The answer is different for every senior! Several variables will need to be considered when determining the best time to book your senior session.
To ensure you find a time that works for you, start by looking at your availability. You may not realize just how little time you have until you try and work a photoshoot into your busy senior year. Then suddenly, it’s a month before you graduate, and you haven’t scheduled a date for your session yet.
For example, many extra-curricular activities such as fall sports and performances take place in the fall, leaving very little time for a senior photo session. If you are more involved in spring sports and activities, spring is a difficult season to plan around. Very few seniors want to shoot in the cold of Winter!
You don’t want to be stressed before or on the day of your senior session – it will show in your photos. Your senior session should be a fun experience! On the day of your shoot, you want to be relaxed and enjoy every second.
If you need to shoot on a Saturday, you must plan early! Most photographers won’t have many Saturdays on short notice.
Most likely you already have some idea of the types of photos you want to take to commemorate your senior year. Outfits play an integral role in the overall style of your shoot. If you want to wear a beautiful boho outfit for your senior session, shooting in winter isn’t quite going to work.
You may want to include your cap and gown in your outfits. This makes for limited dates to shoot in the spring of your senior year and these are the most sought after dates for most photographers.
Get a clear idea of the style you would prefer before you choose a date for your photo session.
Your location will also fit in with the theme of your shoot. However, not all locations and settings look good at certain times of the year. Want an urban shoot? This works at almost any time of the year. Prefer to take photos at a local park? Spring and fall create the best backdrops.
There really is no right or wrong time to schedule your shoot, you just need to plan for it. The minute you have an idea of what your senior schedule will look like, start selecting a few dates – you won’t regret it!
Prior to a senior session, get your child to open up about their passions, hopes, and dreams. This information will help guide the shoot and ensure the most authentic photos. Knowing what your senior wants these photos to represent will also guide their outfit and location choices.
Don’t forget to include your senior in the search for a photographer – a photographer’s style needs to fit in with the images you hope to create. Read my blog post: "Parents’ Guide to Senior Pictures"
Senior portraits can be displayed just about anywhere, but there are certain spots in a home where they really stand out.
To help you think outside the box, I have put together a few ideas you can use to decide what printed products you want to purchase from your senior’s portrait session.
Use Your Favorite Spots
Which spots in your home do you love spending time in? This could be anywhere from a dressing area, to the living room to the family room. Add one of the prints to a frame, so that you always have a special reminder of this important milestone.
Over the Fireplace
Have a fireplace in your home? This is the perfect place to hang a senior portrait, whether it is framed or printed on canvas. If you have more than one child, you can create a small photo wall above your fireplace, so that everyone gets a spot.
Change Up Your Bookshelf
Yes, your bookshelf is designed to house books, but this doesn’t mean you only need to use it for reading material. Get creative by combining your favorite books with one or two framed senior portraits and other knick knacks.
Move Away from Frames
If your décor has more of an artistic feel, you can always place small canvas prints on easels. These look great on side tables in either the bedroom or living room. Plus, they make for instant conversation starters about your senior.
Spruce Up Your Foyer or hallways
It’s always nice to be met with beautiful family photos and portraits when you enter a home. Change up the frame sizes and colors to create movement and to add a creative touch to your foyer.
Incorporate Them into Their Grad Party
Planning to host a grad party at home for your senior? Why not use some of their creative shots as décor? This is a party to celebrate them, after all, so make them the center of attention in every way possible. If you want to take it one step further, you can even use these professional photos to create Christmas decorations.
Whatever you do, make sure that you print your child’s senior photos. You are hiring a professional photographer for the occasion, so make it count.
If you're looking for a senior photographer please contact me!
Check out The Kaptured Senior Experience
Receiving your image proofs on a flash drive or via an online proof gallery seems like the easiest way to review the images from your latest session, but this isn’t always the best way. For the best photo session experience meeting for a proof review with your photographer after your session is highly recommended.
With a good professional photographer a lot of time and effort is invested into your session as well as the editing of your photos. A true professional photographer won’t just abandon you once the shoot is done.
Having your photos taken is a personal experience, so why shouldn’t the entire process be personal too? Great photographers prefer to take you through your images so that they can assist you from start to finish and share in your joy. We review and choose your favorite images and discuss the editing process.
For some people, receiving a disc or flash drive filled with photos can be quite overwhelming, especially when it comes to selecting the best images and products. Meeting with your photographer after your session allows me to give you my professional opinion on the best images to print and what your printed product options are. I have samples of products, offer special deals during a review, and typically throw in something extra.
