Seniorologie » The Study of Senior Portrait Photography

  • Welcome to Seniorologie! Learning, taking notes and studying are all things we have in common with high school seniors. As photographers, we are as much students as any senior! Seniorologie is an inspirational blog dedicated to the study of senior portrait photography. We will post unique sessions, behind the scenes, marketing, business tips and more! And if you are a senior, we have posts for you too! Whether you are looking for a photographer in your area, fashion tips to help you get ready for your session or inspiration for your upcoming shoot, we have it! So sit back, take notes, learn and be inspired!

The Seniorologie People’s Choice Awards


The Third Annual Seniorologie Image Contest – The People’s Choice Awards

Seniorologie is an inspirational and educational blog dedicated to the study of high school senior portrait photography. We strive to highlight photographers all over the world with exceptional talent to inspire others.

For the past three years, Seniorologie has hosted image contests and we have seen amazing talent! But this year we wanted to do something a little different. We wanted to host an image contest that not only showcased amazing talent but would also allow us as photographers to gain knowledge and insight and be educational.

We brainstormed. Stepped away and came back to brainstorm some more. Then I got a text from one of our beloved Seniorologie Tour Speakers, Misti Davis of Pink Fly Photography, with an idea! We chatted, consulted another Seniorologie Tour Speaker, Courtney DeLaura, for more brainstorming and came up with a new way to do the Seniorologie Image Contest!

We are calling it the Seniorologie People’s Choice Senior Awards! So, what makes this contest unique and different from the rest? Well the winners of this contest will be chosen by the PEOPLE!


What people you ask?

Teens!! These are the people we are photographing. These are the people we are marketing to. So why not have them as judges in this image contest so that we can not only find inspirational and exceptional talent but to also gain insight into what our target market is attracted to?

Parents!!! These are the people with the money!:)They make the decisions and they purchase the photos that we are selling! So why not have them choose their favorite images so we gain insight into what parents want to purchase?

Pros!! These are the people that know the technical stuff! Is it in focus? Is it edited correctly? We have to have pros to determine the photos that are technically correct. But not just any pro. Not just a list of senior photographers who know the photos (and the photographers) that are being entered, watermark or not. But rather a group of professionals in the industry but not necessarily senior photographers. For instance, a professional from a popular lab, a wedding photographer, and maybe even a successful teen photographer.

Please make sure to follow each of our amazing pro judges at the following links:

Justin & Mary Marantz – Instagram & Twitter – @marymarantz and @justinmarantz

Facebook -

Promise Tangeman – Instagram & Twitter – @promisetangeman and @golivehq

Arlene Evans of Creative Live – Instagram & Twitter – @creativelive

Caitlin Lazo of Pro DPI – Instagram & Twitter – @prodpi

Spanki Mills – Instagram & Twitter – @spankimills

In an effort to create a contest that was non-biased and as fair as possible, we chose people who were in the industry (the pros), people who senior photographers market to (the teens) and people who purchased the photos (the parents).

There will be 10 amazing categories to enter your images. Three winners in each category will be chosen…Teen’s Choice, Parent’s Choice, Pro’s Choice winners will be different in every category which means that 30 individual photographers will win!

No popularity contest here! Each of the three winners in each of the 10 categories will be chosen by a panel – The Teen Panel will choose the Teen’s Choice Award in each category; The Parent Panel will choose the Parent’s Choice Award in each category; The Pro Panel will choose the Pro’s Choice Award in each category.

So what are these amazing categories? Here is the List:

Black and White
BFF Sessions (two seniors)
Concept (must have a clear concept or theme)
Senior Girl
Senior Guy
Special Interest or Hobby (dancing, instruments, etc)
Studio Lighting or OCF
Senior Model Shoot – (group shots of senior spokesmodels)

You may enter one image or several. Entering more than one image per category will allow your work to be seen and considered in each category. However, the same photographer will not win in several categories. Max number of entries is 10, which allows you to enter one per category, 10 in one category or whatever combination you wish.

The Seniorologie People’s Choice Awards will run from Tuesday, November 18, 2014 until December 31, 2014. This allows you to enter as much as you want and gives you time to go out and shoot those amazing images to enter if you need to! Winners will be announced January 30, 2015 on the blog.

