What should I expect to spend on Senior Pictures?

I have gotten lots of emails asking that question. It's difficult to answer because costs vary by location (metro or rural areas) and by photographer (professional, chain studio, weekend 'digital Debbie').

Most HIgh School Seniors spend a total national average of $1200 for Senior Portraits. That figure was provided by the Senior Portrait Photographers Guild in July of 2008. That figure includes total costs. Retouching, Location fees, Prints, Frames, Graduation Stationery, and Shipping.

Many folks like to say "ouch!" when I tell them the figure... but let's be honest! I always reply with the question "How much did you spend on Clothes alone for back-to-school wear?" Your student's Senior Pictures will remain a longer lasting representation of this time in their life much, much longer than the Hollister T-Shirts you bought them or the Lucky Brand jeans they wore for half a semester.

Digital Senior Pictures

Greetings! I want to let you all know that I have a new addition to our main website seniorpicturesonline.com in the works... DIGITAL SENIOR PICTURES. We all know by now that digital photography is here to stay and I have a few things I'd like to let you in on. Just because your photographer owns a nice camera, doesn't mean they know how to use it. I've gotten too many emails from parents and seniors alike telling me how bad their "digital" senior pictures are... Funny, but it turns out, it's not the digital camera making the bad senior photographs after all... It's the PHOTOGRAPHER! Poor technique, coupled with even worse knowledge of Adobe PhotoShop, will ruin your senior picture experience faster than you can say "megapixel". Visit seniorpicturesonline for the full article soon. :)

PS>Search for Photographers and Other Resources Here.

Reply to a Mom's Email

(This is a copy of recent correspondence from one of our readers. She OK'd us to post it on our blog for everyone to see. I thought it was a good question!)


"Dear R.B.,
My daughter hasn't even finished with her Junior year and she's already bugging me about her senior pictures. When do these kids get them taken? This is my first Senior. I have been researching online about High School Senior Pictures for a little while now and haven't found any site that really explains this. Any answer is appreciated."- Tracey C., Champagne IL


Every region in the US seems to have it's own "tradition". I have friends on the east coast who don't start shooting senior pictures until the fall, but many areas are already photographing 2009 graduates by mid-May prior to Graduation of the previous class. I'm guessing that your daughter already has a place in mind and it's probably because of seeing all her Senior 2008 friends' pictures. Once a student's Junior year is over, they consider themselves officially "Seniors" and it's great that she's excited about it. Early Summer is a great time to get outdoor portraits, too. The weather is generally cooler than July and August and the flowers and grass haven't been beat down by the summer heat yet. Also, if your new Senior has summer job, school, or travel commitments - it's good to get her Senior Pictures out of the way before school starts. Most photography studios offer "early bird" discounts for summer sessions and orders. Thanks for contacting us. I hope that helps you!- R. B., Senior Pictures Online . com

Happy Mothers Day

Hi everyone! Wishing you a good day to all our readers, friends, and contributors. We've also added some information in Ordering Senior Pictures section of our website, www.seniorpicturesonline.com - enjoy!
Search for the right photographer or studio in your area by using our senior picture search site.

Smiling for Senior Pictures: Do or Don't?

Another posing tip to remember is that you don’t always have to smile. You should have a good variety of smiling and serious expressions. But, sometimes you will want to give a large, open-mouthed laugh. If you are supposed to be happy, look the part! "Your Eyes are the Windows to Your Soul" You don’t always have to look straight into the camera. When you cut your eyes to the left or right, you create an air of mystery. When you look up and away, you are annoyed. Tilt your chin slightly down and look straight ahead for a "fashion" look.Visit the Senior Pictures Online website for more tips...

Posing for Senior Pictures: Valuable Advice

When posing you can keep good posture (unless the photographer instructs you to do otherwise) by holding your stomach in to give your abdomen a more toned appearance and keeping your shoulders back, but relaxed. If you are worried about your face appearing heavy, just bring your chin forward a little to avoid the appearance of a double chin in your photos. (Try that in the mirror and you'll see what I mean...) Keep your fingers slightly apart and pointed away from the lens. Let your hands fall naturally into position whenever possible. Remember your nail polish, ladies! A good photographer will remind you to do this during your session, too.


Always listen to what the photographer tells you. But, if you are really uncomfortable with a pose, POLITELY let your photographer know how you feel, a truly great photographer will listen. Remember, if your photographer is a trained professional, and he/she will not appreciate "UGH, this feels dumb" or "Eew, I hate that" comments. Negativity will show up in your images and will come back to haunt you when it's time to order your images... Believe me, photographers will not budge an inch on prices or give "extra perks" when it's time to sit down at the bargaining table and your senior has been less than pleasant to work with. Besides, a professional photographer will know what looks good and what doesn't, but they should be receptive to your ideas, too.

Avoid doing this during your Senior Pictures

Don’t hold your breath during a pose. Stay relaxed and your photos will look as if you just happened to be sitting this way when the photographer walked up.

In most pose situations you want your arms, legs, wrists, etc. slightly bent unless you are directed to do otherwise Most people don’t stand or sit with their arms and legs completely stiff. A good point to remember is, if it will bend, bend it.

