Originally published June 11, 2012
You're graduating from high school and want to make a statement with your Senior portfolio. You have an idea of what you want based on Senior pictures of the previous class that you saw on Facebook or another social networking sight. You do a Google search for Senior photographers in your area and pages and pages of photographers pop up. You click on a photographer's one's website and navigate to their Senior page for examples and prices. Fifteen minutes later and one photographer is done, with a gazillion more to go. After doing this a few times, rather than being fun and exciting, the task begins to remind you of your Senior Research Project. It's overwhelming. And researching photographers is not fun!
Hopefully these quick tips can help you navigate the world of photographers to find the perfect Senior photographer:
Personality: It's hard to tell what a photographer's personality is like by looking at their website. But you can tell a lot about him/her from their website. For instance, is their website dynamic and does it draw you in (high energy) or is it to the point and drab? What do they have to say about themselves? The photographer's website style is often the photographer's overall style.
Niche: A photographer's niche is their specialty. Many photographer's have multiple niche's. If a photographer's specialty is Senior Portraits, that specialty should jump off the page of the website. If you have to look and navigate through multiple links to find their Senior's page, than it's likely that this is not an area that the photographer specializes in, rather, the photographer is available to take Senior Portraits.
Outdoors vs Studio: Outdoor, natural lighting sessions are very popular because they allow you endless background choices. The down side to this is, although you have a variety of options, timing, lighting and weather is key to get the picture you want. Studio sessions limit you to the background(s) that the photographer has on hand. While this can be a hindrance, lighting, timing and temperature can all be controlled. Many photographer's offer a studio sessions, an outdoor session or a combination studio and outdoor session.
The game plan: What kind of session are you looking for? How many images do you want to choose from? This is perhaps one of the simplest yet tuffest task when planning your Senior pictures. This is the part where reality meets desires and you have to draw a line between the two. Hopefully we'll help you simplify the process.
Many Seniors start with their first picture being the classic graduation picture (cap and gown, drape or tux picture). How are you going to use your classic picture? As an insert in your invitations? Do you want to give friends and family one of your classic portriats or just give those pictures to family only? Make a list of how many wallets, 8x10's and 5x7's you need. This will give you an idea of how many pictures you need to order.
How many extra poses do you want and how are you going to use the pictures from your extra poses? Here's where the creative process really begins. If you're like most of the Senior's we've photographed, you want as many extra poses as you can afford. The reality is, does grandma and grandpa really want a gazillion Senior pictures of you plastered all over their walls. Of course they do! But we can make it easier for them so they don't have to buy so many frames by creating a custom graduation collage insert that you can put in your graduation announcement or creating a custom graduation announcement that has a collage of pictures on it. Either option will allow you the opportunity to affordably share your favorite pictures with friends and family and still have a few dollars left over for an 8x10 of your favorite pose, a folio or a senior album.
Cost: There are multiple variables that will affect the cost of your senior session and pictures. Now that you have an idea of what pictures you want, how many poses you want to choose from and your session location (studio, outdoors or both), you can send an e-mail to your top photographer choices and ask them what the cost will be to get what you want. Don't be afraid to ask what you can do to earn print credits to help defray your cost. Some photographers, like Linda March Photography, offer Senior Ambassador Programs that allow you to promote the studio and earn print credit at the same time.
We hope this post helped you narrow down the basics in choosing a Senior Portrait Photographer. As we said earlier, the task of hiring a studio can be daunting but with a little bit of preparation, the end result can be phenomenal. If you have any questions or would like to add any tips that you found helpful, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us online.