Each of the 30 winners will receive:

– A Digital Button to display on your website or blog to let everyone know you are a Seniorologie People’s Choice Award Winner

– An 11×14 Foam Print of the winning image courtesy of Pro DPI to display for all your clients to see

– Blog Post Featuring the Winners on

– Any Website Design, Blog Design or Product in the Go Live HQ Design Shop by Promise Tangeman (services not included)

– A Copy of The Guide by Justin and Mary Marantz

– An Album Template from Spanki Mills

Submission Guidelines:

All images must be of a Class of 2014 or Class of 2015 High School Senior
All images must be high resolution images and saved as your business name and the category you are submitting that image for with the number of which that image is. Example: seniorologieconcept1.jpg or seniorologieconcept2.jpg
All images must be submitted via the People’s Choice Awards Image Contest Form
All images MUST NOT BE WATERMARKED!! Any images that contain a watermark or business name will be disqualified!
You must have a signed release from the subject in the image giving you permission to submit the image to this contest, blog and publication. Please attach this release to the entry form when entering this contest.
Vertical, Horizontal, Close Up, Full Body, Three-quarters, girls or guys are accepted.
All images submitted must be received via the entry form by 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on December 31, 2014. Any images received after this deadline will not be considered. Please check your local time to see what time 11:59 PM Eastern Time is for your area.
Images submitted from workshops or shoot out events will not be considered.
Images will be narrowed down then given to the three panels for them to score the images based on a point system. The images with the most points will be awarded. The decisions made by the panel are final.
You must be the owner of the image or images submitted. By submitting images, you are granting Seniorologie permission to publish these images on the blog, social media and the look book.
No refunds will be given for any reason.

How do you enter?
To enter, you must fill out the Entry Form HERE.

The Entry Form with have a list of options like the list below.  Depending on the number of images you enter, the price will vary.  See the list below to know how much.

1 Image…$5
3 Images…$7
5 Images…$10
10 Images…$15

Erin - Are you required to have an instagram to enter this contest?

Leslie - No you are not!

Senior Inspiration – {Abundant Life Images}


Style Icons such as Stevie Nicks can inspire a beautiful senior photo session.  The gypsy/boho look is so popular and incorporating that look into a senior session can be beautiful.

“My inspiration for this shoot came mainly from gypsies – the clothing, accessories, hairstyles and even from the music of Stevie Nicks and Grace Potter (my favorite gypsy girls),” said Rebekah Gregg of Abundant Life Images in Woodstock, Georgia.

Check out this session below and read what else Rebekah had to share about it.  Thanks for sharing your work with Seniorologie Rebekah!





What was your inspiration for this photo shoot?
My inspiration for this shoot came mainly from gypsies – the clothing, accessories, hairstyles, and even from music from Stevie Nicks and Grace Potter (my favorite gypsy girls!).

Where did this photo shoot take place?
On an abandoned lot in Woodstock, GA – it took a little bit of climbing to get to. North Georgia is anything but flat, so getting to the top of any hill takes some doing!

Did you collaborate with this senior to come up with the clothing and/or concept for this shoot?
Absolutely! I created a Pinterest board to give her ideas and show her exactly the look I was wanting. Then she sent me pics of the things she had chosen and I brought along some accessories from my own closet and jewelry box.

What camera, lens or other equipment was used for this shoot?
I shoot with a Nikon D700 and 50mm f1.4 almost exclusively.

What time of day were these taken?
evening – last hour and a half before sundown


Can you share any post-processing techniques used when editing this session?
This session was a breeze! Emily is a fantastic makeup artist and her skin didn’t require any touch-ups. All I did was take it into Lightroom for a bit of contrast boost, warming up the temperature, and brightening the exposure.

What is your favorite thing about this session?
Emily’s sense of style and she wants to do some modeling so she was great at taking direction on how to move and was really comfortable in front of the camera.

What do you want this session to convey about this senior and about your senior photography style?
I want this session to show how joyful Emily is and I want my senior clients to see that I’m good at making them feel comfortable and that they can be themselves with me. I want seniors to know that their pictures don’t have to look like everyone else’s; that I will make sure we showcase their personality and give them something unique and modern!

