The senior year is an emotional roller coaster of “lasts”, senior nights, milestones and graduations. Senior portraits have been growing in popularity over the last few years. But why? You have loads of photos on your phone right? But how many portraits do you have on your walls? On your desk at work or framed on your Grandparents bookshelf? The graduating seniors of today are probably the most photographed generation ever but how many of those images have ever been printed? Displayed? Loved and appreciated on a daily basis?
You should choose a senior portrait photographer the same way you would choose a photographer for any other type of life event, i.e. newborn, family, or for a wedding. Not all photographers shoot all genres of photography. Some specialize in commercial or food photography, newborns, wedding and some are senior portrait photographers.
It’s important that the style of the photographer, their personality AND what they offer be good fit for you and your family. One of the biggest mistakes people make is simply comparing photographer’s prices on paper. There are a lot of things that determine what a photographer charges, and so simply comparing pricing doesn’t help you understand that. Remember you are not just paying for the paper the portrait is printed on.
So how do you choose your photographer? Here is a list to guide you:
1. Style – view their portfolios, either online or in person to get a feel for the style of photography you want. Two photographs can both be technically correct but both may convey a completely different style. Do you like the majority of images on their website?
2. Styling assistance for the shoot. An experienced senior portrait photographer knows what looks good in portraits and what will be problematic. Some recommend professional make up. Draw on their experience and knowledge in this area.
3. Read their bio’s – learn a little bit about them and why they do what they do, and what their approach to their business is like.
4. Understand their experience – a photographer with years of experience is often more expensive than someone just starting out. That makes sense, right? It should show in their work as well. While many people think that because they have a great camera they can take great pictures, there is so much more to professional photography than that, and your photographer should have credentials they can share with you as well. Ask to see a full gallery from one shoot. Most people can show you the one standout portrait from a variety of shoots but will you have a broad selection of images to choose from?
5. Word of mouth – word of mouth is a great way to find potential photographers in your area. Happy clients like to share their experiences, and unhappy ones even more so. Look for testimonials from real clients though and beware of popularity contests on social media!
6. Products – look at what is offered by the photographer / studio, and make a list of what is most important to you. Professional photographers do the research on albums, canvases, print labs etc. so that they can stand behind the quality and longevity of the product. It might save you from an expensive mistake.
7. Set a budget – like anything else, know what you can and are willing to spend. You can find a photographer in every price category but as with many things in life you get what you pay for. Experience, quality and originality are usually worth a little extra.
8. Availability – if you want to shoot at a certain time of year. For example, in the milder temperatures of fall in New England, then a good photographer is going to be busy. Book early and make sure you have a contingency plan for bad weather.
9. On location or in a studio – some photographers only shoot on location and spend lots of time scouting for the perfect locations. Some prefer to shoot in a studio – some of the best editorial magazine images are shot in the studio and they do not have to be boring! Ask to see a photographers examples of both. Maybe you can combine both in your session?
10. Light. One of the most important factors in creating a successful portrait is being creative with light. Full sun, golden hour, back light, OCF (off camera flash) you will see and hear a lot of terms thrown around but a good portrait photographer can use light to create dynamic and interesting portraits in almost all situations. Remember senior portraits are supposed to show who you are at this most incredible time of your life – they are not supposed to look like the school portraits you have every year. Have fun being creative!
The Final Selection
Once you’ve narrowed it down to two or three potential photographers, it is probably a good idea to meet them in person. You are going to be spending a few hours with them before, during and after your shoot, so make sure you get along. A good senior photographer realizes that they need to provide results for the parents and the senior so there will be a selection of formal, casual, edgy, and “safe” portraits.
Remember to enjoy every minute of senior year. All the “lasts” will be over before you know it and then you move onto the next set of “firsts”. Don’t worry I’ll have a box of tissues ready for mom and dad and they’ll have portraits on their wall.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Styled Photo Shoot
New Milford, CT
How does a styled photo shoot come together?
People ask me all the time, and to be honest the answer is actually a little different every time. The idea for Breakfast at Tiffany’s started when a cute new cafe, River and Rail, opened on Bank Street in New Milford. I loved the vibe and the decorations and my brain started to fill with shoot ideas, somehow it landed on that scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Audrey Hepburn sitting in a cafe in her iconic black dress, jewels and little tiara and the shoot idea was born.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a novella by Truman Capote published in 1958. In it, a contemporary writer recalls his early days in New York City, when he makes the acquaintance of his remarkable neighbor, Holly Golightly, who is one of Capote’s best-known creations. The movie is set in the 60’s and Holly’s style has inspired women of all ages ever since.
We needed an Audrey so I spoke to Cadence about adding the Breakfast at Tiffany’s to her individual shoot. She loved the idea, we just had to find an open day – never easy with teens these days!
I wanted to include as many of our Bank Street neighbors as possible so I pitched our shoot to Stacey from Blush Couture and Karen from Joe’s Salon – we were definitely going to need help with hair and make up. Alexis from Joe’s Salon literally worked magic with Cadence’s long hair and Stacey gave her the right make up vibe. Luckily, Sue Snow of Dejavudu Vintage was once again able to draw from her amazing vintage collection and she kept me on the straight and narrow so that our styling was on point and pretty accurate to the era of the movie (can you hear me enthusiastically saying “oh this dress is cute, we should use this?” and her cringing because the dress was way too contemporary!)
Robertson’s Jewelers entrusted us with diamond jewels for our first look – they were absolutely stunning and made us all feel nervous but they added just the right amount of real bling to our shoot so it was worth it. I don’t know how the movie stars do it on Oscar night!
Swank on Bank had a long white shirt and we even recruited Simba the cat for some of the apartment images. I hope you love the images as much as we do and maybe we can introduce Breakfast at Tiffany’s to a new generation.
