Senior Portrait FAQ

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There’s a lot to know about your senior year.

One of the decisions you’ll need to make is where to have your senior portrait taken. These “Once in a Lifetime” portraits mark the transition from childhood into adulthood. They will remain in your family for a very long time.  It is important to understand your options, so you can choose wisely.

You have many choices! That’s good, but it can also be very confusing.

Looking for “Just the Basics”?

Seniors who are interested in covering the basics in their senior portraits may consider our “Senior Express” option which offers a smaller, limited session with lower prices.

Want to know about different options for your Senior Portrait Photoshoots?

Check out the Senior Session Guide.

Here are the straight answers to the most common questions we get about Senior Portrait Photography.

#1 Don’t you have to get your pictures from the school picture company?


New Jersey public schools are required by law to accept outside photographs, as long as they meet yearbook standards. You do not have to go to the school picture company, even for your yearbook picture. We have been providing area schools with compliant yearbook photos for more than 30 years.
Private schools, and schools in other states, may require that your yearbook shot be from a designated studio, but they cannot require you to purchase anything. You are always free to choose any studio you want for your own senior portraits.
When selecting a studio, check that they can meet your schools requirements for yearbook submissions. Keep in mind that a photographer who does not have a studio and only shoots outdoors in public parks in all likelihood will NOT be able to provide what is needed.

#2 How much does it cost? I’ve heard it’s expensive.

Every photographer is different and charges differently.

You’ve probably already heard a lot about Dennis Kelly Photography. Some things are true, like we do amazing work. Some are not, like you must spend a lot to come here!
The truth is, what you decide to spend is completely up to you. Although many of our clients love their portraits so much, they do invest a lot, we also have other clients that spend much less. We are not the cheapest, but ask yourself, “Is the cheapest photographer really who I want for my senior portraits?

Remember, things of value always cost a little more, because they are worth more! Before considering a photographer who offers a seemingly very low price, ask yourself why they think their work isn’t worth very much!

Things to look for when comparing photographers:

Do you see them using the exact same poses and backgrounds over and over and over?
Does it seem like everyone gets the same pictures as everyone else, only the faces change?
Do their pictures look off-color…  like a bad spray tan?
Do the expressions look natural, or does everyone seem to have a fake, cheesy smile?
Does the retouching look natural, like an actual human, or does the face look plastic and over-photoshopped? Here’s a hint… real people have pores!
Are the sessions limited to what THEY want to shoot, or will they go to your dance studio, hockey rink, basketball court or gym?
Do their sports pictures look incredibly awesome, like Dennis Kelly’s, or kind of lame, like a dude hugging a football?
Do their cap and gowns look like somebody slept in them, all wrinkled and sloppy, or crisp and neat like Dennis Kelly’s?
Do their pictures look like Dennis Kelly’s, or just like someone trying to copy Dennis Kelly?  You can tell the difference.
If you compare the images… which is what you are really paying for, you will find that nobody compares to Dennis Kelly when it comes to creativity, originality, and quality!

#3 Why shouldn’t I just pick the cheapest place?

It depends on what you are looking for.

The giant school picture companies work on huge volumes. Because of that, you probably won’t find cheaper prices anywhere. But, what you give up for that cheaper price is service, creativity, and quality. Your photographer will likely only be  permitted to take about 4 to 6 minutes to do all your shots. You will get a limited selection of poses and every one will be exactly the same as the person before and after you in the line.

If price is your main concern, this will undoubtedly be your cheapest option. There is nothing wrong with that, just as long as your expectations aren’t too high.

At Dennis Kelly, we simply don’t work that way. It’s just not what we do.

At Dennis Kelly, every session here is individualized so that we capture not just your face, but your  personality.  This is crucial to understanding why portraits here require more time, and cost a bit more, than shots from a high volume school picture company. It’s like the difference between a nice restaurant and a fast food place.

#4 When should these portrait be taken? I haven’t even begun senior year yet. What’s the rush?

Senior portraits are typically taken during the spring and summer BEFORE the start of your senior year.

This is because the deadline for your school to submit the senior portrait section of the yearbook to the printing company is typically in the early Fall. That is why it is important to have your  portraits completed BEFORE school starts up again after Labor Day. Trust us on this one… every year we have families who end up paying unnecessary rush charges because they waited too long.

#5 But I want to wait until I have a tan!

No, no, no!

First of all, we can give your skin a nice healthy color and glow using our skills in lighting and processing. Secondly, a dark tan sucks up the light and actually makes your skin look dry and unhealthy. Lastly, the drape that most schools require for the yearbook picture for girls shows bare shoulders, which means tan lines! If you have a sunburn, are peeling, or have recently peeled, your pictures will not look good! Trust us on this… save your skin and let us handle the tan!

#6 Everyone who goes to Dennis Kelly looks great, but what if I don’t look like a supermodel?

We make everyone look their best, its what we do.

And, we do it better than anyone. Dennis is a PPA Master Photographer and Photographic Craftsman, degrees earned by less than 6% of photographers worldwide. He has over 30 years of  EXPERIENCE, so he knows how to use posing, lighting, and all the other skills to bring out your very best features! That’s something you simply won’t get at other places.

PLUS, our style is always interesting, fresh, and exciting.  Year after year after year, WE are the TRENDSETTER that the other studios try to copy, because Dennis is really good at what he does!

#7 What’s the difference between a “Session Fee” and a “Portrait Package”?

There are two different types of costs involved in the senior portrait process:

Session fees are charged for doing the actual photoshoot, and all the work associated with it. These fees will naturally vary according to how involved you want your photoshoot to be.  At Dennis Kelly, your photoshoot will be about what YOU want, not what the studio wants you to have.

You can download our Senior Portrait Session Guide to get an idea of all the different ways you can structure your senior photoshoot, from just the basics to very elaborate, we are the place to get the very best images available!

Portrait sales, or packages, are determined by what you actually want to purchase in the way of prints, albums, collages, frames, etc. Everyone has different needs and different budgets, but there is something for almost everyone. At Dennis Kelly. the actual cost is determined totally by what YOU decide to purchase.

At other studios you may be forced into a package that contains items you don’t really need or want. Not here!  In reality, the most expensive portraits are ones you paid for but didn’t love! The ability to completely customize your package and still take advantage of package discounts is one of the unique features of Dennis Kelly Photography.

#8 My friend/mom/neighbor/cousin… has a good digital camera. Why shouldn’t I just let them take the picture?

Because a good camera doesn’t take a good portrait, a talented, trained, and experienced photographer does.

Would you let someone cut your hair because they had a nice pair of scissors? A camera is only as good as it’s operator, think before you trust your once in a lifetime memories to an inexperienced photographer.

#9 What if they don’t turn out, or I don’t like them?

At Dennis Kelly your satisfaction is guaranteed!

With the school picture company, you’ll usually have to pay for a retake. Other studios may have similar policies, but you’d need to check what their policies are. Here, if you’re not happy with your portraits when you see your previews, (which almost never happens!) if the problem can’t be fixed, we’ll do more poses at no charge or refund your money. When you receive your finished portraits, if something isn’t right, let us know within 3 business days and we will get it fixed, even if we have to completely remake the order, or refund your money. You are never at risk of being dissatisfied.

There are so MANY reasons you should choose Dennis Kelly!

And, making an appointment couldn’t be easier.

Just give us a call at 856-228-4399 and we will take it from there!

We Do Extraordinary