This is probably the most popular question we get! When SHOULD you schedule your senior photos? When do most families make senior portrait appointments and when do you need them back? To answer this question simply, it kind of depends. Let's walk through some of the details to determine when you should schedule senior photos in Central Ohio.
When Do You Need Your Senior Photos Back?
Think first about how you plan to use these images. Some of the most common uses for senior photos are yard signs/banners around graduation, wall art in the home, graduation party invitations, gift prints for family members, keepsake albums, and submission for inclusion in the high school yearbook. You want to make sure you allow enough time for the images/products to be edited, produced, and delivered before you need them. If you plan to gift photographs for the holidays, you will want to have your session no later than mid-November so you have time to select your professional products and get them in your hands before the holidays. If you only need to meet a yearbook deadline, we recommend checking with your school to find out when that is required. I have seen some deadlines as early as late Fall, but many are in the Winter months which would allow sessions as late as January. (For the Class of 2023, Westerville North deadline is early March, Westerville Central early April, and Westerville South was late April). Still, if you are only looking for graduation invitations and wall art, you could even do a session as late as early Spring of your senior year. If your school yearbook does not allow photo submission (Olentangy Schools, for example), you would instead want to consider a yearbook ad or page congratulating your senior and check deadlines for that. Offerings vary by school and district.
What Season Do You Envision for Your Portraits?
This is probably the first decision your family will make for senior portraits. If you are envisioning a Summer session in fields of flowers or a rose garden, a summer dress, or with that late evening golden sun, you will need to book your session early. Often these families will book senior photos during the end of Junior year to take place in June, July, or August. There are many reasons Summer is a great time for your senior session, including getting it in your schedule before your busy senior year picks up. Plus, you have your photos back for Senior Sunday at the beginning of the school year!
If the rich Fall color of the changing leaves is more your speed, you will want to be sure to snag a date on the calendar by about July or August for maximum availability. Fall is the busiest portrait season, so dates can go quick. In addition, school sports and activity schedules, (not to mention your senior social life!) tends to pick up by September which reduces family availably and makes scheduling harder if you wait. Finally, the sun begins to set earlier and earlier as we head into October and November (after the clocks change the first weekend of November, it's dark so early!), which can make weeknight outdoor photography sessions a challenge.
Don't mind the cold?! Maybe Winter is your season! There is something super cool and unique about a senior session in the snow, and there are a lot of reasons Winter is a great time for senior portraits! This tends to be a slower season for senior pictures in Columbus, Ohio and all of the Midwest, which means that availably is greater and it is easier to schedule. This also means that you can wait until about November or December to actually schedule your Winter session.
If you prefer to wait until the end of senior year for any reason, such as family situations or waiting on braces removal, Spring is also an option. Spring tends to get busier as the next class of seniors will begin booking and even holding their sessions by the end of their Junior year. I recommend scheduling by February or March for a Spring session. This way you are also sure to have your images back before graduation to use on announcements.
Are You Planning for Multiple Sessions?
If your senior photography vision includes capturing this special time in your life during more than one season, you will want to plan a bit earlier to make sure you can get a date in the earlier season. Our most popular version of this is doing a Summer and Fall session or a Fall and Spring session. Many of our seniors will do a Cap & Gown Mini Session, which means you can capture the best of early and late Senior Year by scheduling for Summer or Fall.
We occasionally offer complimentary pop-up sessions for some of our seniors after their session has taken place. This is a great way to have some additional photos in other seasons with some new friends, but also have your favorite season highlighted in your custom session. We recommend booking your session by early Fall to make sure you don't miss any of these fun bonus shoots!
So...What Month Should You Schedule Senior Portraits?
As you can see, this answer will totally depend on when you want to take your senior photos and how you want to use them. As a helpful guideline, we begin scheduling during early Spring of Junior year and most of our bookings take place through the Summer and very early September, as Summer and Fall are the most popular seasons for the senior pictures to actually take place. If you have a busy family schedule, it's best to reach out to your photographer by mid-Summer if possible before your ideal session dates are taken! Want to know more about our fully customized session experience? Check out our website for details and reach out with any questions.