Ahhh, your senior year… the year that feels like it took just about forever to arrive. You’ve been mapping your classes for four years, taking PSAT/SAT/ACT tests, touring college campuses and now your senior year will be full of momentous occasions, including your senior pictures. I often get asked “What’s the best time of year to take senior portraits?”
Most San Diego County public schools partner with a local photography studio to capture senior portraits for the yearbook. You’ll start to receive your letters to make your appointment as early as April and May of your junior year. This is because the studios need to photograph, schedule viewing appointments, edit and submit all the photos for each senior class student in the school district prior to the yearbook deadline, which is typically in October. So, if you plan to be in the yearbook, it’s likely you will take at least one set of senior portraits in the summer before your senior year or early fall. “At least one set”? Yes – one size does not fit all when it comes to senior portraits. As previously mentioned, you may be required to use the contracted photography studio for your yearbook photo – not your senior portraits. So, excluding the yearbook senior photo, let’s get more specific about when the best time of year is to take your senior portrait by working backwards…
Graduation announcements typically are mailed out between May and July of your senior year. As a good rule of thumb, your session should be completed by mid-May of your senior year.
The end of the school year is a busy month for seniors – finals, ordering cap and gowns, Grad Night, Senior Prom, planning your graduation activities. Having your senior portraits done and ordered well in advance of the end of the school year is best.
April is one of the greenest and most beautiful times of year in San Diego. Definitely a favorite time of year for both photographers and high school seniors to capture their senior portraits. Schedule early (as in no later than the end of February) to grab your April date. Plus, you’re likely to know which college you will be attending and can bring spirit wear from your new home away from home. Also a bonus, you’ve likely got a little color in your cheeks and shed a couple pounds that may have snuck in over the holidays.
January – March: By this time of year you are in the swing of things in your senior year, your college applications are done and you have more time to focus on you. You can see the finish line from here! Typically photographers have more availability for sessions this time of year and in San Diego weather is not too much of a deterrent for winter sessions.
December – those late fall evening offer the most spectacular sunsets, especially at the beach. And. if you are interested in a beach shoot, there are a lot less people at the beach in December for a distraction free background.
October – November: These months are great for locations off the
beaten path or fall fields. Popular photography locations tend to be crowded this time of year, usually with families taking holiday portraits. Since this experience is all about you, I wouldn’t recommend trendy locations this time of year. The weather in San Diego is still pretty warm this time of year and as a bonus, you can use your portraits as holiday gifts for grandparents, aunts and uncles.
June – September: These months are reserved for those early-birds. Your senior year has yet, or has just, started and there are those who just can’t wait to take their senior portraits. The pros: you get them done early, you’re likely tan from summer, you’re not in school so you may have more flexibility in your schedule and you don’t have fall sports/band schedules to compete with. The cons: locations tend to be crowded with tourists, potential for June gloom at the beach, heat of August/September, summer travel/job and it’s really early in your senior year.
Whatever time of year you select for your senior portraits, remember they are your senior portraits. They are all about and just for you.
In our follow-up post we’ll talk about how to choose the right photographer for your senior portraits.