A friend of mine recently posted a query on Facebook that caught my eye: She had one idea for her daughter’s appearance in her senior portrait, and her daughter had another. Should she allow her senior to do her own thing or insist on a more traditional look?
My answer: do both.
Senior pictures have progressed far beyond the days when (children of the ’80s and earlier, you will remember this) we just went in to the photographer, guys put on a faux tux and girls put on a black drape, you were shot against a blah background, and that was it for your senior portrait. That’s fine … for the yearbook. But it’s hardly a complete portrait.
Welcome to the 21st Century and a photography world that is quite different. One of the primary goals of senior portraits today is to put the young man or woman in the context of this great moment in his or her life. Coming from a journalism background and being a big magazine fan, I often think of portrait sessions like, “If we were shooting for a profile of this person somewhere like Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair, what kind of images would we want for that?”
- Who are they?
- What do they love?
- Where do they love to be?
- What kind of image do they want to present – do they have a particular sartorial style or personal flair they want to present?
- What do mom and dad want to remember?
- What kind of image can we produce that will take you back to this special time 10, 20, 50 years from now?
What kind of images? Plural.
Maybe some have that highly unique look, and some are more traditional. This does not have to be an either or. It can be a both. Maybe, mom and dad, your dream is that beautiful closeup of your child captured for the ages at idyllic 18. Maybe his or her idea is a portrait with that instrument they love to play or on the field where they have excelled. It could be we try something more lyrical. Last spring, I saw senior pictures some friends of mine shot with the senior riding off in her bike down a winding road, which I thought was a lovely representation the journey from child to adulthood.
There are simply so many options. I recently did a senior shoot where I think the parents, student and I each had different favorite images. We can get a lot out of a few hours of shooting.