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How To Prepare For High School Senior Pictures

Updated on October 15, 2010

High School Senior portraits are expensive but well worth it. Senior pictures are a great way to capture your last year before entering the real world. To have these professional portraits turn out there best, I recommend preparing in advance. The best time to have senior portraits taken is during late summer, early fall between Junior and Senior years. After this time there is a rush for all the seniors graduating that year to have there own senior pictures done. Remember to ask your High School what size photo they need for the yearbook and have this in mind when you have the portraits taken.

senior photo
senior photo

The Photographer

Professional photographers portrait prices are all different. First thing to do? Get out that phone book and call around. Most professional photographers generally have a set price for their different high school senior portrait packages. Let them know what your looking for and your price range.

While there are some great professional studios that do take great pictures, there are some amatuer photographers that do this out of their home and are even better than the studios, and cheaper! That's the route I took and I LOVE my senior pictures. A good way to find a amauter photographers is to bulletin boards around your area in supermarkets, dry cleaners, ect.

Ask your older friends who they used for their senior portrait photography. You may get some good leads for affordable portrait photographers. Once you have some numbers give them a call and do a short interview with each. Asking the important questions ahead of time can help ensure that you are choosing a portrait photographer that is going to work the best with what you are looking for

Questions to ask:

  • What kind of backgrounds do they have?
  • Do they do outdoor pictures?
  • Can you have a friend, pet, parent, ect. in one or more of your pictures?
  • How long have they been doing this?
  • Do they do outdoor photos? If so, where?
  • Will they come to where you want to have them taken?
  • Do they have a portfolio you can see?
  • Who decides the shots? Will you be allowed imput on ideas for pictures?
  • What are their senior photo packages like and can you mix and match.
  • Are there any specials or deals?

If they have a portfolio (most do!) ask to come in and take a look at it. You can look at other photo's they've taken and decide from there if you would like to go with them

senior picture
senior picture

Before the Shoot

Senior Pictures can run anywhere from $50 for a few select photos to $400 for a complete photo package and at some places even more. The most popular packages will run around $150-$250. With most packages a nice little accordion style folding picture frame is included. From your proofs you can choose from 6 to 12 pictures to display in these depending on what frame is available.

If you plan to buy a new outfit for this don't wait till the last minute. I recommend bringing 3 to 4 outfits. No you don't have to buy this many. Go through what you already have. These are your senior portraits, bring your favorites

Common clothing I've seen in pictures are:

  • dresses (fancy and casual)
  • jeans
  • sweatshirts (with school name)
  • T-shirts
  • Letterman Jackets
  • sports uniforms
  • slacks
  • dress shirts

As you can see just about anything goes. I recommend having one nice outfit, one you wear often, and one related to their interests such as a sports uniform.

Many photographers will let you have anything you want in your pictures. These are your photos, they are just capturing them. I've seen senior portraits taken next to their car, in their own backyard, with their pets, friends, and/or family. In my own senior pictures I asked if one of my pictures be with my mom. The photographer had no problem with this. If you want to include something ask first just in case.

Accessories and Props

Bring along make-up and hair spray for touch ups. Favorite hats, sunglasses, and other accessories can make for fun senior portraits.

For girls bringing make-up I suggest dark colors because the lights can make your face look a bit drowned out and pale. Don't go to heavy with it though or you'll just look like a clown. Bring it all with you and after you find out what your backgrounds and lighting will be determine at this time what you will need.

Don't forget the sports equipment, musical instruments, graphing calculator(?). Including props from your sports or hobbies are great additions.

senior portrait
senior portrait

After the Pictures Are Taken

After your great senior portraits have been developed the photographer will ask you to come back in. This is when you will decide which pictures you'll keep. The photographer may let you even take them home and decide using square templates exactly how you want the picture to look. Usually you will pick 3 -4 different pictures. Some senior portrait photographers may let you choose more for an additional price. After you decide and bring them back they will be sent back to the developer for a few more weeks. Now all you have to do is wait for them to be finished and then pick them up.

Digital Photography

Many photographers are movie into the digital age. Not just for weddings anymore, now your can view your senior portrait proofs online. The benefits of this is that your generally have many more to choose from. Instead of just the best 50 of the bunch, you can choose from ALL your photos that were taken. This is helpful in the instances where your photographer may have excluded a photo you really liked.

With digital photography you are generally able to share and show friends to get their opinion on which photos to have developed.

If your portrait photographer does digital photography, ask for the pictures on a CD or if you can download them on to your computer. This way you can use them on your Myspace page, your webpage, or just have them to share with friends online. Keep in mind the photographers photo rights.

Photo rights are strict business, if you want the rights to yours it may be as simple as asking or paying an extra fee. Some photographers however, may not be so inclined to give away the rights to their work. Limited rights may be available when this happens.


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    • peanutroaster profile image

      peanutroaster 6 years ago from New England

      Great advice for Seniors!

    • profile image

      figo4ever 7 years ago

      very nice

      keep in touch