Graduating from either High School or College is a huge milestone in a young person’s life. It’s also a proud moment time for the parents. Your graduate has a large amount of personality just waiting to come out and what better time but to capture those moments as a keepsake.
That said, do your homework and find a photographer that will work “with” you and not treat it as just another photo session. That’s one reason a Pre-Consultation is so important. It gives you and the photographer an opportunity to get to know one another. A photographer’s job is to understand the student and what their personality traits are, their likes and dislikes, so that we can make informed decisions of what photos will be successful and which ones will not. We also want to set the tone so that the student enjoys their time with us. A student that is bored will reflect that in their photos.
As stated, perhaps the most important aspect of photographing a Senior Photo Session is the Pre-Consultation meeting with the student(s) and parents. How often do you hear the phrase that “it pays off to be prepared”? For photographers, the more you get out of your Pre-Consultation Session, the better because you are dealing with young people’s personalities, likes and dislikes. Not to mention their parents likes, dislikes and wishes as well.
Remember, each student is a unique individual and getting to know them better will only make the final results that much better. Knowing the student and their wishes will make it easier for you to plan and be ready for the day of the shoot. For the student, this gives them the opportunity to build a rapport with the photographer prior to the photoshoot instead of meeting for the first time prior to shooting and facing that awkwardness of not knowing each other. Besides, you can get a better read when you meet face-to-face with the student, especially if their body language is negative when the parents want something the student does not.
During the Pre-Consultation, other than opening a line of communication with each other and getting a feel for their personality, a good photographer will ask about their hobbies, what they do for fun, what were their accomplishments in school, etc, so that they may incorporate that into the photo session. In some cases, the student or parents have an idea what they’re looking for, but if not, once you learn what their likes and dislikes are, then show them photos from your portfolio that might match up to their wants. Tell them about the locations you are showing them, including the pros and cons of photographing at that location.
For variety, talk to them about shooting at multiple locations. Do they want a few photos in front of their high school or college? Perhaps they played a sport and would like to incorporate the field on which they called “home” during their playing days. When you can get this information, it will help you plan for the day of the session much more thoroughly. Be sure to inform them of your final product policy and how long after the session it will take to get their photos.
Also, this would be a great time to inform the student how long and what to expect during the photoshoot. As we know a photoshoot to a client can seem like a long time, so to keep up the positive momentum, it would be in your best interest to keep them informed as to how long they could be posing for the camera. Each session will be different depending on how much time they paid for or how many photos they are expecting, or if there are multiple locations involved.
During these sessions, you will have some students that are very talkative and some that are fairly quiet. If you have one that talks openly, taking notes is all you need to do. If you get a student that doesn’t say much, it might be in your best interest to have a pre-designed questionnaire for them to fill out. Then go over those answers with them to be sure you two are on the same page. Also, keeping the conversation focused and void of going off target will help you both get through the process with no misunderstanding. Also try keep the conversation on the lighter side.
The focus of the Pre-Consultation should be with the student, after all its their personality you are trying to capture and not the parents. If the parents are involved, definitely ask for their input. Believe it or not, the hardest part of the entire process is sometimes dealing with the parents. During the Pre-Consultation period is the best time to ask parents not to hover over the day of the shoot and to give the photographer and their student the space needed to get comfortable with each other and let the process play out on the day of the photoshoot. The consultation is the best time and place for the parents to voice their wants and needs as well, and not at the actual photo shoot. Be polite when you approach this topic and just let them know that “experience has shown that when parents get involved at the photoshoot.…”
Things Your Senior Should Consider for the Day of the Photo Session
We have found overtime that there are many things to consider for the day of the photo session. The biggest concerns that teenagers have has to do mostly with appearance. If you take the following information into consideration prior to the day of your photo shoot, your session will run pretty smoothly.
What Colors Photograph Well and Which Ones Don’t?
Colors that photograph well are your primary colors. This would include such colors as black, your darker blues, such as navy or royal blue, red, burgundy, charcoal, forest or hunter green, pink, purple, tan and white. Patterns, such as stripes and plaids will work too. That in mind, pastels that are very light in color and neons do not photograph well at all and should be avoided. Also, avoid t-shirts with large logos.
Young ladies should bring to the photo session an array of items, such as: make-up for touching up, mascara, lip gloss and a hairbrush. As for clothing, 3 to 6 tops with varying styles should be brought along. Styles to consider are off the shoulder, button down, tank tops, polo’s or three-quarter length sleeves. If you plan to wear spaghetti strapped tops, we suggest only wearing them if there are no predominant tan lines showing. As for pants, light or dark jeans work well, along with capris. Something to consider is to bring an outfit you could wear any day, a formal outfit, an outfit that represents you and perhaps an outfit that your parents would want in some photos.
Whether or not we use them all, guys should also bring 3 to 6 shirts to the session. This could include t-shirts, sweaters, button down shirts, polo, turtlenecks, sports jerseys and crew necks. As for pants, light or dark jeans work well, along with shorts makes for great options. Lettermen jackets are a great touch too. Also, unless you want a rugged look, we suggest shaving the day of your photo session. Something to consider is to bring clothes you could wear any day, a formal ensemble, an outfit that represents you and perhaps one that would please your parents.
What Kind of Footwear Should I Wear?
Whatever matches the outfits from the above list that you plan to wear. Also, bring footwear depending on the location of your photo session. If we are shooting near waterfronts, then consider deck shoes, flip flops or sandals.
What About My Cap and Gown?
If you already have possession of your cap and gown for your ceremony, then yes, we recommend you bring it and that some of your photos include them. You will get better photographs wearing them at your photo shoot than you would standing around after the ceremony having photos taken with your phone would provide. If you schedule your session prior to receiving your cap and gown, check local thrift stores as they may have some in stock for purchase.
What About Other Issues That Can Affect My Photos?
Other aspects to take into consideration might include wearing glasses, acne, braces and your hairstyle.
Glasses often become an issue. If you have glare free lenses, that should work just fine. But if they are non-glare or traditional glasses, you should consider popping out the lens first. Just check with your photographer beforehand.
In the case of Acne, don’t worry, most good photographers understand that, and they will retouch your photos removing any signs of acne.
When it comes to having Braces, a good photographer will know to take photos of you not smiling and some where you are smiling for you to select from. If you are fine with the braces showing in your smiling photos, then you are good to go. However, if you choose any photos where you are smiling and you want the braces removed, talk to your photographer as there could be a fee involved for that much more detailed process.
Regarding Hair Styles, many will opt to go with one or two hairstyles that they normally have their hair. But if you are considering going with a new style, be sure to try it out before the day of your photo session in the event you do not like it.
Regardless of whether they are High School Seniors or College Graduates, it can be pretty fun to photograph these sessions with them. Often, they are in a great mood due their upcoming graduation, therefore a lot of personality comes out, which benefits the photographer, and in the end, their final photos.
You can pretty much go by what is stated above and apply that to many forms of portrait photography and not just Senior Photos in the event you ever want to do individual or family portraits. Work with your photographer and go over with them the above points to get their input. That personal relationship you gain with them in the early process will allow your photos to pop for years to come.
We invite you to visit Three16 Photography’s portfolio as it offers you a glimpse into what we can do for you to make all your photographic needs special. Feel free to view and then Contact Us for a free consultation.