You Shoot Seniors?? An Introduction to John Pyle, Senior Portrait Photographer

I don’t shoot weddings. I admire wedding photographers, I love their work, and some of my best friends are wedding photographers. I even like to go to weddings and enjoy the celebration…and some cake. Yes, people are always going to get married.. but high school seniors only graduate once.

Grace is a 2011 Senior

For me seniors are what we enjoy. Mostly because they WANT to be photographed. When I first got my DSLR in early 2000s and started shooting events, weddings, parties etc…I learned very quickly what I did NOT enjoy photographing. My favorite quotes during this time include “oh please don’t take my picture”, “I might break your camera” “can you only photograph me from the waist up?” “can you Photoshop out my wrinkles?”, “can you make me look skinny?,” and “do you HAVE to take MY picture?”. And of course the countless number of hands in front of faces, ducking heads, and people running to hide like I was holding a live cobra in my hand.

I do know that I have always loved photography and always had a camera with me. That love came from my father who loved to travel and took me and my mom everywhere growing up. For me, the best part of the trip was waiting for Dad’s slides to be ready. After dinner we would eat dessert and get out the projector, pull down the screen in the living room, and start spinning the carousel around, re-living the trip.

I think those travel “adventures” carry over to today in our senior work. The real excitement for senior photography came after we photographed a girl who uploaded a couple of the pics to her facebook. She made one a profile pic and tagged me in it. The next morning I had 57 friend requests! This was back before facebook was a household name and back before we had 5000 “friends”. Seniors stand at a unique place in their life. College decisions, athletics, exams, SATs, peer pressure, insecurities, challenges, accomplishments, successes, fears, and relationships. There is something special and challenging about being trusted to try and capture all that…AND display it to a senior and their family, their peers, and across their social media stages. Senior shoots are an adventure and experience from the first time we meet with our seniors and their families until…well they are ongoing…as we have developed relationships with each one of our customers and we are grateful for that. Each senior is unique, every shoot is unique, and your studio has to be unique as well. There is a lot more to senior photography than having a senior girl or guy stand by a brick wall and tilting the camera or laying across block letters that spell the word “Senior”. I look forward to discussing a lot more about seniors and senior photography in future articles. I also know a lot succesful photographers that shoot both seniors and weddings. I encourage people who aren’t shooting high school seniors to consider adding it to your business.

This beautiful saturday afternoon I am off from shooting. I am going to put on my suit and head to a wedding today of a wonderful couple that we were invited to attend. One of my best friends is photographing it. I am gonna enjoy seeing the couple, seeing their wedding images, and of course the cake. But tomorrow I look forward to climbing on roofs, standing in rivers, and timing the click of the shutter with that of the baseball swing of a high school senior athlete.

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  1. Enjoyed your post, John. I know what you mean about weddings! You make a good point about finding out what you DON’T like shooting(even though it can be a ‘nice little earner’). To my mind, it makes what you do enjoy even more appealing – and rewarding – because you only have to imagine the alternatives! PS: Re wedding photographers – agree with your comments. They do a fantastic job and deserve every penny they earn!

  2. So true about having subjects that want to be photographed – what a difference in the ease of your job as a photographer, and the real smiles and enthusiasm shine through in the photos. I’ve enjoyed reading your various articles, thanks!

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