Graduation means tons of things to do but what's one of the easier things to get out of the way? Senior pictures.
You'll need them for your graduation announcements, not to mention replacing your outdated Facebook profile picture, but the shoot is relatively simple to plan and you'll have fun doing it.
The senior picture process can be broken down into three steps: choosing a photographer, planning the shoot and doing the shoot.
In Weber and Davis counties alone, there are dozens upon dozens of photographers, not to mention your aunt, neighbor, or best friend who just bought a DSLR and wants to try her hand at doing your seniors.
How can you choose one while not offending the others; select a day that won't be subject to bipolar Utah weather; plan a location, outfits, hair, makeup and accessories; and actually make it to the shoot amidst the AP exams and final papers crammed into the last few weeks of school?
By being smart about planning out the things you need to get done in the time you have left. Here are a few tips and tricks to figuring it all out.
* Choosing a photographer
Finding a photographer is the same as shopping -- what you get is what you pay for. Here, you're shopping for someone to make you look your best both in the raw pictures and after editing. Sure, there's a chance that your friend with a brand new camera could turn out to be a prodigy and come out with images worthy of your graduation announcements, but be careful. With photography, experience means knowing what poses work, knowing how to work with both natural and artificial lighting, and knowing how to edit to bring out the best in the subject.
Decide the price range you're willing to negotiate within, where you want to shoot (a studio or on location), and if you want prints, a disc, or both.
Also, look at the photographer's work. For example, if his work takes advantage of the black-and-white option in Photoshop but you want color, it's not going to work out. Same thing with an overuse of brown undertones, over-edited "Barbie" skin, or cheesy posing. If you don't like the pictures in his or her portfolio or can't imagine yourself fitting into those images, don't do it.
Research on pricing is also important.
"A reasonable price is $100-$200. That should include about 15 edited pictures and about an hour and a half of shooting time," said Michael Angelo Brown, owner and photographer of Aesthetic Squared, a Salt Lake City photography company.
* Planning the shoot
The best thing is to meet with the photographer beforehand, so you'll be comfortable around him or her. Share your style, personality and hobbies, not only so they can get to know you, but also because your interests may give them ideas for adding small, personal touches to your pictures.
If you're shooting on location, say, downtown Salt Lake City or a park, visit the location beforehand and scout out specific places you like. Many photographers, especially those who do a lot of seniors, reuse the same locations over and over again, and no one wants their pictures to look the same as someone else's.
Find a variety of outfits that you look good in. Keep in mind that white can make you look thicker than you are, overly flowy shirts might cause senior pictures to be mistaken for maternity photos, and heels will make your legs look better.
Try not to be an advertisement and avoid shirts with logos. Too much jewelry might be overkill so try to even it out. If you have really big or long earrings you can forgo a chunky necklace. For guys, wear clothes that fit well and show your personality.
A good idea is to ask your family or friends what they think. Wearing something you've been complimented on before is usually a safe choice. Also, show the photographer the clothes you plan on wearing so he or she can offer suggestions and make sure they coordinate with the location.
* Preparing for the shoot
Notice what poses photographers use for senior portraits, or even try practicing a few poses and figure out your good side before doing the shoot.
Don't do anything brand new or drastic. If you've never gone tanning before, for instance, don't do it especially for your seniors, or don't dye your hair a new color. Discomfort or embarrassment shows up easily in photos.
Come prepared with the clothes, shoes and accessories you want to shoot with. Have your makeup and hair done. You might consider having it done by a professional the day of your shoot, so your skin looks better and your makeup is flawless.
Sandrine Hudgens, of Creole Art Photography in Layton, adds, "Be on time for your shoot, and don't hesitate to tell your photographer if you're uncomfortable with a certain pose. Avoid wearing clothing with too many prints; it takes away attention from your face."
Keep ponytail elastics off your wrists, don't chew gum, and remember your payment for the photographer. Prompt payment usually means quicker editing. Before leaving, talk to the photographer about when to expect your pictures.
Graduation is a big milestone, and one of the best ways to remember it is with pictures.
As Hudgens says, "Don't sweat the small things, and just have fun!"
Minna Wang is a senior at NUAMES who likes to read, write and listen to music. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.