Usually, it’s a senior parent who sends an inquiry for portraits and I often hear, “This is my first senior portrait experience” or “I don’t know what I’m doing!” This is the case for MANY clients and it’s not expected you would understand the process, so it’s okay! After 13 years in business, I’m here to share honest insight on where to begin and what to expect from the senior portrait industry. Much of this can apply to family clients, too!
Photography styles are like fashion trends. While moody, saturated earth tones are trendy, this won’t always be the case. Consider me old school, but senior portraits usually stick around on walls for a while. I’ve seen so many trends come and go during my career. And while there’s nothing wrong with trends, a modern, yet timeless look is what I prefer for my clients.
Consider posing in portraits. Do you want more formal posing or natural, lifestyle type images?
Don’t forget to make a judgement on retouching. Some photographers are very minimal, while others are heavy on skin smoothing and re-texturizing. I prefer my seniors to look polished, but also like THEMSELVES! In fact, many of my clients compliment my work for this very reason and in a world where we use a filter on everything. It’s refreshing!
Want the image files to print on your own? Looking for full service with both custom products and digital image options? Or do you want high end wall portraits, albums, or custom products only? Photographers usually subscribe to one of these service models, so your best bet is to check out their website to see what they offer.
Most photographers offer sessions of different lengths, at a variety of locations, and number of wardrobe changes. I offer one and two hour options for both senior girls and guys. I also offer 30 minute sessions at my home property and they book very quickly. Most of my senior girls choose a two hour option because it allows for up to three outfits and more variety of locations. My guys are typically up for no longer than a 1 hour session experience. 🙂
Some photographers require professional hair and makeup for portraits and to use their stylist. I do not require you use a professional because I believe that’s a personal decision, but I do have some amazing makeup artist recommendations and fully support the option! A professional hair and makeup artist can help you achieve a specific look and make you feel extra pampered on your session day.
Most photographers will offer their pricing range or even full collection details on their website or when you inquire. I believe in being transparent about my pricing upfront. Pricing models can include products, digital images, or just cover the cost of the session time. Check closely for what’s included. You will see a huge range in pricing from $100 to thousands of dollars. Just like any service, experienced photographers typically are on the higher range of investment. Remember, custom portraits are a luxury service and product.
There are many amazing artists to choose from in our area, all offering different experiences, and it can seem overwhelming. I’m friends with many of the professionals in our area, we’re aware we do things differently, and we celebrate it! My advice is to make sure you view the photographers full website, portfolio, reviews, and recent work on social media. If a photographer is not enthusiastic about sharing recent work or doesn’t have any to show, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
A reputable photographer will start booking well in advance of their season. Current seniors are typically photographed in the summer prior to, or the fall or spring of their senior year. It’s best to book your session ahead of these dates if you’re picky about the time of year. I wrote another blog post about choosing the best season for portraits HERE!
Your photographer should require a signed contract. If they do not, RUN! Professional contracts protect both the photographer and the client, outline expectations for the session, and clarify resulting products or ordering procedures. Most seniors are minors at the time of their session and without a contract and model release, it’s inappropriate and in some cases, illegal to take their portraits. Also, read the contents of the contract. Signing a document blindly has led to many misunderstandings on the client’s part. By all means, if you have questions, ask. Your photographer should be gracious and willing to help.
Don’t dally. Once a photographer provides you with open dates or a quote, complete the booking before your date is no longer available. I book on a first come, first serve basis and like many photographers, I run this show solo. Prompt responses are greatly appreciated, even if you decide not to book.
Your photographer should provide you with session details and instructions on how to prepare. Both you and your senior should review preparation materials several weeks prior to your session, not the day before. Showing up unprepared can cost you valuable photography time and affect your portrait results.
My honest pet peeves: Not steaming/ironing clothing, no lip color for ladies (results in a washed-out appearance), and not wearing proper undergarments. 🙂
If your session is scheduled outdoors, you’re at the mercy of the weather. Although it’s incredibly frustrating to have to reschedule, please be kind, especially if the projected forecast turns out to be wrong. I promise your photographer REALLY wants to shoot your session as scheduled and it’s much more inconvenient (and costly) for the photographer on a tight schedule than it usually is for the client. We rely on imperfect forecasts and making a call can be extremely difficult. It’s possible your session time may have to be moved up if it’s overcast, so be willing to be flexible if at all possible. I promise we truly want the best conditions for your session and final portraits!
There isn’t a reason to be nervous for your portrait session, although it’s typical to feel some jitters. Your photographer should be warm and inviting from the beginning of your inquiry. You want this experience to be enjoyable for both you and your senior. Talk to your friends, past clients, look for positive reviews.
Questions? Get in touch!
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-Beth, Family Client and Mom to two LMP Seniors
" Laura was easy to work with, flexible, and so artistic. Working with her was a great experience..."
-Amanda, Stepmom to LMP Senior, Ayrin
" I hope I get to work with you again someday. You are truly talented..."
"Laura went out of her way to make sure my daughter felt comfortable and to ensure we captured this milestone perfectly. Our photo gallery was exquisite and delivered to us so quickly..."
-Andrea, LMP Senior Mom
"The photos definitely represent the best version of myself and give me a great boost of confidence..."
-Abigail, LMP Senior