Selecting your senior portrait photographer is an important and very personal decision that takes careful consideration. Senior portraits are the kind of portrait that will end up on your family members walls and fridge for all of eternity. You’ll really want to make sure they’re not going be cheesy and embarrassing in a few years. (think of all the future boyfriends, and potential children that will be checking them out in 20 yrs) No pressure there or anything?!!
There are so many photographers out there offering a variety of options that making a choice can feel overwhelming. Rest assured, there IS a perfect fit for YOU, you just need to decide what is the most important to you. I’ve designed a quick guide to help you make a choice that will work best for what you’re looking for.
- WILL YOU BE LIMITED IN YOUR EXPRESSION?
The first thing to look at when you’re choosing between photographers is the diversity of the locations and clothing changes that a photographer will allow you. Many photographers will offer an option of one to two clothing changes and possibly two locations for your senior portrait shoot. If your’e an outside of the box thinker with a variety of ways that you like to represent your personal style, you might feel somewhat limited in your ability to express yourself. To avoid this, ask to ensure that your senior portrait photographer is up for the challenge of heading out off the trail to capture you in your own element to multiple locations. Are they willing to travel out of your local area to find unique areas that are meaningful to you? How many locations will they allow you? How many clothing changes do you get? At Jamie Love Photography, my clients can rest assured that they have me for an entire afternoon on the day that they book. When you book with me, you get my full undivided time and attention to detail. My sessions are not constrained to 1-2hrs, I strive to make it an event. We can get a bite to eat in between sets while you relax and enjoy your day! I’ll also tell you to bring everything article of clothing that your heart desires to your session, this is of course after you’ve already been prepped with my 80 page “What to Wear Guide”. I do not limit my clients clothing changes, but I will help you pre-plan so you arrive ready and feeing confident.
2. ARE THEY JUST GETTING LUCKY SHOTS?
One thing to look out for while visiting a potential senior portrait photographers website is to see if the work they’re putting out there is CONSISTENTLY GOOD! Is there anywhere that you can find an ENTIRE senior portrait session posted on their website or blog? In the newbie photography world, there’s a term passed around coined “fake it till you make it”. Some photographers who are just starting out will take a million photos of you, and you’ll end up with maybe 10 good shots. I mean, we all have to start somewhere, and its kind of so and so to offer you a session for free etc… but here’s the thing~ you don’t want to have your once in a lifetime senior portrait opportunity be handed over to a newbie who is just practicing on you. You want a professional with a proven track record who can deliver results that you will feel thrilled with. My clients receive no less that 75 images from their sessions, often times even more!
3. ARE THEY LEGIT?
A great way to find out if your potential photographer is legit is to look higher up into the industry at the popular magazines and feature pages that are rocking the Senior Portrait world. Do you see your photographer published on there? If so, this shows that they are a leader in their photography community, are respected by their colleagues and are working within a framework of providing high industry standards to their clients. Jamie Love Photography is proud to have been featured in The Twelfth Year, Senior Year Magazine and was awarded as a Top 50 Up and Coming Senior Portrait Photographer by the Twelfth Year in 2018!
4. THE EDITS ARE EVERYTHING!!!~
Ok~ here’s where it gets real folks. Can your photographer professionally edit a photograph? Its so so vital that you can see work from your senior portrait photographer where the clients skin isn’t orange toned, or edited with a VSCO or Instagram filter. I say this with the utmost love. The truth is, anyone can take a cute photo on their phone and simply apply a quick toned filter to a photo using basic editing software, I mean, you can do that yourself likely. In contrast, a true professional creates portraits that retain full shadow and highlight detail. They are NOT batch edited! The highlights in the image should not be blown out white, and neither should the gorgeous skies you’re standing under! If you see a sky that looks white, and not blue like you remember, you can guarantee, you’re not working with a true professional who understands lighting. At Jamie Love Photography, I hand edit each image to create the most authentic portrait possible for my clients. While I’m able to edit out acne, and reduce basic simple skin concerns, I DO NOT do provide any form of body modification, plastering of the skin, or alter the real features of my clients. I aim to provide a natural, yet polished image for my seniors.
5. WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY GET?!
Aside from the portrait experience itself, does your photographer offer heirloom keepsake products, or do you just get a USB drive with some files on it for you to deal with later? I mean, its great to have a digital file to post on Instagram and Facebook, but legit, when the new software comes out and those USB become obsolete, you’ll be wishing you had something to actually show for your senior portrait experience other than a rusty old USB stick crammed in the back of your drawer. This is another place where you can truly tell the difference between a professional and an amateur. A professional will have a relationship/partnership with a professional printing lab and will be able to guide you through an array of custom crafted keepsake products that will last you long enough to pass down to your grandkids as family heirlooms. Sitting down and opening your custom created leather or linen covered album with your family time after time during family gatherings becomes a truly special experience unmatched by scrolling through your social media profiles. Here at Jamie Love Photography, I provide a large array of custom products as well as social media sized files for my clients. You get the best of both worlds! 🙂
6. WHEN WILL I EVER GET MY PHOTOS?
Another important thing to ask a potential senior portrait photographer is what their turn around time is for receiving the proofs and products. It is important that they have something listed in their contract that guarantees you’ll receive what you’re paying for in a timely manner. (notice how I also said contract?! professional photographers use contracts for their clients…they don’t just book people through an IG dm!) Contracts are a great way to ensure you’ll be legally getting what you pay for and that everyone understands the process and timeline. I can count on two hands the number of clients who have shared horror stories with me about the so and so photographer down the road who was offering a special, and couldn’t keep up with the workload. They didn’t get their images until well after they graduated! Thats’ no bueno, and its also why I follow a boutique photography studio model in my business. I don’t ever bite off more than I can chew. I only book a certain amount of clients/month and then I cap it off. Why is this? As a low volume photographer, I can focus on whats most important; giving my clients the BEST customer service with a short turn around time! All of my clients have their galley reveal session within 2 weeks of their portrait session; and they receive products 2-3 weeks after that.
7. HUMA~ What is that?
Does your senior portrait photographer work with a professional Hair and Make Up Artist? (HUMA) Having a professional hair and makeup artist on deck can make all the difference when it comes to my clients feeling relaxed and confident in their skin. Consider it the ultimate pampering and stress free way to think about one less thing and know that you’ll be looking amazing. Being cared for by a professional who is experienced in camera ready make up is not only pampering, it ensures you’re skin is ready for the up close shots. I by no means require my clients to get professional hair and makeup done, but I do offer it as an option for those who appreciate the added luxury. Another important thing to check in with is that your photographers stylist is a certified professional, vs a person who just likes to do make up for fun. Experience makes all the difference, its one thing to have someone who can do nice make up on themselves, its another to have someone who is experienced in a variety of skin types and colors.
If you’re about to throw down your hard earned cash on a brand new car, whats the first thing your parents will ask you to do? Check out Consumer Reports of course! The same thing goes for your senior portrait photographer. READ THEIR REVIEWS! Once you find a senior portrait photographer whose work you are vibing, reach out and talk to the people who have worked with them. Did they enjoy their session? Did they rave, or were they all “meh” about their experience? Check out the testimonials on their website, or Facebook pages and see what other people are saying. When you search them on google does a list of business reviews come up? It should! If it doesn’t, it might make you wonder why? Did they block reviews because they received a few bad ones? Are they not open to receiving them? Things that make you go hmmmmm…..As important as amazing images are, having exceptional customer service and client satisfaction is the most important! You’ll want to leave your experience feeling satisfied, not ripped off or sour.
9. WILL THEY TALK TO YOU?
I realize in the social media world it can be enticing to text back forth, send a DM, ask for pricing, or chat, but truth be told, you can tell a whole lot more by chatting with someone over the phone! You should be able to find your photographers phone number easily and contact them to have a real time conversation. You’ll be able to tell within 5 minutes if you’re connecting with them, and feel comfortable, or if you’re wanting to run for the hills because you’re getting weird vibes. You’re going to want to work with someone who is friendly, professional, and kind. You’re going to want to work with someone who cares about YOU, and wants to get to know who you are. At Jamie Love Photography, I spend lots of time getting to know each of my clients, from portrait questionnaires, to in person consults with you and your family, you can assure, that I’m here to showcase you and highlight your strengths and achievements.
10. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS~
This one should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyways. A photographer can have amazing images, be professional, be within your budget, and have all the bells and whistles you ever dreamed of, but if something feels off to you, it probably is! This feeling of insecurity and off ness has a tendency to carry over to your portrait experience itself, yielding a portrait of you, clearly uncomfortable. This is the last thing you’ll want in your portrait experience! Trusting your instincts and having a valuable connection with a senior portrait photographer who cares about you is essential for creating images that reflect you in your best light.
I hope these tips are helpful and provide some valuable insight on what to look for in your senior portrait photographer!
If you’d like to chat more about creating the senior portrait experience of your dreams~ feel free to check out my “Work with Me” page on my website. You can also send me your email address in the comments below to receive my information guide on what to expect from your senior portrait experience with Jamie Love Photography. Alternatively, as stated above, give me a ring on the ol’ telly!!! I’d love to talk with you and see if we’re a good fit. 607-269-7703