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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.
High School students when they're juniors, typically receive guidelines either in the mail or e-mail, that outline some of the things to keep in mind for their senor portraits. If you can get your hands on that, I think its a very good idea. In lieu of that though I can give you some general tips right now to keep in mind while you're shooting these pictures. First thing, we're working mainly digital these days, which shouldn't be a problem, since most of us are shooting digital anyway. But you'll probably be submitting a digital file.
In terms of orientation, again a vertical orientation. All you have to do is look at a yearbook to sort of see what they're after. And you'll also see that they'll want a head and shoulders, kind of shot. Not too far down on the body. And not the person too far back. For the background, we like a nice clear background. Not too much distraction back there. And speaking of distraction, you don't want banjos, horses, footballs, and things like that in the shot. Really, you want to focus on the student.
Now, if they want those sort of shots in addition to the headshot for the yearbook, that's fine. Make sure though that you get a clean headshot for the yearbook. When you're preparing the file, make sure that it has enough resolution for a 5 x 7 print. And a good tip is to put the student's name in the file name when you submit it, so those two stay together. Avoid things like soft focus, clever filters, things like that. You want a good clean, sharp focus shot.
You do those things, you should be in pretty good shape but again, if you can get the specific guidelines for your student's school, that's the best way to go.
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