Choosing the right photographer for your Senior Portraits, Jacksonville & St. Augustine, Florida

With so many photographers out there it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your senior, especially at a busy time in life {because high school times are CRAZY!}. And, typically, it’s a big investment, and one not to be taken lightly. It’s an important milestone and celebration of your kiddo coming into their own. It’s a celebration of all those “lasts” and a big moment for parents too {you’ve worked 18 years for this}!  Likely the next time they will be photographed professionally is on their wedding day (a long, long time from now, right?). And that is rarely about them {said from a retired wedding photographer, LOL}.

So to help in your search to find the perfect photographer match, here are some tips I’ve come up with after 15 years of experience, both as a professional photographer and as a portrait client.

1)The Best place to start is with referrals from friends.

Some of your friends will have already gone through the entire senior portrait process.  Ask your friends if they were happy with the way the photographer interacted with their senior.  

  • Did they get their images when promised?  
  • How was the quality of their gallery as a whole?  
  • Do they love their products?
  • Did they love the experience? Both the parent, and the senior?
  • And the most important question to ask, given the choice would they use their photographer again?  
  • Check Google Reviews to get honest opinions from previous clients.  You can see Google Reviews here.  

Someone who has gone through the entire process with a photographer will be able to gauge the experience from start to finish.  That being said, don’t choose a photographer just because your friend did!  Your senior’s needs could be very different than theirs.  Which leads me to point two…

2) Not all photographers are created equal

Photographers typically have a unique style and one or two specialties.  Look at their body of work as a whole and gauge whether or not their style matches what you are looking for. 

  • Is there a variety in the images or are they all basically the same?  
  • Do you want big blue sky, artistic and dramatic shots of your senior?  Then you probably don’t want to choose a photographer whose website only displays light & airy, overexposed (white) sky images.  
  • Look at the eyes and expressions too.  Are they the natural expressions you expect to see every day or do they look stiff?  Do the seniors look comfortable and like they are having fun?  This is soooo important! 

Choose a photographer who specializes in what you want done.  Not doing so could lead to disappointment with your images. 

3) Ask to see an entire gallery

Almost anyone can come up with a handful of good images from a session to post on social media or their website.  However, not all photographers can produce an entire gallery of great images. To get a better sense of the scope of a photographer’s work ask to see an entire gallery from a recent session.  Make sure their work is consistent.  

  • Does the editing look natural or more fake porcelain doll-like?  
  • How about the poses?  Candids are fun and important, but a true professional photographer will know how to use light and shadow and how to pose a person to look their absolute best for their body type. 
  • Angles and perspectives are important too.  Any disproportionate heads, hands or feet (hands bigger than their heads)?  Seniors should not look like bobble head toys!  
  • Are their images sharp and in focus?  
  • Look at the background of the images.  Are there any distracting elements randomly sticking out of heads? 
  • Can they use light well?  This is most noticeable in the eyes.  They should sparkle!! 
  • Were they able to tell a story? Do you feel like you got to know the senior from that session just by looking through their gallery?  

4) Price

Price can be a big factor, and sometimes it can be the deciding factor.  Senior portraits are an investment, and only done once in a lifetime … you will want to invest wisely.  The most important thing to figure out is what is included in the cost of the session.  Sometimes a photographer may look inexpensive because of a low entry cost. 

  • What are you really getting for that session fee? Extra sessions? Guidance?
  • Is retouching included? How is the retouching? Do they still look like them, or do they have plastic skin?
  • Is professional hair and makeup included? Does the photographer take care of planning that in case of weather issues?
  • If something is unclear ask for clarification before you sign a contract.
  • Are there multiple session options to choose from? We have three here at our studio so there is something for everyone’s budget.

And know that if a photographer is very inexpensive you may want to ask yourself, “why are they so inexpensive?”.  A professional will have invested in great equipment, not something that can be purchased at a wholesale club and they will have years of continuing education and experience. They probably also specialize in one genre of photography.

  • Do they have liability insurance? 
  • Are they licensed? 
  • Are they booking ten sessions a week and won’t have the time to give your senior the attention he or she deserves?  

You must factor in a photographer’s time invested in your session (before, during and after), their expertise, as well as their overhead costs when taking into account their pricing.  If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.  And like all things in life, you get what you pay for.

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We've worked with hundreds of clients just like you -overwhelmed, frazzled and not knowing where to start when it comes to portraits. We take the guesswork out of it all and guide you every step of the way. 

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