Five Things to Consider When Selecting Your Senior Portait Photographer

Senior girl in field of flowers

Spring is here! The grass is starting to grow, flowers are blooming, the high school seniors are nearing the finish line and buttoning up their final “to-do” lists before graduation in May. This is also the time of year that emerging seniors and their parents are getting ready to start the breakneck senior year process (buckle up Mom and Dad… this year goes fast). I thought it might be helpful to give you some tips in selecting your senior portrait photographer.

High school senior portraits

I know what you’re thinking. “But wait, Erica. You’re a Columbus senior photographer – won’t this list just be full of reasons to select you as our senior photographer?”

Full disclosure, I would looooove to provide all of Ohio (and beyond, really) with senior pictures. But more so, I want to provide an experience from start to finish that my clients will cherish. And I can’t do that if we’re not a good fit. So, these are tips are for anyone setting out to select the photographer that would be best for THEIR ideal senior photo experience. It may be me, and it may not – and that’s OK!!

High school senior girl photos

So, without further ado, here are 5 things to consider when selecting your senior portrait photographer:

  1. Do you love the photographer’s style?

Every photographer has a unique style, both in shooting and in editing. Many experienced photographers typically can shoot many types of photos, but some have a signature style that they are known for and are good at. Are you looking for more classic portraits? Or maybe something that has more of a lifestyle flair to it? Some seniors love an editorial vibe, while others want a fine art feel to their images. Do you love a soft look or more edgy? Take a look at any potential photographer’s social media AND website to see if their ability and style aligns with what you have in mind. You may also want to see if they are willing to meet with you to show more of their work and to talk about what style you would like to achieve. Ensuring that your photographer can photograph the style you desire is paramount in your senior photo success story.

High school senior girl photos

2. What level of experience does your potential senior photographer have?

Years in business does not ALWAYS correlate with how good a photographer is (or is not). BUT, generally speaking a photographer with more years of experience will have a better idea of what they are doing. They are typically work more efficiently and have a better chance of bringing your visions for your senior photos to life because they have learned more diverse skills over their years as a photographer. Longevity in the industry also shows that they have a sustainable business. This is important to you because you know that they will be there for you moving forward, for things like consistent senior photos for siblings, or assistance with your digital files, products you’ve already purchased or additional products.

High school senior girl photos

You may also want to check your photographer’s credentials. Photography is not a career that requires a degree or any special licensing. Basically anyone with a camera can call themselves a photographer. So as a baseline you should make sure that your potential senior photographer is a legitimate business; that they are registered with the state in which they work, and that they carry insurance. Next, do they have a degree, certification or accreditation through a respected organization in the industry (such as Professional Photographers of America and/or The Portrait Masters)? And finally – have they won any awards for their images or achievements in the industry? The more a photographer can check these boxes, the more confidence you can have in them to produce the senior photos you desire.

Professional Photographer Credentials

3. Do they offer products you would love?

Excuse me for a moment while I jump on my “PRINT YOUR PHOTOS” soapbox.

Your senior photos are without a doubt the most important images you’ll have of yourself at this stage of your life. We live in a digital world, and most seniors want the digital files from their session. Parents do too, and having digital files is great for sharing the images on social media and having the option to print the images in the future. But more and more often, I hear stories of people who have received only the digital files from their photo session (sometimes even weddings), and they have never printed a single image. They live on thumb drives or hard drives. You only have to look back a decade when images were stored on CDs to understand that as technology changes, the ability to access the images in this format is at risk… and those technologies are not fail-proof!! More importantly, times like these should be celebrated – displayed as wall art or preserved in albums as an heirloom for future generations.

With that said, when deciding on a photographer you may want to ensure that they not only offer digital files, but also prints and products from high-quality labs. Does the photographer offer a variety of products? Do they stand behind their products? You may even want to meet with the photographer ahead of time to view all of your options before you decide to book a session.

Photography products

4. How is their communication?

Communication is key in any relationship, and the photographer-client relationship is no exception. Does the photographer respond to your inquiry in a timely manner (or at all)?? Do they clearly convey their process? Do they give you a range of what their clients typically invest on their senior photo experience, and/or offer the opportunity to meet to discuss the process, products and pricing? Having this information helps you to make an informed decision.

Does the photographer have a contract or service agreement? This is so important because not only does it clearly outline the terms of the service, but it also protects BOTH the photographer and the client. Finally, you may want to ask if the photographer helps you prepare for the session in any way. Do they have a pre-session consultation, or a guide to help walk you through the process and give you tips toward a great photo session experience? Do they ASK what YOU want from your session?? Communication throughout

Helpful information for senior pictures

5. Finally, do you and/or your senior like the senior portrait photographer’s personality?

You will be spending a fair amount time with this photographer, who will be capturing photos that represent who you are in this stage of your life. If you are uncomfortable with him or her, or simply don’t enjoy being around that photographer, that might show through the photos. Fortunately, in this day and age you are able to get a tiny peek into anyone’s personality based on their social media presence. You may want to schedule a consultation prior to booking the session to ensure your personalities are compatible. Will the senior portrait photographer offer a time to meet prior to the session? This is a great time to get to know your photographer so that when the session time comes around for your session, you are comfortable not only with the process but also the photographer.

High school senior portraits

Hopefully this list of things will assist you in selecting the senior portrait photographer that is right for you. If you are curious how EMP stacks up in any of these areas, please don’t hesitate to fill out that contact form at the bottom of the page. I would love to chat, and determine if we’ll be a great fit for this important images!

xo – Erica

Variety of senior photos

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The best way to reach me is through the contact form or via email, as often I return messages after normal business hours. I will make every effort to get back to you within 24 hours. If you don't hear from me within that time, your contact form might not have gone through, so please contact me directly at ericamanningpt@gmail.com.