School Yearbook Photos vs. Senior Portrait Sessions

As a senior portrait photographer, I’ve heard this question from moms many times…”What’s the difference between school yearbook photos and senior portrait sessions?”  Let me explain!  First of all, you’ll be hearing from your teen’s school at about this time to schedule their school yearbook photo.  For school yearbook photos, the school’s mission is to get photos of each of the graduating seniors in a uniform way so no one stands out and they all look professional.  Often, the school will give the students a gown to wear if they’re a girl or have the boys wear a black suit and tie.  The goal is get a photo of them that is a quick snapshot and in doing so it often lacks personality too.  The photos are taken inside with studio lighting and they do not get to choose their outfit.  

Maryland Senior Portraits

On the contrary for a senior portrait session, the teens get to choose their outfits and even get an outfit change during their session so they can have one more casual look to match a hobby like cheerleading or which showcases their personality.  The second outfit is often more formal like a dress for a girl or a dress shirt and tie for a guy and this is usually the look that their moms and grandmas end up liking the most.

Whereas school yearbook photos only take a few minutes to complete a full senior portrait session is given 60-90 minutes.  This gives us plenty of time to change outfits, have different poses, backdrops and special lighting effects to give variety to the images in your album.  It also gives the teen the time needed to warm up to me as their photographer so I can capture their most genuine and authentic smiles.  I also like to meet with my senior portrait clients and their moms before we even go on the shoot so that we aren’t strangers anymore and I feel more like a friend than someone who is there just to capture photos of them.  This again helps me to capture their true personality as they are more comfortable and relaxed if we have already met and bonded prior to their session.

Senior portrait sessions are also at an outdoor location of your choice and the spot chosen should reflect your personality too.  For example, if you ride horses, you may want your session to be held on a farm, if you’re more modern a city backdrop may be more appropriate.  I have a list of local favorites that I can suggest, but am open to suggestions if you have a favorite spot in mind too.

After your senior portrait session, we have what I call the Session Premiere which is when I come to your home with a delicious dessert and together we watch the slide show of your retouched images.  We select your favorites and how you’d like to use them such as in an album, to be made into wall art like a gallery canvas wrap, in a phone app to share on social media, to be made into graduation announcements and prints for extended family.  

Senior Portraits in Maryland

So all in all having senior portraits taken by a photographer who specializes in senior portrait photography is a much different experience than simply having a snapshot taken at school to include in the yearbook.  

So what should you do when your teen’s school contacts you to schedule their yearbook photo?  I would say to go ahead and schedule it so that you make sure that the photo meets their requirements, but to wait to purchase any photos until after you see your photos from your senior portrait session.  I guarantee that there will be MANY that you like more than your yearbook photo so I would hold off on ordering anything until you see all of your options.  😉  

Maryland Senior Portrait Photography

For more frequently asked questions and answers for what to expect at your senior portrait session, check out my FAQ page here.  

If you’d like to schedule a free consultation to set up your teen’s senior portrait session, you can do so by filling out this form.

Thanks so much and I look forward to creating beautiful images and memories with you!