What is one tip you can share with other photographers regarding photographing seniors?
It’s been said here a lot on Seniorologie – get to know your clients! This is SO important! Asking them questions about their likes and dislikes, their activities and interests, their style and personality makes all the difference in how you approach each session. Senior photography is the best! It never gets stale or boring because each teen is unique and they are genuinely excited to get their portraits taken.

Senior Inspiration – {Christiansen Photography}


It is always so much fun for photographers when your senior clients allow you to be creative and add something different to their sessions.  Stretching our creativity as artists really helps us grow.

“This adorable girl, Abbey, is my boyfriend’s cousin, who was so kind to let me play around with different ideas and let me kind of take the wheel of her senior session,” said Hayley Christiansen of Christiansen Photography in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Check out this session below and the amazing photos as well as the super cool lighting!  Thanks for sharing your work with Seniorologie Hayley!!




What was your inspiration for this photo shoot?
I got a feel for what Abbey wanted and imagined and then threw a little of my own creativity in the mix. I honestly have no idea where I got the idea for the hanging light bulbs .. It just came to me! I’m weird like that.:)

Where did this photo shoot take place?
We started shooting in a forest behind an old baseball field, which I knew had a neat bridge for a cool industrial look. Then we headed off towards Denton, Nebraska, where she lives, and settled for a perfect tree near the sunset.

What camera, lens or other equipment was used for this shoot?
I used my Nikon D800 and my 50 1.4.

What time of day were these taken?
We started about 2 hours before sunset.

Can you share any post-processing techniques used when editing this session?
I start my process by uploading to Lightroom, where I pick and choose the best images from the session. From there, I adjust lighting and use VSCO Film presets with my own customizations. I finish off in Photoshop, where I do skin retouching and minimal adjustments.


What is your favorite thing about this session?
I love how stunning Abbey looked with the light bulbs in the background. It was the exact look I was going for!

What do you want this session to convey about this senior and about your senior photography style?
I strive to make fashion-forward, unique images that really capture my senior and their personality and style. I want each senior I work with to feel beautiful – inside and out.

What is one tip you can share with other photographers regarding photographing seniors?
Have a meeting with your senior before your shoot!! I have “Senior Consultations” with my seniors a week or so before their shoot date, where we talk about ideas, locations, outfits, props, and anything else they may have imagined for their session! That way I can try to make every session unique and unlike any other clients!


Topic Tuesday with Teen Sara Cooney

Today’s guest blog post is from our teen guest blogger Sara Cooney of Sara Cooney Photography.  Check out her awesome tips for how to engage your followers even in the off season!

Busy season for high school senior photographers will vary depending on where they live and if there is a yearbook deadline to meet. I know of some photographers that are able to book senior sessions year round, but in my town senior photos are due to the yearbook at the end of October. This leaves me with July through September being my busiest months, with a few sessions scattered in June and October. So what do I do from November to May when I don’t have any senior sessions happening?

It is so important to keep the attention of your followers and keep marketing to them, even during your slow season. Don’t just fall off the face of the earth on your social media as soon as your done with your sessions, and then expect to come back next season with everyone waiting and just as interested. You need to keep the momentum going, especially during your slower months. Here are some ways you can do that:



-Post throwbacks from your sessions over the summer: If you were following my rule of only posting a few times a day at most on Instagram, there is no way you got to sharing all of those amazing images you wanted to! Go back through sessions and find those hidden gems. Maybe post one from a session on the beach on a day when it is snowing, or a colorful image on a dark and dreary day. Whatever it may be, it is a way to keep marketing to your teen followers and lets them know that your still there. (ps: for those of you who don’t know, “Throwback Thursday” is a thing on Instagram, but still feel free to post them on other days of the week!)


-Fashion inspiration: Winter is approaching, which in my opinion is the hardest month to look cute for because really I just want to wear a full body blanket until spring comes. Post some winter fashion inspiration (layered outfits, scarves, hats, coats, etc.) and give them some ideas of what to wear to school or out at night in the winter. Or, you can take it a step further and post outfits to give seniors ideas on what they can wear for their senior pictures. That is something I plan on doing on my account, starting most likely in the spring. Remember to not gear the outfits towards teens, not necessarily something you would wear!


