Some areas don’t really have “senior photos”. Senior photos are the photos taken in the last year of high school, your senior year. I’ve lived in Texas all of my life and it’s common here to have senior portraits made, for both personal and yearbook use. There are traditional cap and gown, and then there are the ones that just capture that senior’s personality, what they are involved in, and even where they may want to attend college.
Photographing seniors is a really fun job. You’re capturing those moments that not only will their parents and family cherish, but that they will love to share with their friends (senior rep cards are a huge hit right now, tons of options to choose from). There are several pro labs to choose from to customize rep cards.
So, what’s “in” as far as senior photos? Yes, there are always the standard photos.
Making a statement with their photos whether it’s standing out or fitting in with the latest trends. Lately, I have found a lot of seniors like to add in more style, whether it is posing related or clothing or both. Seniors now are really into YouTube, Instagram, and every aspect of social media. They are on top of the latest fashions, makeup tutorials, and are also keeping an eye on what’s popular for senior photos. If you mainly photograph senior girls, you’ll see some serious planning going into their senior photos. I’ve had families literally book me after already having photos made, just because they didn’t like the feel of the first set of photos. These are big deal folks!
If you are using senior representatives for your business, give them plenty of incentives. Print credits are great and parents will appreciate that, but seniors (like most of us, but able to have more flexible spending) want $$$, which means, figure out a way to give your seniors a credit per booked referral and add them up into a gift card.
Posing is a key way to stand out for your seniors. Find your style and show specific poses and ideas to prospective seniors. That way, they can get a feel of what they will get with you. I tend to mix relaxed with more “fashion” posing, or as some of my seniors have said “model” poses. We throw in both serious faces and smiles, taking one of each pose or so. That doesn’t mean guys are out, check out the latest styles for teen/young adult guys, sports articles, whatever you can to get an idea of how to pose guys or girls. Find out what they like and fit it in.
If you aren’t sure about how to pose seniors, a simple search online, asking a mentor or even (gasp) Pinterest will show you some poses. I know, I know, Pinterest can be a huge pain. But, if you need posing ideas and come to a roadblock, it’s a great place to grab a few. Don’t feel bad about actually showing them what you want. Sometimes explaining or placing them how you want them just will not cut it. I’ve shown people what I am talking about, and it has turned an uncomfortable looking pose into something more natural in a matter of seconds.
If you are shooting outdoors, look for the way the light hits your subject, and the colors of the walls or background you have them on. Downtown areas offer a variety of backgrounds in a small space, especially if you are watching the buildings and scenery as you shoot. Watch for harsh shadows if you are not using a flash, as well as too much haze, etc. depending on the time of day. Some of that can be corrected in Photoshop or Lightroom as well.
The light can make for some really gorgeous photos, as well as dramatic photos depending on how you angle yourself and your subject. For example, I like to have sessions towards the end of the day, closer to sunset.
Personality. If you act like a brick, you’ll get nowhere with anyone, especially seniors (don’t you remember being a senior??). Be relaxed, don’t be too relaxed. Seniors are some of my favorite people to photograph. Even if you end up cracking some corny joke, laugh at yourself and I guarantee they will too. I’m pretty sure half of my photos of laughter have come from me making fun of an awkward pose I tried to put them in, and they just bust out laughing. Hey, it happens. Trial and error. Laughing gets those smile poses to be genuine! Sometimes you have to ask for the help of a parent or another family member to get them to laugh, it just depends on their personality.
All in all, it’s a fun thing to do. The options are endless for creating and working with your clients to give them the best experience possible.
Thanks for tuning in! – Sara