Top Five things to know before booking Senior Pictures

Finding a photographer for Senior Pictures can seem like a daunting task. Finding out that you did not get all of the pictures you wanted, receiving pictures that you did not want or not getting the services you expected are all major concerns in making this decision. I have been photographing Seniors for over ten years, my intent in writing this is that you go into your session having asked the right questions, have a clear understanding of what you are paying for, what you will receive and that you know you have made a good choice that fits your expectations, style and budget.

How much should this cost?

After researching 11 local photographers (myself included) here are the three most common business structure/packages offered. Keep in mind these are not exact offerings but summations and specific details vary from photographer to photographer.  

Shoot and Share 


A photographer with a "shoot and share" price structure provides all digital files to the client. The number of images delivered may be high but the consistency and overall quality of the images may not be of the tier of an experienced photographer.

Photos/files delivered on a thumb drive, download site. 

Print at a local store/pharmacy or upload to online printer

Established Packages 


Bracketed/Tier packages include a specific number of digital files, prints, or other products for a set price. This structure is straight forward if you are aware of all options. Details to look for include: black and white files, additional editing cost, final gallery selection process and print rites.

Photos/files delivered per private online gallery or thumb drive

Order prints per online gallery/download print locally

Sitting Fee/ Ala Carte 


A sitting fee style photographer charges a fee for the session/sitting and then offers prints or digital files for purchase at an additional cost. While the initial cost of a sitting fee may seem low, this is due to your final cost being determined by the amount of images and product you select from a Proof Gallery or Finished Gallery presented by the photographer in studio (or online) at a later date.

Order Prints/artwork through studio only at studio rates

Purchased photos/files available per download/thumb drive


Due to schedule demand and limited seasons (specifically Autumns), some photographers require a deposit to hold the Session date. This is common and can generally range from 10% to 25% of their total fee.

Before paying a deposit verify the photographers cancellation policy and if the deposit is refundable. It is important to know what the photographer constitutes as an emergency cancellation and what negates your rite to a refund.

Proof Galleries

A proof gallery lets you review all pictures offered by the photographer from your session. Not all photographers provide a proof gallery. Some shoot the exact amount of images per their package, others over shoot and pick the best of the shots to deliver while others shoot at volume with higher sales in mind.

Will I Need a Proof Gallery?

If you are choosing your photographer based on their style and portfolio it is safe to assume you trust their level of quality and have clear expectations of the images they will deliver without having to see every single frame.

If you know you would like a specific number of images and would like to choose from every image from the session you should consider the Sitting Fee/Ala Carte photographer.

Types of Proof Galleries

Two common types of proof galleries are: online and in person. Online galleries are generally offered with watermarked images for you to review for a limited time. In-person proof galleries generally require an appointment.


Check online reviews from previous clients (Google and Facebook) to get an idea of the photographer's professionalism, communication skills, and overall quality of work. This can help you gauge whether the photographer is reliable and able to deliver what you're looking for.

Always take negative reviews with a grain of salt as well, if there is an abundance of negative reviews, steer clear. If there are only one or two; weigh the odds. Keep in mind you wouldn’t pick someone with fifteen negative reviews and one positive review, in the same way you may not want to disregard someone with ten good reviews and one negative.


Whether in person, by phone or by video chat a consultation is the most important part of your Session. This is your first opportunity to get acquainted with your photographer and verify they are the right professional for you. 

After the consultation you should know:

Session: duration, locations, cost

Pictures: quantity of pictures, access to digital files, additional editing costs, printing rites, available print services

Policy: Deposit Fee, Cancellation Fee, Refund Policy, location fees, permit fees

Time Frame: Posting/Delivery of a Preview gallery, Delivery of proof Gallery, Delivery of Edited files, Delivery of printed files

Where to Start? When do I book? What to wear?

Senior Sessions can be a bit intimidating because of the level of comfort and confidence most people have in front of a camera, the investment being made for the session and the over all value of the experience. Then there are the additional factors of posing, locations, wardrobe and style as well.

To help you with these questions and concerns I have put together a few articles to inform, inspire and encourage you.

5 great Detroit locations for Senior Pictures

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When do I Schedule my Senior Pictures?

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What to wear for your Senior Pictures

Choosing apparel for your Senior Pictures can seem stressful at first. Here's 9 simple tips to make great outfit choices for your Session Pictures.

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