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The senior portrait is a traditional rite of passage for a high school student. But senior portraits aren't what they used to be: staid, format portraits shot in front of a mottled gray background. These days, an effective senior portrait conveys the personality of its subject, and is often shot on-location or outdoors.
In this course, photographer and educator Derrick Story details the art and the process of modern senior portraiture, from working with the subject and his or her parents to plan a shot list, to shooting indoors and out, to delivering the final shots. Along the way, he examines gear and workflow considerations, including lighting, sharing proofs, and post-processing.
And because senior portraiture is a potentially lucrative business, the course concludes with a discussion of various business angles, including developing a pricing strategy, connecting with local high schools, marketing through social media outlets, and more.
I'm finding these days I'm getting more and more requests for outdoor portraits for the senior photos, which I'm fine with. I think that's fantastic. And if you look at current yearbooks, you're going to see the same thing. You're going to see a lot of variety in the backgrounds. And it's pretty exciting stuff. I think it makes the pages more interesting. But you will get some requests for indoor shots too, so regardless if you're indoors or out you're going to have to think about lighting and you'll need to think about location too.
For example, we're indoors right here but I really depend on time of day for the lighting. I use this natural light coming in from this window. And a lot of times I'll add a reflector and that'll be pretty much it. And if I'm scouting other locations, indoor locations, I'm looking to see if there's any natural light available that I can use to supplement the lighting that I may bring. Now, outdoor portraits, of course, is all about the lighting that's provided for you by nature.
And time of day then comes into play there is very strong, right? Because, as photographers, we know you have, you know, morning light and afternoon light. Those are the sweet light that we like. We're not going to get the morning light with teenagers, I'll tell you. Getting them out there at 7 o'clock in the morning probably just isn't going to work, and even if you did get them out there. Chances are you're not going to to get the portraits that you want. So, we're thinking more about later in the afternoon. But you're going to be using more than just the natural light that's there.
You're probably going to have to add some reflectors, you many even need to add a fill light or two using your flashes. So, all of these tools should be available to you when you go out for the shoot. And speaking of going out for the shoot, it's a great idea to visit the location that you all have agreed upon, before you do the actual shoot. And go during the time of day that you think you're going to be doing the portraits. For example, you may think you have good light until 6 o'clock.
But you didn't notice that big red wood tree that's there or something like that. And then suddenly, that light that you think you have til six, you really only have til five, and if you were counting on that, that could really you know, throw a wrench in things. So, go out, scout, take a look at the area. Look at how the light is on the back drop. And if you're in a public area, or possibly a private open area, you might want to think about, do you need permission to be there? It could be kind of awkward to have someone confront you during a photo shoot asking you for, you know, do you have the papers to be here right now.
That doesn't feel so good. So, I might check that out too, before you go. So, the big things on your checklist are, you know, think about indoors or out. And if you're indoors, if you can get an indoor location that has a little bit of natural light. That'll make your job easier in terms of adding other light to it. If your outdoors think about time of day, and think about time of day specifically for that area. Go scout it first, find out of you need permission, and then once you have all of those checked off, I think you're ready to get your gear together, go out and get some beautiful portraits.
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