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Big sister advice

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.

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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.

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 & 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 & key photo.

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

Seven Days of Self Care!

Let's be honest, we are all pretty much stressed all the time amirite? Your schedule is packed, your classes are freakin hard, everyone is already talking about college applications, and honestly you just need to catch your breath... these self care tips won't change your life, but they will make it a little easier. Try them all as a challenge or pick a few favorites. Whatever you do, take care of yourself first girl.

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1. Make an uplifting playlist:
It can be a “get hyped up” playlist or a “calm/chill” playlist. Get on Spotify and add all the uplifting, happy songs you can think of to listen to when you need a mood boost.

2. Pamper yourself:
Run a hot bath with your favorite bubbles or bath bomb, put on a face mask, light some scented candles, put your phone on airplane mode and play that positive vibes playlist we made, and soak. Exfoliate, moisturize, and put on your coziest pjs. 
 
3. Start A Gratitude journal:
Studies show that focusing on positive experiences boost both mental and even physical health! Grab a cute notebook and your favorite pen and get writing! Think about three things today that you are thankful for. It can be fun experiences, people who care about you, or something small like a good lunch day at school.

4. Positive Reflections:
Stand in front of a mirror and think of three things that you love about your body. Don't allow any negative thoughts. If you think "ugh my legs are so big" - refocus that to "my legs are strong and take me to amazing places".

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5. Treat yo self:
Indulge and buy yourself a little something. It could be a new book, a bouquet of beautiful flowers, a luxe chocolate bar, those shoes you can't stop thinking about ... a gift to you from you. You deserve it!

6. Cut yourself some slack:
Sleep in or take a nap and don’t feel guilty about it! That fuzzy blanket is calling your name. We all need time to recharge, you don’t have to be productive 24/7. Catching up on some sleep will boost your energy levels and you immune system, and honestly what’s better than a Sunday afternoon nap?

7. Spread kindness:
 Grab your friends go on a bestie date. Take them out to coffee or go see a fun movie together. Even better plan an old school slumber party. Spending time with 'your' people is a mood boost for everyone, we all need a solid support group.

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Bonus: If you don't have time for more intense self-care, set a timer for 10 minutes and put your phone on airplane mode. Go somewhere quiet or sit in your car somewhere pretty and meditate, pray, or visualize your goals. The key is to be fully present in this time to 'reset'. After, you'll feel less stressed and more focused. 

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