The Senior Portrait Experience | Class of 2019 Magazine

Welcome, Class of 2019 (upcoming) SENIORS!!

(or, Welcome, Class of 2018 senior who is getting ready to graduate and missed out on wonderful senior pictures.... BUT still wants to book an amazing, once in a lifetime portrait session before heading to your next adventures!!)

I just published my NEW senior portrait magazine, designed to visually walk you through the process of the senior picture experience in a bit more depth.

We'll discuss ALL of this in person at your consultation (and I'll have a paper copy for you to peruse) but until then I hope this provides some inspiration for things you want to try in your senior portrait session, including in depth examples of different kinds of locations and photo stories from several kinds of sessions we can have in and around Denver, from urban, to natural to mountain and beyond. You'll also find ideas for styling, tips for hair, makeup and wardrobe, a bit more on how the process works. Plus LOTS of pictures to get you excited to tell YOUR story.

{ feel free to view the magazine in full screen mode -- note that clicking full screen will open a new browser window }

Hopefully if you're reading this we've already set up your consult, but if you've found this post on your own and would like to know more, please click this link to drop me an email (be sure to include a phone number, your school, and please check your spam folder if you don't hear from me within a day or two!)

Or call me at (970)708.2065 and let me know a good time to reach you! Let's grab a coffee and you can tell me how YOU imagine your senior pictures.

I'm so excited to start our creative collaboration to celebrate your senior year with artful portraits!!

Cheers,
Jennifer

Actor and Professional Headshots: Urban vs Natural Light Studio

I offer two options for my actor and professional headshot clients: 1) natural light in urban location or 2) natural light studio.

Either way, I have spent my photography career learning to master natural light and am confident that how I use light will be flattering and natural in either location. The differences in the location types boil down to A) what is behind you and B) the experience you desire while on your photoshoot.

I thought I’d do a quick post sharing some examples of what is possible in the studio vs on location, along with a few words on the pros and cons of each.

1. OUTSIDE: URBAN, CONTEMPORARY, VIBRANT, APPROACHABLE, PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOTS

Sessions shot outdoors are a bit more improvisational than in the studio, as both you and I will be responding to the immediate conditions of that day, weather, light and location. People tell me often that they to appreciate the “depth” they see in my outdoor photos, which serves to push the focus to the connection they can feel in my subjects’ eyes. I always start in an area which is slightly removed from crowds, so you’ll feel comfortable, yet alive with the vibrance of the city. There’s a fun energy created on these sessions which is reflected in the style of the photos, and I believe reacting in the urban environment leads to part of the very "natural" expressions we get out there. These sessions are always vibrant and fresh.

behind-the-scenes-photographer-merritt-portrait-urban.jpg

Urban Street Session BENEFITS:

vibrant, energetic, colorful, depth in backgrounds

eye-catching, memorable, unique

professional

Urban Street Session CHALLENGES:

weather can be an issue (mostly wind, but can also add element of fresh, natural movement)

must pack wardrobe to carry (rolling suitcase is best)


2. NATURAL LIGHT STUDIO: MODERN, CLEAN, CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT HEADSHOTS

My natural light studio is a shared co-op space, so does require advanced booking. In here, the light is consistent and beautiful. It is quiet and a controlled setting, which for some people can be preferable. I have a few different seamless backdrop options, so you won’t be getting the stiff, traditional yearbook background! These sessions are modern, comfortable and consistently beautiful.

behind-the-scenes-studio.jpg

Natural Light Studio BENEFITS:

controlled, predictable, quiet

neutral, professional look

easy to change and keep wardrobe at studio

Natural Light Studio CHALLENGES:

shared studio space can be harder to book

not as much depth in photos (if that's important to you)

 

IN SUMMARY... Either way you go, even if you're not comfortable with the idea of getting in front of the camera, my promise to you is that you'll end up having a great experience!

LEARN MORE ABOUT ACTOR & PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT SESSIONS WITH JENNIFER :

Tips to ROCK your High School Senior Portrait Session in Denver

We’ve had our portrait consultation and your big day is almost here!

Below is a summary of things to consider and tips to help you arrive feeling confident that you're prepared for an awesome senior portrait session.

  1. WARDROBE:

    • WHAT: We’ll be photographing a variety of compositions, from closeups to full body, so feel free to bring a variety of whole outfits and a random top that you love. Try on each outfit, and pack the items together in sets (with appropriate undergarments) the day before your session.

    • THINGS TO CONSIDER for a variety of looks:

      • Colors that compliment your tones, bring out your eye color, etc.

      • Layers to add dimension (jackets, sweaters, etc.)

      • Variety of necklines

      • Variety of fabric textures and weights

      • Accessories if you wear them (hats, scarves, sunglasses, etc.)

