my little corner of inspiration
When I was younger I kept a little journal hidden under my mattress where I would draw and express my creativity, write down my memories, and document my hopes and dreams. It was a safe place for me to express myself without judgment. Now, twenty years later, I am reinventing the little journal I once hid away and sharing it with all of you. Here you will find vulnerability, creativity, and a new found way for me to showcase my work with the world.
You may or may not have caught on that my seniors are my pride and joy. Seriously, I love each and every senior that steps foot in front of my camera. Over the years as a Chicago Photographer, I have had the opportunity to photograph many beautiful seniors. Each one celebrates this milestone moment that in my eyes, can be incredibly influential to anyone’s life. Coming from the eyes of a Chicago Senior Photographer, it’s essential to have questions ready before booking your senior photographer. Below are a few questions to ask before hiring a senior photographer.
One of the first questions for you to clarify with your potential senior photographer is determining what their style is. 99.99% of you will have probably virtually stalked your senior photographer prior to inquiring with them about their services. Social media as well as their website will help you get a first glance as to what style your senior photographer has. You should be looking at a shooting/directing style. As well as a cohesive editing style and if this style fits your vision for your senior photoshoot.
A good rule of thumb is if you’re looking at their portfolio work, can you envision yourself in those photos? Put yourself in other’s shoes and see if realistically you can see yourself getting photographed by them! For many of you who come across my own personal style, you can see that I do like to keep things warm and have more of a vintage/retro-type vibe. While this may not be everybody’s cup of tea, it is what sparks my creativity! Remember, there are senior photographers for just about anybody out there. You just have to look hard enough.
Determining how much experience your senior photographer has will also help you sometimes feel more comfortable getting direction from them. As a reminder, experience does not necessarily equate to how successful or talented a senior photographer is. However, if you’re someone who is looking for a senior photographer with experience in photographing other seniors, directing and posing them, then this is an important question you should be asking. Hiring a senior photographer who has experience may put your mind at ease when it comes to working with someone who knows the ins and outs.
Before hiring a senior photographer, another important question to ask your senior photographer is how many packages they offer. Some photographers may offer a plethora of different photography packages. Each senior photographer is different though and structures their services differently. If you’re someone who is looking for variety to choose from, then make sure to inquire and work with a senior photographer who offers different packages.
These different packages may vary. Depending on how many outfits you want to shoot in, how many locations you want to go to, etc. These things will also influence the price of each package, so please keep that in mind as well.
Following up on the previous question, you’re also going to need to know how much each of those packages costs. If the senior photographer that you’re inquiring about offers several different senior photo packages, knowing the cost is kinda important. Don’t ya think? What determines a senior photographer’s cost for their packages is reliant on several factors. Some of those include experience, gear, time, editing, and labor. When it comes to asking your senior photographer about their package costs and reviewing their pricing, remember to be respectful of each senior photographer’s services. At the end of the day, senior photographers are small business owners trying to build and grow. So what they charge is usually the way it goes!
If you’re someone who feels more comfortable investing in a senior photographer after talking with them, ask them if they are able to hop on a consultation call! Most of the time senior photographers will keep their communication strictly to email for senior sessions. However, this doesn’t mean this is always the rule they practice. If you’re someone who is wanting to get on a consultation call, politely ask your senior photographer if this is something that they offer or would be willing to do. That way you may get more peace of mind actually speaking with your photographer prior to making the investment.
Oftentimes you will find most photographers will require you to pay a deposit in order for you to secure your photoshoot. This is done with intention! Photographers will require a deposit that 99.99% of the time is non-refundable. This is essentially security for the photographer. This is to ensure that A.) you will make the effort to show up to your shoot or B.) if you don’t show up to your shoot, pays for the time that is not being used by another client. Deposits are there since if in the chance your shoot gets canceled, your photographer won’t be able to supplement that time or income. The deposit is essentially the security for your shoot!
When it comes to when the deposit is due, most of the time, your senior photographer will require a deposit right upon signing your contract and securing your photoshoot date. The remaining balance of your shoot may be split up into payment plans or due in full the day before your shoot. This, however, is up to the discretion of the senior photographer. This is based on whether or not they offer payment plans or how you’ve discussed it with them.
Now here is the fun stuff… fashion! Knowing how many outfits you can have during your senior photoshoot will be incredibly important. Especially if you’re looking to have a certain theme or have multiple outfit changes throughout your session. While each photographer is different it’s important to communicate with your photographer prior to booking the type of vision that you’re looking to have. A good rule of thumb is the more outfits you want, the more time that you will need.
Typically when working with my seniors I like to aim for at least 2-3 different outfit changes. However, this can change on a case-by-case basis. Maybe you’re wanting a more casual outfit, then a formal option and then, of course, we can’t forget a cap and gown! Make sure that you chat with your senior photographer about the vision that you’re looking for in your senior photos. Feel free to even send them some Pinterest inspo to give them a better idea of what you’re looking for!
So now you’ve had your photoshoot… now what? This my friends is what we like to call… the waiting game. Ideally, you would want your senior photos back ASAP. However, realistically that just isn’t the way this works! Your images are so incredibly precious and deserve all of the love to make sure that they are perfect. That means that your senior photographer is taking their time to edit meticulously and get the job done right! I mean that’s what you paid for! Ideally, you would like your senior photographer to have a semi-quick turnaround time. For me as a Chicago senior photographer, my turnaround time for a completed gallery is around the 3-4 week mark. This depends on how many photos we have to cull through, how many images we have to edit, etc.
