You have a right to choose!
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When I was in High School, the Senior Portrait was not a big deal. Before the start of senior year, the school would tell you where to go to have a formal
portrait taken for the yearbook. The idea was that you wanted something better than the standard high school photograph; one that was not taken by someone whose photography training and experience was not much better than the lady who takes your license picture at the DMV. Since you were there, they offered the ability to get your picture taken with a cap and gown and even with a giant number representing the year you graduated- and that was it. Today, schools still instruct their students where they want them to go for their Senior Portrait, but do you have to go where they tell you? More importantly, should you?
It is understandable that the schools must control what types of files they receive for the yearbook it is a matter of consistency. But senior portraits are expensive, and you need to know that you're getting the results you want. It is unethical for the school to require or for the photography studio to imply that you must also get your senior portraits done with their chosen photographer. Beyond the basic yearbook photo, the choice is yours.
Choosing a photographer is a personal decision and it comes down to two basic criteria.
When going with the big photo studios that the school normally recommends, there's no guarantee that you'll get to really choose. Usually they are very good at what they do and that is take lots of pictures for lots of people and do it the same way all the time. They'll assign you to whomever is available for the shoot that day, you'll have no sense of photographic style, nor will you have the opportunity to meet ahead of time to be sure your personalities are a match. For them it's all about volume.
Today, having your senior portraits done is a big deal. It's the opportunity to get decked out and perhaps pampered by a hair-dresser and/or make-up artist on-location. Throw in a couple of wardrobe changes, and spend a few hours getting treated like a super-model in locations that have a special meaning to you and you get a special memory that is matched only by the beautiful portraits you get afterward. For you parents, let's face it, this is the last time you'll probably get formal portraits of your child before their wedding. A far cry from what I had back then, and not something you want to trust to just whomever the school says you must use. Don't surrender your choice. If your school insists on using their photographer - just do what is required of you for your yearbook. But for your precious memories, hire the photographer that you choose!
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