      • Flatter your shape: This may be counter-intuitive, but no matter your body type, tighter fitting items through the bodice will photograph in a more flattering way (flowy skirts are a blast though so do feel free to bring those if you wear them)

      • Undergarments/shoes/socks/etc. to accompany every outfit

    • THINGS TO GENERALLY AVOID, unless you’re known for these things, then feel free to bring them, just perhaps not for every outfit:

      • Big bold patterns, logos and bold stripes will draw attention and focus to themselves and away from you (unless there’s something that’s really “you” and you want it to be part of a look)

      • If you are pale skinned and/or blonde, generally it’s best to avoid having all of your tops tops being all black. Try to have other options.

    • HOW MANY: Photographing (4-5) outfits during a session is average, more if you’re a FAST CHANGER (or bring outfits that allow you to change without stopping to find a restroom -- a tank under a few outfits allows for quick changes in an alley). You’re welcome to bring 5 or 6 outfits, just know that we might not get to all of them, and the more time we spend discussing your wardrobe, the less time we’ll have to photograph you in it!

    • PORTABILITY: We’ll be walking around, so please bring clothes in a ROLLING SUITCASE so that it can sit on a sidewalk (or on dirt or grass) while we take photos. Organize each complete outfit in rolled groupings within your suitcase.

    • CHANGING: Since every change takes session time, being prepared to do quick changes on location is helpful! Wearing tank under outfits can allow you to change in public, and bringing a sheet that we can hold up can allow you to change quickly in an alley or behind a tree.

  2. MISC: it’s a great idea to also bring the following:

    • Brush or comb for hair touch ups (or hairspray, bobby pins, clips, etc.)

    • Any necessary makeup for touch ups

    • Lip gloss / chapstick (guys!) or other makeup you’d like for touching up after changes

    • Water bottle -- stay hydrated

    • Snacks (especially if you are prone to low blood sugar)

  3. PLEASE DON'T BE LATE: Session times are chosen to optimize best LIGHT. Please familiarize yourself with our meeting location and plan for TRAFFIC and PARKING. If you arrive late, you’ll cut your session time, number of photos, and also the BEST LIGHT (it makes me sad to watch great light slip away waiting for clients to arrive!)

  4. FINALLY: If you’re nervous that’s ok! I’ll be directing you throughout this process, so if you’ve done your prep work, there’s no need to worry about a thing once you arrive. Photographing high school seniors is one of my very favorite things to do and when we’re out there together, you’ll see why. I can’t wait to work with you!

  5. INSPIRATION/RESOURCES:

    • FUNKY WARDROBE REFRESH: Buffalo Exchange or other vintage or second hand shops are a great way to find fun items on a budget that won't be the same things anyone else will be wearing

    • IDEAS: Pinterest is a great resource for wardrobe ideas. HERE is my senior session pinterest board.

    • INSPIRATION: My brand new Senior Portrait Magazine for 2018 is FULL of ideas, location comparisons and more tips if you'd like to take a look.

NOTE: This post is meant to be a preparation guide for high school seniors who have already set up their senior portrait session with me but if you've discovered this post on your own and would like to learn more about booking a session with me, first of all, Welcome! Please click the link below to find out more:

Actor Headshots | Make the Most of Your Photo Session!

As a lifelong theatre lover, stage production photographer and mother of an actor heading for his BFA, I have an intense admiration for your work, and the highest possible respect for your talent and art.

 above: natural light actor headshots photographed on location in urban settings in Denver, except for upper right which was photographed in my natural light studio

above: natural light actor headshots photographed on location in urban settings in Denver, except for upper right which was photographed in my natural light studio

And I get it: getting photographed as an actor when you’re not… acting… is not your favorite thing.

SO... if you're nervous about this, please keep in mind that 1) you’re not alone in this feeling, and 2) I’ve got your back. My job will be to help you relax and have fun with the process. I’ve been told often by many clients that this is my superpower.

But there are a few things you can do before the session to increase the odds that you arrive at least feeling prepared.

Think of getting ready for your headshot session like you would prepare to arrive at an audition: rested, hydrated, on time and dressed for the part you want.

PREPARING YOUR WARDROBE:

  1. Bring 3-4 different looks for and actor headshot session (4-6 looks if you booked an extended photo session). Even if your end goal is just two photos  (one commercial and one dramatic) it’s best to have options. Please don’t bring your whole wardrobe as we'll end up using up shooting time trying to sort through your clothes.

  2. Bring a variety of necklines and fabric textures. Simple tops are best, and keep wardrobe options in line with your brand.

  3. Clothes that fit close to your body are more flattering in photos (no matter your body type, I can pose you in more flattering ways if your clothing is not baggy or boxy).

  4. Bring colors that compliment your skin tones, and generally avoid black or pure white -- colors that compliment and bring out your eyes, skin tone or hair are best.

  5. Avoid flashy and busy patterns that will distract from YOU. The main focus of these photos should be your eyes and the connection we feel with your personality.

