For some parents, this high school senior photography thing is new, for others, you’ve been through it, but you may still have some questions. This blog post is to help answer some questions about the process of senior photography. Senior photography has changed quite a bit since you have had your portraits done. And it has changed even more since I started doing them. See my blog post about that here.
When do you take senior portraits?
Normally, high school senior photography is done in the summer between the student’s junior and senior years. Anytime between June and December works, but it seems most families come to me in August and September.
What deadlines do I need to be thinking about?
The main deadline, and also a good motivation for getting pictures completed, is the yearbook deadline. That deadline can be anywhere from early October to as late as February, but check with your local high school. Northfield High School’s yearbook deadline is normally early December. Make sure you allow enough time to get final yearbook pictures to the high school, which leads to the next question.
How long does the process take?
Every photographer is different, but for my clients, once the pictures are taken, I have the photos online for you to view in two weeks. Once you select a photo for the yearbook, I can get that ready in a week, but that depends upon how much retouching is needed. If necessary, I can turn photos around as quickly as needed, but it is best not to wait less than one month before your senior pictures are due at the school to have them taken. Also, keep in mind your senior’s busy schedule. Many of them work a job, or two, and are involved in extracurricular activities, so scheduling around their calendar can take time. If they are in fall sports, think about booking a session before practice begins for the season.
What should a senior wear for their photography session?
This is fairly wide open since senior photography has become more casual over the years. While students wear everything under the sun, I would encourage a few things as you think about the wardrobe. Avoid loud obnoxious patterns and bold brand labels or text on the clothing. Those can really date your photos as well as become the focal point. We want people to be looking at your senior’s beautiful face, not at the huge “Nike” printed on their sweatshirt. Ideally, the less skin showing, the better. Your senior may wear what he/she wants, but I will let you know that long bare arms, midriffs and lots of bare legs can be distracting. If your senior wants to wear those things, at least see if you can have one or two other outfits that are long sleeved or cover more skin. It can help direct the viewer’s gaze to the face and be less of a distraction.
Dress for the season. If it is summer, wear summer clothes. In the fall, wear a sweater and long-sleeved shirts. It can be cool, or sometimes downright cold. So, have your senior dress appropriately for the weather. It is easier to wear a few seasons in the summer than to try to wear summer clothes in the fall while goose bumps form and your senior shivers during all of the photos.
What if we can’t agree on clothing choices?
The wonderful thing about the senior photography that I do is I don’t limit your clothing changes. Let your child know that I will take lots of photos in a variety of poses and outfits, and we can do pictures in their favorite outfit AND your favorite outfit. I’ll provide you with many choices, and I think you will both find images you like in the outfits you like. Senior photography doesn’t have to be a battle.
Should I come along for the photography session?
This depends. Some seniors like having their parents along, others do not. You know your child best and should determine what will allow them to be most relaxed. Have a conversation with them and see what they would prefer. I have photographed seniors in the past that I could tell didn’t care to have mom hovering around and “fixing” every little issue. They were more relaxed when mom stepped back and didn’t watch. Others are going to need the moral support of you being there for the photo shoot. The key is, have a discussion about it.
What about props?
Props are welcomed. If your student has an instrument, a car, a book, a dog, whatever they might have, let’s talk about it. Those can be used in some the pictures and help show their personality.
Where are the photos taken?
All my photography is done outdoors. I don’t charge extra for going outside because that is my studio. I do photography in a number of locations around Northfield. St. Olaf college has some great locations, and downtown Northfield provides an urban feel. There are also locations with woods for a background of trees and other foliage. Let’s talk about what suits your student the best and we’ll find the right locations.
What time of day do you take the pictures?
For the best light, I like to do the photography in the evening. Typically, we start about 1-1/2 to 2 hours before sunset. This provides us with enough time to capture your beautiful images in a variety of setting and clothing changes before it gets too dark. I only do one photography senior session per night, so I can focus all my attention on your student. In June, we can start pictures later in the evening since it stays light longer, in the fall, we must start much earlier. We will discuss the actual time to start the pictures, but you can plan for starting roughly two hours before sunset.
Other questions about senior photography?
Please contact me if you have other questions not answered here. I want to make your senior’s photography session is not just something they have to endure, but an enjoyable time that marks a major life event and provides you with memorable photography that you will cherish.