Senior photography has grown tremendously over the years thanks in part to social media. Teens love to share their photographs with each other. So it’s no wonder that graduation photography is such an important part of their lives. Like any specialty, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when photographing graduates.
1. Know Your Client
Each client is unique. What defines them at this age is their interests. The more you can connect with them on this level the more they will feel comfortable with you and in front of the lens. I know a lot of photographers that will send out a “Get to Know You” questionnaire to their clients. It’s a short survey that asks clients about their hobbies, music tastes, sports, etc. As you prepare for the photo shoot, you may want to have your client bring their ipod or mp3 player loaded with their favorite songs as background music for the shoot. You can also suggest they bring any sports items they have or instruments they played. Anything to make their experience unique and specialized.
2. Dress for Success
Nothing dates an image more than the style of clothes a person wears. When my Senior images were taken, acid wash was the rage. Let the Senior bring their favorite clothes and what makes them feel comfortable. You may also want to suggest to throw in a few more timeless and simple outfits ie, solid colors, no big logos, etc. This way you are covering all bases and will ensure the images will not be outdated as the fads change. Also, if your client wears glasses you might want to suggest they get a pair of frames without the glass. Most glasses give a glare from studio lights or reflections from outside. You don’t want them to look differently without their tradmark specs, but you also don’t want to spend a lot of time retouching glare.
3. Posture and Hand Placement
Posture and hand placement are so important in senior photography. For most Seniors, this is their first time being the solo subject for a professional photographer. So they will not automatically know what to do with their hands and limbs. Typically, girls should have soft hands and boys should have more confident hand placement. Instead of telling your subjects what they should be doing or going in and mechanically moving their limbs for them, show them how to pose. This way, they don’t feel as awkward or embarrassed that they are doing it wrong. This should be a positive experience and the more you can alleviate any stress for them the better.
4. Bring Along Support
You might also suggest they are welcomed to bring a long a friend, parent or sibling. Sometimes having a familiar face in an unfamiliar place makes all the difference in the world. I think it’s often important too to snag a few candids of the Senior with this person. It’s a simple thing to do and it makes for a lasting memory from a great session. Some photographers will even include their support person in the portrait session. Whatever your view is, this person is special to your Senior, so take the time to capture it.
5. Be Social Savvy
It seems like a majority of Seniors are very social savvy with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. It’s imperative to be just as savvy. In your questionairre from step 1, make sure to ask your Seniors for their various handles on social media channels. I always ask if it’s ok to tag them on Facebook and give sneak peeks on other social media channels. I’ve also Instagrammed between set ups where the client is relaxing a bit and laughing. It’s important to find out what they are comfortable with in regards to social media and then target your marketing accordingly.
The most important item to keep in mind is to make your client feel at ease. You are documenting a really important time in their life. Keeping it fun, positive and smooth on your end will go a long way in making a great memory.