This is the first in a series of articles about senior portraits. Not how to photograph them, market them or even get into the business of them. But more along the lines of education for parents and students alike who want to go into the senior portrait season with a bit more savvy & educated about the many choices they have available.
Let’s start out with what exactly senior portraits are.
In short, they are thought of by many as a rite of passage. The “it’s my turn” phenomenon started somewhere along the way, giving young people an opportunity to give family and friends a picture of themselves, maybe as a celebration of the graduation prospect, but more likely a final “farewell” to the days of high school and a “hello” to the adulthood which follows.
Whatever it may mean to you, this area is passionate about senior portraits. Not all areas of the country are. Some portrait photographers in other states routinely ask the question “what are senior portraits?” After a brief description, they say “kids will never go for that, much less the parents.” Around here, participation in senior portraits is pretty healthy (as in, there are lots of people doing it).
High schools typically engage a photography company to take senior portraits. The photography company is responsible for scheduling the seniors to have their portraits taken (usually at the school) during a 2-3 week period during the summer between their junior and senior year. While students are always encouraged and compelled to participate, it is not a requirement. Many schools require that the school photographer take their yearbook photo, due mostly to the desire to avoid a multitude of different backgrounds and dress codes. Just for the record, we comply with the background and dress code requirements for Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan county seniors. The reason why the schools select a single photographer is because the photographer makes a deal to donate back up to 50% of their sales to the school. This usually helps fund the production of the yearbook, and keeps the individual cost of yearbook sales down.
Students who want to comply with the school’s mandated dress code and background for their yearbook photo should either have their yearbook photo taken at the school (they usually do it at no charge), or select an area photographer who meets the requirements and can do it for them. We do not charge to take the yearbook photo, as long as you are also having other pictures done with us. We do charge for taking and submitting the yearbook photo if you are having no other photos taken.
After all is said and done, a senior (and parent, most likely) will look at the photos, the packages, and their picture needs and decide what to order. There is such a variety of photographic products now, I’m going to hold off on that for another installment.
So, that’s the basics. There’s more to come. Next up: Choices.