Senior Session Welcome Guide
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing Leslie Crane Photography for your senior portrait session! This guide will help you to plan for all aspects of your photo shoot.
I love shooting senior sessions. I believe that your senior photo shoot should be very special, like you! Not simply a time to feel like a fashion model or a rockstar, but to go deeper than that, and to get to the heart of what is wonderful and beautiful about you as a person. My approach is very organic. I pose seniors naturally and with age-appropriateness, and I draw out real, meaningful expressions. I tend to attract artistic seniors: musicians, painters, dancers, poets, engineers, mathematicians, nature lovers... and I always encourage my seniors to tie their talents and interests into their photo shoots, whenever possible.
My photographs are known for their depth, richness, artistry, and clarity. Equally at home in the studio or on-location, I love to use light and color to tell the story of YOU. My sessions are a lot of fun - we’ll laugh (hard), I’ll fuss over you and bring out your best. I am so excited to meet you!
When planning your senior portraits with me, take a moment to look through the senior photos on my website and decide what “feel” you would like your session to have. If we haven’t yet chosen a location, ask yourself, “Do I like the casual feeling of a natural space? Do I like an urban vibe, or the simple drama of the studio? Would I like some of each?” If the latter sounds like you, then you should know that right outside the door of my Chaska studio there are historic brick buildings, a white gazebo, the Minnesota River with nature trails, a field, and a lake with a dock. We can get a lot of variety there, and you’ll have a place to change outfits.
I also love shooting in places that are special to me senior clients. And let’s work your talents and interests into your shoot! Feel free to bring along your cello, artwork, ballet shoes, horse... I love to coordinate clothing with locations and backdrops, so we will consult either on the phone or through email to plan the style and colors of your photographs.
Later in this guide I will share tips and inspiration for what to wear, how to pose and what to expect during and after your session.
ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
Your senior photo shoot
WHERE WILL MY SESSION TAKE PLACE?
I know lots of great locations for photo shoots. You can choose whatever setting feels right to you - from studio to urban to natural, to anywhere in-between. At my studio in downtown Chaska, I can provide quite a bit of variety. In additon to the indoor space there are historic brick buildings, a beautiful white gazebo, the Minnesota river, plus a lake and dock. If there is a place that is meaningful to you, like the beach, onstage, or a small airport, tell me. We’ll go there! (Note that some places require fees or permits for professional photography.)
HOW LONG WILL THE SESSION LAST?
Typically sessions last between one and three hours, depending on the number of outfit changes and locations we shoot at.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO MY SHOOT?
GIRLS - bring three to five outfits. More is even better. (See the section below and also my what to wear guide for some ideas!) We will narrow down your choices, if necessary. Bring any jewelry and accessories to coordinate with your clothes, makeup for touchups and hair styling items.
GUYS - bring at least three changes of clothes (see the the section below and my what to wear guide for some great suggestions), and a hairbrush.
EVERYBODY - shoes to match your outfits. In summer, bug spray is a good idea (I usually have some). Don’t forget your special “prop,” if you have one! If you are bringing a dog, make sure s/he has had a lot of exercise before the shoot, to insure a mellower pup.
I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE MY MAKEUP AND HAIR PROFESSIONALLY DONE. DO YOU OFFER THAT SERVICE?
Absolutely! I know several makeup artists who will come right to your session, style you, and then stay for part of the shoot to pamper you and give you touchups. That add-on fee will be from $150 to $200 (per person). Let me know when you book if you would like me to hire someone for you, and I will take care of booking her services.
WHAT ABOUT POSING? DO I NEED TO PRACTICE?
Nope. Don’t worry at all about posing. Below are a few general posing tips, but for the most part you can rely on me in the posing department. I prefer simple, classic posing that is flattering and natural. You will look great - promise!
SHOULD MY PARENTS COME ALONG?
That is up to you! I love when families come along on a senior’s shoot. It is always fine with me if they do, but if you find that you will be more relaxed without them there, then your folks are more than welcome to hang out at the studio if we are meeting there, or to go grab a cup of coffee until we’re finished. (FYI, there is a Dunn Brothers across the street from the studio...)
