Seniors Face Choices for Senior Portraits

As the deadline approaches, more and more seniors scramble to get their senior portraits taken, edited and turned in to the yearbook staff.

People are posting “#senior sunday” pictures on Twitter and Instagram, blowing up social media with a variety of faces, locations, photographers and wardrobes.

This can be a very stressful time for students and their parents, having to navigate the ins and outs of the photography businesses weighing the quality against the price or having to pick from a family member who recently picked it up as a hobby or going with a professional.

It is a tedious process that acts as an initiation to seniors, representing the transformation they have made through four treacherous years of high school.

Also, for photographers it is one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year with constant marketing, scheduling, shooting, editing and ordering of their photos, all the while dealing with picky parents and teenagers who just want to look absolutely perfect.

Wendi Bates, owner of Family Art Photography, one of the professional photographers in town said, “ The senior portrait business has become very competitive in the recent years because of many new photographers and the easy access to photography technology.”

Bates also said, “The reason that senior portraits have become so competitive is because many young students are finding a passion in photography and are charging close to nothing for senior pictures.”

This new reality has caused professional photographers to ramp up their marketing and presence on social media which acts as a highway straight to their consumers.

Bates said, “ Having a predominant presence on social media has greatly increased my number of booked clients and as my following base begins to grow, so does my number of bookings.”

So if any students are still looking for senior portraits one of the most efficient ways of finding a photographer can be through social media.

For students, there are many different routes one can take to get senior photos done.

Some students go to professional photographers and pay large sums of money for a very organized, artful experience and then pay another fee for which photos they want to keep, either receiving digital files, material prints or both.

Brooke Liland, a senior at Dimond High, recently had her photos taken by a professional photographer here in Anchorage who specializes in senior photos.

Using a professional boutique is a popular method, but some people have reservations.

Liland said, “ When going to the professional shoot I was pretty stressed out because this was the one chance I had to take good senior photos [and] I had paid so much money for the session fee.”

Liland also said, “For paying so much I thought I would have more control over what I wanted and how I looked, but instead I had to wear a lot of make up and some of the positions and props I didn’t like.”

However, Liland stumbled upon an opportunity at a local coffee shop where she met a new aspiring photographer who offered to do her senior photos for free.

Liland said, “ With the new photographer I had a better experience and I had more freedom to choose what I wore and how I looked, and it was free.”

Another perspective came from Alden Butzke, another senior at Dimond, who did his photos with his father.

Butzke said, “I actually had a really positive experience with doing my senior pictures with my dad because it was not stressful at all. We had plenty of time to do the photos, and if they turned out bad, we could just do them again.”

Butzke also said, “Because I did not have to pay a huge session fee there was no pressure the day off pictures and I got to pick as many pictures I wanted.”

Most professional photographers charge for the photos and prints because of the editing cost and manufacturing of prints.

Butzke said, “The one downside is that my dad is not a professional, so editing is something we really cannot do to the extent a professional can.”

Senior photos can be stressful or easygoing, all depending on what students value more comparing quality and professionalism versus stress free and cheap or if they are lucky they will find both.