Senior year is a long anticipated and exciting year, that somehow sneaks up on us. It can feel like you went from wiping butts and noses to planning for your baby to go off to college in the blink of an eye. My oldest is graduating next year too, so I feel every bit of this sentiment! As exciting and momentous as senior year is, it’s also a year with a long To Do list, and on that list is Senior Portraits. With all the things that need to be done, this is one of the things that people think they have plenty of time for and then suddenly find they don’t. So, let me shed a little light on when to schedule portraits and why.
The best time to schedule senior portraits is at the beginning of the second semester of junior year.
Wait, What?? Why in the world would you schedule senior portraits more than a year from the graduation date? The big distinction to note here is that there is a difference between scheduling the portraits and actually getting them done. A bit like wedding photography, senior portraits need to be scheduled well in advance. Senior Portrait photographers have a relatively short time frame to work within, so their schedules fill up fast. If you’ve done your research and you have a photographer you love, get on their schedule sooner rather than later.
I typically recommend my clients get the portraits done before the school year starts. Why? Most school’s yearbook staff have a deadline for senior pictures around the beginning to middle of October. Schools don’t seem to be very forthcoming with this deadline until after the school year starts. Every year I encounter frantic parents trying to get portraits done in a very short amount of time. Not only are they trying to get onto a schedule that has very limited or no availability, but they’re also wanting a very quick turn around time. Priority or faster than normal turn around usually comes with an added fee. The other reason to get them done before the year starts is that you can cross that piece off of the To Do list. So many things have take place during the year, why not take care of what you can early?
Ok, so what if your senior wants fall colors? I get these requests all the time and if they are scheduled early on, they are easy to accommodate. My way of handling this is to do a quick 10 minute session to get a good picture for the yearbook during the summer and then schedule at fall date for the full portrait session. This way neither of us are scrambling to meet that yearbook deadline.
Another thing to cover here is Senior Rep Teams. Every photographer puts together their own program that has both incentives and expectations. If you’re willing to put in the promotional work for your photographer, being a part of a rep team can be a great way to get discounted session fees and/or packages. Photographers typically like to fill these team slots by the middle of March, so if this is something that appeals to you, be sure to reach out to your photographer early.
Senior year is a big deal, so are senior portraits and they should be treated as such. They are typically the last time you’ll have professional portraits done before you hire a wedding photographer. A seasoned senior portrait photographer will not only have insight into all things senior year, but they are also very good a creating memorable experience for your soon to be graduate. If you haven’t already chosen a photographer, please include you son or daughter in the decision. These are photos that will have a lasting impact and letting your friend take them with a cell phone will likely be decision you’ll regret. Be sure to choose a photographer with an extensive portfolio of images you would like to see of your own child. Once you’ve found a photographer whose work you love, contact them and get on the schedule!