More Tips on Posing for Senior Pictures

Don't forget about what to do with your hands and pay attention to facial expressions. Ever watched the movie "Zoolander"??? A pose is virtually dead and unimaginative without a “look” (doesn't have to be "Magnum" either. :D). You should be able to close your eyes, imagine a thought, open your eyes and project that thought. Practice this and your photos will come alive.


(In a general response to some e-mails we have received) Keep in mind this site is not meant to get you awesome Senior Pictures for pennies on the dollar. We're here to help those who wish to make an investment in good portraits and save money doing it. Getting the most for your money is what we intend to help you with, if you are spending $200,000 or $200. But don't expect to get Ansel Adams or Anne Geddes for $5.99. It won't matter how much money you save by going the "cheapest" route if your son or daughter is too embarrassed to hand out them out. Your family won't tell you to your face what a cheapskate you are when you hand them an ink-jet copy you scanned from a proof and that you acted like you did them a favor by giving them one. Believe it! I've got that uncle... even Grandma knew the difference!

Posing Tips for Senior Pictures

When preparing for your photo session, there are numerous steps you can take to ensure you are comfortable while posing and your photos will look more natural. Get Posing Ideas From Your Favorite Magazines a few days before you head to your photographer's studio, pick at least ten or twelve poses you really like from fashion or teen magazines, or poses you’ve seen from your friend's sessions. Practice your poses in front of a mirror until you feel comfortable and have the confidence of knowing you look great.


Nobody chooses their hairstylist based on price alone, so why do that with a photographer? Prices vary by market, quality, and level of experience. Here is what you should expect to pay on national average - $1500. Your area will vary. Most families who put forth effort to better their senior picture experience will spend more on average. Mostly because the results are far superior. Here is a simple suggestion. Listen to what your students friends say. Teenagers know who has got the best style from seeing friends photographs over the term of their high school career. Word of mouth is usually correct when it comes to senior portraits. Don't call around either. Photographers are very guarded about their prices and you may set yourself up for a disappointment when you finally arrive at the studio and see their "real" prices. My free advice is to set up a visit to the studio with your student. If you like what you see and hear, book ASAP to make sure you get the time you need. SEE MY POST ON PRICES & POLICIES

Meet your Photographer

Meet with and Gain a Rapport with Your Photographer Early:
Always work with a photographer you feel you can trust. This will make communication between the two of you easier and give you the confidence to express your own ideas. I suggest making a non-photography appointment to meet your photographer before your session. Some studios call this a consultation and may incur a small fee, but it will be worth it. If your studio cannot offer a consultation with a specific photographer, a visit to the studio to see how things look is good too. Look for things like: "Is the lobby/waiting area clean?", "Do the other customers seem happy/dissatisfied?", "Is the Staff polite?". This may seem like you're looking for a new doctor, but these are little things that can tell a lot about the company's people and they way they take care of things. :)

About Photo Studio Policies

Today's lesson deals with some aspects of photography studio policies.
First: * READ ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHERS PRICES AND POLICIES THOROUGHLY PRIOR TO YOUR SESSION OR BOOKING! * This will avoid costly mistakes, hidden fees, and additional charges. Never assume anything! Not all studios work the same way. Things to watch for: Retakes & Refund policies, Retouching, Shipping & Delivery fees, Proofing & Deposits, Session fees apply to order, and so on... Note that Session fees are a legitimate fee by most pro studios and usually do not apply to your order. If you find a studio who will apply the amount, don't instantly assume it's a better deal (especially if their photography isn't up to par). You get what you pay for... :)

New Blog Today!

Greetings old and new readers! We have just moved our old forum into this new Blog! It should be much easier to read and to use. Along with our website, www.seniorpicturesonline.com, you will find hints and tips on getting the most out of your Senior Picture experience. Hopefully, you will find a good photographer using our PREFERRED list and using our tips and tricks to getting you the most awesome senior pictures. For the next month, our PREFERRED photographer list will be free to view for non-members.
Our site www.seniorpicturesonline.com is also a great free reference for preparing for Senior Pictures, but will be up and down for a couple days to restyle for the 2009 Season. So if all you see are links and ads, don't sweat! We'll have it back up soon, so just check back when you get a minute or two. :)
As always, we post free tips about Hair and Makeup, Posing, outfits, choosing the right photographer/studio, what to expect, how to budget, and general facts about the Senior Picture Industry. This Blog is moderated by industry professionals each with over 16 years of experience and a couple "Moms who've been there". We'll give you the edge on How to Make the Best of Your Senior Portraits and save you hundred of dollars in costly mistakes and "traps" that photographers use to pad their wallets.
This site is about you, the consumer, and we want to make your experience the best it can be. Your son or daughter will only be a Senior once and Senior Pictures should be a priority in remembering that time in their lives. Many studies have shown that better photographs enhance the students self-esteem as well and make them more assured and confident. Not everyone is a supermodel, but EVERYONE has beauty that is their own, and a real professional photographer should bring those qualities out in EVERY student they photograph. By following our guidelines and suggestions, you'll hold the key to bringing a better level of service and professionalism to your Senior's photography experience.
Enjoy our Blog and Visit Often! :D