 2018 graduate from Red Mountain High School.

When you do your research, you’ll be able to tell how long a photographer has been working with high school seniors. Schedule an in-person consultation and you’ll see exactly how long I’ve been doing this. My specialty is high school senior pictures, so when you see my work, you can literally see thousands and thousands of images of fun and memorable moments from with graduating seniors just like you! I’ve posted a few here, but just check out Google for more reviews.

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! While price is the first thing most people ask about, don’t let the cost of professional photos be the roadblock to getting the look and experience you want! These are your senior photos, and you deserve the best. If you go with the cheapest photographer or have a friend snap quick pics for you, are you going to get images you love? When you work one-on-one with a professional photographer, you’ll never be the one thinking your pictures looked as cool as someone else’s. Why? Because you’ll be the one with amazing images! Graduation is a huge milestone, and you’ve worked hard to achieve your goals, so be sure you capture the moments you treasure in photos you’ll love for years.

Find someone you love and believe will deliver the best experience and images. Of course, price is a consideration, but be sure to weigh the value you’ll get with a true pro that aligns with your style and personality. You’re only going to do this once, and your memories are priceless.

Look for 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 your senior pictures.

I know there is a wide range of prices out there, but before you make your selection based on low-bid alone, be sure to take a look at the complete package you’ll be getting. When it comes to pricing, I offer several premium packages that put me on the high end, but that’s because of what I offer. I ensure that every senior I photograph is thrilled with their pictures, and I pride myself on delivering unique, creative senior pictures AND a fun, immersive photo session for every client.

San Tan Valley Senior Photos

3: Choose a photographer that specializes in senior pictures.

Many photographers think it’s 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 clear 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 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? Are their photos unique and tailored to each client’s interests? Be sure you hire a photographer who is an expert and knows how to help you look and feel your best. Your photographer should be interested in helping you decide on outfits and locations, and you should feel like a priority to them every step of the way. If you hire a wedding photographer, their experience may be mostly focused on brides, grooms, and event images. Likewise, if you hire a newborn photographer, they’ll be great at posing babies, but they may not be experts in styling for teens and grads.

By specializing in senior pictures, I’m able to take the time necessary to perfect the entire experience! From keeping up with trends to maintaining a dedicated Style Closet, I leverage my years of experience working with teenagers to make sure your senior pictures turn out exactly how you image them!

My first seniors were the Class of 2010, and after a few years, I began only doing sessions for teens and seniors. Now, I get recognized regularly by industry leaders and published nationally in magazines!

Arizona Senior Professional Senior Portrait Photographer

The Summer 2022 edition of Senior Year Magazine published 6 images from my amazing Class of 2022! So exciting! I also just submitted images for Senior Year Magazine’s Guys Edition and the 50 to Follow by SeniorMUSE. Be following along to see which images get selected for publication.

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. Someone who is just starting out will likely not be able to deliver all the dynamic images you’re looking for…especially since this is such a HUGE 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 to snap your graduation pics. While they might be good, they do not have the skills and artistry to capture your unique personality in photographs, and they 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 isn’t always required, it is always best to ask for permission to take photos if you’re in a public place. Some parks require permits for day use, and some places strictly prohibit photography. I’ve photographed seniors at restaurants, stores, and even private residences…but never without asking first!

Professional photographers have standards to uphold and are always improving their skills to give you the best. This is done for a reason! I want you to be confident that I will produce amazing portraits for you!

A professional senior portrait photographer will also consistently produce amazing images. Do you stalk Instagram? Of course you do! Sorry to break it to you, but having a good camera and Instagram does make someone a professional. It’s a great place to get a feel for a photographer’s style, but often they only show their very best images. Great, right? But do you really only want 2-3 images you’ll love? Make sure that your photographer is can showcase complete sessions filled with a variety of outfits, poses, and expressions. Not just 100 images with dozens of duplicate poses and crops. You want to be sure that you get a feel for what a full senior session looks like and that the entire gallery is consistent in style & quality. Take a few minutes to look at my featured seniors to see what a full senior portrait session can look like. Will yours be the same? Of course not! Even in the same location, you have your own outfits, personality, and style. My job is to put everything together and WOW you with incredible senior photos!

Tip #5: Take your session to the next level.

Who doesn’t want to feel amazing when they’re being photographed? Being pampered on the day of your session is not only fun, but it will make you feel more confident and beautiful. Make sure the photographer you select is willing to meet with you before your session, and find out if they have a professional hair and makeup artist to help you achieve the look you want.

Senior Pictures Makeup Chandler AZ

It can be difficult to open up to someone you’ve never met, but when you find the perfect photographer for you, you’ll know! Look for 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: Know the truth about portfolio building.

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. You are paying for a senior session that represents you, not 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!

Be aware of limits 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. I’ve had many sessions where both mom and dad were able to attend, and it is always phenomenal! It makes me feel like we’re all in this together (and yes, as I typed that, I heard High School Musical in my head!). Sometimes I can even convince parents to step in for a quick picture, just to make the photos even more special!

Senior Pictures with Mom

There you have it! I hope 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 connect and offer you a free in-person consultation. If you want to see more of my work and get some great ideas, be sure to stay up to date with my blog which has lots of fun and unique ideas for senior pictures! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to see the latest! I’m booking for this year AND next year, so be sure to reach out and hop on the schedule if you’re ready for a one-of-a-kind, tailored senior picture experience.

  • These are some really great tips for looking for a photographer, which most people don’t really pay attention to.

    • I know, that’s why I thought it was important! So many people just use a friend who has a camera, and then they miss out a wonderful senior portrait experience.

  • I like that you explained how you should find a photographer that specializes in taking senior photos. My daughter is excited to have her picture taken for her senior photos. It may be best to hire a professional with a lot of experience.

    • Graduation is a such a special milestone and senior photos are so much fun when you hire a professional! Our son graduated in the spring so I took him out for several photos shoots and we had a blast together. Have fun with your daughter and enjoy celebrating her accomplishments!

  • Thanks, very nice blog!

  • It made sense to find a photographer with the right equipment and mindset when taking pictures of your relatives. My aunt wants to preserve the remaining time that she has for her mom, and I think this idea works out. I’ll probably share this with her when we meet again.

    • Hey Zachary! Thanks for taking the time to read. I’d highly recommend hiring a photographer for family portraits. You’ll be so much happier and less stressed!

  • Such great points here! Research and specialty are definitely the top things to be sure of! You’re work is always so amazing Michelle! 👏

  • Spot on with this write-up and thanks for the information! Great tips to help me select a senior pictures photographer!

  • Great tips for choosing a Senior Portrait Photographer–a wealth of information!

  • This is a great list of tips for choosing the best senior photographer! I strongly agree with #3! It’s always best to find someone who specializes in the type of portraits you need!

    • Hi Brandi! I love my seniors and I’m sooooo much happier now that I turn away sessions I don’t love as much. Teens and seniors 100%!!!

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