  6. Jackets and uncomplicated layers can create variety without stopping for full changes.

  7. If you can wear a light tank under tops, it allows for quick changes outdoors and therefore more photography time.

  8. Jewelry is likely to distract from you, so unless it’s a vital part of your brand (and you're confident it will stay that way until your next headshot session), skip it.

  9. TRY ON your wardrobe items before you bring them. If you’re only doing headshots, there’s no need to worry about pants (I mean, you’ll need to WEAR pants to the session, of course). Check that items still fit well. Hopefully this will remind you to pack outfit specific undergarments (i.e. avoid striped undershirts/black bras under light shirts, etc.).

  10. Launder, press, de-lint as needed.

  11. NOTE for actors and models who have AGENCY REPRESENTATION: talk with your agent beforehand if he/she wants input regarding wardrobe and styling!

MORE ACTOR HEADSHOT PREPARATION TIPS:

  1. After selecting your wardrobe, PACK it in a way that it is portable and can comfortably sit on a sidewalk while we are taking photos. A small duffel bag or rolling suitcase is ideal.

  2. Make sure you stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. This will help keep your skin clear and eyes bright. Don’t stress if you wake up with blemishes the day of your session (and don’t mess with them as that generally makes them worse -- let photoshop do the magic there!)

  3. Exercise the week prior (if that’s your thing), but there’s no need to delay a headshot session just so you can “lose a few pounds.” You’d be amazed what good posing can do to flatter every and any body! Light exercise before your session can add a healthy glow to your skin.

  4. Eyebrows / Nails / Hair / Lips / Facial Hair: Clean up, pluck and trim as necessary. You want to arrive at your audition looking essentially like your headshot for it to be the most effective tool for casting directors to connect your headshot to your audition. Please DO NOT try out a brand new haircut/style in the few days before your session (take it from many clients who have learned this lesson the hard way)! Wear hair & makeup how you normally would, just be sure to refresh right before our session and bring anything necessary for touch-ups just in case. Even if you don't wear makeup, mascara and lip tint or at least gloss is great to highlight your features but still look natural. Men: remember some lip balm or chapstick… it’s Colorado. 

  5. It is not your job to be photogenic, it is my job to make you feel empowered to draw out your personality while you connect with the camera. You can relax knowing that I will direct you into your most flattering poses (this is critically important since you can’t see yourself, after all). I’ll give you posing tips to take with you, and YES, I’ll show you photos as we go (not all photographers do this). My clients love to see what we are getting and discuss any necessary modifications we want to make as we work together.

  6. IMPORTANT: Please arrive on time! Familiarize yourself with directions to our meeting place and leave time to negotiate traffic and parking. Session times are designed around flattering LIGHT. Nothing worse than arriving frazzled, except also having to race against the sun.

  7. If you have done your prep-work, the only thing left is to show up! We’ll chat about your wardrobe for a few minutes when you first arrive, and then you’ll have time to relax into the session. Ideally you’ll have a great experience while we produce fantastic headshots to land you in front of your dream casting director.

 

To learn more about my personal approach to studio and/or on location actor, model and professional headshots (for men, women and kids), and to explore investment options, please check out my PORTFOLIO. And if you’d like to read my most popular blog post to date, check out my INTERVIEW with Denver Casting Director Sylvia Gregory and discover in depth what she’s looking for in an actor headshot.

 

Final thoughts if you’ve reached this post and are still shopping to hire a professional:

Be sure you are working with a photographer who specializes in ACTOR Headshots (very different from portraits or professional corporate headshots). Spend time looking at a photographer’s work -- do you resonate with the photos in her/his portfolio? Are the eyes the main focus of the photos? Do you feel personality and connection in the subjects? Is the lighting flattering? Do the photos make the actors look approachable, interesting, engaged and professional? Are the backgrounds distracting? Also important: do you feel comfortable communicating with your photographer? Is he or she willing to talk with you on the phone if you have questions? Your comfort level the day of your session is critical to getting great connection in your photos.

View more of my work at this link:

The Senior Portrait Experience | Magazine

Welcome, Class of 2018 (upcoming) SENIORS!!

(or, Welcome, Class of 2017 senior who is about to graduate and missed out on wonderful senior pictures and still wants to book an amazing, once in a lifetime portrait session before heading to college!!)

I'm excited to share this magazine which I designed to visually walk you through the process of the senior picture experience in a bit more depth. We'll discuss all of this in person at your consultation. I hope this provides some inspiration for things you want to try in your senior portrait session. In it, you'll find ideas for locations, styling, a bit more on how the process works, and lots of pictures to get you excited to tell YOUR story.

{ feel free to view the magazine in full screen mode -- note that clicking full screen will open a new browser window }

 

Hopefully if you're reading this we've already set up your consult, but if you've found this post on your own and would like to know more, please click this link to drop me an email:

Or call me at 970.708.2065, and let me know a good time to reach you! Let's grab a coffee and you can tell me how YOU imagine your senior pictures.

I'm so excited to start our creative collaboration to celebrate your senior year with artful portraits!!

Cheers,
Jennifer