Senior Lead Magnet

9 Simple Ways To Guarantee You Have The Most Amazing Senior Portraits You Can Imagine

By Julie Sutton

Dear 2019 Senior

Congratulations! It’s almost here—the time you’ve looked forward to since the first day you stepped through the doors of high-school as a freshman.

Yes, that’s right, it’s your senior year and the day you finally graduate from high-school is getting closer every day.

Of course, this means it’s time to get those all-important yearbook and senior photos done in time.

But, did you know that far too many high-school graduates end up disliking their senior portraits?

It’s a sad fact, given what an important milestone this is, but it’s nonetheless true.

Fortunately—unlike many others before you—you have the valuable information I’m about to share in this short guide to planning the perfect high-school senior portrait, and I hope you get a lot of value from these ideas to make your portraits something you can be proud of.

Why do so many graduates dislike their senior portraits?

Understandably, most schools want to ensure a consistent look to all the photos in their yearbook.

The best way for them to achieve that is by having an arrangement with a single photography studio where everyone is photographed under the same lighting, in similar poses, and the images are presented in the same format.

That’s all well and good for the school and for the yearbook, but is it really what you want as a celebration of who you’ve become as a person?

The contracted school photographer is also VERY busy, and no matter how good the photographer is you can still end up feeling like part of a production line as they try to push hundreds of your fellow students through the same process in a timely fashion.

They might offer some optional extra portraits with a little more time, which might be enough for some people, but is it going to be enough for YOU to create portraits you’re going to love forever?

Is it okay for you to RUSH through your senior portraits, even if you don’t feel or look your best on the day?

Probably not, right?

Here’s a very important thought for you to think about:

Your high-school senior photographs will be seen by more people than any other photographs you’ve had taken so far in your life…

Don’t you want those photographs to be the most amazing and incredible portrayals possible of you and your personality?

Yes, of course you do! Who wouldn’t?

Before you can do that, there’s one CRITICAL thing you need…

You Need A Photographer Who Cares As Much As You Do

One of the most important decisions to make about your high-school senior portraits is choosing the right photographer—someone who truly understands what this time means to you and the things that are important to you.

First and foremost, your photographer must be someone you like and trust.

After all, you’re trusting them with the huge responsibility of capturing the essence of your personality and story of who you are.

But how do you find the right photographer for you?

If you’re like most people, it’s easy to get overwhelmed sifting through Google or the websites for hundreds of photographers in your area.

Professional photographers are everywhere and, after a while, they all blend together into one giant blur.

Most people flick through a few websites, finally settling on a photographer after looking at a few of their photos. They pick up the phone and call the studio to find out more information, but this is where things can really start to go wrong if you don’t know the right things to look for.

TODAY, right NOW, you have the opportunity to guarantee a set of senior portraits that everyone will LOVE (including you). These will be photographs so precious that you, your parents, and family will treasure them for many years to come.

Here are 9 simple ways to do just that.

#1: Is Cost Really The Most Important Factor?

Not surprisingly, the first question most people ask a portrait photographer is actually the very last question they should ask.

It’s true—the first question I hear from almost everyone I speak to is, “How much do you charge?”

Now I’m not saying that price is unimportant, far from it.

However, even if you’re on a budget (and who isn’t?), there are more important things to consider than just the cost, especially to begin with.

Who Would You Choose?

For example, consider two photographers:

  • Bob, who charges $50 for a portrait session…
  • John, whose fee is $250 per session…

Bob sounds like a real bargain, right? I mean, why pay $250 when it sounds like you get the same thing for only $50?

Let’s take a deeper look, because appearances can be deceptive…

The first time you see Bob after your initial phone call is when he shows up late on the day. He got lost trying to find the portrait location, and he’s already stressed out from the other three seniors he rushed through before yours. His demeanor feels intimidating, and he calls the session over before you feel like you’ve had a chance to relax. Afterward, you end up waiting months to receive the finished photographs. In the end, all you get is a CD full of images you and your parents don’t know what to do with.

Not a great outcome, right?

John, on the other hand, takes the time to meet with you and your parents personally before ever booking the photography session. He carefully works with you to plan out every detail of your photography session. For example, you talk about the location and clothing choices, and he wants to know all about you and the things you like to do and include in your session. He’s polite and professional, photographs only you on that day and is ready to present the finished images within a few weeks while the memories are still fresh in your mind.

