How to Choose a Senior Portrait Photographer

How to select the perfect senior photographer for YOU!

We hope that Ridgeway is the perfect senior photographer for you, but perhaps we are not. Selecting the RIGHT senior photographer is an important decision and making a bad choice can leave you frustrated or unhappy.

These 10 tips give you an idea of what to consider when making your selection. If these tips lead you to being a Ridgeway senior, we would love to have you part of our senior family. However, if we are not your best fit, you might be happiest with another studio for what you desire.

At Ridgeway, we offer a free studio tour and planning session and we will answer all of your questions to make sure we are the photographer for you! 


1. Do Your Homework- The first thing you’re going to want to do is a generic Google search. Use keywords like “high school senior portrait photographer” or “high school senior portrait photography” along with the town/city you live in. Typically, the search results that show up on the first two pages are a good place to start. Take a look at the websites of the photographers and check out their work. We then recommend that you pick your most favorite 2 or 3 and schedule a visit to their studios to meet the people and find out more.

2. Does your school tell you which yearbook photographer to go to?- Some schools like to work with ONE photographer for their yearbook photos. This makes them more alike, which looks good in the yearbook. However, everybody looking the same is probably NOT what you want! If your school says you must use XYZ Studio for your yearbook, that's fine, but you can go to the photographer of your choice to purchase your senior photos. This way you find someone who is a better match, and your photos are not all the exact same as everyone else at your school.

3. Does the photographers style fit YOU? - Some photographers can offer a lot of styles, while others specialize in one certain look. Those who can do a wider range of looks can often give you more variety. So look at each photographers work and see if they can produce a style of work that you like.

4. Ask for a price list - Don't be afraid to ask for a price list, especially if budget is a concern of yours. Some people might hear "Kim spent $1000" but the important thing might be what did she GET for $1000? Typically, you can expect to spend anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for your senior portraits from a qualified and truly professional photographers with enough experience to produce the kind of results you want. Having a price list can also increase your awareness as to what your options are and what products are available.

5. CD or Prints? - This is a big question that is growing. Having electronic images is great for social media and such, but getting high quality prints that last is not easy. Most people do not think about the fact that photo/portrait printing is an art that takes a lot of experience to master. If you only get a disk, you might end up with drugstore prints that might start fading in 10 years. High quality studio prints will last much longer, which is important for life milestones like senior photos, wedding photos, etc. Ideally, you can get BOTH, high quality prints along with files to share on social media. 

6. Ask to see an entire session of images. - If you want quality photos and good variety, ask your photographer to see a complete photo shoot. This will let you know if this photographer takes lots of photos, but very few are really good or if they have a lot of variety and CONSISTENT quality. Can the photographer adapt to the changing light, outfits and poses? A good photographer should be able to show 30-60 images that are all different, with varied lighting, varied looks and they all look good. Is there enough of a selection, for your taste and desires?

7. See what products are available - Make sure your photographer offers a good variety of products for you to choose from. If you love many of your photos, do they have a way for you to get them all? Albums are a great way to showcase a variety and can tell a story that will be priceless later in life. Wall decor is great for mom to have at home once you leave. There are so many cool things available now; they may have stuff you love that you didn't even know you can get!

8. What services does your photographer include, and charge extra for? - Some photographers have a cheap base price to lure you in, but then charge extra for everything. Want another pose, that costs more. Want your skin retouched, that costs extra. By the time you include all the add-ons, the photographer you thought was a good value might end up costing as much as a better photographer would have, but your images aren't as good.

9. Is Your Potential Photographer A True Professional? - Be sure to ask the photographer how many years they have been in business. Do they have insurance if something happened? Does the photographer have an organized way that they do business or does it feel like they are “winging it.” When you talk to your photographer, what is their level of passion? Are they excited to work with you? Do the two of you connect? Does the photographer have a lot of ideas prepared for your shoot? Again, the potential photographer’s experience goes a long way. In this day and age, photographers are a dime a dozen touting themselves as “professional” photographers when in reality they are far from a professional. They may have the social skills to pull off the facade of being a professional, but the work they produce is mediocre at best and often times their clients are sadly disappointed with their portraits. It is important to make sure that your photographer is a real pro when you are paying for your photos!

10. How good do people look? - Keep in mind, any photographer is going to show their best work on their website and in their marketing. So if their best is just OK, keep looking. Does the color look real and beautiful? Or is everything fake, photo-shopped color? Is the retouching enough without the skin looking plastic and fake? Did they use lighting to make people look their best? Are they posed in a flattering manner? These are all important, because if the people on the website don't look good, you probably won't either!