Cost vs Value of Professional Photographer
This is one of the first questions most people ask, but it shouldn’t dictate your decision, and I’ll tell you why. Of course your personal budget is important, but when it comes to professional photographs, quality is key—and there’s nothing worse than spending money (ANY amount of money) and getting poor quality photos in return.
Deal or No Deal?
Am I more expensive than other photographers? Yep. Are there other photographers priced higher than me? Yep. Are there photographers who shoot for little or nothing? Absolutely. In fact, you can probably go to craigslist right now and find someone to take your senior pictures for fifty bucks…but you’ll probably end up with blurry shots, glare, and photos that are underexposed or too bright. Those “deals” may initially seem like a bargain, but it’s sure not going to be any fun gifting those photos to Grandma at Christmastime!
Focusing on What Matters
None of that matters to me. Instead, I’m focused on the relationships I build with my clients and their families, the memories we create together, and making sure you have something tangible to enjoy once your little bird leaves the nest.
Can you guess the next most popular question I hear from potential clients?
Is It Worth It?
Nearly every client who comes through my door spends more than they were planning, but 100% of them are glad they did! You can read reviews and ask around, but recently I invited Janelle Stahl to write about the senior portrait experience with her daughter Marissa, a Class of 2020 grad from Red Mountain High School. Here’s just a small quote from Janelle:
I couldn’t even believe everything our daughter’s senior portrait experience included…
– Loads of prep time with Michelle
– Amazing Style Guide & help with fashion & makeup
– Guidance & referrals for hair & makeup pros
– Access to a stocked-to-the-brim Style Closet
– A 3+ hour photo shoot at multiple locations (moms, wear comfy shoes!)
– Professional retouching…but only what we wanted
– Out-of-this-world keepsakes
I also learned that my I also learned that my already-amazingly beautiful and talented daughter had another side to her—one that I had never seen before. I probably wouldn’t have gotten to see it if she hadn’t been working with Michelle.
That’s all I can say. As I read Janelle’s words for the first time, I cried. I didn’t even get through the first few sentences and needed to stop. It’s overwhelming to hear such a detailed review about my photo shoots. Want to hear about their entire senior portrait experience? Go check it out then come back for the pricing details. You’ll see exactly why the answer is YES, it’s worth it!
Senior Portrait Session Fees
Let’s start by breaking down exactly what you’re paying for. First, there are Session Fees. While some photographers might be “all-inclusive” and give you “all the digitals” which is pretty common these days, professional photographers like myself offer a whole different senior portrait experience. You might see them listed as Creative Fees and even Retainers, but to put it simply, that’s the price for your photographer’s time and talent during your photo shoot. These fees often vary based on time, number of outfits, your location, and most of all the photographer’s experience. Sure, you can pay $150-$300 and get “all the digitals” but that’s all you’ll get. Instead, when I decided to specialize in senior portraits, I wanted to create a fabulous, stress-free experience that both parents and seniors would love!
Before you even book your session, we’ll talk and then you’ll have the chance to schedule an in-person consultation. I’ll be honest…about 95% of people who come in for a consultation decide to schedule with me. Why? Because they find out how crazy excited I am about every senior I meet!
But why come in for a consultation? This gives you a chance to see my premium product line, review pricing, and get all your questions answered. Plus (and this is HUGE) meet me in person! Unlike other photographers who meet you in a parking lot right before your photo shoot, I want to get to know the seniors I’ll be working with, along with their likes, dislikes, and interests—so they’ll feel ready to be a rock star in front of the camera! It’s much easier to relax and feel at home in front of the camera if everyone is acquainted before I ever pull out a camera.
What do you love? What ideas do you have? I have literally thousands of images from senior portrait sessions I can share with you for inspiration, and we’ll have plenty of time to chat in our initial meeting. I love it when clients have creative ideas of their own, but I can also guide you and give you tons of great ideas to get you started! My goal is to make sure you leave our initial meeting feeling excited and enthusiastic about your senior photo shoot…not stressed or nervous.
