Senior photos are a big deal. I mean, all photo sessions are a big deal, it’s a big decision who you’re going to work with to document moments in your family’s life. But senior photos specifically are a special moment, because they’re not an update to your family portraits. They’re a commemoration of a super cool human, who’s accomplished magical things! (And survived high school. Which we ALL know is a feat.)
Your teen is on the cusp of young adulthood, and senior photos are an opportunity to highlight all the things they love, whether that means having friends involved in their session, or visiting their favorite place in the city. And as a parent, you’ve got a TON of choices for photographers to work with. I get that it can be an overwhelming decision, and I’m here to help!!
There are some specific things to think about and look for when you’re choosing a senior photographer for your teen, that way they (and you!) can have the best possible experience of memorializing their young-adult magic.
1. Talk to your teen about style, and make sure the photographer you want to work with lines up with what they want.
At the end of the day, these photos are for your kiddo. So they should be involved in the process (if they want to be, that is). If your teen is likely to have something in mind for their session, talk to them about it! Make sure that when you’re looking at photographers, you’re taking THEIR style into account, along with yours.
When you’re talking about it, consider pulling up some Instagram accounts of photographers you’re thinking of working with, and looking at the photos together to see whether you can choose someone who fits the vibe they want in their session.
And of course, make sure you cross reference that with the photographer’s website! You want to get a clear picture (pun?) of their portfolio, and that it lines up with what you’re going for.
2. Does the photographer go to locations other than their studio?
For senior photo sessions, this is a BIG one. Sometimes, taking all of the photos for your teen’s package makes sense to do in studio. If that’s the tone you guys are going for, then making sure you select a photographer with access to a studio space will totally take care of things!
But… senior photos are about what your teen LOVES. The things they enjoy, the places they hang out – and sometimes, that’s going to mean getting OUT of the studio!
So, if your teen has a favorite coffee shop, a neighborhood hang out, or they want to use an area of the school (with permission, of course!) then it’s important to make sure you reach out to photographers who are comfortable going out and about for sessions.
I personally am open to working with ANY vision for sessions, especially those that bring in things your teen loves to do! This is another one of those situations where you should definitely have a chat with your soon-to-be-graduate, and see whether they had a place in mind, by the way.
3. Are they going to get along?
You know what else is a big deal? The tone of the session. How your teen (and anyone, really) feels during a photo session is going to shine through in the photos. So, you want to make sure that you’re choosing a photographer who will meet your teen where they are. This is something I’m always careful to do when having sessions with teens, because let’s face it: they’re not kids anymore. I mean, they are, but you get what I’m saying.
They’re not going to be excited by the plastic dinos I keep in my pockets for little ones. (Although in all honesty if I think it’s going to get a laugh, I might still pull out the dinos and make a SUPER cringe joke about it). But the point is: if we’re going to get along, I’ve got to match THEIR tone. And one of the best ways to tell whether a photographer is going to be able to do that with your kiddo, is checking out their reviews. Have other people who have worked with this photographer said that they felt comfortable? That they were put at ease?
These are the kinds of keywords to pay attention for. It’s my job to make your teen feel like their most confident self during the session – and then to document the heck out of their personality. If the photographer you’re working with doesn’t jive with your teen… then they’re significantly less likely to get that personality to show up. And if that’s the case, it can’t be in the photos. Ya know?
4. What about other people?
Senior picture sessions are about your teen, yes. About the things that they love. But also… the PEOPLE they love! It’s totally reasonable to want parents, siblings, besties, or even pets involved in a senior session. And at Jessica Strobel Photography I’m super big on making that happen!!
You are MORE than welcome to bring additional humans (or non-humans) to senior photo sessions, just make sure we talk about it beforehand so I’m prepared. If you want to involve people OTHER than your teen in their session, make sure that the photographer you plan to work with allows that kind of thing.
5. What are their print options?
And finally: whether kids are still passing out senior photos like trading cards at the end of the year (are they? I don’t know what’s cool anymore…) you’re going to want some printed!!
It may or may not be the fad to get those little 2×3 prints anymore (seriously can someone tell me because I kind of need to know??) but you should definitely look at the print options that your photographer offers. Sometimes, you’ll receive the digitals and you can print them wherever you want, sometimes all prints have to be ordered directly through the photographer, and other times it’s a combination of both.
I have a combination of both scenario! You absolutely CAN print your photos anywhere, however, you’re going to get the best print results if you work through the portal connected to your gallery. There, you can order prints to your heart’s content, in any size and format imaginable. If you’re giving some to family, or if the trading-card system is still a thing… everything you need is just a few clicks away.
Like I said, the photographer you work with for senior pictures is a big deal!
But hopefully this has helped.
If you’re still choosing who to work with for your teen’s senior photos… hopefully this has given you a bit of a checklist of things to look for. And if you’ve got any questions at all about the process, or something I haven’t covered here, we should chat!! I’d love to clear up anything you want to know, or talk about the vision for the session.
And if you want to know a bit more about how to be yourself during a senior picture session, check it out here!