“I’ve got plenty of time,” you say to yourself. And then all of a sudden, deadlines are a week away, finals are coming up, college applications are due, and all that time just disappeared in the vortex of that magical time called “Senior Year.” Senior year goes by FAST. So when should you schedule Atlanta senior pictures to hit all those deadlines, minimize stress, and get amazing images that you can enjoy for years to come?
Tips to Schedule Senior Pictures
Deadlines for Senior pictures
The school year is filled with deadlines. There are hundreds to consider. The big ones that significantly influence when to schedule your senior pictures include the school yearbook submission deadline, graduation invites & announcements, midterms and finals, college applications, prom, and extracurricular activities like sports, concerts, and theater.
School Yearbook Submission
Usually timed around late fall or winter break, this is a big deadline. The school will typically require you to go to a contracted photo studio to get a school grad photo (these should be free), which they will submit to the yearbook. Outside of that, if you want other images included in the yearbook, you’ll need to either book with that same studio or find another photographer and submit those images yourself. Try to take your senior pictures at least 1 or 2 months before the yearbook submission deadline to give your photographer plenty of time to edit and deliver your images.
Graduation Invites & Announcements
Most graduations are in May. If you’d like to get those graduation announcements sent out to friends and family in time, you’ll need about two weeks for a print lab to create all of those cards and then to mail them. On top of that, you’ll want to give your senior portrait photographer 1 or 2 months between the shoot and the lab deadline to get your images edited and delivered.
Midterms, Finals, and College Applications
The world stops around these times. Nothing else matters because studying and writing will become the primary focus. Midterms and finals, IB, & AP testing happen near winter break and before graduation, respectively, with college applications typically due in the fall. There’s nothing more stressful than trying to knock out senior pictures with college applications and major tests on the mind. Give yourself some wiggle room and try to schedule the session a few weeks before these dates.
Sports, Concerts, and Theater
If you want to have images with your uniform and on the field, you’ll need to consider your school’s practice and game schedule. Talk with your coaches and see if they can help you find time during the week or even on the weekends. See if you can use the facilities during the off-season. These tips also apply to concerts and theater performances, though these have a bit more wiggle room. I’ve had extraordinary drama teachers let me and their students shoot in their black box theaters over the summer and winter breaks. It’s worthwhile to cultivate strong relationships with coaches and teachers.
What Background Do You Want?
If you’re interested in multicolored leaves, red & brown tones, then you’ll want to schedule for the fall season. Like greens and blues? Aim for summer. Colors are crucial for senior portraits; that includes the background and the color of your clothes! Think about your style and how you want your senior pictures to look. Use that to help determine which season to schedule your session. This leads to my next point!
What’s Your Style?
If you’re a jeans and sweater type, then late fall, winter, or early spring should be your target. Shorts and a t-shirt? Summer is your best bet. Figure out your favorite clothing ensemble and season to help determine when to take your senior pictures. These portraits should be the ultimate reflection of your personality – be proactive with scheduling, so you get exactly what you want. Be aware that different seasons have different challenges when changing clothes and picking what to wear.
Studio vs. On-Location for Senior Pictures
Pretty much the ultimate cheat code, you can photograph your senior portraits at a studio and eliminate the worry of timing the seasons and your clothing style. I’ve got a few articles that discuss the pros and cons of shooting pictures in a studio vs. on location that you should check out as part of your planning process, especially since we all know Atlanta Weather is a joke.
Which Season to Schedule Senior Pictures
I’ve assembled a list of pros and cons to shooting senior pictures each season to help you decide which works best for you!
- Super flexible for clothing options. Spring is usually pretty cool, so you can comfortably wear a sweater and jeans or shorts and a t-shirt.
- Cooler weather means less sweating and bugs.
- Spring usually has some fantastic green colors and, if you’re lucky, cherry blossoms.
- Major college deadlines have passed. Applications were due in the fall, which makes early spring less stressful.
- You can shoot senior pictures during your Junior year when it’s way less stressful, and you’re done a full year in advance.
- Rain is unpredictable in the spring, especially in Atlanta.
- If shooting the Spring of your senior year, then you’ll probably have missed the yearbook deadline.
- If it’s spring of Senior year, you’ll be rushing to get grad announcements out.
- This semester FLIES by with prom, finals, AP & IB testing, spring break, senior days, etc.
- It’s easy to schedule senior pictures because the days are longer, so we can shoot until 8:30 PM in Atlanta and still have some sunlight!
- You typically have fewer school commitments to worry about and schedule around.
- Outdoor parks and natural scenes will have greenery in full bloom.
- If done before your senior year starts in the Fall, you’ll have plenty of time to submit to your yearbook.
- It’s sweltering and humid in Atlanta. As a result, you’ll most likely be sweating, and your hair will get frizzy quickly.
- Mosquitos. Enough said.
- Most families plan summer travel & vacations, so scheduling senior pictures could be tricky.
- It can be challenging to access sports equipment, facilities, and performance spaces since most teachers and coaches take the summer off, and the school is closed down.
- Cutting it close, but you can submit your senior pictures to the yearbook and have plenty of time for grad announcements and invites.
- Fall colors are gorgeous.
- You can double up your senior portrait session with family photos for the holidays.
- It’s easier access to sports equipment, facilities, and performance spaces.
- Super flexible for clothing options because it’s cooler weather.
- It’s a great time for urban locations.
- Most yearbook deadlines are in late fall.
- SAT & ACT testing may be in full swing.
- Sports schedules are at their peak intensity.
- The weather in Atlanta can be unpredictable for hot vs. cold.
- Falls colors are unpredictable. Sometimes they pop late; other times, they pop early.
- College applications are typically due later in the fall, leading to significant stress and scheduling issues.
- Winter in Atlanta doesn’t get super cold until after December. So you can get the winter aesthetic without freezing!
- Winter break is an excellent downtime if your family isn’t traveling much.
- You can take advantage of holiday lights for cool backgrounds.
- There’s a slight chance you may still be able to make the yearbook deadline depending on your school.
- You’ll have plenty of time for graduation announcements.
- Outdoor locations will be less packed with crowds!
- The winter season is the best time for senior pictures at urban locations.
- Shorter days mean it gets darker earlier, and there’s less time to shoot during daylight hours.
- Atlanta winters are usually cold, cloudy, and wet, which can be great for lighting but uncomfortable to shoot.
- Family holidays and travel plans are common this time of year.
- Midterms & college applications are either wrapping up or in full swing, which will add a lot of stress to your schedule.
As you can see, a lot of planning and thought should go into scheduling your senior pictures. Not just into the wardrobe, but locations and the time of year too. Being proactive is the best way to ensure you get the best possible senior portraits. Most senior portrait photographers are happy to book months in advance to help plan out the details, create concepts, and work with you to get incredible pictures. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask lots of questions.
Speaking of questions, did I miss anything with this article? Are there other contributing factors to scheduling madness that other seniors looking for pictures should consider or know about? Let me know in the comments below!