Senior portraits are an important rite of passage for many northern Virginia seniors, and you may be wondering how to choose a senior photographer. While the high school photographer can take a couple of candid shots after he takes your formal yearbook portrait, it’s much more fun to have a customized senior portrait experience!
Picking the right senior photographer involves balancing photographic style, session experience, and your budget. Senior portraits will become more precious over time, so follow these guidelines to make sure you end up delighted!
How to Choose a Senior Photographer
#1 – Style
One of the most important considerations in how to choose a senior photographer is whether or not you like the photographer’s style. If a photographer comes highly recommended but you think the photographs look too washed out, that’s not someone you should choose to work with!
If you want a natural look, then don’t choose a photographer who only uses high fashion posing or edgy filters or requires professional makeup.
If you want dramatic senior portraits, then don’t book a photographer whose portfolio is filled with light, airy pictures of seniors looking boho chic in fields of backlit wheat.
Look over the photographer’s gallery and make sure you like their senior portrait style. Check with your friends in neighborhood groups, and look at the senior pictures your friends are posting to get more ideas and recommendations.
#2 – Location Options
Do you want studio portraits or location portraits? Some photographers are location only, so if you hate sweat and bugs and want to stick with studio, make sure to choose a photographer like Goodhart Photography that can offer you a studio experience.
Similarly, some photographers only shoot in studio, or only shoot in a couple of locations, so make sure to get those details from your potential photographer.
#3 – Proofing Options
A third consideration in how to choose a senior photographer is how you want to place your order. Do you want an online gallery where you can order from the convenience of your own home, or would you prefer to go to the photographer’s studio and look at images projected onto a large, high definition television?
If there are a large number of proofs, it can be very helpful to have an in-person sales session to narrow down your favorite senior portraits, as it is easier to zoom in on images and compare them side-by-side. You can also see studio samples of products you are ordering.
At Goodhart Photography, you can choose the proofing option that works best for you and your schedule.
#4 – Products versus Digital Files
Also consider what you would like to order. Do you need digital files to create your own graduation announcements and prints? Keep in mind some photographers still don’t sell digital files, so it’s important to ask before you book your session.
And some photographers don’t work with professional labs and ONLY deliver digital files, so if you were planning to get a framed canvas portrait to hang over the fireplace, make sure your photographer offers that.
Goodhart Photography offers a wide range of products, from wall portraits to albums to prints, as well as digital files.
# 5 – Budget
Then there is the all important question of budget! What is your budget, and how much will these photographs cost?
Some photographers put their pricing on their websites, and others will send it to you if you reach out and ask. Still others won’t let you see their pricing before the sales session and will just give you a ballpark range before you book your session.
Many photographers, including Goodhart Photography, offer payment plans. I also offer short and simple sessions for seniors on a tight budget.
#6 – The Senior Portrait Experience
Another consideration for how to choose a senior photographer is what the senior portrait experience is like. Recommendations from friends and neighbors, and the photographer’s website and testimonials can be invaluable for giving you a sense of the photographer’s style and personality.
Some photographers are lively and outgoing, others are more introverted and empathetic, and your senior may click better with some photographers than others. The connection between your senior and the photographer really makes a difference in the quality of the images.
Consider whether the photographer offers outfit changes, or a professional makeup artist to take the experience up a notch. Goodhart Photography partners with Meredith Ehler to offer makeup services to seniors who want to have professional makeup and hair styling.
#7 – Availability
And finally, is your photographer available? Some photographers take off for a couple of months (December and July) to be with their families. And many senior photographers book a few months in advance. The busiest months of the year at Goodhart Photography are September, October, and May, but if you are able to do a shoot during the week I should be able to fit you in for senior portraits!
Hopefully this article gave you some ideas for how to choose a senior photographer. Did I miss any tips? Or do you have questions, comments? Or are you ready to book? Get in touch with me here!