Something we frequently get asked is, "When is the best time to schedule senior photos?" Well, If you're asking this question, the answer is probably "Now!"
Ideally, the best time to schedule a senior portrait session is anytime beginning Spring of your Junior year to early Spring of Senior year. Of course, you can always schedule your session another time, but to ensure your choice of dates and venues, it is best to begin early!
There are several things to consider when deciding when to schedule Senior pictures, but the most important thing is to make sure to schedule the consultation with us well in advance of the season in which you wish to be photographed. You want to ensure you have enough time to plan (planning outfits, squeezing in hair appointments, etc) and that we have an opening on your preferred date. For example, our October dates are typically booked up by August and my the weekends are usually booked up by June.
Here are a few factors to consider when scheduling your senior pictures:
What is your yearbook deadline? Many larger schools establish deadlines shortly after senior year begins for your yearbook headshot. Smaller schools might allow until January or February of the graduation year to turn in a yearbook picture. Regardless, it is a good idea to establish a "no later than" date to schedule your photo session, keeping in mind the date on which you are required to submit your photos to the school.
What is the right season for you? If football is your thing, or basketball, then the season in which those sports or extracurriculars take place might be the best time for a photo shoot. After all, fall leaves falling on a baseball field might look a little strange.
Don't forget the weather! Cold weather isn't for everyone, but some people just can't stand to be hot or sweaty. On the other hand, some prefer a warmer setting. Taking these things into consideration when you schedule your pictures will help alleviate a lot of regrets when you find yourself breaking a sweat in the first few minutes of an hour long session.
What's your style? If it's urban, edgy or just plain "I'm not into nature," you may want to consider doing pictures in a downtown setting; and in that case, the time of year isn't as important as it would be if you wanted pretty (Spring) flowers or lots of colorful fall foliage in your nature-themed pictures.
When are you going to be busiest? A lot of Seniors wait until Winter to contact a photographer about Senior pictures, and then schedule them for Spring. While this is understandable - there are so many events/deadlines/parties going on it's difficult to find time - I find that this tends to put an unnecessary stress on families as Senior year is coming to a close. This is why I recommend that if you want Spring pictures, that you do them at the end of your Junior year.
Don't forget processing times that will be required to process your photographs. This means that we will be editing your pictures within the queue of other clients who have also recently had their photos taken. What that means to you is that if you have a need for those images in time for a Yearbook submission date, you should schedule your pictures at least two to three weeks in advance of that date. A ballpark timeline from photo shoot to proofs to the point you have the images in your possession can range from 2-4 weeks, but we work to ensure our clients can review their images within two weeks. Prints, wall art or photo albums typically delivered to the studio approximately two weeks after you order is placed.
The most important thing to remember is to schedule time with us well in advance of when you plan to have your photos taken. Sometimes that might be as much as 6 months in advance of when you want to be photographed. When we meet with Seniors we discuss what they are looking for, and together we plan out the timeline/venue/details of their session(s). We insist on meeting with each Senior in advance of their photos being taken so that we can get to know their personality and establish a comfort level for when they are in front of the camera. It's also an opportunity for a parent or guardian to ask questions about the process, products available and their pricing. After the meeting, everyone should feel like there is a game plan so that when it's time for the session, we are able to deliver exactly what you are expecting.