It’s early November and the last 5 senior parents I’ve emailed, texted or spoken with couldn’t book with me. Know why? The yearbook deadline was too close. So I thought I’d write up a blog post for tips on what to do when you cannot book with the photographer you want before your yearbook deadline.
If you didn’t know, fall is the busiest season for portrait photographers. This is when all our sessions converge, one morning we’re doing school pictures with 3 year olds and then later that evening we’re at a senior portrait session with a 17 year old. Weekends are filled with family pictures and more senior sessions. So when you tell me your yearbook photo is due in less than 7 days, I can’t help. Your session is way more work than just the time we spend together. There needs to be time for culling down the images, getting rid of the blinks, funny faces, blurry images, etc. My clients get to see images after this step and editing happens after they order. But you’ll want time to go through the images to pick your favs. Editing takes time to remove flyaways, trash that we didn’t see on the ground, brighten eyes and whiten teeth, remove blemishes, diminish wrinkles and so much more. On average, I spend 6-8 hours editing for a 1 hour photoshoot.
when to book
Most schools have a deadline in the Fall or Winter of senior year. Some are even lucky enough to have them due in early of graduation year. The best way to figure out when you need to take pictures by is to walk backward from the deadline. Say your senior picture needs to be sent in by December 1st. You’ll need to book at least one month before your deadline. And that is tight considering all the factors that could come into play. You could have to reschedule due to rain, getting sick, work won’t let you off anymore… so many things could happen. None of these are factors a photographer can control.
what to do if you’re out of time
Let’s say you didn’t know you needed that much time. You still have options but you gotta work quickly. Find the photographer you really want to work with, or maybe three. Reach out and let them know you’re stuck. Tell them you really want to work with them but the deadline is approaching and you wanted to know if you could book a Spring Senior Session with them and take a yearbook picture now. I’m always happy to offer this to seniors, but not everyone wants to wait.
talk to your friends
Do you have a friend on the yearbook committee? Or are you on it? Talk to the teacher in charge and find out if there is any wiggle room on the deadline. Some schools are cool with it, some aren’t. But you won’t know until you ask. So if you can get a bit more time, you might just be able to book with that photographer you want!
winter studio session
November through early March is studio season for portraits. Mostly because we have more rainy days than sunny and the NW Portland studio has beautiful light no matter what is happening outside. I’m currently booking December and beyond so reach out if you can get an extension and want a studio session!
Spring Senior Session
If you want the senior portrait experience, but can’t make the fall or winter studio session work, book a Spring Senior Session. It won’t make it into the yearbook but you’re still a senior so get out there in our gorgeous Spring blooms! I also offer Cap and Gown Minis in May at a few locations, so you could book a 20 min session with me to get gorgeous Grad Card pictures!
take your own
If you need to, take your own senior pictures. Or maybe you have a friend that is in a photography class? It won’t be the whole experience but it’ll probably be better than that blue background from your student id, right?
tell your younger classmates
If you’re out of time, and can’t find a photographer that can fit you in the best thing you can do is help out the next class! Let your junior friends know to start looking in the Spring of their junior year, then they won’t be stuck like you are. I’ve been doing senior portraits since 2011 and it happens every year. I always feel terrible telling parents and teens that I can’t fit them in cause I know how desperate they are. But at this point in the year, I’m working 7 days a week, editing 10-12hrs a day when I’m not out at sessions and barely keeping up with the sessions booked in advance.
You’re only a high school senior once, you’re only this age once, so please ensure you take pictures to commemorate this time in your life! You deserve to have this rite of passage documented so when you are in your 40’s like me, you’ll look back and love seeing pictures of your younger self.