Senior Sessions hold a special place in my heart. While I had learned my art in high school, taking all of the photography and creative classes I could, it wasn’t until I was in college getting my nursing degree that I began to pursue photography as a business and not a hobby. I got my start as a professional photographer with Senior Sessions; taking photos for friends, sorority sisters, and nursing classmates.
It is so much fun to be involved in a Senior Session! It is like a mini celebration before the big triumph at graduation. And while graduation can often be an uncertain time as your future lies before you, it is ultimately exciting and full of happiness. You have worked hard for something that few others have been able to achieve, and are receiving a degree to certify that you know things! It is a time when you reserve the right to be the center of attention!
When I was getting ready to graduate from my alma mater, James Madison University (go Dukes!), prepping for graduation was stressful. There are so many deadlines, job interviews between classes, and last chance social engagements (aka, the last time you go to your favorite bar or late night pizza place with your besties). It’s stressful and bittersweet because you are leaving something behind but moving to something greater.
During this busy time, it was easy for me to feel overwhelmed, and to not make time for myself. The most significant and important thing that I did for myself during that last spring semester, was to set aside time for a personal photo session.
My friend, Jenna, and I met on a hot and humid day on the quad. It was sweaty, and started to rain, and I had a paper due the next day. Taking time do something for myself outside of school and job hunting, even a quick run, would stress me out. However, this was such a fun day, and I didn’t think twice about all of the other things on my To Do list. It was a moment that was all about me, and everything I had accomplished!
Should I invest in a Senior Session?
My immediate answer will always be “yes”. One thousand times, yes. If not just for yourself, then for your family and loved ones. For your Linkedin Profile (you’re looking for jobs now, right?). These are your last days on a campus you have called home for 4+ years. Why wouldn’t you want to savor that in the form of a photo? To remember that last time you are on the Quad with your friends? Or the final time you walk up the steps of the building you have taken every important class in? What about the landmarks of your school? What about commemorating your school traditions? At JMU, it is necessary to have a quintessential “J. Maddy” photo with the popular James Madison statue on campus. A Senior Session is about saving all of the memories you’ve made.
What’s Involved in my Senior Session?
With my grads, I honestly believe that the sky is the limit. While I have a standard shot list of places that I like to take my grads on campus, I want your input! Where’s the building you have taken all of your classes? Is there a hidden walkway or little garden on campus you like to spend time at? Where was your freshman dorm? Where do you like to hang out on campus? Who’s your best friend, and are they in your photos?
I have had roommates take photos together as they take their final steps on campus. Sometimes couples take their photos together at the fabled “kissing rock”. I love when nursing majors show off their stethoscope, forming a heart out of the tubing. It warms my heart when best friends jump in a fountain together, just to cross it off their graduation bucket list.
You only get to wear your regalia for one, maybe two days at commencement. Afterwards, you will hang it in your closet, or package it up in a box. Is that fair? You worked your butt off to accomplish all of the things those cords, stoles, and tassels represent, only for it to be put in a box! Right now, you need to own it, and show off your accomplishments. You invested in your future, and it’s time to mark that occasion. A photo is something that will last forever, a visual reminder of all of the talents you have cultivated.
OK, I Had My Senior Session, What Do I Do With All of These Photos?
Share them! If you’re like me, you are thinking about which photo is going to be your new profile picture on all of your social media accounts. Share them with your friends and family on social media for instant gratification of how great you are! Want something even more meaningful? Get prints of your photos. My mom loves having a professional quality photo of me that’s not a posed high school yearbook photo! You know who else would love a copy? Your grandparents. My grandma cried when I sent her photos. She actually put one of them in her purse and pulled it out to show people every chance she got! Your family are your biggest cheerleaders, and they want to celebrate this moment with you too! Photo prints of your Senior Session also make great gifts come Christmas time (wink, wink).
Want to hear something special I did? As I was getting ready to move for my first post-grad job, I found something I didn’t even know I had. In first grade, I had written a letter to my high school self, asking what my dreams and aspirations were, and most importantly if my favorite color still pink. My first grade teacher mailed this to me when I graduated from high school, and I found it while packing up some things at my parents’ house. It included a sweet note from my teacher, as well as a photo she took of first grade me. I wrote a letter in reply to my teacher, and included a print from my Senior Session side by side with the picture of seven year old me. My teacher was so touched to hear from a student sixteen years later, and to hear how the foundations she gave me in first grade had lead me to this moment. She absolutely loved receiving a photo of then and now. It was such a special treat for both her and me!
What do I wear to my session?
Want to know what to wear to your Senior Session? Want any other tips and tricks I have for you to have a beautiful session? I am working on a guide for what to wear to your session, and I like to send out other valuable information to my email list. If you want to be the first to receive this guide and the other information I share, sign up for the list!