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5 Things You Need to Know About High School Senior Portraits

Senior Portraits by Jennifer Rutledge

Senior Portraits by Jennifer Rutledge – All images @Jennifer Rutledge Photography 2015

You start high school feeling young and inexperienced, with four long years ahead of you; and then BAM!  Suddenly you’re a junior and you are bombarded with a Senior Year To-Do List that seems both never ending and crazy expensive. Some things are easy: Cap & Gown, check!  Some things are not so easy: Senior portraits are due when?!?

Every year, while booking high school senior portraits at Jennifer Rutledge Photography, I see countless seniors and parents who don’t realize how quickly the yearbook deadline arrives, and how hard it is to schedule photo shoots once the super busy senior year has begun. So today, I’m sharing 1 Don’t and 4 Do’s to help you conquer your Senior Portrait Experience.

→ DON’T Wait Until Fall to Book Your Photographer.

Summertime is for lazy days and photo shoots! Those precious twelve weeks of summer break are often the only time a busy high school student is free to prepare and participate in a portrait session.  As soon as school is back in session, days are quickly filled up with classes, sports, and jobs, not to mention the fading daylight.  If you’ve waited until September to book a photographer, you will be fighting for the last available session times, along with every other senior who waited too long to book!

Scheduling your session during summer break gives you time to choose clothes and locations that result in a senior portrait that reflects your personality, rather than a cookie-cutter picture with no real connection to you. If money is tight, booking early allows you to make payment plans, if that is something your photographer offers.  Knock on wood that it never happens to you, but; should you hate every single portrait taken, summer sessions allow time for a future  re-shoot, should you need one.

→ DO Get a Special Outfit, or Two!

Senior year is a huge milestone, and it might be your first professional photo shoot. It’s one of the few occasions, besides marriage and (hopefully) the occasional family portrait, to capture an image you love that will stand the test of time.  You made it through twelve years of school. That is something to dress up for!  Even if you can’t give up your trusty jeans and flannel,  get some new ones. Wearing clothes that are fresh and fit nicely will give you confidence, which absolutely shows in your portraits.

→ DO Think About the Style of Senior Portrait Photography You Want.

When you hire Jennifer Rutledge Photography for your high school senior portraits, I strive to create portraits that are YOU!  I’ve never met anyone who likes to lean against a brick wall for fun, so I’d rather not photograph you there. I’m all about environmental portraiture.  Look! It’s an elusive high school senior in their natural habitat!  Are you Woodsy? Beachy? City kid? Easy going? Serious? Playful? Contradictory? Pictures are worth a thousand words, what will your senior portrait say?

→ DO Start Saving Now.

Your senior year is full of expenses, if you and your parents save up during your junior year, and get photographed early, it will hurt the pocketbook much less. Trust me on this one.

Not gonna lie here: Professional portraits are expensive.  Unless you are a photographer, it’s difficult to understand all of the time and money that go into creating a quality senior portrait. Your session may take only a few hours, but your senior portraits actually take years of experience to create. And, hey, it’s less expensive than a 45 minute root canal or 2 hour surgery, and a lot more fun!

Let’s talk print quality.  Sure, you can buy a canvas print at the local five-and-dime for $59; but after twenty five years, is it going to look as good as the one created by a professional? My professional lab cannot touch the prices offered by consumer level printers, but I challenge you to appreciate the cheaper version when compared to the high-quality version.  Don’t let your portraits fade as fast as your childhood memories, because someday it might be all you have left!

Don’t you dare think digital files count as senior portraits.  Digital technology becomes obsolete very quickly.  A professionally printed portrait survives.

→ DO Leave It to the Professionals.

Did you know that your hometown museum has every yearbook on a shelf, just waiting for future generations to laugh at? Don’t be that high school senior. You know, the one with the TERRIBLE portrait.  Let’s face it, your clothes and hair will be enough to laugh at; at least make sure your high school senior portrait is a quality representation of your fabulous eighteen-year-old self. Professional senior portrait photographers can help you with details, like clothing and makeup – so you look your absolute best in your senior portraits!

Take pity on your high school Yearbook Adviser!  This poor adviser spends countless hours working on a yearbook to commemorate your senior year. When you submit an image that is not properly proportioned, cropped, or resized, you create: at the least, exacerbation; and at most, a horribly warped and nearly unrecognizable image that becomes your high school legacy.  The professionals know how to prep your portrait for perfect yearbook display.

You will, hopefully, be leaving the nest soon. Give your parents a loving portrait for them to remember you by! Hang your mug on their wall, so when you bring your new boyfriend/girlfriend home, they can coo over your adorable, yet charmingly nerdy, senior portrait. Finally, should you be lucky enough to someday have great-great-great-grandchildren, they will know you through your professional senior portrait, which, I think, is very cool.

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