How I Created an Ultimate Senior Photography Session | Featuring Highbanks Metro Park
Updated: Nov 26, 2021
Creating an Ultimate Senior Session
I’ve had a lot of senior sessions over the years, and they’ve all been fun and interesting in their own ways. But during this particular session with CJ, we knocked it out of the (metro) park!
CJ knew from his first consultation that he wanted to incorporate his hobby, snowboarding, into his senior photos. I’d never photographed a snowboarder before, so this was a challenge, which made it exciting! I'm always up for something new to test my limits.
I always try to make a client’s vision for their session a reality. For CJ, that meant waiting for the perfect snowy day, so we could capture him with his board. This was a test of patience for both of us.
His sessions (mainly the snowboarding one) took a lot of planning, but it was completely worth it. It was essentially a three-location session, taking place over two different days. We had a studio session and outdoor session in the fall, and then we had the final session in the snow.
Delivering an Experience
Almost every senior wants to do both indoor and outdoor photos, and I love being able to deliver that variety to my clients. Most parents want a traditional studio headshot, and most school yearbook faculty require one as well.
I love studio photography for the familiarity and intimacy that allows the client and me to work one-on-one together and establish a rapport. It really helps to lay a good foundation for the entire session.
The studio is comfortable, predictable, and provides classic results. It also allows for easy outfit changes, so the senior can really show different facets of their personality.
I asked CJ during his studio session if there was anything in particular he wanted. He said, “You’re the pro. I trust you.” I love that kind of confidence and trust in me. Clearly, he and his family saw my previous images and said to themselves, “He knows what he’s doing, and we want his style of work.”
We finished up CJ’s studio portraits in under an hour and moved outdoors. Looking at his outdoor photos, you might think we traveled to a local park. But we only walked a short distance behind my studio to a small green space and woods.
I find that the longer a session takes, the more impatient everyone becomes. Having a comfortable studio and a nearby outdoor shooting space has really sped up my workflow while providing a better client experience. Blurred out nature looks pretty much the same everywhere, so by shooting in the studio and then right outside, we save so much time. No one feels rushed, but we also don’t waste any energy.
Where’s the Snow?
After we wrapped up CJ’s first sets of photos, all we had to do was wait for the perfect snow. We waited and waited and waited. It felt like it was going to be one of those Ohio winters where we only get a light dusting that blows off of the road in minutes.
But snowboarding was his passion. So we waited and waited some more. Finally, months later, we had a good snowfall! And bonus - it was a no school day!
I called CJ to let him know it was “go time!” By this point, I had envisioned this shoot going so many different ways that I was as excited as CJ. I wanted this shoot to have perfectly clean snow that nobody had walked in. So we packed up pretty quickly and went to a local Columbus Metro Park called Highbanks. It has giant hills and plenty of space with almost no one around.
We found a perfect spot to start with his photos, and everything flowed nicely. Since we had met and worked together before, we already had a good rapport. Even though it was cold out, CJ was a natural in his element--he was joyful to be in the snow. The session was comfortable and relaxed, and the results show.
Exceeding Client Expectations
This wasn’t the usual session I have for a senior (not many request snow...), but I’m so glad we were able to pull it off. We created exactly what his family wanted, exactly what his school required, and most importantly, we created images of CJ with his snowboard that he will enjoy for years to come! All it took was a little extra planning, great communication, and patience - lots of patience - waiting on that perfect snowfall.
I love to exceed client expectations. CJ and his family thanked me after each session, knowing he didn’t have the “typical” shoot, and they were gracious and grateful for the work behind the portraits.
Pro Tip: Ask For What You Want!
One reason I wanted to blog about this session, in particular, is because I always ask seniors what hobbies they have outside of school. Sometimes I get a response, but about half the time it’s met with a shrug because they aren’t sure what can be included in their photos.
We all have something we love doing. Whatever that thing is for you, incorporate it into your photos. It creates interesting portraits, sets your images apart from others, and will give you lasting memories of your passions and joys at this stage of life.
The only way to incorporate these favorite things is to ask your photographer! Hopefully, it’ll be me, and I’ll of course say, “Yes!”
If CJ didn’t explicitly say he loved snowboarding and wanted to include it, we may have missed out on some of the coolest senior photos I’ve taken. We had a great time creating out in the snow, and CJ is one of the nicest people I have ever met. I wish him much success as he follows his dreams!
Wishing you could have a senior session as fun as CJ's?
Click here for a free consultation with me, and we’ll get the ball rolling!
Want to learn more? Here’s a link to my senior page