HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER
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.
The senior portrait experience has evolved since your parents day. Back then they would show up and smile in front of a fake bookshelf and be done 10 minutes later. This is much different. You deserve an awesome senior portrait experience that highlights YOU, 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, won’t work to style your outfits and coordinate locations that fit your personality, and will hand you a disc of unedited or filtered images and make you do all the work yourself.
You deserve a true experience that lifts your confidence and celebrates all the hard work you’ve put in over the past 13 years. If you want an authentic, seamless experience, make sure your photographer offers that! Ask if they meet up beforehand to help you style your outfits. Or if they will make sure that your hair and makeup is natural, enhancing your beauty not covering it up. Ask if they’ll sit down with you at a Reveal and help choose the perfect images for your album or wall art.
Remember when Instagram and Facebook disappeared? Like literally frozen and we couldn’t login or access any of our photos. Me too. Or when I dropped my iPhone into the pool 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!
Think about your social media feed. It’s like a highlight reel. Only the best photos. Some photographers are great at curating an aesthetic feed, but then you look at the rest of the session and it 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 I get super bummed having seniors pour into my DM’s begging for a spot because they went with a bargain photographer or hobbyist that doesn’t have the skillset of a professional and hate their senior pics for one reason or another.
No matter how cheap or how many digitals a photographer offers you, you need to make sure that each and every one of them is going to look amazing! If your photographer doesn’t have the ability to consistently take incredible images, it’s time to consider looking for another photographer.
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 you 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.
This is a BIG one! Super important! Everyone has their go to apps to filter and smooth their social media photos, 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 pesky zit 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?
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 a few times along with being awarded among 2019’s top 50 senior photographers in the nation 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.
If you were looking for a new place to eat, or unsure about buying from an instagram boutique, what is the first thing you do? Look at the reviews. I swear I look at reviews for everything now and I’m not sure how I lived without them. What’s even better, video reviews. My IGTV is full of reviews from 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.
You might be thinking, ‘ehhh I don’t need that.’ Trust me, it helps! 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. Not to mention, everyday makeup is NOT like camera-ready makeup. My team knows exactly what to do to be sure you’re camera ready and feeling your absolute best on the day of your shoot. They’ve perfected the natural vibe so it will definitely still look like you.
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. For example a hobbyist or amateur really 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 disc of unedited images.
There’s also the newbie professionals. They may charge under or 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 a few good ones made the cut and have you narrow them down.
The veteran professionals have the most experience and will charge the most (they are the only ones paying taxes (33% ugh) and running a legitimate business). Typically between $1000-$3000 when everything is completed and purchased. 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.
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 July-October books up even faster so if you’ve decided who you want to go with, don’t hesitate.