If you choose to meet with your photographer post-session, some even may want to opt to meet at your home. This way they can walk through your home with you and guide you on the best products and placement for displaying your portraits.
Most of my clients come to my home studio for their proof reveal. This is a very exciting event for many, especially high school seniors. We view the images on a big screen and choose the images they like. Packages are presented based on their needs and budget. After the meeting I edit the images and order their products. This completes the experience and assures they get the best service and value.
There are lots of things to consider when booking outdoor photo shoots. For any type of session you want to ensure your images come out looking stunning. Many people book their shoot thinking that midday would be the best time to shoot since there is plenty of sunlight, but this is one of the worst times to do an outdoor shoot.
Midday sun light is often harsh and strong which causes unflattering shadows. While diffusers and shade can help reduce these shadows it still isn't ideal. Then there’s the problem with the bright sun causing everyone to squint and wrinkle their noses. So when should you schedule your outdoor shoot?
Professional photographers will agree that the best time to shoot outdoors is during what is known as the golden hour. This is the hour just after the sun has risen or the hour just before the sun sets. It is during this time that the lighting is ideal because the sun is typically at its lowest point in the sky. As a result, the light is soft and diffused which creates less contrast & shadows, and is easier on the eyes!
The photo below was taken during golden hour. Notice how warm the photo feels and how even the light is with no added lighting or reflectors.
Additionally, during these hours there are fewer people around. This reduces the likelihood of someone walking in the background or distracting you during the shoot. The glow of the sun at this time will also help add dimension to the background and allow for more detail to come through the images.
Sun lit backgrounds are also another benefit when shooting during the golden hour.
Don't forget your flash! You will need it when you have back-lit subjects!
Since the sun rises and sets at different times every day you want to make sure you plan accordingly. From about March to July the sun will begin to rise earlier and set later and from August to December the sun will rise later and set earlier. Keep in mind that your location will impact the length of time you will have this ideal light to shoot with. As you move closer to the equator the “golden hour” will typically not be as long because the sun moves up in altitude more quickly so the light becomes harsher much faster. Also mountains and trees will determine the time of sunrise and sunset.
While it may not seem ideal to have to wake early to get in your photo shoot the images you will come away with are well worth this small sacrifice. Most parents also agree that booking their family shoots earlier in the morning was met with less resistance from their children. Keep this in mind when you decide to book your next outdoor shoot.
As you search for a photographer, you’re likely to come across those saying, “I’m a Natural Light Photographer.” They make it sound like they are a super photog transcended from mere mortal professionals, an artist, not constrained by flashes, lights, and everything that goes with it. I thank you all! Sorry I drifted off into some lyrics from Queen! Anyway these natural light photogs may say they are free to express and your photos will be “real” and natural.
Don’t get me wrong, I love natural light, but there seems to be a misguided notion that natural light always looks superior. When used correctly and when it works, natural light photography is amazing. Being a natural light photographer is not a badge of honor. All light, natural or otherwise, behaves identically regardless of the source, if you understand the principles of lighting. The proper use of flash is NOT flat and unflattering! Proper use of flash fills in dark areas, brings shape to the subject, highlights features and areas, creates mood, and provides missing light.
I consider myself a blended light photographer. The ability to add additional lighting allows me to shoot under any condition with or without the availability of natural light. For example, if natural light causes my subject to have raccoon eyes, I will add a little flash to reduce the shadows under their brows and chin. Here's an example of that below and check out my blog post "How to Avoid Raccoon Eyes in Your Photos".
When I shoot a back lit subject, I can either expose for the background, expose for the subject, or expose for both by using additional lighting. The sunset photo below would not be possible without adding lighting. I set my camera to expose for the sky and then set my light to properly expose my model.
If a photographer claims to be a natural light photographer examine their samples. If you see lots of white, blown out skies, that’s what you’ll receive from them. That’s not a style. It’s the easiest way to shoot and lacks photographic technique and lighting knowledge. Anyone can expose for the people and let the background be blown out or too dark. Anyone can get that with a cell phone!
My intention is to always create the best image possible and I will use daylight, flash, or a blend of both. I know when to move my client to a location with better natural light. Waiting for the golden hour is nice, but not always practical. The photo below was taken during the golden hour using only natural light.
Let’s not forget the wedding where the rain comes and you must relocate the shoot indoors. I’m always completely ready for indoor or outdoor wedding and special occasion photos. Wouldn’t you rather have a photographer that can get amazing photos anywhere, anytime, and under any conditions? Otherwise what are you paying for?
The photos below demonstrate my process of blending natural light with flash. The first photo shows proper exposure of the background. The seconcond photo shows the added light on my subject and the background.