Are Senior Pictures or Portraits Worth it?

Are Senior Pictures or Portraits Worth It?

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Senior portraits have become a rite of passage for many high school students, symbolizing the transition from adolescence to adulthood. As families and students weigh the decision to invest in professional photography, several factors come into play. Let me take you through the emotional value of senior portraits, the financial considerations, the importance of capturing milestones, and the debate between professional photography and DIY options.

The Emotional Value of Senior Portraits

There is no denying the emotional significance of senior portraits: for a teenager, it is a pivotal moment in his or her life. In a cultural landscape that values documenting every phase of a child’s life, senior portraits are one of the most important visual indexes of that intense path to maturation as it culminates in a high school diploma. Unsurprisingly, many parents value the senior portrait precisely as a tangible artifact of their child’s success. For instance, Mary Red Crow, parent to three, recently shared with me that her daughter’s senior portraits are timless physical keepsakes to remind me of how hard they worked, what they dreamed, and how tough they’ve turned out.

Furthermore, senior portraits have an enduring legacy, serving as family keepsakes that can last a lifetime. Pictures of these young adults adorn the mantel and furniture tops in homes. They’re shown to children and grandchildren. There’s a powerful emotional punch when these images capture the personality of a teenager at this time. According to a 2018 Professional Photographers of America (PPA) survey, 85 percent of respondents agreed that family photos are among their most prized possessions.

Financial Considerations: Cost vs. Benefit

The financial investment in senior portraits is another factor that many families wrestle with, as sessions with professional photographers can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 and up, depending upon the experience of the photographer, their location, and the package chosen. So, how can seniors and their families decide whether the investment is worth it? I believe that the benefits of high-quality portraits more than justify any financial investment.

The flip side, however, is that it can be prohibitive for some families, especially when considering other expenses such as applications to college, prom, and graduation this year. Countless cases exist of hardworking family photographers going out of their way to make portraits more affordable, and there are many options available to families that need to conserve their budgets. For example, some photographers offer payment plans or rebates to those who book early. Many schools also contract with portrait photographers to offer senior pictures at a much more manageable price point.

Capturing Milestones: A Timeless Keepsake

Senior portraits are often the last keepsake of a young person at a special time of a young person’s life, signaling the conclusion of hard work to learn and grow over the years. Seniors are at the finish line and ready to press forward to college or a career, or perhaps another avenue altogether. Senior portraits offer them a physical reminder of that accomplishment and their walk to reach that point.

Additionally, senior shots could provide encouragement or incentives for students. When they see themselves achieving what they’ve always aimed for captured in a classy photo, it would empower them and drive them to continue striving to attain higher achievements. According to photographer John Doe, ‘Senior photos are not just pictures of seniors in high school. They are milestones, a celebration of a young person crossing from one phase of life to another, with great things to give and contribute.

Professional Photography vs. DIY Options

Over and over again, families must confront the choice about senior portraits: hire a pro, or do it yourself.In the best elections, both candidates are worthy of support. Here, we are talking about professional photographers with their sophisticated equipment, trained hands, and taste for visual composition and design. They make the photo look its best. They have been taking and selling good photos for years, possibly decades, and they know what they are doing. They might also have good advice about how the portrait should be framed and how the person being photographed should be posed, lit, and placed in the scene.

However, smartphone cameras and tape have become increasingly acceptable, and photo editing software has improved to the point where a family on a budget may want to have this done themselves. These are not necessarily easy choices. For example, taking your own senior portraits is a less expensive alternative than hiring a ‘real’ photographer, but it does not necessarily look good. A friend told me that he would have his kids take their graduation photos if Costco Payless came out with a camera he could tolerate.

An enterprising young salesperson should go to a family with an offer of a 16×20 photo for $50 and run a 30-day analysis of Facebook, Instagram, and any other software they use. With the right approach, he or she can tell the family how they could achieve (for $15) the look that they are currently looking for – without spending the thousands of dollars needed for a professional photographer and all the gear. The aim of this analysis would be to show the family just how simple the DIY approach can be – that anyone with half a brain and the help of some online tutorials and resources should be able to achieve.

It's a Choice

Ultimately, it comes down to choosing between professional photography and a DIY portriat. Different factors such as taste and price can determine which one is preferred, but professional portraits always come with an impression of quality and competence that cannot always be achieved with do-it-yourself portraits. However, it is possible to obtain useful and beautiful images with these DIY pictures; sometimes, this is all needed for this special occasion.

That's a Wrap!

After all, senior portraits carry a lot of emotional money, provide a lifelong memory, and offer an opportunity to celebrate the milestone of your almost adult. Even if it does involve putting down some of your hard-earned money, it’s a worthy investment. If you’re shooting professionally, alternative ways of making the photographs your own (without manipulating the images) are to instruct the model to wear clothing that helps convey her individual style and personality and to provide quite specific direction. If it’s a DIY effort, you’ll want to make at least sure you’re in a location that showcases your student as only she can.

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