The Big Show.
The Last Hoorah.
The end is in sight.
Football Games. Homecoming. Prom. Award Ceremonies. Senior Trip.
All leading up to `Graduation!
Parents, I say it every year. Do not wait until May to start thinking about Senior Portraits. Take the time to find your photographer and get your session on the calendar.
***Here's a FREE hint for the Parents of Juniors - YOU SHOULD ALREADY BE LOOKING!
Ok, enough about that...
I'll admit it, I was not the most photogenic fella in the New Braunfels High School Class of '92. But hey, I think I'm doing alright by comparison nowadays...but I digress.
Back then I was an awkward, unassuming, average dork with glasses...somebody please feel free to stop me here!
Knowing that college was not for me, I had already enlisted in the United States Army through the Delayed Entry Program. As our Senior Year wound down, my mom suggested that I get my Senior Portraits done.
Looking back 30 years ago, I don't remember a whole lot about the experience. Even then, I would have rather been the one taking pictures of other people, than having my photo taken. To appease Mom, I went along with the plan.
I'm not quite sure who the photographer was or where his studio was located, I do remember feeling like it wasn't quite me. The look, the feel, even what I was wearing felt forced. I'm sure my mom loved the images. She always makes this cutesy face and her voice turns funny whenever she sees something she likes, "ayeeeee, Johnny looooooook" or something to that effect. If you know her, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Nowadays, I'm on the other side of the camera.
Don't ever let a Senior feel the way I did back then.
A Look At The "Class of Today"
It's hard being a kid today. Maybe every generation says this, but we have three adult daughters. I've also worked for years in middle / high school environment as a School Resource Officer (SRO). So I like to think I know a little bit about the teenage psyche.
Let's just take a moment to examine today's High School Senior:
13+ Years of Schooling
Multiple Standard Aptitude Tests
Grew Up with Smart Phones
Active Shooter Drills / Lockdowns
Global Pandemic and Shutdowns
Family and Friend Group Issues
That's about all I could think of, so I'll leave this one blank in case you have something to add.
With all this, I refuse to add "Boring Senior Session" onto that list.
Begin With the End in Mind
So how do I approach Senior Sessions?
It all starts with the Consultation. There are times when I've known the Senior, or at least their parents, for years. This makes for smooth sailing, but more likely than not, I'm tasked with photographing a complete stranger. It's all about comfort and making connections.
I like to sit down with the Senior and parent face to face. With everyone having busy schedules, this isn't always optimal, so we often opt for a phone call or zoom meeting. During this time, I'm trying to get to know more facts about the Senior, things like: attitude toward the session, how they want to be portrayed, sense of style, what makes them laugh, what kind of music do they like, and what location would best suit their vibe.
(FYI, we will travel to your Dream Location!)
This also gives the Senior an opportunity to get to know a little about me such as: my voice, my mannerisms, how I give direction in posing, and my undeniable sense of humor.
There is so much more that goes into portrait sessions than just showing up and clicking a button. This planning phase is paramount to the overall experience and end result.
Now That the Hard Part is Over...
It's time for the actual session. Let's have some FUN! That's my theme for these kiddos.
Let's face it, in a matter of months, Adulthood is going to come along and rob some of these unsuspecting 18 year olds of the joy they've known all of their lives.
Sorry, did I get a little "dark and moody" there? Yeah, I've been described that way before...now where was I?
Oh right, we have to get the "safe" images, the ones that Grandma is going to want to put in her den, but once we get those - let's get creative and have some fun with unique locations, splashes of color, unconventional poses and an all-around great good time.
But Wait, There's More...
Images, prints, albums and wall art await! As discussed in a previous blog post, we're firm believers in the benefits of printed images.
This is possibly my favorite part. After editing the images and sending them off to our partnering print lab, I get to deliver the finished product to our Seniors and Parents. The look on their faces is priceless. I don't ever think I'll get over The Feels when they first see a large metal print or turn the pages of their custom designed storybook album.
That is truly what it's all about.
In the end, I want every Senior showing off the images at school, head held high, and asking their peers one question:
IF YOUR SENIOR PHOTOS DON'T LOOK LIKE THIS, MAYBE YOUR SHOULD ASK YOURSELF - WHY NOT?