So your child is/is going to be a senior in high school?! If this is your first time embarking on senior year as a parent, hang on; you are in for an exciting year. There will be times of intense stress with looming deadlines and decisions to make. There will be moments of heightened elation and pride when goals are met and accolades are received. There will be tears of both sadness and joy as you navigate this time of transition and change. There is excitement and anticipation for the future along with fears and uncertainty. No one is truly prepared for all of this. So, give yourself a little grace, be patient with each other, find the joy in this shared experience, and rely on professionals who can offer guidance and assistance along the way.
As your senior portrait photographer, I offer myself as one of those professionals who can be of assistance. I have had the honor of experiencing senior year with over two hundred seniors, so this space is very familiar to me. Having been through the process twice as a parent, I recall that the extra layers that come with the designation of "senior" can be overwhelming. I do not share these truths for the purpose of generating fear or dread, but rather to empathize and to offer a helping hand. When you hire me as your senior portrait photographer, you are gaining an ally and an addition to your team of people who are dedicated to making senior year as positive and memorable as it can be. Let's take a closer look at the senior portrait process in a way that will take it out of the "to do" column and place it into the "helpful solution" column.
The Portrait Process:
- SCHEDULE YOUR SESSION: Once you have made the inquiries for senior portrait photographers and determined that we are a good match, we will schedule your session. Some factors that we will want to consider are things like your preferred season, scheduled vacations or summer camps, and work and activity schedules. Two things need to happen to secure that date. One is that you will need to electronically sign the contract that I will send you. This ensures your session price that was quoted as well as the timing. Two is that you will pay the invoice for the $50 booking fee/retainer fee. You can pay this on line or send a check in the mail. This $50 retainer fee is non-refundable.
- CHOOSE A LOCATION: We will want to choose a location that will provide the appropriate feel and look of the session based on your senior's style and personality. This decision can take some thought, so we do not have to make it immediately. There may be a private property, farm, or country club that you are able to access that would have special meaning. We may want to incorporate a stage, stadium, gym, or ball field to best showcase a sport or activity that is a big part of their lives. We can use one, two or more locations as long as they are fairly close together. Our allotted session time is three hours, so the more time we are in the car, the less time we are taking pictures. Some of the locations that I use quite often are Quail Hollow Park in Hartville, Zoar Historic Village, Canton Garden Center and Monument Park, Gervasi Vineyards (only on Mondays), the campus of Mount Union and Glamorgan Castle in Alliance, and downtown Canton. I am always open to new ideas.
- PREPARE FOR THE SESSION: Oh, this part is so fun! I am happy to be as involved in this preparation as you wish. We can even schedule a consultation to share ideas. Some seniors will send me pictures of their outfits for feedback. Some will create an inspiration board on Pinterest to share with me. I have had very successful senior portrait sessions with seniors who made absolutely no purchases for the session. They pulled outfits from their own closet by mixing some special-occasion pieces with others that get a lot of love. I have other successful sessions with seniors who literally purchased every outfit from the same boutique with the very attentive help of sales staff. That is what makes this so fun. You do what works for you!
- PAY THE SESSION FEE INVOICE: About a week prior to your session, you will receive an invoice for the remainder of the session fee. You will again have the option to pay this on line or to pay by cash or check at the session, itself.
- FINAL CONFIRMATION: In the days before the session, we will confirm our plan for the senior portrait session and make sure that we are clear about where we are meeting up. This will most likely be a specific parking lot at our session location. We will address any concerns about the weather. If, indeed, the weather forecast is questionable, we will determine how late we are willing to make the decision. If you have hair and make-up scheduled, we will want to make this determination sooner. I have seen so many days that start out rainy, but end with the most beautiful evenings. This is Ohio, after all. If I determine that the weather is not favorable for the session, we will choose the soonest evening that works for both of our schedules. This will not incur the "reschedule fee of $50". Per the session contract, there is a $50 reschedule fee assessed for rescheduling within three weeks of your scheduled session.
- SESSION TIME! As you are packing up to leave for the portrait session, I need for you to do two things. One is to use the session checklist to make sure that you have packed everything that you need. This can be found on page 14 of the Senior Guide that is linked on my website. Two is to take a deep breath and be ready to savor this experience. There is no reason to be nervous. Your biggest jobs are to pack everything that you need and to trust me. Once we find each other at our designated meeting spot, we will review your outfits and I will suggest the best spots for each of them. We will establish an order based on my knowledge of where the light will be the best at what time. Then, we will start making some magic. I will continually ask for your input to make sure that you are liking what you are seeing so far. I will make adjustments based on what you share with me. It is okay if you get a little emotional during this time. I want you to take it all in and appreciate how amazing your senior really is and make sure that we capture all of that.
- THE REVEAL SESSION: At the portrait session, we will schedule your reveal session. This will take place sometime within the week following your portrait session at my home studio in Louisville. I will have your portraits edited and placed in a gallery on my website. We will start the session with a slideshow featuring a few portraits from each of your looks to recall the fun that we had together at your portrait session. Tissues are provided. Then, I will show you how to access your portraits in the gallery on my website. We will sort through them and create a set of "favorites" so that future decisions are easier. You and your senior will choose five social media files. These are low resolution files that can be shared on social media but are not to be printed or used in anything that will be printed. These files are emailed to you after the reveal session. Finally, we will take a look at some portrait products and come up with a plan for how you would like to use your portraits moving forward.
- CONTINUED SUPPORT: You are not done with me yet! I will still be here as your guide. In late February or March, I will prompt you to start thinking about the graduation announcements and we can start the design process together. I will check in with you again to see if you want a yard sign to display for graduation. When you are ready to design your album or wall art, we will take that journey together. Some seniors even schedule a spring session so that we can capture portraits in the cap and gown, prom dress, and college apparel. I am here for all of your portrait needs, wants and desires.
I am so excited for you and the journey that you are making together with your senior. You have poured all of your hopes and dreams into this child and you now get to reap the fruits of your labor. Let's use the senior portrait experience to document and savor that. I hope that you will laugh together, maybe cry a little together, but most of all, I hope that you will find the senior portrait experience to be one of the biggest highlights of the senior year with beautiful portraits to serve as a constant reminder... portraits that will gain in value for years to come.