• Sarah Nice

What to Expect: Senior Sessions

As it's been nothing but gloomy and rainy and foggy around here (but not as cold, thank goodness!), I'm deep in cabin fever. I can't wait for spring to arrive. And not only because it'll be warmer, but also because it'll provide prettier backdrops for portraits.

And spring is also the PERFECT time for senior sessions!

Senior sessions are perfect in the spring for many reasons:

  1. The temperatures are warming,

  2. The trees are budding and the flowers are blooming, but most importantly

  3. I can retouch your images and deliver your gallery in time for you to print for your graduation party!!

But the weather is still horrendous at times. March is notorious for its random heavy snowfall, for example. We might not get any all winter long, but March comes along and all of a sudden we're covered in white stuff. I'm secretly hoping that our one snowstorm last week is the only one we'll witness this season. Because I'm over it.

In Virginia, you never know exactly what you're going to get weather-wise. Not until the day of, usually. Our forecasts are so frequently incorrect that one must always have a Plan B in place for whatever is scheduled. Portrait sessions are no different.

TIP: If the forecast is calling for light showers and you're willing to be a little adventurous and different, bring a cute (preferably matching) set of rain boots and an umbrella, and let's make that rain work for us! (Note: In the case of heavier rain we will absolutely have to reschedule, as I need to keep my equipment safe and dry!)

I normally start booking my high school seniors this time of year for the upcoming spring months. If you're already interested, head over to the Photo page to view packages and pricing and contact me today. Sessions start at $250.

Not quite ready yet? Want to know more? Here's what you can expect.

For starters, regardless of the forecast (and mostly due to our fickle weather), I always request a "Rain Date" in addition to your chosen session date during busy months, so if you're planning on booking your senior session between April and May, keep this in mind. Because that's when we get alllll the rain. If you're interested in braving a session in March, that's fine too. Trees and flowers aren't in full-bloom yet, but I've definitely noticed some color already. I'll still ask that you book a Rain Date but it won't be as busy, so you won't be competing as hard for a good date.

My favorite month is April because the weather is beautiful - although my brother got married in April two years ago and they had rain, snow, and sleet all in one day. (Again, Virginia.) However, the majority of this month is filled with sunshine, light breezes, brief rainfall, luscious green grass, and so, so many flowers. I can already smell it.

I normally choose to shoot in Colonial Williamsburg because it's an extremely easy location to use. The entire Colonial area and College of William & Mary campus are mostly free to the public and I am not required to have a permit to shoot there. However, if you would like to use a different location, please specify at the time of booking. As long as it is local to Williamsburg you will not be charged a travel fee.

This garden is particularly one of my favorite shooting locations. It's a short walk from the William & Mary Bookstore, and large enough that at times I have chosen to spend an entire session within its borders. (Note: This is great for families with small children, as they can freely run around within the fenced area.)

These shots were taken in April last year of then high school senior Ashley. She turned out to be a fantastic model, but the greenery and flowers also added great pops of color to her photos. The rich, warm green tones were perfect in other locations as well. I just love the fences that surround this place. Many of them are smothered in vines like the one in the photo below, which ended up being perfect in the foreground.

A location like Colonial Williamsburg is perfect because it contains so much variety, which is a great thing for senior sessions. On one hand, you have that colonial vibe, but on the other, you still have plenty of areas that aren't. I make it a goal to avoid the colonial look as much as possible because that's not entirely what my clients are looking for.

I also encourage my clients to bring a change of clothes - especially seniors, and usually no more than three outfits - because it provides even more variety. Colonial Williamsburg also has plenty of restroom locations, which makes changing easier.

TIP: If your location is bland, such as a plain field or wooded area, bright solid colors will really help give your session that pop of color it's lacking. Patterns are okay, but are oftentimes more distracting and tend to take the attention away from the client.

I usually walk around with my seniors for an hour or longer, so variety is good no matter where you're shooting. The mustard and denim outfit on Ashley worked great in the garden and in more muted locations like on the white bench or the fencing.

When Ashley changed into her blue gingham wrap dress, I found this outfit looked better in simpler, shadier, more earthy locations that focused mostly on greenery and bright solid tones, such as these brick steps. This made the outfit - and the client on whom it was worn - shine.

This dress wouldn't have looked as great in the garden in my opinion because of its pattern. But on the subtle browns, greens, and reds, it really popped.

We moved on from this spot to another muted fenced area by one of the taverns. A lantern hung nearby, which I attempted to use in the foreground of these photos. But what I love the most about these two images is the pop of lime green on the trees. This just screams of new growth and spring to me, and I can almost feel the cool breeze we had that day just looking at them.

Another great part of this location is this huge tree bending in all directions over the fence. It was covered in ivy and created a makeshift seat for Ashley. The images below are some of my favorites from the entire session.

We were nearing almost an hour together at this point, so Ashley was finally getting more relaxed and showing me her goofy side. This is when I get the best smiles from any client - when they're comfortable. In this regard, it is important that our senior session isn't too brief. Although you are hiring me to perform a service, our overall end goal is to create images that highlight your senior's true personality. To do this requires time, and every client is different.

If your senior is shy, longer than an 30 minutes might be required. (Adding an extra 30 minutes to your session is just $50.) If they are more outgoing and willing to cooperate, 30 minutes might be more than enough. Ashley, for example, was shy in the first 30 minutes of our session. Towards the end, we were able to get her to smile and laugh more easily, which produced images like this outtake, which I still edited and gave to the client because it was so pure and silly.

But most importantly, it led to these two favorites.

We walked a little while after this until we found a stream nearby. It wasn't the greatest location. The sun was a little too harsh, which created a too-bright backdrop on the leaves. At this point I had gotten everything I needed to deliver a beautiful gallery to this client, but I had her sit for this anyway. Sometimes it's enough fun to simply let a client be in the moment.

As a photographer, at times it's still pretty enjoyable for me to watch you enjoy yourself, too.

If you're interested in booking a session for your high school senior, contact me today! I am now booking for spring. Sessions begin at $250.

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