YOUR SENIOR pics...HOW TO "ROCK" your senior session!

You finally made it! You are a high school senior!! All those years of studying, stressing and drama are coming to a close and you are looking forward to the next chapter of your life...whatever that may be:)

But first, you want to leave your stamp on the hallowed halls of high school and what better way to do that than with a rockin’ senior picture in your yearbook and some kick butt images to show your friends and family!

Want to totally own YOUR senior session? Where do you begin? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Below is some of my best advice to help you ROCK your senior session!! Take a look and you’ll have one less thing to stress about your senior year.

Tip #1: HAVE FUN!

This day is all about you!! Enjoy it and take it all in. The more relaxed and at ease you are, the more your personality will show in your photos and the better they will turn out. Don't be afraid to be yourself! Everyone is different and these photos are all about who YOU are. You have a unique gift to offer to the world, so let your light shine bright and show the world what makes you who you are.

Don't worry if you have never had professional photos taken before. As far as my sessions go, NONE of my seniors are models and most have never had a professional photo shoot before. Your only job is to show up looking amazing, ready to have fun. I quickly go over some basic posing at the beginning of your shoot and I promise you'll forget about being in front of the camera and start having fun within the first 20 minutes of your shoot. I know how to pose you so that we emphasize your favorite features, and take the focus off of any features that you don't love. 

Tip #2: CHOOSE A PHOTOGRAPHER YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH

There are a ton of photographers out there and we all have different styles and ways of working. How do you find the perfect match for you? My first recommendation is to ask friends who they used for their senior photos...you guys are likely friends because you have some things in common so you may find that you are drawn to a similar photography style/experience. You can also go to good old Google, search area photographers and reach out to several photographers whose work you love and who you connect with personally. It's always a good idea to talk with a photographer before booking to make sure you vibe with them - a lot of photographers will offer to meet you at Starbucks or you can get on a FaceTime chat with them. You want to make sure that you are going to be comfortable spending a few hours with this person and you want to make sure that the experience will be a fun one for you. Make sure you ask a lot of questions to get to know him/her - both as a person and as a photographer. In return, the photographer should be trying to get to know you. They should ask YOU what you envision for your session - do you have any hobbies, play any sports, play an instrument, have a pet or BFF that you want in your session with you? What do you love - what are your favorite clothing brands, favorite stores, favorite ways to spend a weekend? Do you want an urban setting, studio session, a session at your family’s cabin? 

Some "red flags" to watch out for? 
1) A photographer makes NO effort to get to know you. If a photographer doesn't ask you any personal questions, is too focused on the technical aspects of the shoot (talking in terms you don't understand, bragging about their gear), doesn't want to take the time to meet in person or set up a video call, or is in a hurry to get you booked and get you off of the phone...MOVE ON! This is about YOU, remember?

2) A photographer doesn't have a portfolio of past work to show you. Even a brand new photographer should have sample images to show you. You wouldn't buy a car without seeing it so why would you pay someone to take your photos without seeing any of their work? Ideally, the photographer should have images of past seniors to show you, but it's okay if that photographer has never photographed a senior before and maybe only has family portraits to show you. You want to know that they can take good quality photos in a style that appeals to you and you can't determine that without seeing their photos.

3) A photographer doesn't have any reviews online and/or if you ask for referrals they can't give you any. The number can vary depending on how many years they have been in business, but any photographer should have at least one past client who can tell you about their experience - either by talking to them in person or reading a review.

4) A photographer doesn't have a legal business in place. This one is more of a "buyer beware" and is not a sole reason to not work with a photographer. There are a lot of amazing hobbyist photographers who for one reason or another haven't legally formed a business. They may have a full time job, for example. If their work is great, they can provide reviews/referrals, and you love them and what they are offering, you can certainly choose to work with them. But...if you want to cross your t's and dot your i's and ensure that you are protected 100% in case your experience doesn't go as expected then make sure that your chosen photographer has the following:

a) A contract. A signed contract lays out your rights/responsibilities as well as the photographer's rights/responsibilities so that you are both protected should something go wrong. It also lays out how the process works and answers important questions that you may have.

b) Liability insurance. Things can and do sometimes happen during shoots. You could trip on a tree branch, get stung by bees, bitten by a dog, etc. Liability insurance protects you should something go wrong that you need to be compensated for.

More great tips below!

Tip #3: ASK TO SEE SAMPLES OF HIS/HER WORK

We touched on this in Tip #2, but it bears repeating. Ask to see images from past clients! Every photographer has his/her own style. You need to find one that you LOVE and who takes the types of photos that you love. Ask to see some images from other sessions the photographer has done and see if those images get you excited about your session. If they do, you are on the right track! Again, ideally a photographer should have images to show you from a past senior client, but it's okay if they don't - maybe they are newer in business or newer to photographing seniors. As long as they can show you some past work - regardless of genre - you're good to go. The most important thing is that you vibe with them, you love their images, and are excited to work with them!

Tip #4: DON’T WRITE OFF A PHOTOGRAPHER WHO HAS ONLY BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR A FEW YEARS

I guarantee you, even if a photographer has only “officially” been in business for a year or two, they have spent YEARS (sometimes their entire lives) behind a camera and decided to start their own business because photography is their passion. Photographers are constantly learning and eating, sleeping, and breathing photography...we can’t help it...we love it that much:) There are a lot of talented photographers who have only been in business a year or two. Just be sure to ask to see their portfolio and reviews/recommendations from past clients. Any reviews should be on a third party site like Google or Facebook as well as on the photographer's website. Sites like Google and Facebook track the address a review was left from ensuring the authenticity of a review and making it difficult for one person to leave multiple reviews for the same service. Again, if a photographer has quality work and happy clients and you are excited to work with them - go for it! 

Tip #5: PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY IS AN INVESTMENT

This is a special time in your life - after all, you will only graduate high school once. A truly professional photographer is not going to do a session for $19.99 and hand you a flash drive with all of your images. Some things are too good to be true (ever buy something on a bargain website to have it look nothing like the picture that sold you on it?). Photography is art, and the most talented, dedicated photographers view themselves as artists and want to create art for YOU. Photographers that create custom-designed artwork (albums, canvas, metal prints, etc) are an investment. You are paying for their time, talent, vision, expertise and the experience that they create. Most of them provide a complete experience for each client that entails a ton more than just showing up to take photos on the day of the session. We sit with you to plan and design a session unique to you, help you pick out your outfits for your session, advise on hair/makeup, spend hours selecting and retouching your images, help you select your favorites and help you make decisions about how you want to display your images in your home or dorm room. We want each client to leave with no work left to be done on their end such as figuring out how to print their images, how to size their images to print, where to get them printed, what types of products they can put their images on, which companies' products are of good quality, etc. We want the art that we create for you to be seen and enjoyed by your family for years to come (after all, you look ahhh-mazing so why not brag on yourself a little?) - not hidden or lost in a drawer somewhere on a flash drive that will never see the light of day (I’ve seen some of your rooms and you could lose an elephant in there!). Professional photographers also have a lot of expenses - the cameras, lenses, lighting, editing software, products, etc all cost a lot of money and in order to capture the best images for you, we need to have those things. We are serious about our work, and if you make the investment, you won’t be disappointed!

I hope these tips help make your decision easier and if you follow them, I know you will have a rockin’ senior session that will wow your friends and give you awesome images to cherish for a lifetime. You'll have an amazing experience too! I'd love to talk with you about your session to see if we are a good fit to work together - who knows, we could be destined to be BFFs! - but no matter who you choose - ROCK IT and HAVE FUN!! If you want to reach out, you can do that through our contact form!

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