Best Senior Photographer Mesa Arizona
So You Want Senior Pics With Your Pooch? | Mesa Portrait Photographer

So You Want Senior Pics With Your Pooch? | Mesa Portrait Photographer

Tips for Including your Dog in Your Senior Pictures

On the scale of zero to adorable, there’s not much that can top cute pictures of your pet—unless, of course, it’s cute pictures of you WITH your pet. Your senior picture photo shoot is the perfect time to bring along Fido or Phoebe or Boomer (or all of your furry companions), because it’s a pretty sure bet that they’ve been a big part of the memories you’ve made throughout your school years.

If you’re planning on bringing your pup along for your big day (which I highly recommend!), I have a few tips and tricks that will help things go smoothly. After all, your photo shoot is a lot like a vacation. It takes some planning, we’re going to be tired when it’s all said and done, and if the pooches come along, we need to plan ahead for that.

I’ve done a LOT of photo shoots, and I’ve captured a lot of tail wags and slobbery canine kisses along the way. So trust me when I say the cute factor of the pictures we get will more than outweigh the little bit of planning we do to make sure things work out how we want them to. Here’s what you need to know:

Operation Cooperation – Getting Your Pooch to Cooperate

Yeah, this isn’t going to happen. You know every dog commercial where the obedient and well-groomed pup leaps into the air with perfect timing to catch the frisbee that’s thrown to them? That’s likely take #412 of that shot, and at that point, the guy behind the camera is probably considering giving up his career to live a solitary existence somewhere in a forest. So, instead of putting pressure on your furry best friend and expecting him or her to behave in a certain way, we’ll just capture the moments organically. Trust me…we’ll get better pictures that way anyway!

Dog Senior Pictures Arizona Pet Photographer

The Less Complicated, The Better

If you’d like your pooch to wear a velvet capelet while prancing through a field with a flower crown balanced on her head and spontaneously nudge a butterfly with her nose, that’s not going to happen either. However, if you plan on finding beauty in the simple moments, you’re guaranteed some great images of you and your best fur-buddy that you’ll cherish forever. And please don’t forget to clean up after your pup. We’re typically in public places, so always bring paper towel and a bag for those potty breaks. Nobody wants to step in that!

Seconds before this picture was taken, Marissa’s dog nearly knocked her over. “Quick, grab him and give him a hug!” Let’s just say that a 10-month-old pit bull might just have a few other ideas about how the session should go. But seriously…this face!!!

Dog Senior Pictures Evit Photographer

 

Capturing Their Character

Goofy? Serious? Playful? Gruff? Whatever your pup’s personality—and however your pet acts with you—I want to capture that in pictures. Does your best pal get the zoomies whenever you play with him? Let’s see that whir and blur of tail and ears! Does your best gal flop of her back for belly rubs whenever you’re around? Whatever their silly quirks, whatever makes them your unique best friend, THAT’s what will make pictures with your pup the very best pictures ever. Don’t worry about all the sitting and shaking and behaving. This whole photo shoot will be out of the norm, so don’t count on your pooch to take that lying down!

Dog Senior Pictures East Valley Photographer

Not Opposed to Bribery

Got Snausages? By all means, go ahead and fill your pockets with whatever treats will calm the savage beast (or drooling fluffball). Seriously, if you need some snacks for yourself, too, go right ahead. Just try to steer clear of Cheetos or anything broccoli-ish that might get stuck in your teeth. My point is, go ahead and bribe your pup with a Beggin’ Strip or two. I’m all about everyone having a little bit of fun! 

The first picture is what every client thinks they want. Literally all of you, right? Until we get the 2nd picture. Which one do you think is printed BIG for their wall? It isn’t the first image of Brandon and his new pup staring sweetly at the camera. It’s the one where you can smell that puppy breath and feel the slobbery kisses! Maybe we used a little peanut butter, maybe we didn’t! Nobody will ever know.

