What You Need to Know When Choosing a Photographer

Senior pictures are important. They not only mark the milestone of high school graduation, they’re also a perfect way to celebrate your child’s unique personality, interests, and accomplishments. Senior pictures should give you timeless images that you and your family treasure!

The best way to ensure great senior pictures is to choose a great photographer. Here are 5 professional tips for choosing a photographer who will give you pictures that you love!

1. Spend time researching photographers online. The best way to know if a photographer is right for you is to see examples of their work. Definitely check out websites, but also look at social media such as Facebook and Instagram. Often, a photographer’s most recent work will be posted there.

2. Look for photographers whose work has both breadth and depth –Experienced photographers will generally show work from many different clients. Look for a wide range of people featured, not just many different pictures of the same person. With that said, it is also important to see multiple images from the same session. This provides assurance that the photographer has the skills to create variety and consistent quality throughout your session. Taking a hundred pictures to produce only 2 great images is not good value for your money.

3. A next important step is to evaluate photographers for their technical skills. There are 3 primary areas to check: lighting, sharpness (focus), and retouching (post-processing).

Lighting is fundamental to quality portraiture. A skilled photographer will understand and manipulate light with expertise. Examine images looking for an even, rich light, one that doesn’t produce sharp edged shadows or hot spots. Also check that the subject’s eyes have a spark of life, that they aren’t left dull or dark.

As you study images, zoom in to evaluate for sharpness. Make certain that details are clear and crisp. The eyes are a great place to check for sharp focus. Any fuzziness suddenly becomes a big problem when images are enlarged for wall portraits! (Social media is not the best place to check for this as images are typically shown at a low resolution)

Skillful retouching can enhance even the most beautiful image. If well done, the subject’s skin will appear velvety and natural, not too flattened or plastic looking. Good retouching will help to eliminate distractions. Anything that catches the eye, such as temporary blemishes or bulges in clothing can pull focus away from the subject, or the intention of the image. Your gaze should move fluidly over the picture. The details you catch should add to the overall impression, not detract from it.

4. Look for photographers whose website galleries capture the individuality of their subjects. A compelling portrait will often give you the feeling that you know something about that person just from looking at their picture. Galleries that show a variety of facial expressions will indicate that the photographer can make a client feel comfortable enough to relax and be themselves. Another good indicator that the photographer values the uniqueness of each client is variety in outfits and poses. Some seniors might want their picture taken in a formal gown, others in their sports uniform, for some possibly both! As you examine the galleries, check for diversity in locations. An interesting setting can add much to the story of an image. Also look to see if inside, studio work is an option. Search for galleries that reflect an obvious appreciation for individual differences and preferences.

5. Finally, search for images you love! Evaluate them for composition, creativity, and “wow” factor. Dynamic and compelling images translate into artistic and interesting portraits. Select photographers who can create portraits that not only capture this moment in time, but will stand the test of time as well.