The start of summer is marked by many things, one of which for many families across Thurston County is graduation. But while one wave of students is busy enjoying their last summer before college, another is getting ready to embark on what will be their final year of high school.
For incoming high school seniors and their parents, senior year is a time of reflection, and local photographer Shanna Paxton has made it part of her business to help students and their families remember the experience.
Senior photos are a great way to capture a teen’s last year of high school, and there’s no better time than summer to start thinking about and scheduling senior photo shoots. Here are some tips from Paxton for getting the most out of your photos.
Before you even schedule your teen’s senior photo shoot, Paxton suggests brainstorming ideas with your teen about what type of photos they want to have. Paxton says looking on Pinterest and creating a board is a great way to put ideas together and — better yet — share your teen’s vision with your photographer.
Of course, if you soon-to-be senior isn’t sure how they want to pose for their photos, Paxton can help with that, too. Paxton always schedules a 20- to 40-minute phone consultation with her clients in advance of a shoot. This way she has time to get to know them and better understand the vision they have for their photos. Paxton will ask questions like “What are you passionate about?” and “How do you want to make your photos special?” to help get the creative process going.
Paxton has photographed seniors reading books under a tree, playing with bubbles at the Heritage Park Fountain, posing in his or her new car, and much more. If your teen is having trouble developing a photo concept, Paxton can help.
Consider Your Budget
Knowing your budget can also play a role in scheduling photos. “We know parents are already spending so much money on their senior, which is why it’s good to get the photos done early,” says Paxton.
In addition to the great outdoor scenes and lighting that exist in the summer and fall months, Paxton says getting pictures done early gives parents more time to budget. Like Paxton, many photographers will offer a budget plan that allows parents to pay for the photos over three months rather than all at once.
The cost of photos will vary by session time and the types of photos that you want, but Paxton says the average parent will spend anywhere between $300 to $700 for senior photos, while people who are passionate about photography may spend as much as $1,500. “If they spend this much, we can spread the payments out over six months,” says Paxton. Another good reason to schedule photos early.
Relax and Have Fun
On the day of the senior photo shoot, Paxton says the most important thing is for your teen to relax and have fun. Paxton does her best to help teens prepare for their photo shoot during their initial consultation, but there are other ways teens can calm their nerves if they’re feeling a bit uncomfortable.
For especially nervous or shy teens, Paxton likes to meet in person for the consultation. “A face-to-face consultation helps them get comfortable with the photographer,” explains Paxton. During the consultation, whether it’s in person or by phone, Paxton will ask several questions so she can better understand her client’s comfort level and what they would like to get out of their photos. Paxton says simple things like lighting, a different pose, or a touch of makeup can make all the difference. And if a teen doesn’t like the idea of having their photo taken because they’re self conscious about braces or acne, Paxton says not to worry — these kind of things can easily be edited out.
The day before the photo session, Paxton also recommends loading up the car with any outfits or props that will be used during the photo shoot. “Having everything ready to go the day before is so important,” says Paxton.
Print Versus Digital
After the photo session, Paxton says photos will arrive within two to three weeks after the final payment has been received. Paxton says if your photographer is charging for digital files, chances are he or she is not as experienced as you may think. Through Shanna Paxton Photography, digital files are always included at no additional charge with any purchased package. However, if you want to purchase print copies, which Paxton recommends, these will cost an additional fee.
Senior year is a special time. It’s a nod to the past and the future, and it should be remembered.
If you would like to schedule a senior photo session with Shanna Paxton Photography, you can contact Paxton electronically, or visit Shanna Paxton Photography online to learn more about senior photos and other photography services.