How To Choose A Photographer for YOUR Senior Photos

You’ll soon be closing the chapter of your childhood and stepping into that ‘real world’ of adulting. Your senior photos are literally a once in a lifetime event, and choosing the right photographer can be the difference between a memorable experience where you felt confident and beautiful or just another thing to check off the ‘senior year to-do list’.

Here are four main things to look for when choosing your senior photographer. (I mean, I totally hope you choose me if we are a good fit, but even if it’s not me, choose someone who is a good match for YOU and what YOU are looking for).

Huntington senior girl with blonde hair and round sunglasses stands in a meadow for a natural, rustic senior photo.

1. THE EDIT

This is one of the main things that differentiates photographers. Things to consider: Skin tones, do they look natural, or are they muddy? Is the skin plastic-y or does it look real?

Is it important to you to have blemishes and flyaway hairs corrected? (Not all photographers do retouching). Are the images overall crisp and colorful or do they look like they have a ‘filter’ on them? What look do you want for your images that will document this time in your life? These questions are important to ask yourself, because the images your see in a photographer’s portfolio are how your own senior photos will look.

I believe retouching is important so that when you view your photos, you see yourself and not a blemish that was gone in a week.

A high school senior girl sits, smiling on a parking block in downtown Huntington IN in front of a wood pallet wall.

2. THE EXPERIENCE

Ok this word gets thrown around a lot but do consider what type of experience you’d like. You’ll meet some photographers when you show up at your shoot, others offer consultations to plan your shoot aesthetic, fashion choices, and get to know your personality.

Some photographers offer ordering appointments and some send a digital download, and some leave that up to you. These are very different processes so choose the one that is best for you.

At Feather & Key the experience looks like, this: I send your a Dream Shoot Planner that is full of all the info you need to prepare for a perfect shoot. I also offer a consult before the photo shoot to collaborate on everything.

Most photo shoots start at my studio with pro hair & make up styling. We look over outfits to coordinate locations and style it up at the accessories bar where you can borrow pieces for your photo shoot.

About a week after the shoot, the whole family comes back to the studio for the big reveal of images! We choose favorites from all the proofs, see and hold product samples, and design custom pieces. I retouch each image and design your artwork. Once everything is back from the lab, I’ll personally deliver everything to your home.

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3. THE ARTWORK

An important thing to consider is what options photographers offer for their images. Do they offer prints and products or just a digital download for DIYing it? Do they offer social media files? Do they offer in person ordering appointments or just an online gallery? (I do both, depending on what the family wants.)

The days of a few 8x10s are over. Leather albums, canvases, image boxes, acrylic blocks, metals there are so many ways you can display your images. My studio offers all of these options and more, I love seeing the confidence of a senior as she proudly holds her canvas or the pure love on mom’s face as she holds the album of her daughter’s portraits. There is something really special in seeing yourself as art.

ordering appts at feather and key photo.jpg

4. THE PRICE

Just like coffee, clothes, or most other things, photographers range from ‘Prada’ prices to ‘Platos Closet’ prices and everything in between. No option is wrong or better than the other, but each will be a very different experience. When comparing your options focus on what’s included in the prices. There’s so much more to the price than just the number! Try to look at the value rather than just the cost.

Some families want wall art or albums to pass down. Some families just want some digital files. Some seniors want info on what to expect, and one-on-one attention. Some seniors want to just show up and get it done. When looking at photographers, keep in mind what you’d like YOUR experience to look like, feel like, and how you’d like to enjoy your images. Then compare it to what they offer.

A smiling senior girl holds her canvas and pictures from her photo shoot at the Feather and Key Studio im Huntington.

This is Emma

"Tia is such a fun person to be around. She makes you feel so confident about your self and makes you feel so comfortable while getting your pictures taken. I’m so glad I had Tia do my senior photos, I wouldn’t have wanted anybody else to do them!!" - Emma

HNHS senior girl smiles in front of wooden pallet wall in downtown Huntington indiana with feather and key photography watermark in corner.
Two images side by side of HNHS senior girl in urban downtown Huntington locations with feather and key photography watermark in corner.
High school senior girl smiles  with small dog sitting in her lap in woods location ft wayne, with feather and key photography watermark in corner.
HNHS senior smiling and laying on a dock at lake at sunset in Huntington indiana with feather and key photography watermark in corner.
Portraits of HNHS senior with her puppy in a fall location, with leaves, for her senior pictures with feather and key photography.
High school girl laying in fall leaves for senior photos with feather and key photography.
Huntington North High School senior laughs surrounded by fall leaves for her pictures with feather and key photography.

This is Kaitlyn

“I’ve known Tia for awhile and every second we spend together is full of laughter and smiles. I knew she would capture the best moments of my shoot and allow me to really be me!!

Fall senior pictures in evergreen trees and red leaves in Huntington indiana with feather and key photography.

