Senior Pictures Season and How to Not Break the Bank

It’s late summer, and if you’re going to high school for the last time this year, you know what that means: the ambitious goal-getters have already planned, primped for, shot, and edited their senior photos, while the rest of us are scrambling to get our schedules aligned enough to even set aside time to hire a photographer. Either that, or we’re just highly trained procrastinators. Either or.

In my case, I’m doing a little bit of everything. My mother brought up senior photos at the close of junior year, and like the optimistic human being I am, I expected myself to be completely gung-ho about planning everything and working with my parents to hire a photographer and have everything finished by July. As you may have noticed, we are about halfway through August. I have not hired a professional photographer.

This, however, does not mean that I have not had my photos taken. Thanks to the volunteering effort of Maija;




And the generous offer of one of my mother’s college friends, Susan Pellerito;




I have a huge selection of photos to choose from when it comes time to pick prints to give to family, friends, and, most importantly, yearbook staff.

Now, had we hired a pro photographer, my family and I would have undoubtedly dropped a few Benjamins on some photographs only a select group of people will ever see. This is not to say that senior photos aren’t all they’re cracked up to be-because the experience is as glamorous and exciting as it looks, and the end result will be there for all posterity to see-I’m just here to tell you that you can do it for the low and still get grade-A photos. A- at the absolute least. All you have to do is search yourself, your closet (mom or dad’s, too), and your friend groups.

Here’s how:

The Outfit:

Your outfit(s) is/are the second most important thing about your photos, ranking only below you. You want them to correctly portray who you are, and the best way to portray your personality is with clothing you’re already used to wearing (Disclaimer: Liar liar pants on fire-I recently obtained that green dress. Everything else, however, has been in my closet at least two months). Go through your closet, man. Find what you’re comfortable in-both physically and emotionally. Find confidence in how these outfits make you look. Find strength in yourself. Pose in the mirror to get a feel for how you pose and see if you can pinpoint any angles you want to show off to the camera when the time comes. Make it into a celebration of you.

If you want to find something a little new to you but don’t want to spend any cash, see if anything your parents have

A) fits you,


B) is worth wearing (once again, comfortable physically and emotionally).

If you don’t fit in your mom’s clothes but love her jewelry, accessorize like mad. If you don’t relate to your dad’s general aesthetic but you love his hats, wear the darn things.

If you really want something new, go for it. Thrift stores are great places to go for unique finds at gloriously low prices, but you knew that already. What you may not know is that local thrift stores have an even more unique selection of items at an even cheaper cost (Africa’s Child, anyone? Most shirts: $2; Most pants: $4-compared to the average Goodwill price of $4 for any shirt).

Once you’ve decided your red-carpet look(s), you’re on to-

The Face:

If you’re one who prefers a bare face (most males and some really lucky/confident females), feel free to skip this part.

If you’re one who enjoys plastering your face with cosmetics and calling it art, listen up.

You are a talented human being. You have talented human beings around you. If you don’t trust yourself with your own face or if you want to pamper yourself, I’m sure that you’ve noticed someone at school whose look has stunned you on more than one occasion. Hit them up. Nobody is going to take offense or think it’s ‘creepy’ if you compliment their skills and request their handiwork upon your face. I can’t guarantee that they’ll agree or supply their goods and services without a fee, but it will definitely be cheaper than a professional studio.

Take, for example, this girl’s gorgeous face:


Rachel has her makeup routine down pat. She knows what she likes on her face, what she would never be seen dead with on her face, and who she trusts with said face. I was lucky enough to be trusted with the task of making her a little extra glow-y for her glamour shots.

You have resources everywhere-there’s a 100% chance you can find someone at school. Just pick them out of the crowd. Us makeup geeks love when people compliment what we do because we view it as an art form rather than a cosmetic gimmick. You’re helping us train for ourselves and others, and the conversations that are guaranteed to arise during the time we’re adorning your face might just bring us closer together. You’ll get a great photo and a neat friendship out of it.

Once you’re ready for the big day, it’s time to choose-

The Venue:

This part isn’t too difficult. The monetary requirements here are little to none anyway, but try to make sure that your background isn’t populated with other people. It’s time to focus on you.

Now that that little tidbit is over, it’s time to cut down on the highest expense of them all:

The Photographer:

Lucas asked me to take his photos, and I honestly think I may have been more thankful that he requested my service than he was thankful that I agreed.

You have friends. Your parents have friends. These friends may own some higher-grade cameras. Chances are, those that own higher-grade cameras value IMG_7787higher-grade photography and strive to take quality photographs. If this is indeed the case, you might be able to manage a discounted price for their services due to their status as an amateur photographer and occupation as your comrade.

If it just so happens that your friend is as desperate for experience and photos for their portfolio as I am (or is just a kind soul, as in both of my cases-gee whiz), you may end up getting your photos taken for the low cost of absolutely nothing. They’re helping you out by supporting you financially, and you’re helping them out by providing a fantastic subject, training model, and experience for their portfolio. It goes both ways.

If your photographer is also a skilled editor, you might be able to squeeze a little more of their time out of them for the same reasons stated above. The photographer who shot the group I went with for Prom edits her own photos and does a phenomenal job.

Makenzie Hutchings directed, shot, and edited fantastic group photos for #2k15 Prom.

Ultimately, of course, your photos will be what you make of them. Finding a photographer you’re comfortable with will make posing organically easier, but don’t request the services of a close friend simply for that reason. Consider their skill set, and if it isn’t up to par with your standards, they’ll never be the wiser, but make sure they know you value their friendship. Bring them along, even. Their presence could warm you up to your photographer faster than otherwise, and you could be showing off those genuine pearly whites in no time.

Much love,


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