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

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Choosing the perfect senior photographer

Finding the perfect senior 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, even if it isn’t me!


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.

You deserve a quality experience that lifts your confidence and celebrates all the hard work you’ve put in over the past 12 years. If you want to be guided through an authentic, seamless experience, make sure your photographer offers that!

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.

Ask if they contact you beforehand with prep tips for shopping and style your outfits. Or if they will make sure your hair and makeup look 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.

Consider if all these things are important to you.


Remember when Instagram and Facebook disappeared for a day in 2020? Literally gone and we couldn’t login or access any of our photos. Me too. What a wild time that was. 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! Ask if they partner with a professional lab only available to photographers. 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, ask to see samples of their work & products before booking them so you know you’re investing in a quality product!

Ashley Nicolle Photography portrait products


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. 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.


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. 


This is a BIG one! Super important!

Everyone has their go-to apps & filters, right? Those are NOT what professional photographers use.

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 without compromising your actual skin texture.

A few categories would be: dark & moody (these are typically more edgy), light & airy (think bright whites & muted colors), bold & punchy (super vibrant colors), warm & trendy (brown tones & a little grain for that aesthetic vibe), or natural (true tones and colors to 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 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 a Top 100 Senior Photographer Across the Globe two years in a row by the top-rated industry magazine!! I was also published in Glamour magazine years ago for product photography!

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

senior style guide Top 100 senior photographer published photographer


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 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.


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

Make sure your photographer is suggesting 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.


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. Some questions to ask: are they professionally trained in photography? Self-taught? How long have they been actively in business?

The professionals have the most experience and will charge the most (they are typically the only ones paying taxes and running a legitimate business). The average portrait investment with a seasoned professional is around $2,500. Professional photographers 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 under $1,000, but are still unsure of lighting/composition and how to get consistency in their photos. They will shoot and deliver 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.

Quality photography isn’t cheap, just like any other specialty. If you value portraits that are out of your budget, ask if they offer payment plans!


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’re interested in shooting with me, reach out for lots more info on my senior sessions. Hope to work with you soon!

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