#1. What photographic style fits you best?
Every photographer has their own unique style. Some may have similar styles, but no two are just alike. Some may have a more classic look with traditional poses, while others may take a more modern approach using fashion-inspired poses. Another big distinction is lighting. Natural lighting can give images a softer look and feel with no harsh shadows while some studio or off-camera lighting may appear to have more contrast and darker shadows. The best way to determine which style fits you best is to take look at their work and see what kind of images they create. Do they match up with how you envision your own portraits? Which ones are you drawn to the most? Make a list of 2 or 3 photographers in your area and make a list of what you like about their photos.
Key Tip: Once you select your favorite photographer, contact them and let them know what you loved about their images. This will help them plan a session just right for you!
#2. What kind of background do you want for your photos?
Natural outdoor backdrops, urban scenes, or studio backdrops top the list of possibilities. If you're going for natural outdoor backdrops, consider the time of year that fits your vision. If you want the greens of summer, you'll need to book your session the summer before your senior year. If you prefer the look of fall or spring, then make sure you book early enough to secure your dates. Many photographers are booked up to 6 months to a year in advance.
Key Tip: Book your session before the end of your junior year to secure your favorite photographer and get the best date selection.
#3. What will you wear?
Two things to consider here are style and color. Most senior portrait sessions will allow for at least a few different outfits, so you can dress it up a bit for one set and maybe go a little more casual in another. Find clothes that really fit you well, that allow room to move without revealing too much (short shorts and low cut tops can really hinder posing options, so I recommend you avoid wearing them for your session). The other big decision is what colors you will wear. Color can have a huge impact in the overall look and feel of your set of photos. Here's where I usually direct people to check out lots of photos and see what colors are most pleasing to them. Do you prefer the dramatic look of bold colors or a softer more subtle look of pastel shades?
Key Tip: If you are unsure, ask your photographer for advice and they can give you some guidance on this topic. Even if you are sure, show them your options so they can let you know if something won't work well in front of the camera or in your chosen locations. They are the experts, so let them help!
#4. Do you want to showcase any props or locations?
Maybe you play an instrument or a sport. Or maybe you have a passion for photography. Whatever it is that you love to do, think about any related props that you'd like to include in your photos. Or maybe it's not so much a prop as it is a special location you want to use such as your high school football field or your favorite hangout spot.
Key Tip: Definitely make sure you discuss props and locations with your photographer before the session so they will have time to plan the perfect set of poses and backgrounds for you.
#5. What will you do with your photos?
Yes, it's fun to have a senior portrait session. So much excitement and planning. But in the end, it's all about documenting a very special time in someone's life - the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. When you're older, you or someone you love will look back at them and be reminded of who you were and how you looked at this time. And trust me, they won't be looking at them on a CD or on a computer. The best way to preserve your photos is by making sure they get printed. Whether it's an album, a storyboard for your wall, or photographic prints, you'll want something tangible to preserve. While having your images on a CD or computer may seem convenient so you can print as much as you like, the reality is most people don't print them and they often get lost, deleted, or files get corrupted.
Key Tip: Selecting professional prints and wall art at your ordering session is the best thing you can do to make the most of your investment.
Making these decisions can have a big impact on your overall experience and final product, but you don't need to stress about them. Discuss your ideas with your photographer and get their advice and guidance. I offer all clients pre-session consultation meetings or phone calls to make sure everything is discussed and that we are in agreement with the overall vision of the session. Some really amazing ideas have come out of these collaborative meetings.
If you'd like to learn more about the portrait process at Katie Cartwright Photography, please contact me at 804-286-2424 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear all about how we can personalize a session just for you and create portraits that will last a lifetime.