Dog Senior Pictures Mesa Az

Dog Senior Pictures Mesa Arizona

 

A Little Goes a LONG Way

Here’s where we throw in a little strategy. You may have noticed that your doggo doesn’t have the longest attention span—and that’s ok. But we need to plan for that. The best way for us to get amazing shots of you with your pup is to limit the time he or she spends in front of the camera. While you’ll be going to several locations for your pictures, your pup will likely only go to one. We’ll work together to pick the perfect spot. I try to pick a time either at the very beginning or end of your shoot, and have someone (mom, dad, friend) swing by with your pup at the perfect time. We will be at a safe location—not near busy streets or train tracks—just in case there’s a slip of the collar or escape attempt. I also try to pick wide open places like parks or even back yards so there’s less noise and confusion for your pup. I’ll get several shots of you interacting with your best fur-buddy, and then he or she can go home and relax after their short photo session experience. It’s super stress-free for you…and for your pet!

Dog Senior Pictures Mesa Photographer

 

My dog is crazy!

Um, aren’t they all? Isn’t that why we love them so much! I can’t tell you how many clients have come in for their in-person consultation and never considered including their dog because they “don’t listen” or they’re “too wild and crazy.” Lucky for you, wild and crazy is my specialty! Trust me, ALL dogs are like that! Well, except Mocha, this sweet pup below. But I’m telling you, she is the exception not the rule. Also, when we got our first dog (years and years ago, before we were married) we had our dog trained by professionals. Really, they trained us not the dog, so my husband and I both know techniques that work with many dogs. I’ve worked with rescues, small dogs, big dogs, you name it. And of course it doesn’t have to be a dog either! I’d love to meet your cat, horse, or other beloved pet!

Dog Senior Pictures Arizona Photographer

Goldie is a gorgeous rescue and it took some time to get her to adjust to her surroundings. She wasn’t outside much as a pup, so an outdoor photo shoot sent her senses into overdrive! That’s OK! We let her roam and sniff and just enjoy being outside. Then in between, still captured gorgeous images for her mama.

Dog Senior Pictures Mesa Animal Photographer

Some of the cutest and most fun senior pictures I’ve taken have included family pets. When it’s time to sit down and talk about your session, ask me to show you some of my favorites. Once you see all the slobbery faces and wagging tails, you’ll definitely want to include your pup in your senior picture photo shoot. After all, they’ve been your study buddy, your slumber party pal, your midnight snack sidekick, and your secret confidant for all these years. It just takes a little bit of planning to include them in your photo memories.

 

 

Tips for Bringing Your Car for Senior Pictures | Arizona Photographer

Tips for Bringing Your Car for Senior Pictures | Arizona Photographer

High School Senior Pictures: Tips for Bringing Your Car

Did you know that besides being an Arizona senior portrait photographer, I also love cars!!! When my dad was alive we used to go to the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction every year. When I was in high school we watched many IndyCar races together and went to PIR (now ISM Raceway) in the spring for races leading up to the Indy 500. So yes, there is a little history for you that I’m not sure even our son knew until last January when I took him out to Barrett-Jackson. So maybe that’s why senior guys (and some girls) love bring their cars to their senior photo shoot with me.

1. Remove High School Parking Permit

Many of them are hangers these days instead of stickers, so remember to take it down and put it somewhere safe. Believe it or not, Tyler had his parking pass stickers on his windshield, so I used Photoshop to remove them. However, leaving your tassel hanging from your mirror is perfectly OK!

Arizona Photographer Senior Pictures Cars

Az Photographer Senior Pictures

2. Wash Your Car, Inside and Out

I want to say this is obvious, but let’s mention it just to be sure. Yes, I will use Photoshop to edit out dirt and scratches, but please don’t go off-roading right before your photography session! You might even consider splurging on a detail the day before your shoot. Make sure the windows are clean. We’ll likely be doing pictures with the windows both up and down. Don’t worry too much about dings and scratches, I’ll take care of those. There’s a pretty good chance we’ll see some of the car’s interior, so make sure that’s cleaned up too. No Dutch Bros cups, old fast food containers, or school paperwork on the floor please!