Game of Thrones
Planet Photo Tribe
Photo Shoot Kent Falls CT
I have to admit I haven’t watched Game of Thrones!
I am in love with the styling though and absolutely crazy about the costumes and locations – we actually visited Iceland last year and heard over and over how parts of GOT was filmed there, but I felt like I was just too late to the party. Eight seasons to catch up? That is a lot of catching up!!!
My lack of personal watching history did not stop us for recreating a Game of Thrones theme for our Planet Photo Tribe group shoot. We had the perfect location (OK, I admit that I would have liked to fly to Iceland with the team but that was not quite in the budget….but we had the next best thing – Kent Falls State Park in Connecticut).
The falls usually freeze during the winter but you know what a crazy winter we had this year (do you remember our whiteout shoot with no snow?), so it was actually pretty warm on the day of our shoot. Can you even imagine how nervous I was on the drive up there? I was literally holding my breath when we turned into the parking lot. Thankfully, it was snowy, frozen and perfectly Game of Thrones-esque.
We were so excited to have Sue Snow from Deja Vudu Vintage as our stylist for this shoot. She has an eye for detail and a seemingly endless supply of amazing vintage clothes and accessories so she took our shoot to the next level.
It might have been unseasonably warm but it was still a little chilly standing on the ice waterfall so thank you to our models: Zoe, Sam, Cassie, Madi, Olivia and Julia.
I guess I can’t resist the hype any longer. Game of Thrones is the next thing on my binge watch list.
Planet Photo on Location
Austin Texas with Madisyn from NMHS
We were SO excited to travel to Texas in January. Who wouldn’t be excited to trade New England winter for Texas weather? Add that we were staying at a cool boutique hotel in the trendy Domain area of Austin and shooting with some amazingly talented photographers in some of the coolest locations in the city and the excitement was at crazy high level!
Hair and make up for Maddy and Lexi (from Minnesota) and the first part of the shoot was at the Lonestar Court Hotel. Parts of the hotel have a very old Texas vibe and the grounds were awesome. We had secured an amazing location for our next stop. Roadhouse Relics is the Austin, Texas, studio and gallery where neon artist Todd Sanders crafts his vintage-style designs. He has gathered memorabilia, old signs, fairground pieces and the most eclectic collection of vintage furnishings and we had private access to his collection. Literally every time you turned around there was something else to look at.
Our next location was a mix of restaurant’s, vintage stores and trendy cupcake stands. In fact, some of the streets have been featured on Austin’s “most instagram worthy locations” (yes, there really is a list of picture perfect spots for most cities!) so we could have stayed all day. Actually we could have eaten our way along the street but after a TexMex lunch we only had room for cupcakes!
Scooters were parked all over the city and run in a similar way to city bikes you can pick them up and drop them off wherever you are going, you unlock and pay for them via an app on your phone. University of Texas, Austin was our final stop for day one. It’s beautiful downtown campus is the jewel in the University of Texas crown with over 40,000 students.
Day 2 was a much mellower day. We wanted to see some of the traditional side of Texas and landed in historical Gruene Texas. Gruene Hall, built in 1878, is Texas’ oldest continually operating and most famous dance hall, most of the country greats have played there at some point and the sounds of country music could be heard from almost every corner of the town.
Where would you like to go for your destination senior session? Let’s start turning dreams into reality!
White on White
Group Tribe Shoot
Everyone knows that you can’t count on the weather in New England. You’ve probably heard people say “if you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes”. Well we waited for the snow and it never came, but the rain sure did. So we moved our white on white snowy, winter-wonderland group Tribe shoot indoors and made do with pretend snow balls and hot cocoa!
Did you ever read that book about snow, Miss Smilla’s Feelings for Snow? The Scandinavians apparently have hundreds of words to describe snow and frozen water in its various forms, not surprising when you consider that every snowflake is completely unique. I feel like we need more words to describe white… we probably had hundreds of versions between us but they were all beautiful. The Tribe did an amazing job of dressing in shades of white.
Thank you to Madisyn, Taylor, Cassie, Madi, Cadence, Zoe, Julia and Olivia for participating in our latest concept shoot. When you grow up in a small town then there is a really good chance that paths have crossed at some point or another. Have we met at a dance class or toddler program somewhere or have we been in the same school since Kindergarten? The girls love reconnecting with old friends!
Thank you to Seniors Ignite for featuring our shoot alongside some other amazing interpretations of the “whiteout” theme. Be sure to check them all out.
Happy New Year
A celebration photoshoot in Times Square NYC
Almost every country celebrates New Year’s Eve in some way. If you live in the United States then the site of the ball dropping on Times Square is synonyms with the countdown to the New Year. Confetti, champagne, fireworks, glitz and glamour are all part of the New Year’s Eve celebration for many around the world. A time to reflect on the past and prepare and look forward to the future. How many people set New Year’s resolutions? It just feels natural to use the start of a new year as a turning point.
Times Square in December is busy, bustling and ALIVE with all walks of life and for some unknown reason lots of people dressed up as Elmo, Spiderman and Mario….. The famous billboards and signs cover every facade and are all around. Where tourists gather, vendors descend and you can’t walk five feet without being offered a bus tour, a restaurant coupon or discount tickets to a Broadway show. But it is magical and you feel like you are in the heart of New York City! Just blocks from Rockefeller Center, the Christmas tree, the department store holiday window displays and Radio City Music Hall but surrounded by Broadway and the musicals and plays that make it unique.
Madisyn, Julia and Olivia braved the cold and gave each other confidence to “work it girl” – they got lots of encouraging comments from passersby!! We were a few weeks early with our New Years celebration but we had a blast. 3000 pounds of confetti is dropped BY HAND at midnight, we even wrote messages on a couple of pieces.