CAN WE GET SOME FAMILY PICTURES OR A FEW WITH A SIBLING, TOO?
Yes. This will not be at all like a regular family shoot, because here our focus is the senior, but I usually can squeeze in a few extra shots at the beginning or end of the senior session. Tell me when you book if you are planning to add on a few family or sibling shots, so I can plan ahead for this and keep the session running smoothly.
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT RAINS ON THE DAY OF MY OUTDOOR SESSION?
In the event of rain during a scheduled outdoor session we will either use an indoor location or reschedule for a different date (I build rain days into my shooting schedule). And a few times, I’ve actually shot IN the rain - so that’s an option, too, if it’s not pouring or storming out!
DO YOU DO RETOUCHING?
Yes, it’s included. More involved edits like braces removal will incur an extra charge.
GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SESSION
What to wear
Here is some general advice for how to plan your outfits for your senior photo shoot. For more specific direction with examples, click here.
Choose colors you know you look good in. If you aren’t sure, consult your family or friends, and also consider your eye color and skin tones. I usually suggest limiting graphics on clothes, unless it would look good where we are shooting (like an urban spot). Medium shades or rich tones photograph better than neons. Also, cream is a much better choice than stark white. I am always happy to preview your outfits via email before your session, and I will always suggest colors to you that I know will look good in our chosen locations. Choose clothes that fit you well - smaller is actually better than baggy and loose. You want your clothes to skim your body, creating a nice, tailored look that compliments your shape. So if you aren’t sure on size, try the smaller one. Don’t forget shoes! Make sure you have footwear that goes with your outfits: boots, flats, dress shoes... let’s avoid flip flops for both style and safety reasons!
You can bring as many outfits as you want. I suggest at least three to five, so we have a lot of choices for coordinating with our different backgrounds and settings. Go for variety! Bring a light, flowing dress, a more casual option with jeans, something fun and stylish, something classic and simple, something upscale... Layers and accessories are great for getting both style and variety, too: jackets, sweaters, scarves, hats, jewelry, glasses... Express yourself! And accent your favorite features. Something to consider: most often long sleeves or sleeveless tops will lengthen the “lines” in your photos more than short or cap sleeves. Maxi dresses and good-fitting skinny jeans are flattering on almost every shape.
Bring two to three clothing options, and mix up the styles of each. Avoid big patterns or graphics, unless it works specifically with one of our locations. Layers are always a great idea, for example adding a jacket, sweater or vest. With dark shirts and sweaters, a black t-shirt is a great base layer instead of white.
THOUGHTS ABOUT POSING
The most important posing tip I can give you is to take a deep breath and relax. Trust in me, and know that I will have you pose in a way that is natural, organic, and flattering. These are some general guidelines but don’t worry - I will talk you though it at your session and help you every step of the way. I prefer posing that makes you look relaxed... and like YOU!
Standing - generally, when you stand, place your weight on one foot rather than two, unless I specifically direct you to pose with your weight on both feet.
Bring your forehead forward and down. This is a good tip for both guys and girls - it elongates the neck. It feels weird, but it looks awesome!
Open your hands, rather than make fists. You look more relaxed when your hands aren’t clenched.
I love movement in senior photos, and I love laughter and natural, real-life gestures. I love drawing those things out of people - it's so much fun!
Girls - more often than not we want your shoulders at an angle to the camera. We want angles, and we want you to bend. If your shoulders are square to the camera, then I will have you turn your head at an angle to the camera. We usually don’t want your shoulders and head both facing the camera squarely. A really beautiful pose for headshots is to turn your shoulders in one direction but your chin looking back in the other direction. I will help you figure out what to do with your hands and arms.
Guys - you can pose with your shoulders square to the camera or at an angle. If you want to put your hands in your pockets, try hanging your thumbs in them or putting your hands partway in. Crossed arms is always a classic, easy pose and will make you look relaxed and give you something to do with your hands. Sitting in a chair with it turned backwards is another failsafe, great-looking pose for a guy.
