10 Questions to Consider before Hiring a Senior Portrait Photographer
Every photographer is different, with different backgrounds, personal styles and preferences. It’s important to take the time to figure out who your photographer is, and in order to start the process, ask them these few key questions.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Before scheduling your senior portrait session, I recommend trying to place your finger on what exactly your own personal style entails. Is it the standard senior portrait session where you want it done as soon as possible, a more artistic approach with multiple outfit changes and locations? Before choosing a photographer, it is always important to find out what your personal style means to you. Take time to search your friends Instagram feeds and see who they have been hiring, find photographers’ portfolios and find who matches with you the best. This process should be done with care, it is really a crucial step.
What is your approach to senior sessions?
This will allow you to see the process behind the art. Consider yourself the sleuth, trying to uncover the person behind the camera. If their response is something you don’t necessarily understand or get excited about, maybe this photographer isn’t for you. On the other hand, if it seems like their response resonates with you and would be the best way to bring out your natural self in the photos, you’ve found your photographer! Additionally, spending some time on a photographers Instagram can help you get to know them better as well, although the best way is in real life of course. If you are more of a personal person, perhaps you would appreciate a quick phone call with the photographer you have been wondering about. I know it always helps to have some sort of previous conversation with the photographer before the session. It creates a personal connection you won’t get from just stalking their Instagram!
For how long have you been photographing seniors?
It’s always important to find out the depth behind a portfolio, and the more experience the better. However, I know many photographers who became full time only recently, and have just thrived in the business, with beautiful portfolios emerging from only a short amount of time. It’s always best to know, though, because experience does tend to lead to more spontaneous sessions with a guaranteed positive outcome.
What are the prices for your senior portrait packages?
Before searching for photographers, find out your budget and what you’re willing to spend. There is no use searching for photographers only to find one that is way out of your price range. It is also important to compare the quality along with the prices and what the packages include. I recommend to pick your top-three favorite photographers based on their artistic ability, and then go on to compare based on prices and packages.
Can I have a family member/ a friend come with me to my senior session?
I know that I often have seniors who bring a mom, sibling or a best friend with them to encourage them while they model for the shoot. 😉 Find out if your photographer is open to the possibility, or if they have strict rules regarding that gray area. Their answer to this will most likely help you find out what kind of personality your potential photographer has. If you’re looking for someone who is willing to provide a great experience along with photos, this question might help you weed out who you want to schedule your senior session with.
What is your availability?
Before setting your heart on any one photographer and completely falling in love, it’s always important to find out when the photographer is available, and if they have space for you. I always recommend finding this out early and scheduling as soon as possible so you are guaranteed a spot with your favorite photographer. Availability differs for everyone, and is one of the trickiest parts of scheduling a session. In order to make everything less complicated, organize yourself as you find out what photographers have time and when.
What locations do you often shoot at?
It is always important to know what your photographer can offer you. Find out if they shoot solely in the studio or outdoors. Look at their portfolio to find out which locations they have shot at before, and ask if they are willing to go to new places with you. If you have some location you’ve been dying to have your session at, always make sure you photographer is on board to go that extra mile for you.
What happens if the weather doesn’t cooperate and it is necessary to reschedule your portrait session?
It is always important to find out the flexibility and spontaneity of your photographer beforehand. If you are someone who often runs into the problem of rescheduling due to a busy life, find a photographer who matches that and is able to have a fluid schedule for you. Additionally, look for a photographer who has great communication skills, and can get back to you quickly and effectively. I strive to reschedule portrait sessions within a week or two from the original session date.
What packages do you offer, and what is included?
Much like style, photo packages vary from photographer to photographer. Before choosing a photographer it is important to take this into account. What do you want your pictures for? Do you want print credit so you can hang your portraits around the house? Or do you want digital files you can post them on social media and send out your graduation announcements? Before choosing a photographer, make sure to verify what it is that you get in your packages. Some photographers offer only print credit, and others offer only digital. Some, like me, offer both! Long story short, always be sure to know what you are paying, and for what.
How long does it take to receive my entire gallery from the session?
This is always important to know, because you have to allow your photographer time to organize the photos and edit them. For example, if your photos are due October 30, and your photo session was on the 29th, chances are you won’t be turning in your photos for the yearbook!