By Harvey Bell

Bell Photographic, Inc.

Getting GREAT senior portraits, instead of the usual “stand-against-a-tree-and-smile.” Is the result of a small effort on your part and some hard work by your photographer.

Here are my recommendations for getting great senior portraits:

• Choose the right photographer for you. This is your chance to be photographed as an adult. All your life, you’ve had “head & shoulders” school pictures. This time you’re going to get a real portrait done by a professional photographer.

• Photos done at retail chain store, or by your mom’s second cousin who “fools around with photography” are fine for some things, but you want more than that for your yearbook portrait.

• It’s important that you get the most for your money by choosing a photographer that’s going to give you the “look” you want.

• We all shoot styles that are unique to us; you want to choose a style (and price range) that will work for you.

Do this by:

• Looking at photographers’ web sites.

• Call the studio and ask for information about senior portraits, either over the phone or by snailmail or email.

Good questions to ask are:

• How many shots do you take?

• How many clothing changes do you allow?

• How long does a sitting take?

• Can I bring in different props or friends?

• What’s included in the creation fee?

• Do I have to pay extra for the glossy?

(Most professional studios include the glossy, with the creation fee or the order.)

• Is there a minimum order?

Visit the studio to see how it “feels” to you; listen to your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable just being there, having photos taken there will be less comfortable.

Once you’ve chosen a photographer, make an appointment to have your photos taken, and keep the appointment, or call to change it, if necessary. Summer is a busy time for photographers, and a missed appointment is an income opportunity lost.

When you go to your appointment:

• Go a few minutes early to be ready when your photographer is ready.

• Bring plenty of clothing changes. Photographers work differently; We like to look at the clothing a student brings in, and make some choices of the outfits for the session.

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One of the hardest things to do in senior portraiture, is to create a good variety of choices for guys (and some girls) who bring in ONE t-shirt with MEGADEATH (Or another logo) stamped across the front of it.

It is recommend to our seniors:

• at least, 3 outfits –

• 1 formal – what you’d wear to school, on a day you want to dress up

• 1 casual – a nice pair of pants or skirt and a top

• 1 -2 “your clothes”- your favorite style, whatever it is, (beach clothes, street clothes, club outfits, bang-around, work-on-your-car clothes, rags) – what you wear Saturdays, Sundays, nights, and summer time.

• In the first two (formal and casual)- we recommend solid colors (patterns tend to distract from the person being photographed, and can be unflattering).

• You don’t have to bring in these specific styles of outfits, but bring in some different things to give your photographer an opportunity to create the best portraits he or she can do, for you.

• For women, we recommend at least one round or vee-neck top with long- or longish- sleeves.

• Makeup and hair “wear what you normally wear, if anything; don’t do anything special for the camera.

• For guys – shave, if you shave, that day.

• If you’re going to get a haircut, do it at least two days before the sitting, to give it time to “settle.”

• Bring in some things or people or animals that are unique to you – sports uniforms, props, musical instruments, hobbies, vehicles, pets, friends, even siblings. We are always amazed by the wide variety of interests students have; everyone does something that’s unique to them.

The most important part of this is attitude.

Getting great senior portraits is a combination of your photographers’ efforts and your willingness to help in the process by:

1. Try some different ideas from your photographer, even if they sound off the wall. Some of our best shots have resulted from pushing the envelope and trying something different.

2. Bring your own ideas to the session. We like to have subjects come in with their own thoughts; then we translate your ideas into good photos by adding the right camera techniques to make your ideas “photographable”.

3. Be prepared to participate. Great photographs result from a partnership between the subject and photographer. If you go the session expecting the photographer to “do it all” and give you great portraits, you will most likely be disappointed. Bring something to the party; pay attention and give it your best shot.

4. HAVE FUN. Enjoy the photo session as a unique opportunity to do something different. Live in the moment; stay awake and your reward will be Great Senior Portraits.


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