-Quotes: Every once in a while, I come across to a quote I love and I will share on Instagram. If you type the quote into Google images, more than likely someone has made it into a something creative, whether it be with a picture or just written in a cool font. You can also use an app called Word Swag (one of my favorite apps!) to design something yourself with the quote.


-What your working on: What are you doing with your time during your slow season? Maybe your rebranding, designing a new website, creating a new logo, ordering t shirts for your business…whatever it may be, share with your followers what is going on behind the scenes. Post little sneak peeks along the way of what your working on and get them excited for whats to come!


-Get personal: Maybe during your busy season you got so wrapped up with all the amazing images you wanted to share that you rarely posted anything non photography or business related. The holidays are the perfect time to get personal and share posts that aren’t business related. Maybe you have a holiday tradition you do with your family every year, maybe its baking cookies with your kids, maybe it’s a Christmas party with your friends. Whatever it may be, snap a picture and give your followers a little peek at what your life is like.

Hopefully this post gets your brain going and gives you a few new ideas on how you can stay active on your social media during your slow season. Like I said, it is so important to keep the momentum going and not just disappear from posting for a few months. Have anything to add to my list? Join my group on Facebook and share your own ideas!

Happy Holidays!

xo –Sara Cooney

Sara Cooney is an aspiring photographer and monthly contributor to Seniorologie. Sara shares information that help photographers reach the teen market by giving real tips on how photographers can reach the teen market. Sara started Sara Cooney Photography when she was a junior in high school and she photographs seniors, dancers, families, couples, musicians and has been a second shooter on a few weddings, which she plans on doing more of this year. Sara spent one semester at the University of Rhode Island and now will be attending the New England School of Photography in October to pursue her dream.

Senior Inspiration – {VioletRay Photography}


A wardrobe and a location should always go together perfectly as they should also reflect the senior personality.  This allows us a glimpse into who that senior is and allows the photographer to capture her perfectly.

Trina of VioletRay Photography in Missoula, Montana said, “Paige’s fun loving personality was the inspiration for this shoot.  She brought a wardrobe that reflected who she was and together we chose locations that accented and showcased both!”

Check out this fun natural country chic session below and read what else Trina had to say about it!  Thanks for sharing your work with Seniorologie Trina!!





What was your inspiration for this photo shoot?
Paige’s fun loving personality was the inspiration for this shoot. She brought a wardrobe that reflected who she was and together we chose locations that accent and showcase both!

Where did this photo shoot take place?
Missoula, MT in the University of Montana district and down along the Clark Fork River

Did you collaborate with this senior to come up with the clothing and/or concept for this shoot?
Absolutely I did! I always make sure that their thoughts, opinion and desires are acknowledged and worked into the session.

What camera, lens or other equipment was used for this shoot?
Canon 5D Mark iii, Canon 85mm 1.2L and a silver reflector

What time of day were these taken?
Golden Hours just before sunset


Can you share any post-processing techniques used when editing this session?
I like to keep all my post processing clean and bold. I made sure that all the images in Paige’s gallery were able to flow together for a gorgeous wall display and kept true to her fun and bright personality!

What is your favorite thing about this session?
Oh man!!! I loved it all so incredibly much, but working with her in the Nature Prairie was just down right gorgeous! The light on the field and the way it just glowed like a halo around her long flowey hair was just divine!

What do you want this session to convey about this senior and about your senior photography style?
Bottom line is I always want my sessions to convey them and their unique characteristics. The session is about them, for them, and therefore it should be a way to showcase them!

What is one tip you can share with other photographers regarding photographing seniors?
Always listen to them and their visions and you will be sure to have a raging success of a shoot!

Seniorologie Spotlight – {Share Your Image Saturday}

Each week we choose three images that have been shared by all of you on our Facebook page. To enter this weekly contest, simply post a recent photo from a senior shoot that you have photographed sized to 740 px wide and include your photography business name and you will be considered for that week’s top three. The Top Three chosen each week will be posted right here on the blog on Saturdays and the winner will be displayed as our Facebook timeline cover for the week.

This week’s top three are Tammy Nicole Photography, Tiffany Photography and Kim Rollwitz Photography.

Congratulations to these three! Keep sharing those amazing images with Seniorologie!!