Capturing a picture-perfect senior year


Source: Kacey Doyle, Kacey D. Photography / Art by Valeria Velasquez

Ji-Sung Lee

[dropcap style=”light”]I[/dropcap]t was early July, a whole month before the beginning of the school year and 10 months before the graduating class would receive diplomas, but Elinor Stanley had already taken her senior portraits.  To Stanley, getting professional pictures helps highlight the last stage before adulthood.  
“[These photos] are supposed to show a person as they were before in time, before they start their future,” Stanley said. “It’s not like taking a normal picture. It’s a picture that is supposed to capture a favorite hobby, passion or just the skin you’re in.”
Stanley believes senior pictures can boost confidence by allowing individuals to see themselves at their best.  Like Stanley, professional photographer Kacey Doyle thinks these images capture a crucial phase in a teen’s life because seniors are at a transitional moment.
“These portraits are the last ones a lot of people have until they get married,” Doyle said.  “This means these are the portraits that you will look back on and remember high school.”
But it is more than noting what clothes one wore or the tangible evidence that comes from the picture itself.  Doyle is certain that the experience at a photoshoot is an integral part of the process in and of itself.
“You’ll remember how you felt at your shoot, how it felt to share them with your friends and family and all the things that were going on in your life senior year,” Doyle said. “Right now you’ll look at them and love how good you look and how they make you feel, but ten, twenty, thirty years from now, they’ll be a flashback that you share with your future family. It’s a moment in time that you can’t get back.”
Although Doyle specializes in photography and has made a career out of it, teens such as senior Billie Huang, who enjoy photography have found themselves taking other’s senior portraits on the side.
“I’ve always enjoyed photography and had a pretty good camera and lenses,” senior Billie Huang said.  “But I didn’t realize that I could actually make money off photography or have a client base until this summer.  I started with casual photos, which were posted on social media.  From then on it was just word of mouth and reaching out to people. I had a client ask if I did senior photos and I was kinda taken aback since I’ve never done anything ‘professional’ before, but they actually turned out really well.”
Huang believes advantages lie in having a friend take the pictures; she said knowing the client’s style and personality makes the process not seem like work.
“So far, all of my clients are people that I know or have met before,” Huang said. “I feel it’s a good time not just for me but the client as well since we’re more comfortable with each other and can joke around during the session. They’re more comfortable to be themselves and pose the way they want when someone they know is behind the camera.”
As professional and hobby photographers are growing in numbers, Doyle said taking senior portraits have grown in popularity too.  They encourage students to take photos that express themselves.  Seniors are now more involved in planning their sessions, and they have an eye for a specific style of photos.
[quote]“It used to be that you would book your session, take two outfits and show up at a brick and mortar studio for portraits where you sat in front of a backdrop and had an awkward pose and a forced smile,” Doyle said.  “That just doesn’t cut it anymore.”[/quote] While these portraits require significant pre-planning, junior Zainab Ibitoye looks forward to celebrating the end of high school.  She believes these pictures capture students in an environment they value, while also showing off their personality.
“I don’t think senior pictures are overrated for what they are,” Ibitoye said. “If people want the ‘typical high school experience,’ then 100 percent go for it.”
For students willing to go through the process of getting professional photos, sessions can include hobbies such as sports, music and dance, and can be shot at multiple locations. Doyle said hair and makeup is also a big part of the experience.  Outfit consultations are also planned so that the locations and clothing compliment each other. As a professional photographer whose job it is to captures people’s stories, Doyle believes it is a start-to-finish service. Not only do professional photographers possess talent, but their expertise is often unmatched, especially when compared to amateurs.
“You probably have a number of friends who can take a cute picture of you on their camera or phone,” Doyle said.  “So why work with a professional? My clients want to know that their images will be unique and something they could never create on their own.”
Doyle delivers this level of professionalism by offering head to toe posing, airbrushing, dramatic lighting and vivid colors.
“There’s no wondering where to put your hands, if your hair is out of place or if that blemish that popped up the day of that shoot will ruin your photos,” Doyle said. “Senior portraits are definitely an investment and are completely worth it.  Do your research, and find the perfect photographer that can create the kind of images you will want to share now and look back on later.”
Do you think senior portraits are worth the time and money? Let us know in the comments below.