I didn’t have my daughters until I was in my late 20’s so most folks my age already have high school seniors. Many times I have had or heard conversations about how much Senior portraits have changed. Boy have they ever.
When I was a senior in the late 90’s, senior pictures were done at the school by the school photographer. Everyone went through the same poses on the same backgrounds. They sucked. You know it did too. While I do still have the proofs from them, I was NOT happy with them. First off, I had an angry enormous zit appear randomly on my collar bone. (What the crap?) When I posed for my drape shot it was right there staring the photographer in the face like an evil villain. He saw it, I know he did. Ugh. Anyway, when it came time to order, I asked if it would be retouched. They assured me that anything I ordered was fully retouched. So of course my mom ordered my drape shot in a 20×30. You know, billboard-esque.
— They didn’t retouch it. To this day the picture is tucked away in storage. ugh- lies.
Anyway- things are SO different now. Most seniors want to break free of the mundane, assembly line photos. I can’t blame them! After all, this is a big moment for seniors, and it’s a time in life that needs to be remembered. Think of it as a landmark in life. When babies are born we document every moment and milestone for the first year. Without Senior portraits one might go portrait-less until their wedding day!
Youth is fleeting. There will never be a more fragile and emotional time in their lives as now.
As dorky as it may sound, I know that photographing Seniors is my calling. I LOVE the fact that at this age in life, each senior is on the cusp of something unknown. The possibilities are endless, and there is so much up in the air for them. It is so exciting to spend time with them and get to know them. Seniors (both young and old) are the most interesting subjects for me. The senior portrait experience is so much more than photos- at least to me it is. It’s about showing someone how awesome they are in everyone else’s eyes- even to a total stranger like me.
I guess part of it is that I so vividly remember how it felt to be their age, and how scary and hard it can be. I’m no therapist, and I certainly don’t think I’m “cool” like them…BUT- I feel like in some ways I can sympathize with them.
High school for me was HARD. I was going through a lot of things and the last two years I felt like I just didn’t belong anywhere. I looked like a regular teenager but on the inside I felt, i dont know, DIFFERENT. In my class I often felt insignificant- outcast, and just really mixed up. I didn’t really fit in to any groups and I certainly was NOT popular. I was just THERE…kind of lurking in the shadows, biding my time until I could get out of dodge. Of course, if I had it to do over again I would change a LOT. Most of my misery was self sabotage and I am not blaming anyone else.
If I had had the chance at that time to have Senior portraits made that were unique to ME- I would have loved it. If I could have had a photographer interested in ME who wanted to amplify all my facets and embrace my oddities, if I could have had photos that made me look and feel as cool and different as I wanted to be- Man. I think at times that it might could have changed a lot for me at that time.
The Senior Portrait experience at SHP is different than most. It’s not an assembly line, or all about committing to minimum orders, or all about excursions and locations, and it’s not about a high fashion trendy thing. Of course, picking outfits, working efficiently, and running a business are all part of it- but for me- the real challenge is to bring that Senior out of their shell and find out what makes them “tick”. Then, we do our best to make the coolest, most unique, most bada** photo of them they have ever seen. There’s just nothing like it. Showing a senior a photo of their self that makes their jaw drop and they go, “OH WOW SO COOL!’ and then smile at how cool they look- that’s the million dollar prize of what we do.
It is SO easy for kids these days to feel depressed, defeated, and outcast. I couldn’t imagine being a senior and dealing with social media these days.
I can’t tell you how utterly sad it is for us to hear from a senior that they “aren’t cool because they don’t do sports” or that we can’t get cool photos of them because they “don’t do anything”. EVERYONE is unique in one way or another- all of them!
If I could shout one thing from the school rooftops it would be that ALL of them are interesting- all of them matter, and that they all have something “cool” to show the world. I would LOVE the chance to show them ALL the proof in a photograph.
So, if you are a high schooler- or a parent of one- and you think that just because you aren’t on the football or cheer team that you can’t be cool- let me prove you wrong. I would LOVE to get to know you-
So in closing- here at SHP we want everyone. Bring us the ball players, swimmers and cheerleaders, dancers, all you blood sweat and tears athletes, you guys work so hard to perform in your sport flawlessly and your dedication should be celebrated through stunning images….but also bring us the:
social media gurus
obsessive music listeners
professional couch potatoes
Book club fanatics
Harry Potter fans
Let us show you what we can work together to create.
“Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it” -Vincent Van Gogh