Arizona Photographer Cars Mustang

3. Special Treatment

If you prefer certain locations for your car, please let me know! Often we’ll go into a parking garage with speed bumps. If your car sits too low and will be damaged from that, please just let me know ahead of time. Trust me, I totally understand! We couldn’t take this beautiful Lamborghini over speed bumps so we drove out to the edge of Chandler where we found this beautiful Arizona desert waiting for us! Don’t be fooled, this is actually the end of a busy road at a stop sign. I had to run out in between cars turning, but nobody minded! We had a lot of people stop and ask about this beauty since you don’t see these driving around everyday!

Arizona Photographer Sports Cars

Arizona Photographer Senior Pictures Car

4. Styling

I personally love the look of a senior guys in a nice suit. And don’t forget the sunglasses! Doesn’t Cole look absolutely gorgeous?? We found a small space in a golf course parking lot, out of the way of traffic where we could get beautiful natural light for senior pictures with his car.

Arizona Photographer Cars Senior Pix

However, as you can see, long sleeves & jeans paired with sunglasses and a baseball hat also look amazing! The image below was shot in natural light in a Chandler parking garage and was published in the premier issue of Senior Year Magazine!

Az Photographer Senior Pictures Cars

5. Consider Renting or Borrowing

We’re definitely not all lucky enough to have amazing cars at our fingertips, so it pays to be a little creative. Just before Trevor’s senior photos I found this amazing blue 1965 Shelby Cobra that was for sale. I emailed the selling explaining what we wanted to do, just shoot pictures, not drive the car. I asked if he’d be willing to drive the car to a certain location and just let us use the car for an hour or so. As you can see, he said yes…and even took Trevor for a ride on the empty roads, revving the engine the whole way! Trevor was in heaven! It’s a good thing we got the pictures done this day though. The next morning the car was on it’s way to a new owner.

Az Photographer Cars Guys

Every year Desert Ridge High School’s theater booster club has a car show. Earlier this year I was a vendor and showcased some of our awesome products at the show, mostly of high school seniors with their cars. I told Trevor to walk the rows of cars and talk to the owners of any cars he thought would be good for senior photos. Trevor’s favorite color has always been yellow, so when he came across this Buick GS, he again asked the owner about borrowing the car. During those spring months we met some amazing people and found that most car enthusiasts are thrilled to allow you to take pictures with their precious cars! This guy has the car all polished and ready to go, and even brought additional cloths to the photo shoot for a few last minute touch ups. It is amazing how nice people are if you just ask!

AZ Photographer Muscle Car

While we don’t have a sports car of our own, Trevor’s grandma has a friend with a silver 50th anniversary Corvette! She’s known Trevor since he was just 4 years old and was more than willing to drive the car to our empty back road for more senior pictures. In her mind, it was a very small, simple gesture but meant the world to Trevor. And me too! All the owners of these cars were incredibly nice and patient, and even enjoyed seeing how a senior photo shoot works.

Az Photographer Senior Pictures Corvette

Final Thoughts on Preparing Your Car For Senior Pictures

  1. Remember to take down anything hanging from your rear view mirror, such as a school parking pass.
  2. Wash it. Self explanatory, right?
  3. Let me know what restrictions you have on locations so we can accommodate them.
  4. Think about what style you’d like for pictures with your car. Choose a few different looks for lots of variety
  5. Consider renting or borrowing a car for a very memorable senior photography session.
Gilbert Photographer | Awesome Senior Picture Ideas for Guys in Arizona

