Senior portraits are kind of a big deal. The transition from childhood to adulthood is a milestone that deserves to be celebrated (with something more than a bunch of selfies). Choosing the right senior portrait photographer can be a daunting task, so I’ve put together a few tips on what to consider when making this decision.
Style is often the first thing that draws someone to a photographer. You should be sure that you love the overall look of the photos you see advertised, in regards to both photographing and editing. Does the photographer aim for that perfectly posed wall portrait, for those totally un-posed and candid expressions, or a mixture of both? Do they capture the photos from interesting angles and perspectives, or go for the more traditional shots? Do they shoot in a variety of outdoor locations or do they primarily use a studio setting? Is the work done using natural light or flash? Is their editing and retouching style something you can see yourself loving both today and years from now? Is the overall style consistent across all their advertised work? A photographer is an artist, and each will have a slightly different signature style to their work. Because everyone has different stylistic preferences, there will always be a photographer for every high school senior.
Your senior portrait session experience is highly personal, and you’ll likely be interacting with your photographer multiple times. The photographer you choose should be someone you can trust to capture your best features, someone you can effortlessly connect with, and someone who makes you feel at ease and comfortable during your session. While you might be able to get an idea of the photographer’s personality online, conversing or meeting in person will help you confirm that they are the right fit for you. Make sure that your photographer is truly excited and passionate about what they do, because this will be evident in their art.
Hiring a photographer for senior portraits is something that only happens once, so you should also make sure that this person is a true professional and experienced at what they do. Behind every pretty photo is a business to sustain. Make sure the photographer you choose is running a legal/registered business and that they are insured. This can give you peace of mind that the photographer takes their job and their clients seriously. In addition, photographers should have professional-grade camera equipment, carry backup equipment in case of a malfunction, and utilize redundant forms of data storage to protect your photos. Because photography is such a custom service, it is also a good idea to sign a contract that notes in writing exactly what you will receive, what you will owe, business policies, and what the photographer’s obligations to you are.
Just like style, services and pricing ranges vastly from one photographer to the next. Generally speaking, a better experience will demand a higher price. You’ll have to decide if your expectations for quality match up with your budget. Find out what products are included or offered with the service, and decide if these fit your needs. Are you looking for a portrait for the walls? Prints to give to family and friends? A keepsake album? Digital images to archive yourself? Make sure the photographer has samples to show you what is available for purchase, and is transparent about pricing. Many people have a budget in mind when it comes to senior portraits, but consider that you may need to stretch your budget if you truly love a photographer’s work and know that you will not be able to get it elsewhere. As the saying goes, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
Roxanne Elise Photography is a senior portrait photographer located in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, serving the Fox Valley and East-Central Wisconsin.