You’re considering doing a senior photo session. Choosing your photographer is the first major decision. But then, you need to decide when to do it and where to do it. The truth is that every session is unique because every person is unique. The session needs to fit who you are at this stage of your life. You probably feel some pressure because you realize that these high school senior pictures are going to be with you and your family for a very long time. So, I’m going to share some thoughts with you to hopefully make your decisions a little easier…
The Session Becomes You
I have taken photos of hundreds of seniors. And one thing always rings true… No matter where we do the shoot, the moment we arrive, the first outfit goes on, the camera comes out and the flash goes off for the first time… the photo session is totally yours. You are the star of the show. And as the star of the show, you own the stage… no matter what stage you are on. Yes, backdrops are very important to help frame the shot and set a mood. But the focal point of every shot is you. It’s not the building textures, it’s not the trees, it’s not the lake. It’s you.
It always seems to surprise people about some of the locations we go to. Sometimes, when we park the car and step out, I can see it in their eyes: “hmm… this is interesting”. But then I take the first set of shots and show the previews. It’s my favorite part of the session – when I look at the senior and whoever came with them as they now see what I see through the lens. The rusty building, the trees, the old brick wall, the water, the rocks, whatever the background is becomes a nice backdrop to help set a tone. But it’s the senior who is the star – not the backdrop.
Anyone that has done a shoot with me knows that I like to move around… a lot! I’ve spent a lot of years scouting locations. I love them all but for different reasons and different sessions. During our pre-session, we’ll pick a location and a date. I’ll show you examples of the types of shots you can expect. We’ll get a good feel of what you want, and I’ll make sure we focus on exactly that. But one thing I will try to guide you toward are locations that provide a variety of backgrounds. A brick wall is always going to look like a brick wall. The lake is the lake. So, my preferred locations all provide lots of variety. Before we get together for the pre-session, I encourage you to look at the Galleries page on my web site. I have an Inspiration Board with hundreds of different photos that can help you decide the settings that excite you the most.
There’s Never a Better Time
I’m often asked when the best time of the year for senior photos is. The truth is that there is no perfect time; any time of year can work great! Over the years, I have shot seniors during all 12 months. But there are definitely things to consider…
As you get toward the end of your senior year, things are going to get hectic. Very hectic! So, the most important thing I can tell you is to not put things off until the last minute. You’re going to be more stressed in April and May. [And I’m going to be very busy because not everyone takes this advice about not waiting.] Your senior photo session should be something you really enjoy… not a source of stress because you’re running out of time.
The Senior Experience Session isn’t a single session; you actually get two photo sessions. The first one is the big one – an hour or more with multiple outfits and locations. But in the spring, after you have made your final decision on where you are going to go next year, you get a second photo session (“Graduate Session”) where you bring your college gear and your high school cap & gown. So, keep in mind that you are automatically going to get a springtime session. That leaves 3 other seasons to consider for your main session. [Remember what I said about variety?]
This can also help you to choose a location for your main session. I typically do Graduate Sessions near the lake. Living in the Lake Norman area, it’s obvious and natural that you’ll probably want to include the lake in your senior photo portfolio. So, by doing your Graduate Session by the water, this can free you up to consider other locations (with more variety) for your main session.
Think about sports or activities that you are involved in. If you play basketball, you’re going to be pretty tied up from late fall through early spring. Football runs late summer through Thanksgiving. You get the idea. So, make sure you factor this in when considering a time of the year for your senior session. Most important, if you play spring sports, do not put your senior photos off until the beginning of the year. You WILL run out of time.
Expect the unexpected. If 2020 teaches us anything it’s that we truly never know what is going to happen. And while we all hope that we never experience a pandemic lockdown ever again, nobody could have predicted this just a few months ago.
Finally, think about the holidays. Most of my clients find that having a nice new portfolio of photos on hand is a great thing leading into the holidays – whether that’s for gifts or holiday cards. Doing your shoot in summer or fall gives you a lot of flexibility.
It’s All Up to You!
Your senior photo session is truly yours. I’m there to help give advice and then to capture what I hope are the most amazing photos of your life (so far). Hopefully, what I’ve written here will give you some ideas on the “when” and “where” questions you probably have.
I look forward to getting together to discuss working with you on your senor session and then planning to make it everything you want – and more!