Gilbert Photographer | Awesome Senior Picture Ideas for Guys in Arizona

Gilbert Photographer for Senior Pictures

It seems like there are a million photographers out there, so when someone recommends me it just gives me goosebumps! Well, that’s how I met Nick and his mom, Raquel. They are friends with another one of my seniors and when we met at the in-person consultation, I knew it was gonna be an awesome session! Nick had ideas and a great sense of style, but still was just that genuine, sweet, boy that all us moms love! Sorry Nick, you know it’s true! You boy moms know it, I’m a boy mom so I get it. Our sweet little guys grow up and all of a sudden you’re sitting at high school graduation sobbing, wondering what happened to your baby. That’s what I’m here for! To allow you to slow down, have an an afternoon with your son, just watching him be the center of attention during this special milestone. The best part is that when we’re done, you’ll have the memories of the experience we create together as well as gorgeous images of your son. Yes…even the ones that say they don’t want to have senior pictures done!

Tumbleweed Park

The old truck is always a favorite, broken windshield and all. It’s such a fun spot and the lighting is great. This year, Vans as all the rage and I’m finding that my boys bring just as many shoes as my girls!  We were lucky enough to find lots of texture the day of the photo shoot. Wooden fences and even an old pile of logs work great for senior photos!

Gilbert Photographer Graduation Photos

Gilbert Photographer Senior Photo Ideas

Gilbert Photographer Mesquite High School

Gilbert Photographer High School Senior Photos

A Mama’s Dream Picture

Yep, you know this is a winner every time! Moms love it when you can capture a genuine smile of her boy! Since this was her favorite, it became the front of the image box she ordered and now has displayed in her home. With the image box is a client favorite since you get at least 25 of your favorite images printed! Our beautiful, high-end folio boxes come with a custom cover and 10 double-sided silk prints.

Gilbert Photographer Senior Pics Guys

Something A Little Different

Some people love this look and others not so much, but I think it’s a fun look for our senior guys! I almost always do photo on a wall with sports pictures, but this one of Nick wearing sunglasses is just awesome!! This guy could be the next Vans model!

Gilbert Photographer Fun Senior Pictures

When The Sun Goes Down

We keep shooting! We headed towards Downtown Chandler and up to the top of a parking garage for a few quick sunset shots. I’m so happy to be able to offer this look to my clients and I love looking over the different cities as the sun goes down. Nick did too, and this was a favorite for all of us!

Gilbert Photographer Graduation Pics Night

Dress It Up!

Ok, I’ll admit there was a time when I never even suggested that my senior guys get dressed up for senior pictures, but once you see them all put together, you see the boost of confidence! You can imagine the amazing things they’re going to accomplish as adults as they become grown men…no longer our little boys. Just look at him!!! He looks so handsome, and now Mom has these sweet pictures forever.

Gilbert Photographer Senior Guys Outfits

Gilbert Photographer Senior Pics Night

Checklist for Suit & Tie

  • Please iron your clothes. (Photoshop just isn’t the same as an iron, I promise!)
  • Hang your jacket, shirt, and pants on hangers.
  • Remember to bring matching shoes and socks.
  • Don’t forget your belt!
  • A watch is a great accessory for your suit and tie.
Best Portrait Photographers in Mesa, AZ | Professional Senior Pictures

Best Portrait Photographers in Mesa, AZ | Professional Senior Pictures

This week I was awarded as one of the 10 Best Portrait Photographers in Mesa by Expertise.com! Expertise.com connects people with the best local photographers. Portrait photographers are rated on more than 25 variables across five categories, and resulting in a hand-picked list of the best portrait photographers in Mesa, AZ. Over 150 photographers were nominated, and then Expterise.com narrows it down using the following criteria.

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

Credibility: Building customer confidence with licensing, accreditations, 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 just the first half of 2019 I had 8 images published in 3 different magazines, and had many teen and senior images featured over the years!

Best Arizona Photographer Modern Style Senior Year Magazine Top Photographer AZ Best Mesa Professional Photographer Magazine

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 or at night for a completely different look.

Availability: 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.

Don’t take my word for it. Go check out the complete list of the 10 Best Portrait Photographers!

