Taking Senior Portraits to New Levels

Much like the way the Willie Geist of Sunday Today describes his senior portraits in this video, mine were definitely a somewhat lackluster experience. The "edgy" photos I had were me in front of a shiny corrugated metal wall holding my favorite guitar at the time, I thought I was cool, and thank goodness this was really prior to the days of digital workflows otherwise I would be obligated to have an embarrassing photo of me somewhere in this article. But times have changed, and with those changes the standards for what constitutes a senior portrait have risen exponentially, especially with the emergence of social media's "do it for the likes, bro."

The video goes into detail discussing two different photographers that have taken the art of senior portraits to a whole different level. They have built special features into their studios in order to accomplish some of the amazing looks, with final results that are akin to a major sports apparel ad for Nike or Under Armour. Photographer Ben Shirk discusses some of his ideology and techniques in order to get the final results for his sports themed images, utilizing a built-in waterfall feature in his studio, and a trampoline for some high flying action shots among other things.

Megan Engeseth, on the other hand, takes a more fashionable approach to her images, with images that look like they've been plucked directly from the cover of Vanity Fair. Utilizing everything from elaborately built sets, rented designer outfits, make-up artists, and hair stylists, the production level of her images could easily be confused with a full set production for a major designer. Every year is a new theme or concept that pushes the creativity of the images to new directions. This year was very contemporary and modern with the year prior being Victorian themed. "It's finding where their talents lie," said Engeseth. "It's a way to show their authentic self to the world, and in a way that they haven't had a chance to do before."

For those asking about the costs of these shoots, it's a valid question, as some of the families are willing to shell out $3,000 or more in order to get a set of photos that will stand out from the crowd. What are your thoughts on these? Would you do something like this for your teen or would you want to stick to the more traditional styles of images?

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8 Comments

michael buehrle's picture

ben is the man.

"utilizing, utilizing"?
"Using" is sufficient and more accurate.

Patrick Hall's picture

Anyone else jealous of that trampoline install and the rain maker install in his studio? That's awesome!

Jeff Goe's picture

Yes totally impressive!

maxing out that creativity !! awesome !!!

Creativity is awesome and I am no where near that creative, but wanted to get thoughts on creativity using green screen vs. out in the elements... Does the green screen take anything away from creativity from an original perspective??

michael buehrle's picture

i am that creative but i don't have all those toys he has. hid studio is amazing. there are shots of it online and it's crazy cool.

Brad Barton's picture

Ben is amazing.. and one of the nicest guys you're going to meet in this industry.

To answer your last question - what *I* would do for my teen is a moot point. *I* am not my client. I couldn't afford me. And that's just the way I like it.