By the way, these are real examples (just not their real names of course).

Ask yourself, which of these photographers you would honestly prefer to work with.

If you would rather work with “John”, read on to discover 8 other factors that can dramatically improve your senior portrait experience.

As you can see, finding the right photographer is not about looking for the cheapest or “shopping around”.

It’s about finding someone with whom you can relax and be yourself, someone you can trust to deliver what they promise, someone you believe will put their heart and soul into creating the most amazing portraits possible.

#2: What happens if things don’t go according to plan?

Life isn’t perfect and, while we do everything possible to make sure everything is perfect, there’s always the remote chance that something can go off-script on the day you choose for your portraits.

For example, you might not be looking or feeling your best on that day, in which case we’ll happily reschedule for another time. No hassle, and no additional charge.

But what happens in the unlikely event that something else goes wrong? Maybe the location doesn’t work out, or perhaps the weather isn’t optimal for one reason or another.

When choosing your portrait photographer, this is one of the most important questions you can ask because the answer will reveal a lot.

Obviously, no photographer can know in advance with 100% certainty that the photographs will all turn out perfectly.

Therefore, you must protect yourself in the unlikely event that things don’t go the way you expected—even if nothing major happens but you’re just not in love with the final results.

This is where a guarantee can alleviate any chance of anxiety.

Your photographer should proudly stand behind their work with a guarantee that makes sure you get the photography you deserve.

These are your SENIOR PORTRAITS—something you’ve been waiting your whole life for. You deserve to have the comfort and peace of mind of an ironclad guarantee in the event that you aren’t 100% thrilled with your photographs.

Even the way the photographer answers this question and their tone of voice are crucial.

If they don’t come right out and confidently tell you about their guarantee, if they mumble, hesitate, or offer something vague, then hang up the phone immediately and find someone else who will truly put their heart and soul into everything they do for you.

Never hire a photographer who doesn’t offer a 100% money-back guarantee, and make sure that the guarantee is IN WRITING when you hire them.

#3: Find a photographer who doesn’t book 100% of their time

There are portrait photographers who work at it full-time, but also many part-time photographers who work other jobs during the week.

Both types of photographer can do a fantastic job of your senior portraits, as long as they have the right skills and love their customers.

But, there are some photographers who try to take on as many jobs as they can fit into their schedule. Typically, they charge lower fees, but make up for it in the number of sessions they do and by offering low-cost products, such as CDs instead of wall art or portrait albums.

Sadly, this can lead to rushed sessions and late delivery of the finished product because they overstretch themselves with other assignments.

Perhaps you already know someone in your family, or a friend, who has offered to photograph you because they want to get started in the business or because they “do it on the side”.

While tempting, you must still weigh them up against the quality of the experience and service you’ll get from an experienced professional photographer.

The definition of a true professional photographer is someone who manages their business and time well in order to devote 100% of their attention to every client—someone for whom photography is both a passion and a full-time business. They constantly strive to improve their skills, keep their work fresh, and are more likely to ensure timely delivery of the finished product to their clients.

On the other hand, an overworked budget photographer has too much on their plate at one time, which may not allow them to work on YOUR photographs in a timely fashion. With so much stress, they may also find it hard to calmly and smoothly deal with all the things that can go wrong on the day.

Regardless of whether the photographer is full-time or part-time, the answer you’re looking for is that the photographer will book a maximum of one assignment per day—preferably limiting their bookings to a manageable number per year. The quality of their work will be so much higher because of the time they can devote to it.

#4: Talk to the photographer who will be taking your portraits

Occasionally, when you call a photography studio, you might speak to a receptionist or assistant, instead of the actual photographer who will create your portraits.

However, it’s important that you do speak to the photographer, even if it means leaving a message and having them call you back when they’re not busy. For example, you can reach me directly at 661-942-4813.

This way, you can make sure that the photographer you talk to is actually the one you will be hiring—not a part-time student or someone who only works for them on weekends to earn some extra cash.

Also, never book your senior portrait photographer by email!

Instead, make sure you meet the photographer in person, or at least talk to them, before you make the final decision to hire them.

#5: How much time will the photography session take?

There isn’t a concrete answer to this question if you’re looking for a photographer to create the most amazing portraits possible.

In fact, being forced to work to a deadline can cause its own problems.

If you know you only have 30 minutes for the session, but it ends up taking you more time to relax in front of the camera, then the looming deadline can only make the problem worse.