Best Portrait Photographer Mesa AZ

Perry High School | Ocotillo Golf Club | Chandler Senior Pictures

Perry High School | Ocotillo Golf Club | Chandler Senior Pictures

Perry High School Senior Pictures

Connor is a recent graduate from Perry High School in Chandler, AZ. You may have seen his baseball photos in a recent post and I wanted to share more from his session!

Ocotillo Golf Club

We started the afternoon at Ocotillo Golf Club, which offered us this gorgeous indoor location. It’s a great spot for guys when they choose to include a suit and tie for their senior pictures. Which, by the way, is one of my favorite looks! I used to tell the guys to just be casual because I wanted them to be comfortable. But seriously, when you dress up you just look and feel more confident! Plus, mom will love these!

 

Outdoor Senior Pictures

Next, we headed outside to use some of the beautiful scenery. Take note, Connor is dressed from head to toe in every image. Always remember to bring the right shoes and socks for every look! Oh yes, the socks. Please make sure you don’t have white socks that show under your jeans! Connor completed this look with his Vans.

I like my seniors to look natural, and what is more authentic than a teenager with his phone? Ocotillo Golf Course has been very generous allowing us to use the location as long as we plan ahead and ask first. And of course, we don’t interfere with the golfers. Please do not just assume you can use this location, or any location, without asking. Part of being a professional photographer is knowing how to handle photo shoots in public locations.

With eyes like these, you bet I’m gonna get some close up pictures to show them off! How can you resist those amazing blue eyes?!

Perry High School Senior Pictures Chandler

Published!

Senior Year Magazine Top Photographer AZ

Certain times of the year I enter images to be published in various magazines. That is why it is so important to have your model release signed prior to your senior photo shoot. This is the perfect example of a simple senior portrait. No special outfit or location, just a simple image of Connor looking out the window. But with the perfect lighting, it takes an image from average to amazing!

This spring I entered this image of Connor for publication in Senior Year Magazine. They had an issue just for guys, and if you know my business, you know I shoot just as many senior portraits for guys as I do for girls. Sometimes even more! This image was published in Senior Year Magazine’s Spring Edition: Guys. So if you want your image in a magazine, let’s get you scheduled and maybe your image will be selected for publication!

Please be sure to check out Connor’s baseball senior pictures here! Just for fun, if you want to see some pictures of Connor when he was younger, check out this session. We can’t forget his sister, Kelci! I did her senior pictures as a 2015 Perry High School graduate. I love working with families through the years and watching their children grow!

Senior Photos | The Surprising Side of Senior Pictures | Mesa, AZ

Senior Photos | The Surprising Side of Senior Pictures | Mesa, AZ

From the day these little ones were born, they’ve tested us. It’s been a constant learning curve filled with every emotion imaginable. Well, hold on to your hats and glasses, but with graduation coming you’re in for a whole new roller coaster of emotions! Did you catch my Disneyland reference there? I had to do it! Anyway, you’ve spent years trying to prepare your kids for the world after high school and I know you’ve always researched what you think is best for them. You tested every toy, visited all the top schools, and managed to find a car that would meet your critical safety standards. You’ve helped with projects, packed lunches, and managed to get them to practice all these years. And now, that little piece of your life is changing. Forever. I understand that it can be overwhelming, I’ve recently been through it myself and have a second one graduating next year, so I want to tell you parents a secret about the best part of senior year–the memories. Most East Valley high schools require you to use their contracted photographer for the yearbook photo, but senior photos are so much more than they used to be!

A boost in self-confidence? Who knew?

