Selecting your photographer is probably the biggest and maybe hardest decision to make.  But, first and foremost, I would like to call “MythBusters” on a very misunderstood concept about the Senior Portrait market in Tucson, and in general, all across the nation.  A myth and HUGE misconception about High Schools and Photographers.  To read more, please hit the link below.

90% of the High Schools in Arizona are large high schools with 300+ graduating seniors.  As a yearbook editor, tracking down 300+ headshots for the graduating class (and also the entire student body) can be an extremely stressful and daunting task.  Not only does the yearbook editor want to make sure that names match up with portraits, but for design and award purporses, the yearbook team wants to make sure all the portraits are consistent (from exposure, backround, but also ease in obtaining the photographs).  For many reasons, a High School will contract a certain local photographer so that all of the graduating class has their “official” yearbook portrait taken by the same photographer.  This makes it easy for the yearbook in obtaining all of the necessary headshots for the Seniors, but also it makes sure that the style and look of the portraits are all consistent from shot to shot.  From the photographer’s side, this is usually done FOR FREE.  If you have to pay for this service, take it up with the Student Council or PTA services at your school; the school chose to use a certain photographer, you should not need to pay for it.  IT SHOULD BE FREE.  As a photographer, this is a literal gold mine.  The ability to upsell all of the 300-1000 Seniors that will walk through their studio for portraits is HUGE.  It is VERY common to work with a large photography studio that employees trained sales staff that push a hard sale to every mom that walks in.  Moms end up giving in and purchasing the sold products for an astronomical fee because they don’t wait to miss out on having the “so-so” photographs of their son or daughter.  It is a scheme that has been working for many many many years; yet I learn from my friends parents year after year that this tactic is lame; they never like the portraits and they spent a fortune.  Sounds like a win-lose-win (school-parent-photographer) situation: Michael Scott would not agree.

NEWS FLASH:  YOU DO NOT NEED TO WORK WITH THAT PHOTOGRAPHER!!!  Well, if you want Johnny’s headshot in the yearbook, go in to the contracted photography studio, get the FREE portrait AND LEAVE.  Unless you really like them you can buy them, but rarely is that the case.  If you want portraits that will make you tear up, cry and get all emotional every time you see them, then work with an artist: not a mediocre trained teenage photographer (which most of the studios employ).  Hire someone who’s style YOU LOVE.  Generally, these are the smaller individuals that actually treat you like a real person, who have fun and creative photography sessions, who get to know the high school seniors that they work with, and produce (consistently) AWESOME results that will just blow you away.  These photographers are real artists; not hard-sell business people who only force you in to the studio (as a yearbook requirement) and then sell you on things you do not want.

Why do I write about this?  I believe this tactic is very dishonest to open business trade; it restricts free commerce.  And those who are in charge are the school districts because its ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.  It is generally a requirement if the photographer wants the contract, that the photographer “donates” thousands and thousands of dollars to the school.  These transactions are generally all under the table, and on the verge of being illegal business practices.  Sure, supporting your school is a good thing, but when it fosters a bad thing its never a good thing.  Bad has never been good.

What can you do about it?  BE AMERICAN.  BE FREE.  MAKE YOUR OWN CHOICES.  EXCERCISE YOUR LIBERTY.  Hire a photographer who you like.  Hire someone you won’t be dissappointed with.  In reality, you will spend LESS money hiring a specialized senior portrait photographer than actually working with the large studios.

To recap everything, here is a quick PROS / CONS list of each scenario:

PROS-Large Studio
-you can get it all done in one day

CONS-Large Studio
-You will end up spending more on a complete photography package than if you hired a real Senior Portrait Artist
-You will be treated like a number
-You will probably buy something you don’t really want; salesman and staff will give you a ‘hard-sell’ approach and tell you that you have to buy now or the images will be destroyed
-The photography is mediocre at best
-You get minimal customization options, minimal locations, are nickeled and dimed for clothing changes, multiple locations, etc etc
-Most of the photographs are taken in doors in a very generic studio

PROS-Portrait Artist (small studio)
-You will receive personal attention
-Unique and customized sessions about each Senior
-Multiple Locations, mostly outdoors, more natural
-Prices might seem expensive, but they are much less than the larger studios
-Cool, modern, hip and creative products to remember the senior session
-You work personally with the owner of the studio, you should ALWAYS work with the professional photographer, never a TRAINED associate employee.
-You are not a number, but a real person and a valued customer

CONS-Portrait Artist (small studio)
-Your school highly encourages you to NOT use them (when is your school right though?)
-Nothing, there are really only benefits to working with an individual photographer who’s style you like!

Recommended Senior Portrait Photographers:
-We ONLY recommend Spencer Boerup Photography at the moment.  There are plenty of Tucson photographers to choose from, but whenever I visit, his stuff is absolutely the best!  Visit Spencer Boerup Photography’s website today for more information on arizona tucson senior photos!

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