Priceless Art -The low-down on the Senior Portrait Session
You just dropped your child off at preschool crying because they didn’t want to leave your side, or vice versa, you didn’t want them to leave you. In what seems like the blink of an eye, they are preparing for their last year of high school and the long awaited “Senior Portrait Session”.
I know exactly how you feel, my daughter is a senior this year. Last year I had the same ache in my heart, wondering where time went, and how I was going to be able to photograph my own daughter so that I could create priceless pieces of art for our walls. Yes, I consider these pieces of art, for a few reasons, but the primarily the fact that your child is one in a million; no one else can be him or her; no one else loves them as you, the parent, loves them. They are unique, they are beautiful, and you are the reason they are thriving here on this earth, with a little help from the big guy above, of course. These portraits will be capturing this monumental moment in their lives, as well as your favorite expression that only a parent can love, the smile that melts your heart, the eyes that you have been so used to looking at, for the last 16 or 17 years.
It is priceless for the fact that you cannot get this time back, they are on the cusp of being a full fledged adult and right now they are still under your wings until the day that comes soon where they will lift their wings and fly away. Their senior portraits will be a constant reminder of the days that passed and the life you have provided for them. Whether they move further away or stay close by, it will always be a special memento of this transition into their next stage of life. That piece of art on your walls just may be the last formal portrait session that you have of them until the day they say “I do” to someone else whom they choose to love and dedicate their lives to. This being said, I consider these portraits both priceless and pieces of art.
The art of senior portrait photography to me is much more than just producing pictures on paper. It’s about capturing the ‘essence’ of your senior in a stress-free, fun and relaxed outdoor environment. My approach is simple, to bring out the best in them, by connecting with them, for just one or two hours, where I will learn a little bit more about who they are and what they love to do now and in their future. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is truly getting to know the seniors, so that I may present to you, portraits that reflect their true ‘spirit and personality’.
You should book your senior portrait session during the spring leading up to their senior year. Summer months book up quickly for many photographers.
Once we book your senior session, I will be in touch over the course of the weeks leading up to your session, including a month before (to send you the session guide and any other necessary information ), then again a week or so before and lastly 1-2 days before the sitting to answer any last minute questions you may have to help you prepare for this special day.
Approximately 7-10 days after your session a password protected online gallery will be uploaded to my website for viewing your proofs. 1-3 days after the session, I may post a sneak peak of a few of my favorite images from your session on my Sharon Ward Photography facebook page. I encourage you to comment, like, and share with friends and family on facebook or use as your profile image.
Your final print choices with your order from the session will be due approx 10-14 days after the proofs are uploaded to my gallery for viewing.
Once you notify me of your yearbook choice from the proofs, I will take care of all the rest for you. I will submit the digital file directly to your school yearbook coordinator before the due date. Please keep this in mind when choosing a date for your session, that we will need at least 3 weeks turnaround time before the yearbook image is due.
I tend to be a relaxed and flexible person, but I also understand that some people can be nervous in front of the camera. I will start out by asking you some questions so that it gives me some insight into your personality. I want this session to be about you, I focus on your best features and work with you to find your comfort zone. I will be chatting with you throughout the session so that being photographed will not feel awkward to you. I work hard to make it an enjoyable time so you will feel relaxed and at ease during your session.
The tone of your head shot will be set by your expression, background, and lighting, but your clothes play a significant supporting role in defining who you really are.
First and foremost, choose clothes that are comfortable and fit you well. No amount of retouching will make the shirt that’s two sizes too small or two sizes too big look right on you. Avoid patterns and logos, that are too busy. They draw attention from your face. Pay attention to the neckline of your outfits, making sure the neckline is not too low. Clothes should be clean and pressed. It’s worth the trouble to iron your shirt, as sometimes it can be difficult to retouch wrinkles on your clothes Bring several different tops to your session in a variety of colors, collars/necklines and styles. Some collars and sleeves can look funky if the image is cropped tightly. If you are self conscious about your arms, avoid wearing sleeveless tops. Some shots will be close up and some will be 3/4 or full length. So pay attention to what you are wearing on the bottom. Mix it up, Something dressy, something casual, something in between. Accessories for the girls (scarves, belts, jackets, head bands)are fun, but make sure they define who you are. Shoes are important for both the guys and the girls. Old run down sneakers will not look good with a dressy outfit and they may be in some of the images.
Choose colors to complement your face and not distract from it. Most people look good in mid-tones (blue, green, brown). Not everyone looks good in white and be careful when choosing paler colors up against your skin tone (beige,tan,peach) sometimes are fine. For fair skin and blue eyes, try pinks, blues and grays. For green eyes, try browns, greens, cranberry and burnt orange. If you have medium or dark skin and brown eyes, most colors are okay, but avoid those that closely match your skin tone as there may not be enough contrast. Guys the plaid shirts are a nice option if you like that look. Send me a picture of yourself so I can help you with your choices.
The Rest of You
Makeup: Makeup is important for the girls. You will want to do your makeup fresh before your session. Don’t over-do, but apply it so that it looks natural. If you do not feel comfortable wearing makeup and it is not a part of your daily routine, that is fine too. Bring your lip color with you so we can be sure you have it for touch-ups.
Hair: There is no magic button in photoshop for making your hair look it’s best. So please pay attention to how you want to style it a few days before your session. Avoid haircuts and color at least one-two weeks before. Guys, be careful shaving to avoid cuts and redness, it is preferred you do not shave right before the session.
2 days before: Drink lots of water, avoid lots of caffeine and stay out of the sun. Sun burn cannot be retouched. Girls remember to moisturize. I can touch up acne and pimples, so try not to focus on that.
The night before: Get a good nights sleep because tired eyes do not make for a nice portrait. Press clothes and have makeup and outfits all ready to bring with you to your session. Bring at least 2-3 outfits with you to your session. If you have more and are unsure just bring them along and we can decide when we meet up.
The day of your session: Arrive on time. I schedule my sessions early evening around the time frame that the sun is low in the sky and to capture the evening sunset as back lighting. So it is essential that we keep the appointment moving along before the sun actually sets and it gets too dark.
I will be taking a variety of poses, always with the goal in mind of capturing a natural smile, look and expression. You will receive a gallery of around 50-75 images. Some of the images I will create may look more artistic and some will be more appropriate for the yearbook. I assure that you will have plenty of options to choose the most appropriate image for your yearbook. But remember, it is not just about the yearbook here, it is also about finding the best pieces of art for your walls.
Relax & have fun. Every senior I have photographed in the past has truly enjoyed their session with me, even if it takes a little bit to warm up and feel relaxed, that is okay.
By the time the session is done I am confident that we will have captured some special images of your senior that you will love to use as artwork for your walls as a reminder of this priceless transition in their lives.
And remember, you are beautiful already, let me help you see it, through my lens.