A FEW MORE TIPS
- Girls: consider two hairstyles, as long as it is quick and easy to change it midway through the session. You might want to practice your hair styles beforehand, too. Have your hair cut about one week before your session, so it’s fresh.
- Guys: you will need a fresh shave.
- Trim your nails before your session so your hands look as good as the rest of you.
- Don’t worry about blemishes or breakouts. Everyone gets them (everyone!) and I am a good retoucher. It’s not an issue.
- Skip the spray tan (and the real tan!). It can look orange in photographs and you don’t need it. And tan lines are distracting!
And more importantly...
Just show up ready to have fun and feel special. Bring your ideas, your thoughts, your personality, and don’t worry about a thing. It’s going to go great!
I want to know who you are and what you love, and bring those passions to your photo shoot. I want to know what kinds of locations scream “YOU!” I want to design your session to reflect you. I want to help you coordinate your outfits with our chosen backgrounds - I believe in tonal harmony. bring along something meaningful, if you want.
Your session is about YOU. Your story.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
All about the process
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD I BOOK MY SESSION?
The earlier the better! I do book up quickly, so four to six weeks in advance during the busy season is ideal. Once in awhile I have an opening sooner than that, so it never hurts to ask... but I always recommend planning ahead to secure the date you want.
HOW DO I BOOK MY SESSION?
It’s very simple - email or call me and we’ll choose a date. We will choose a location and design a session to fit you perfectly. Your parents will be sent an online contract for you parent or guardian to e-sign and instructions for paying the session fee. All set!
WHEN IS PAYMENT DUE?
Your session fee is due at time of booking and payment for print, product and digital file orders is due when you place your order.
WHAT FORMS OF PAYMENT DO YOU ACCEPT?
Cash, Check, PayPal & Credit Cards. Minnesota state sales tax applies.
HOW SOON AFTER MY SESSION WIILL I BE ABLE TO SEE MY PICTURES?
Sneak peeks - typically the next day. A password-protected online gallery of your images will be available within two weeks after your session. You will then be able to view your private online gallery and select your favorite images.
HOW LONG DO WE HAVE TO PLACE OUR ORDER?
Two weeks. When your proofs are ready, I will contact you right away to find out what two weeks would be best for you to make your decisions. Two weeks after the opening date you chose, the gallery will expire.
HOW DO WE ORDER OUR PICTURES?
You may place your order online within your proofing gallery. Or we can get together for an ordering session and I can show you samples and help you select exactly what you need. As soon as payment is made, I put your prints, albums, canvases and other products into production. Digital files will be made available for immediate direct download. Smaller print products can be shipped to you directly or you can pick them up. For larger, heavier items we will arrange for pickup.
WILL YOU SUBMIT MY YEARBOOK PHOTO FOR ME?
Yes! Just tell me which one you’ve chosen, and forward the guidelines from your school, along with the deadline, and I’ll take care of it.
DO I GET THE DIGITAL FIILES? HOW ABOUT COPYRIGHT?
You get digital files if you buy them. Pricing for individual files and collections is linked below. Copyright for your digital images remains with me - you do not own the copyright nor do I transfer copyright. However, you DO get print rights! With every digital file purchase I provide a release form giving you permission to print your images, crop them, and post them online to your social media accounts and share them with friends and family. You may not alter them in any way other than cropping, as it is illegal to edit copyrighted material without permission from the work’s creator.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH YOU?
I prefer email, because I like to keep a tangible record of everything we discuss regarding your session. I also occasionally respond to emails at times of day that aren’t really convenient for phone conversations! However, you are always welcome to call me to talk about any aspect of your session.
Have another question? Click the "contact" link above and ask me! I'll be happy to answer you right away.
Session fee: $200
The session fee includes one to two hours of shooting time, as well as a private online viewing gallery of at least twenty-five images.
The portrait session fee does not include prints or digital files.
To add a makeup artist/stylist: $150 to $200 per person. She will come right to your session, style you and stay for part of the session.
All products and digital files are available a la carte. Generally, clients budget anywhere from $700 - $1600 for their custom portraits.
The full pricing guide is here.
I am thrilled to be working with you, and promise to make this experience wonderful and fun for you and your family!