7 mistakes parents make when hiring a Senior Picture Photographer
Mistake #1. Going with the school photographer
I'm not saying don't get photos made with the school photographer. You absolutely need the tux or drape and pearls photos and I liked all three of my kids' images, but I didn't consider them Senior Pictures, just Yearbook Photos.
I know you are asked to bring props and they will do extra poses in hopes of selling you a package, but they are required to do the same angle, lighting, and poses every time, and literally no experience or passion or creativity is required. This is a screenshot from a page answering questions about what it's like to work for a well-known major school portrait chain:
Did you catch that? "No interview, hired on the spot when I went in to ask about open positions. They just want you to pass a background check."
Mistake #2. Skipping senior portraits...
A. Because your son or daughter doesn't want them...
This is an emotional and hormonal age for many teens. I didn't give my children a choice just like my mom didn't give me a choice. My parents have had 16x20 inch framed portraits of my sisters' and I on their wall for 35 years. When I teased them about us not looking like that anymore, my mom said, "That's my life's work on that wall and I've very proud of all three!" Also, it was great fun to see my daughter when she was about that age standing in front of my portrait.
B. Because there's not enough time...
There's never enough time to do what you're unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. Contact a good photographer and he/she will help you prepare and guide you through the process, including what to wear, what to bring, good locations, suggestions for hair and makeup experts, posing, etc. I can tell you that the only time I'm really bossy is when I have that camera in front of my face! I'm constantly talking and watching and seeing what works and what doesn't, seeing if my model is comfortable or not, has their own ideas that I can go with, etc. Part of my education is in communication and this is one of the ways in which it is very helpful.
C. Because money is tight...
I get it. I do... HOWEVER, you can never go back. You could not pay me enough money for pictures of my parents when they were young, or my husband and me, or my own children. This is an important time in life. If you can only afford one or two prints, or only school portraits, at least do that. Ask a bride what she would do differently if she were to do a wedding all over again, and it usually has to do with hiring a cheap photographer. Trinkets and styles come and go, but pictures last forever.
D. Because she already has lots of selfies...
Unless you want your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to only have bathroom and car selfies of their mom/grandma, this isn't a good option. Keep the best ones, absolutely! Candids are great, but that's what they are, candids.
Mistake #3. Going with the cheapest option
I'm just going to let these two memes tell that story.
Mistake #4. Choosing from a website that advertises "10 best photographers in your area" - like Yelp, Thumbtack, Fash, Photosesh, - those are sites that you pay to be on. Seriously, just say no to those sites.
Mistake #5. Failing to research a photographer's work
How long in business?
This tells you a lot, especially if it has been full time or part time. Approximately how many sessions have they done total?
See many examples of their work.
You should be able to see many examples of their work, on their website, on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on a blog. You want to see that they can replicate good work again and again.
You should be able to access my Pinterest Page , Instagram , Facebook, and other blogs from this blog, and here are examples from my website:
Are they a good fit?
Their "about me" page should allow you to see their face, read a little about them, and see if you think you would feel comfortable with them.
Do they offer professional products?
Right now you think you just want digitals, because yes... you need digitals for announcements, yearbook ads, sports and activities ads, banquets, social media, and small prints that are not going to be displayed for long. But photographers have access to printing companies who won't make automatic adjustments to the photos, or will do adjustments based on skin tones if they're working with portrait photographers. Also, eventually you will want Wall Art, and Albums are my most popular item. You may not realize it until you see one, but you'll want an album.
Have they won awards? Been published? Have client endorsements?
Awards show that they have technical skill as judged by their peers.
Here's where you can see Awards - scroll down on my home page.
Being published shows that they have technical and a "wow" factor that grabs attention.
Features and Publications are on this link.
Client endorsements show that they care about making the experience a positive one.
I need to update my client testimonials, but they are spread out on Lisa McNiel Photo home page.
Do you like their style?
This is probably the most obvious, but sometimes it requires research. Do they use professional lighting and/or understand lighting?
Light is everything to photographers. Sure, we talk about locations, styling, color, posing, editing and on and on, but what we all swoon over is lighting... And you probably do too, whether you can put your finger on what it is you like about the image or not.
Mistake #6. Not booking in advance.
Most months you should be able to get an appointment, but dates before the yearbook ad deadline in the Fall, and April in the Spring are always busy. Those times need to be booked in advance.
Mistake #7. Clicking on ads instead of organic google results or taking referrals that people are getting something in return for - for example - do they get an extra print or a % off for referring people?
I hope this was helpful, and that if you're in the Dallas Fort Worth area and have a teen, you'll look me up. If you're in another part of the country and need a photographer, I might know somebody. Feel free to contact me!