As a senior photographer for over 10 years, I was shocked when I heard girls say how pretty they felt. And then be embarrassed for feeling like that!  Um, so I’m over here scratching my head. It was that moment, mostly in that 2016-2017 school year, that I really decided that this just one reason senior photos are so important!  I can capture teenagers through my eyes, what I see. The beauty, the joy, the talent, the personality and so much more. All the things you already know are there, but they just don’t believe you. I get it, I have a now-16-year-old and her confidence has come a long way in 3 years. By showing them what I see, it can make a huge difference in how they see themselves. It is so awesome to hear a girl say “wow, I really am pretty!” Have the guys give you that look, and just cannot contain the smile no matter how much they try to hide it. Because they’re proud, they’re excited, and they really truly didn’t believe they could look this good! It works for both guys and girls, and it is a game changer for a lot of kids. Of course they’re still gonna have those moments, but my hope is that inside they know. Deep down, they remember these pictures. They see them around your home. They see the joy on your face when you proudly display these photos. It’s my goal as a photographer to make every single one of my teenagers feel this way. I promise, all of my teens are just regular, normal, kids…until I work my magic!

Senior Photos Urban Denim Fashion Mesa AZ

Just yearbook photos or is there more?

You know the ones. The awkward smile, the uncomfortable pose. Many schools still send the seniors to a contracted photographer where they will take a few nice pictures, but it’s just that. A few nice pictures. Some schools don’t even do that anymore. It’s the same whether you’re a freshman or a senior. Line up, click, click, you’re done. Then you have this embarrassing photo to display…for the rest of your life. I cringe just thinking about it. But these days, senior photos are filled with fun and creativity! Our senior sessions will have your teen laughing, spinning, running, and tossing their hair all resulting in gorgeous, authentic reactions!  Your teen will no long cringe at the thought of having their photos displayed in your home! How do I know? Nearly every single one of our Class of 2019 seniors had something created for their room! Yep, storyboards and metals including their favorite quotes are a huge hit!

Senior Photos Wrestling Sports Mesa AZ

More than just good pictures

You think adulting is hard? Try being a teenager! We’ve all been there, we KNOW how hard it was for us and I believe it’s even harder now. These kids are subjected to the perfection of social media all day, every day. And of course they believe all this perfection is a normal, everyday occurrence for other teens. So I love giving my teens that picture perfect experience, and for just one day, the world revolves around them! And YOU get to be a part of it! Moms love hanging out with us during the photo shoot! It gives you both a break from the never-ending to-do list that seems to multiply daily during senior year! You know how I mentioned how my heart just explodes when these teens get that boost of self-esteem? Imagine being able to watch it happen. And it does! Don’t be surprised when you’re son suddenly is really into senior photos or your daughter starts pulling out her hidden modeling skills! They come out of their shell really quick when they’re the center of attention! Now, imagine having these stunning photos displayed in your home for you to see every day…multiple images to show off, not just two or three. While they’re away growing up, creating new adventures in college or building a career, you’ll still have their smiling face to comfort you. Remember when we were kids, how much fun it was to flip through the family photo album? Yep, we can do that too. Just imaging having a beautiful, high quality album filled with all your teen’s stunning images for you to look through together, to gush over, and when the time comes, share with their children. Now stop imagining, and know that we can make it a reality. 

Senior Photos Girls Sunglasses Mesa AZ

Leave them to the pros

Did you find yourself nodding your head as you read through this post? Are you thinking to yourself, dang, this is definitely something I need to do for my kid? If so, make sure that you choose a professional. Remember at the beginning where we talked about educating yourself and giving your child the best? It applies here as well. As with most things, you get what you pay for and professionals can provide all of the above and more. You might find someone who is pretty good at taking pictures and can do one or two of the things above, but when it all comes together, it creates an experience for your senior and photos you can cherish for years to come. It should be a special event designed by a photographer who specializes in these sessions, not an afterthought left to someone who knows how to press a button. I guide my seniors throughout the process so they know exactly what to expect, what to wear, and how to pose. You should have a variety of images that create a complete story of your teenager at this age, not just a few mediocre pictures.

Senior Photos Lake Mesa AZ

Did you find this post helpful? Here is some more information about our senior portrait experience.

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