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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.

Senior Pictures 46750.jpg

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.

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.

This is Bailey

"I was afraid that I would feel overwhelmed and nervous and I wouldn't like the outcome of my senior photos but that didn't happen. Instead it was easy to get comfortable especially when Tia was taking the pictures and always making encouraging and sweet compliments.  She has a great personality that always has you laughing and makes the shoot comfortable and fun.  

It was hard to narrow down my favorite photos because I loved all of them. I was very pleased as to how they turned out. I wouldn't change anything about my experience, I think everything went as planned and was pretty much perfect." - Bailey

What is your typical weekend like?
At the lake

What is your dream job?
Dentist/ artist

What makes you laugh?
My friends

What are some of your favorite songs or artists?
Ed sheeran

What is you favorite thing to do in your free time:
Draw/ sports/sun

Favorite color:
Blue

What's something weird or unique about you?
Lopsided ears and can make one ear move

Something you have too much of:
Clothes

Favorite TV series?
Walking dead

What is your happy place?
The lake

30 Seniors | 30 Days

Over on Instagram, I recently had an idea to feature one senior every day for thirty days. Not only was it a great way to show off their images, I think it was a little confidence boost for the seniors to each have their own day :)

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