If you are someone who has a deadline for your senior photos, PLEASE communicate this with your senior photographer. An example is you need to print your photos by a certain date or have them ready by a certain time. Please let your photographer know beforehand. That way you both are on the same page and your photographer will do everything in their power to finish your gallery ahead of schedule!
Most of the time your images will be delivered by your senior photographer through an online gallery site. This makes it easy to view your images on mobile and desktop and get those crisp images. Each software and system will vary from photographer to photographer. So having a clear understanding of where your images will be sent to and delivered is extremely important for you!
I don’t know if this is just me, but I absolutely love being able to go through inspo with my seniors for their senior session. A part of my job is to help you in making sure you look and feel your best during this major milestone moment. With that being said, you should be making sure that your senior photographer will be there for you along the way to help you in the planning process. Especially if your senior photographer has the experience. You want to be able to lean on their experience and expertise to make sure your senior photos are looking B-O-M-B.
Just like the different services, packages, and pricing, the number of locations that you will shoot at during your senior session will be followed on a case-by-case basis. If your senior photographer offers multiple locations for your senior shoot, then that is perfect! If you’re senior photographer only offers one location, then that’s perfect too. This will be completely based on what you want, what your senior photographer offers as well as how much of your budget you’re willing to spend for your senior photos.
If your senior photographer offers multiple different photo packages for senior sessions, then this answer may change depending on that. Say you’re looking to have a typical session with just 2-3 outfits and multiple locations, you’re probably looking at a 1.5 to 2-hour shoot. If you’re only wanting a few snapshots at one location with only one outfit, then your senior shoot could take up to an hour. Again, how long each shoot will vary from photographer to photographer. However, knowing how long the shoot will be will help you plan accordingly!
I don’t know if you’ve caught on by now, but most of everything is completely determined by which senior photographer you speak to. For my seniors, I am more than happy to have one of your friends or a parent join the photoshoot for moral support! Oftentimes I think this makes you feel more comfortable in front of the camera and overall is a great time. If you’re someone who is getting nervous at the thought of being in front of a camera, having someone there to break the ice a bit helps a ton!
Ideally, you want to book your senior photoshoot with your senior photographer as soon as possible. Many senior photographers book up a year in advance for senior photos, and I would hate to see you miss out on an opportunity to work with your dream senior photographer… *cough cough* me *cough cough*. You want to secure your date for your senior photos at least 6 months prior to graduation.
This is one of my favorite questions that I get asked as a Chicago senior photographer. Do you know why? It’s completely different per person because the choice is yours! First, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want your shoot indoors or outdoors. If you choose outdoors, winter may not be your best friend especially here in our brisk winters of Chicago. However, a studio may be the place to be in that case! If you’re wanting an outdoor location, ideally you want to choose a warmer season where you can bare being outside.
Most seniors will book their senior photoshoots around the Fall or Spring time. Again, this is depending on preference, weather as well as when they would like their senior photos done!
Knowing what your senior photographers rescheduling/cancellation policies are, is going to be one of the most important questions that you ask. We get it, life and emergencies happen and sometimes you will need to reschedule or cancel your photoshoot. While each senior photographer has different rules and policies, most will allow you to reschedule your shoot at least once. This is especially the case if it rains on the day of your shoot and you were planning on being outdoors. Sometimes things are out of our control, and we get that! That’s why keeping that open line of communication with your senior photographer is so important!
If you’re someone who instead of rescheduling, wants to cancel their photoshoot altogether now that is a different story. If for some reason you have changed your mind or just don’t feel like your senior photographer and you are a good fit, that is totally fine. You are more than willing to cancel your session, however, most of the time your deposit will not be refunded. Again, that’s why the deposit is there in the first place!
The best thing that you can do before working with a senior photographer, is to make sure that you review their contract thoroughly and ask questions! Once you have signed that contract, you are legally bound so you want to make sure that you know what you are signing up for!
Any senior photographer’s worst nightmare is having lost a client’s images. *Gasps in photographer*. I know, what a terrible thing to go through. It’s important that whenever you’re inquiring with a senior photographer, you ask them about their backup plan for your images. That is, if something were to happen to your images on the original camera, what happens next? Are there steps put in place to secure your images?
Most photographers in general should be shooting with dual SD slots. Meaning they will automatically have two copies of your images, in the case that one SD card becomes corrupt. Then, from there, your photographer will upload those images on a hard drive and back that up… just in case. Much like anything, every photographer’s flows and systems will vary so determining this very early on will give you great peace of mind!
So you’ve received your final images and have completely fallen in love. As you should, you are looking SNATCHED. You’ve decided that maybe you want to print your images for either your home, in a curated album, or as a gift. Ask your senior photographer if printing your images is a possibility! Most of the time, you are going to love your photos so much that you will almost instantly feel the urge to print them. Or maybe that’s just the case with all of the seniors I’ve worked with… hee hee. Your senior photographer will be able to give you plenty of resources and maybe even help you in curating an album or deciding what photos to print out!
If this is something that you value, make sure that you’re asking this question BEFORE hiring a senior photographer. That way when the time comes, you know exactly what you will be receiving.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is hiring a senior photographer who you feel comfortable with. You want to make sure that you’re working with someone who not only will make you look your best but make you feel your best as well! These are just a few of the many questions to ask before hiring a senior photographer, however, hopefully, they were helpful.
Hey, It’s Abby! I’m a Chicago Senior Photographer ready to take your senior photos to the next level! If you loved reading these Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Senior Photographer blog, then inquire here, and let’s get groovy!
Portrait and Wedding Photographer Based in Chicago, IL for the rad souls and the wildly in love.