Tia really makes it all about you and allows you to show your creative side with your shoots. Nothing is more fun than showing your natural beauty and being encouraged to do so by your photographer :)

Huntington Senior in front of vibrant red trees for senior pictures with feather and key photographer.

My biggest fear going into my senior shoot was how comfortable I would or wouldn’t be, and my dreams came true! I felt so happy and comfortable with my poses and am in love with how my pictures turned out.

Senior girl in natural environment for senior photos with feather and key photography.

Okay I haven’t always seen myself as the prettiest girl but Tia made me feel GORGEOUS! All of my friends and family believe she really captured my true beauty and that’s all it’s about! I am so happy with how they turned out :)

Huntington North senior Kaitlyn lays in yellow leaves for her senior pictures with feather and key.

My first impression of my photos was just happiness. I’m glad I could show my true colors and personality through each picture. I felt so pretty!

Girl senior pictures in Huntington forks of the wabash with feather and key photo.

My time spent with Kaitlyn was amazing from start to finish, she was so open to ideas and put her trust in me to bring out the best in her. From finding the perfect little yellow ‘leafy bois’ to getting in the ice cold river with me she was in. This girl has such an amazing heart and and is so genuine., truly someone who is beautiful on the inside and outside. <3

Dream Team: Galentine's Day

Galentine’s Day. It originated from a 2010 parks and rec episode but has become so much more! Even retailers like Target have started offering decor for the new holiday! It’s a day all about friendship, girls supporting girls, and community. Yes hello the Dream Team is ALL about that!!!

We didn’t have waffles but we did make friendship bracelets to give out to friends and family. It’s important to the team that we do random acts of kindness style projects, and this was our first one for the year. Some of the girls were doing complicated six or eight strand bracelets but I stuck with a much more simple option haha. It was a great time for the girls to chat and get to know each other more while doing something good for our friends and family.

The feather and key dream team making friendship bracelets for our galentines day random acts of kindness project

We also had an impromptu pop up valentines day photo shoot! I’m still finding confetti at the studio!

Three high school seniors throw confetti at the photographer at the studio in Huntington, IN.
Three HNHS seniors with heart props for galentines day photo shoot at feather and key studio in huntington.
Norwell and Central Noble seniors with heart props at the feather and key studio in huntington indiana
Central Noble seniors and HNHS seniors hold valentines day hearts and balloons in a galentines day themed photo shoot in the feather and key studio huntington.
Norwell and HNHS seniors pose with heart shaped props at the feather and key studio in huntington.
HNHS students throw confetti at the photographer in the feather and key studio in huntington, IN

The Secret to Real Confidence

Probably one of the most common pieces of advice people will give you is ‘just be confident,’ but for many people that’s easier said than done. What does it really mean to be confident? A common misconception about confidence is that it comes from thinking you are good at something or that you are a good person in general. The problem with this is the measurement we are using to determine that we are ‘good’.

Huntington north high school senior, Emma sitting in a natural environment for her senior pictures with feather and key photography.

Some people base their confidence on the judgments of others, needing the approval and acceptance of their peers, family, or society. By allowing our self-esteem to be reliant on the judgments of other people, we are really making ourselves the victims of the meanest, most judgmental people with no option to ‘win’. This source of confidence will never be enough, and will even have the opposite effect of fostering insecurity. How can you be confident when you’re always on trial?

HNHS senior Josie hoola hooping at the heirs park fairgrounds for a summer themed photo shoot with feather and key photography.

But here’s the secret: true confidence comes from not judging yourself at all. It’s a mental state of unbothered, of non-worry, of accepting yourself as you are, rather than in comparison to others or to an ideal standard. You can only be truly confident if you change the habit of judging yourself, it won’t come from asking yourself if you are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at something - it comes from not even asking the question. A lack of confidence is really the flip side of judging people. If we spend our time comparing ourselves to others and judging who’s ‘better’ it’s not surprising that they would feel insecure.

Rather than trying to artificially boost confidence by judging others or participating in competition, just opt out. You can start by offering yourself (and others) more empathy and less judgment. *

HNHS senior, Saige laying in a milk bath with floral elements for a portrait with Feather &amp; Key.

This is exactly what Feather & Key photography is all about. This is a judgment-free zone! I’ve built this business on the concept of encouraging and empowering girls since 2010. That’s 100% what I do. A photo shoot can leave you feeling self conscious or it can be a huge boost to your self image and the way you feel in your skin. I work with each senior’s natural body language and guide and coach them into poses that flatter their body shape and personality. I want to bring the best you forward so that you can see yourself the way I see you: amazing, strong, funny, bold, soft, caring… those things that make you YOU.

Huntington North Senior Elizabeth Allred, in downtown huntington for her senior photos with feather &amp; key photo.

*Excerpt from an article I wrote for NE Indiana Teen Magazine: Issue 02 Spring 2018.

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