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Ashley is a visual storyteller, adventurer, music lover, & book nerd

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Choosing the perfect senior photographer

HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU

You deserve the absolute best for your senior portrait experience! If this is your first time hiring a professional photographer or you’re unsure what you should be looking for when choosing one, I’ve got some great tips and advice for finding your perfect senior photographer.

1. WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU WANT?

The senior portrait experience has evolved since your parent’s senior pics. You deserve a modern senior portrait experience that highlights YOU in a variety of images, rather than a generic photo that looks like everyone else’s.

Many photographers won’t take the time to help you prep before your session, won’t refer you to the best hair and makeup artist, and won’t work to assist in styling your outfits and coordinate locations.

You deserve a quality experience that lifts your confidence and celebrates all the hard work you’ve put in over the past 13 years. If you want to be guided through an authentic, seamless experience, make sure your photographer offers that!

Ask if they contact you beforehand with shopping tips and help style your outfits. Or if they will make sure your hair and makeup is natural, enhancing your beauty not covering it up. Ask if they’ll sit down with you at an ordering appointment and help choose the perfect images for your album or wall art.

2. ARCHIVAL QUALITY PHOTO PRODUCTS

Remember when Instagram and Facebook disappeared for a day? Like literally gone and we couldn’t login or access any of our photos. Me too. Or when I lost my iPhone in the desert and didn’t realize my iCloud hadn’t been backing up my photos at all. Yeahhh. 

Digital memories are important and awesome to share with family and friends, but we don’t have control over those & they’re not guaranteed to be there forever. You deserve better. Making sure your photographer offers beautiful, professional grade, quality photo products you can display forever like albums and wall art is so important! I’m talking about albums with thick pages and a lustre finish that will protect against fingerprints and UV light so that your photos look gorgeous for years to come!

When booking your senior photographer, make sure that this is something they offer beyond digitals and ask to see samples of their work before booking them so you know you’re investing in a quality product!

Ashley Nicolle Photography portrait products

3. CONSISTENCY

Think about your own social media feed. It might be a highlight reel of your best photos or curated to show exactly what you want people to see. Some photographers create an aesthetic feed, but the rest of the session fails in comparison. Don’t judge a photographer by the best photo they posted from a session, judge them on the session as a whole.

Every spring, seniors pour into my DM’s begging for a session because they originally went with a bargain photographer or hobbyist that doesn’t have the skillset of a professional and ended up hating their senior pics. 

No matter how cheap or how many digitals a photographer offers you, make sure you’re getting quality images! If your photographer doesn’t have the ability to consistently take incredible images, you may want to consider looking for another photographer.

4. LOCATION

What are you most into? Which locations would bring out the best in you? Are you more a city person or nature? Do you prefer creative, off-beat locations or traditional? Will your photographer take the time to understand your vision and scout location options to match?

Your photos should represent you: your individuality, your authenticity. Locations play a large role in that. When looking for your senior photographer, be sure they’re willing to scout locations and come up with options that seamlessly represent your vibe. If you notice all of their sessions are held at the same spot with the same poses, you may want to look elsewhere. You are wildly unique! Your photos should express that. 

5. EDITS

This is a BIG one! Super important!

Everyone has their go to apps & filters, right? That is NOT what we do as photographers.

We’ve spent years hand-crafting the perfect edit to showcase our photography style. So if you check out a website or instagram feed and don’t immediately connect with their work, move along. We also know how to seamlessly edit that annoying pimple that popped up on shoot day.

A few categories would be: dark & moody (these are typically more artistic), light & airy (think bright whites everywhere), bold & punchy (super vibrant colors), warm & trendy (brown tones & a little grain for that aesthetic vibe), or natural (minimal editing from the original photo). 

BEST TIP: Look on their feed or website for someone you know. Does it still look like them? Or have they been photoshopped to the point they are almost unrecognizable? 

6. PUBLISHED

As an artist, it means so much to get recognition from your peers as one of the best. Check their website or social media or even ask if they’ve been published locally or nationally. Some photographers will blast it everywhere and others are a bit more humble. I, personally, have been nationally published many times along with being awarded 2019 & 2020 top 100 senior photographers in the nation by the top rated industry magazine and take great pride in those accomplishments.

This shows that you’re hiring a true professional of the craft who is highly sought after and legitimate. 

Ashley Nicolle Photography nationally published

7. RAVES & REVIEWS

If you were looking for a new place to eat, or a shirt on Shein, what is the first thing you do? Look at the reviews. I look at reviews for absolutely everything now and I’m not sure how I lived without them. What’s even better, video reviews.

My insta reels are full of reviews from current and past clients talking about their experience with ANP. Ok and even better than that, ask your friends! We know moms talk, so make sure you’re going with someone who is going to provide you with the best possible senior portrait experience for you.

8. PROFESSIONAL HAIR & MAKEUP

You might be thinking, ‘ehhh I don’t need that.’ Trust me on this one!

Make sure your photographer is referring you to someone who knows how to do camera-ready makeup in a natural way so it still looks like you. Everyday makeup, is NOT like camera-ready makeup.

It takes the stress off of you on a super important day and allows your hair and makeup to be in the hands of a trusted professional.

9. VALUE

Wait, how much do you charge?

Photography is one of those things that has a variety of prices due to the variety of people behind the camera.

The veteran professionals have the most experience and will charge the most (they are the only ones paying taxes and running a legitimate business). The average portrait investment with a seasoned professional is typically around $2,000. They have spent years perfecting the trade and will deliver beautiful consistent images no matter the obstacles thrown their way. You will be given supreme customer service and guided through the process at each step. Their clients value them, their work, and the experience given to their seniors. 

The newbie professionals value quantity over quality. They’re usually around $500, but are still unsure of lighting/composition and how to get consistency in their photos. They will shoot A LOT of pictures hoping to land a few good ones, throw a filter, on and call it a day.

A rookie photographer loves taking photos but doesn’t have the working skill set a professional does. They might charge a few hundred dollars and give you a gallery link of unedited or filtered images.

10. FINAL TIP

Does your photographer specialize in senior portraits? Have they worked to be the absolute best in this genre?

Once you’ve found the senior photographer that you want to work with, book! Don’t wait. Professional senior photographers typically book up a few months in advance. The busy season June-October books up even faster so if you’ve decided who you want to go with, don’t hesitate.

If you think we’re a perfect fit, check out more info here or pick your date to book here!

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