Also, because I specialize in seniors and have two recent grads of my own (Class of 2019 and Class of 2021), I can walk you through every step of the process—from consultation through graduation! Have questions about what to order from Jostens or how to get gorgeous cap & gown pictures? What about graduation announcements and invitations? I can help with ALL of that!
A Variety of Options for Senior Photography Sessions
My photo shoot sessions remain largely the same with a couple new and flexible offerings I hope you’ll love! While my sessions didn’t used to have names, I’ve labeled them for ease of helping clients narrow down exactly what they’re looking for. Below, you’ll see the different session types highlighted so you can start thinking about locations, outfits, and decide how you want to remember and celebrate your graduation!
Ultimate Senior Portrait Session
Session Fee: $375
This is by far best-selling senior portrait experience! The Ultimate Session rolls from daytime into the evening hours, allowing you to add a selection of after-dark photos to your senior collection. With at least 3 hours in front of the camera, you’ll get to choose multiple locations, enjoy several outfit changes, and have at least 50 unique images in your final gallery. The session fee is $375 and collections begin at $2295. About a week after your session, you’ll come back to my office for your Image Premiere and Ordering Session to select all your favorite photos and products. This is the longest and most in-depth photo shoot, so if you’re not shy about striking a pose—and if you’re looking for tons of variety in your portrait collection—this is the one for you!
Want to see some Ultimate Session galleries? Check these out! Why are there so many? Because like I said…this is the most popular choice for senior pictures.
Platinum Senior Portrait Session
Session Fee: $225
Similar to the Ultimate Session, the Platinum Session is an elite senior photo session with all the bells and whistles, lots of outfits and locations, and about 2-2.5 hours in front of the camera. You’ll be able to capture all your unique looks in all the places you love around town…the only difference is your photo shoot will include only daytime images. The session fee is $225 and collections begin at $2295. If you want to wander about town in Gilbert, Chandler, Phoenix, Mesa, or Scottsdale, this is a great option! About a week later, you’ll come in for your Image Premiere and Ordering Session to choose your images and design your artwork. You’ll have a gallery of at least 35 gorgeous images in your gallery!
These seniors all chose the Platinum Session and had sessions all over the Phoenix area!
Gold Senior Portrait Session
Session Fee: $175
This is a new session type, sort of a scaled-down version of a Platinum Session. The Gold Session includes a single location, 4 outfits, and approximately 60 minutes in front of the camera. The session fee is $175 and collections begin at $895. While this is a shorter session at a nearby East Mesa location, it is plenty of time to get a beautiful senior portrait gallery of images to choose from. About a week later, you’ll come in for your Image Premiere and Ordering Session to choose your images and design your artwork, where you’ll have about 20 images in your gallery.
If you choose a Gold Session for your senior portraits, you’ll have a gallery similar to these.
Quick Take: $550 All-Inclusive Session
Session Fee: $550 (includes 5 digital images)
This is a no-frills, quick-and-easy photo shoot, and the ONLY all-inclusive session that includes digital images…it’s the Quick Take Session. It’s perfect if you’re looking for just a few high-quality images to share with your closest friends and family members. This 20 minute session takes place at specific East Mesa locations and starts at $550. Immediately following your session, we’ll return to my office for you to select your final 5 images (included in your session), and then you’re welcome to purchase additional digital images or products. Your final images will, of course, be professionally retouched and you’ll receive them in about a week. Since these are meant to be quick and easy, you’ll have about 15 images in your gallery.
If you choose a Quick Take Session for your senior portraits, it will be similar to this beautiful outdoor session.
My clients agree that it’s definitely worth it to invest in quality senior photos to celebrate the accomplishments and hard work of their young adults! Especially when they are so close to flying out of the nest and exploring the world on their own, it’s comforting to have beautiful keepsakes around the house as reminders of all the years of laughter, growth, silliness, and even tears that got them to this point.
My goal as a professional photographer is to offer the highest quality sessions and products to all my clients, and I’ve worked to provide a wide variety of packages to suit all your needs! From digitals to heirloom keepsakes to display around the house, I’m proud of the selection you’ll find at Magical Memories.
I can’t wait to work with you to create beautiful graduation keepsakes!