Even your photographer can feel a bit stressed under those conditions, which can stifle their creativity.

Make sure that the studio you choose does not rush you or double book. This removes ALL the stress created by watching the clock, and allows you to focus more on enjoying yourself and being creative.

#6: I’m not a model—how will I know how to pose properly?

Unless you are a model, it’s likely that you’ll feel a little awkward in front of the camera, at least at the beginning.

This is completely natural, and all great photographers understand this and (more importantly) know how to overcome it.

When talking with your prospective photographer ask them how they can help you pose in the most natural way possible so that your images don’t look stiff or “too posed”.

Their answers will help you decide how much you can trust them to coach you through the session professionally while still having an incredibly fun time.

#7: When will you see the finished photographs?

Editing the many images from a portrait session, and getting them ready for you to see during the final presentation takes a significant amount of time and effort.

But, you don’t want to be kept waiting for months before you get to see them, right? After all, you’re going to need them for your graduation announcements.

Therefore, it’s important for you to see your photographs in a timely (but not hurried) fashion in order to decide which ones you want printed as wall art, loose prints, or in an album, so beware of anyone who can’t promise to have them ready for you in 1 week or less.

If they can’t, it may mean they’re snowed under with other clients and you are just another cog in the wheel.

#8: How are the final photographs shown to us?

There are several ways in which you can see the finished photographs, but the two most common ones are:

  • At home, on your computer in an online gallery…
  • At the photographer’s studio as part of a professional presentation…

Generally speaking, the less expensive photographers will give you an online gallery from which to make your print selections, while the more exclusive photographers will present the finished photographs to you by projecting them at full size as part of a professional presentation.

Personally, we prefer the in-person presentation approach because it gives you the chance to see every detail of the images, make comparisons, and we’re right there with you to answer all your questions.

That said, there’s not really a right or wrong way, so you should match the photographer’s response to your own expectations, budget, and needs.

Typically, CDs and thumbdrives (especially if offered alone) will occupy the cheaper end of the scale of photographers.

Albums, prints, and wall portraits are typically offered at the higher end.

The one answer you do NOT want to hear to this question is, “you get a CD of all the photographs and the rest is up to you…” because the photographer is most likely telling you they care only about doing the job and moving on to the next client as quickly as possible.

For the discerning portrait client looking for a creative and emotional set of senior portraits packed with personality, nothing beats the look and feel of beautifully-designed wall portraits and professionally-crafted prints. Having digital files as an add-on to that can be a great idea, but you’d be amazed at how many people file those discs away in a drawer and never look at them again…

#9: What do other clients say about their experience?

A photographer can spend all day showing you their portfolio of photographs, trying to convince you they’re the best one for the job, but what do their actual clients have to say about the experience of working with them?

The key point here is that you’re not paying someone to produce pieces of paper, or make snapshots of you. This is real photography, done by someone who is an artist and who cares about you and who you are.

For example, what are they like to work with? How did they treat their clients? Were they on time? Did they respect the significance and purpose of the portraits? Did they take too long before showing the images? Were the finished portraits something to cry tears of joy over?

Talking to some of their past clients yourself will give you an honest picture of how well the photographer delivered on their promise.

What Next?

As you can see by now, the first question most people might think of—“how much?”—is NOT the one you should be asking first!

Take the time to find out how much your prospective photographer really cares about YOU.

If they ask you good questions to learn more about you, your likes and dislikes, hobbies, and your personality, and they really listen to your answers, it shows they’re interested and care about you as a person, not just as another potential client.

How enthusiastic do they sound on the phone or in person? Do they present themselves professionally when you meet them in person?

All of these things are important, and only then will you know if they are worth the fees they’re asking.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and you now feel better equipped to find the right photographer for your amazing and unique senior portraits.

Here’s what I strongly recommend you do TODAY!

Call me at 661-942-4813 to ask if I have any sessions available soon because it’s very possible that I’m already be booked or busy working on other clients’ projects, and I would hate for you to miss out.

Please don’t wait on this! If you liked what you’ve read here, call me NOW. The call is free and we can chat about your ideas and needs, and how YOU would like to capture these amazing memories.

Then, if you would like to, we can set up a time to get together in person so you’ll be in a better position to decide who the right photographer will be for your senior portrait.


Julie Sutton


Sutton Photography