Your Senior Photos are Important… here’s what you need to know

Senior Portraits are a Rite of Passage.

Sadly for most, it means a 15 minute trip to the school gym or cafeteria for a series of rather boring and awkward poses that a “photographer” has been trained to crank out like a robot.

But, like it or not, your senior pictures are going to stay in your family FOREVER! It’s kind of a big deal.

fusco-6012-2It’s a cultural thing. It’s what we do.

So, why not have something better than what you can get from the school picture company, the mall baby photographer, or a friend of a friend who’s cousin is a “photographer”?

Statistically, your senior pictures will likely be the last time you will be professionally photographed until you get MARRIED… and your senior portrait marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. They ARE important.

Most people don’t really even know what to look for in a good senior portrait, so they settle for something they may hate, simply because they don’t know any better. It’s a shame, because in many cases it really doesn’t cost much more to have something you will actually LOVE, and be proud to share with your family and friends as your permanent remembrance of your journey through high school.

Unfortunately, we see an awful lot of not so great photography these days. It seems like everyone with a digital camera is a “photographer” and the time honored tradition of studying with a master photographer to learn the craft, which takes years, is disappearing.


Even something as seemingly simple as the traditional “yearbook pose” is suffering from this lack of skill and professionalism.

Here are some things to look for before deciding where to spend your money on Senior Portrait Photography:

  • Your senior yearbook portrait is determined to a large extent by your school’s yearbook requirements.
  • Most schools in our area still require a traditional head and shoulders formal portrait on a simple background with girls in black drape and boys in tuxedo jackets. Some schools have more relaxed policies and will allow regular everyday clothing, but most do not.
  • If you are considering a photographer that only shoots “on location”, like at a local park or something, and does not have a studio, they most likely will not have the ability to provide what your school requires.

Some things to look for in the traditional yearbook portrait:

Is the color realistic?

Skin tones should look like skin, but poor color is so common in many portraits created today. Why? Because since the advent of digital photography, the color of the finished images is 100% in the hands of the photographer, rather than in the hands of a professional finishing lab where color experts would color correct each image during the printing stage.

Balmores-9701bIf you see skin tones that look orange, like a bad spray tan, or blue or greenish like an anemic person, that’s not good!

Seems like an obvious thing, but I see professional pictures that look like this on social media every single day… you do too.

Is the retouching believable?

Nobody wants to have a zit showing in their senior portraits, so photographers routinely apply retouching to remove skin blemishes and fix little things like stray hairs and stuff.

Balmores-9701cBut many photographers today get carried away with all the stuff they can do in Photoshop, or they rely on a one click filter that removes all the lines, pores, and contours of your face, that the pictures no longer resemble a human. Here’s a hint… real people have pores.

Why are you falling over??

petrongoloaOk, there is a principal in photography that says the center of interest in a photo is more compelling when the subject is off center. This is true. But there are limits. If you unconsciously want to tip your head when you look at the picture, or feel like the subject is about to fall over… that’s not a good thing.

IMG_2906Does your cap and gown picture look professional?

If you are doing cap and gown pictures (many kids these days don’t) how do they look? Here is the truth, the cap and gown garments that the school provides you on graduation day are throw away items that frankly do not photograph well. The material is cheap, they wrinkle, have a shiny look that doesn’t photograph well, and the caps look like you slept in them the day before.

Unfortunately,  these are the same garments that most photographers use to photograph you in, because they are cheap and widely available. Yuk.

Ours are made specifically for photography. They are manufactured with great quality, heavy weight material that holds a pressing and photographs beautifully. They are expensive! You get what you pay for! Our graduation caps are made from a hard shell construction that looks good AND doesn’t crush your hair.

We know, we know… cap and gown photos are dorky… but if your folks insist that they absolutely NEED one, wouldn’t you at least want it to look decent?

Sports or Activity Portraits.

Most kids today choose to show something unique about themselves in their senior portraits. If they play a sport, do an activity, play an instrument… you want that to be part of your “story” that you can tell your kids and grandkids about later. But is a dude hugging a football on a studio backdrop really what you want?  Our sports and activities portraits look like they are right out of the pages of Sports Illustrated. Compare our work to what you see elsewhere. There IS a difference… a BIG difference!


There are many other things to consider as well:

  • Will the studio allow you to split your session up over several days so you can do different hairstyles?
  • Do they give you the option of having your hair and makeup done professionally by someone who knows how to do makeup for photography?
  • Do they meet with you before your shoot, and before you have paid a dime, to find out about you, what you are interested in doing, what your personality is like?
  • Do they know how posing, lighting, and composition all have to work together to produce flattering photos… and that this is different for each and every person?
  • Do they help you with suggestions for clothing, hair, makeup and tell you about things to avoid that could wreck your photos… like the one article of clothing that can make you appear 20 pounds heavier in your pictures?
  • Do they only offer standard sessions and poses, and everyone gets basically the same thing, or will they customize your session to exactly what you want? Do all their pictures look pretty much the same?
  • Do they update their props, backgrounds, and settings or do you see the same looks over and over, year after year?
  • Do they help you with making your selections, meet with you personally to answer your questions, and make suggestions on products that will fit your needs? Or, do they just send you to a website of proofs and make you fend for yourself?
  • Do they offer an unconditional guarantee?
  • Do their images and reputation really compare to Dennis Kelly?

For more information about how to get the very best senior portraits, including complete information on session options, pricing and package information, and more on what makes Dennis Kelly Photography different than all the others, visit our Senior Portrait Information Page. Or, pick up the phone and schedule a no cost, no obligation, one on one consultation. 856-228-4399







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