“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “
Why are you passionate about this topic?
One of the goals of photography and photographers is to capture a milestones in one’s life; births, birthdays, graduations, engagements, weddings, and the list goes on. As artists, we tend to gravitate to one of these milestones because it is dear to our own heart. I am drawn to the art of senior photography because I love this particular milestone. I love the bridging from child to young adult, all the possibilities that lie ahead. The adventures that are calling their hearts and souls, those calls can be heard on the horizon of their graduation date. The pictures they drew of “What I Want to be When I Grow Up” Are now tangible, their hopes and dreams at the fingers reach. They are realizing it’s finally time to start building the foundation of the life they had been visualizing. And while so much of this time is exciting, they are also very vulnerable. You can see it in their eyes, in the way they dialogue about the what if’s and the unknowns. While many of my clients share declared majors and proudly wear college sweatshirts of schools they have committed to, not all my seniors share that same journey. Some of my seniors are enlisting in the military, their moms will beam as they recall their little ones playing soldier as a young boy, knowing early on they would one day serve their country. Some seniors are packing their bags and going overseas on mission trips, they feel they are being called to service first before attending school or perusing a degree. All of these roads and paths amaze me! They intrigue me and to spend two – three hours trying capture all of these emotions, dreams, and feelings is what creatively drives me to capture the essence of who they are now and all the passion that lies inside of them for whom they are striving to become!
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
I think it actually goes back to my senior year in high school! I was in Student Government and our Student Government teacher added the job of historian for me because I was so passionate about taking pictures and documenting our school’s events. I remember always trying to take pictures of people when they weren’t looking so I could capture something real and authentic like someone laughing at joke, a high five, or maybe a stolen kiss in the hallway! When I began my business journey, I knew I wanted to specialize and spend time mastering one area of photography and I was naturally drawn to seniors. I had my first senior session in 2008 as a hobbiest, when I pulled up the pictures and started editing I just couldnt get enough! I knew my heart belong to high school seniors!
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
Over the years there are a few things I invest my time and energy into the before and after of capturing my senior.
- Pre-consolations- Friends, it is super important to invest in your pre-consultation meeting. Spend time getting to know your senior! Most seniors love talking about themselves and their hopes and dreams. Find out what kind of music they love, movies they quote, people they admire. I use so much of this information during our session! Have you even broken out your ipod and played their favorite jams during a session? If not, you should! This really brings out some fun and energetic shots, not to mention some good belly laughs!
- Locations- A year ago, I started including one location that had sentimental value to my senior. It has ranged from their grandparents’ farm where they grew up picking oranges to the ice cream parlor where they had their first kiss! These spots help tell their story and my goal is when they look back at their pictures twenty years from now, they don’t just see who they were, they can also vividly remember the places that were important to them during their formative years!
- Pre-session questionnaires- some of my clients have a hard time talking about themselves and find it easier to share in writing! Not only is a questionnaire a great way to get to know your senior, it is wonderful material for when you blog about their session!
- Products- Find out what kind of product they want to invest in. If I know my clients are interested in an album, I try to shoot with their album in mind. Knowing their needs before the shoot can help you capture some of those shots instead of wishing you had them after the session!
- Hobbies- if they have a hobby or passion, find out what it is and how you can include it in their session. So many of my clients bring along music instruments, books, skateboards. I love it!
- LAUGH- What makes them laugh… FIND out! Sometimes this means asking mom and dad, a sibling or a friend. When you can capture a genuine laugh, you are capturing a feeling that will always be felt in their hearts of those who love them when they look at those pictures for years to come!
- Extra shots- If there parents, siblings or friends attend their session, take a few minutes at the end of their session to take a few pictures with their loved ones. These are some of my clients most treasure pictures. Especially if the it’s the parents, they LOVE it!
What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
My first senior season, I looked at other senior photographers and what they were doing. I spent my first few sessions focusing on posing and all these little details. After going home and sitting down and editing these sessions I knew something was missing, their personalities weren’t being highlighted. I took so much time posing them it took away from spotlighting who they were! I’m not saying I don’t pose and I’m not saying some posed pictures don’t show personality. However, I found that a little prompting and some modeling of cute poses help, but just being in the moment, dancing, laughing, throwing flowers up in the air…those are moments I strive to capture. I also really struggled with pricing and selling. In person sales was so scary for me! Now reveal sessions and in person sales is a favorite part of my business. I envision their children and grandchildren looking at their album one day, talking about how beautiful their mother was or how fun their grandma was in her senior pictures. I want them to get an idea of who their loved one was during this special milestone, his or her senior year! That is has helped me see what I am selling in a different light!
About the photographer:
I am beyond blessed to call photography a career! I do not take it for granted. I am humbled God has blessed me with the opportunity to do what sets my soul on fire for a living. I specialize in High School Seniors and Dance Photography. After growing my business in Tampa, Florida we are now blooming where we have been planted in Richmond, Virginia! I am the momma of three fun loving, free spirited and rebellious kiddos! Wife to an amazing and supportive husband who three years ago told me “To start chasing the sunset” and after that blessing I became the owner and photographer of Gianna Grace Photographer. I am also honored to be the team leader of the Beauty Revived Ambassadors over at the super fab Beauty Revived! I love my Jesus time, bike rides, a good book and of course,happily ever afters!