Prices for Senior Pictures: The Complete Reference Guide

Knowing the prices for senior pictures means you’ll know what’s a good deal and which senior portrait companies still have their prices stuck in the 20th century.

When to Start Pricing Photographers

The last year of high school is busy. So, it’s good to start thinking about your senior photos early. Ask any photographer — the senior picture season starts officially the summer after junior year. Photographers get booked early and there’s a lot of planning to be done.

Where to Find Good Photographers

Directories

A list of great local photographers ordered by location. Exactly what you need. Sites like those below or similar are fantastic for finding photographers:

Word of Mouth

Don’t forget to ask people who’ve been there before! If you have family friends with kids who’ve recently had senior pictures done, ask them for the details. Maybe they negotiated a great rate and you can get the photographer to match it? Maybe somebody has a friend or relative that they can recommend?

Ads

You can either search for senior portrait photographers on these platforms or post wanted ads: Craigslist, Gumtree, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, your local newspaper, your community noticeboard, and other local options. Write a description of what you’re looking for (include sample photos of what you want yours to look like) with your contact details and a deadline.

Cost

Senior picture prices vary based on everything from locations, outfits, number of poses, and number of people photographed, not to mention the number of photos and how they’re presented to you — as prints of assorted sizes, in a book, as a collage, digitally… There are loads to bear in mind and they don’t always come cheap. Here are some common senior portrait pricing plans you will come across…

Bowdoin Photography – an experienced Maine-based company

  • Session fee of $175 reserves a two-hour slot
  • Over 200 pictures taken with a variety of locations and outfit changes
  • Print portrait packages from $299 – $549, or a CD package at $159

Kelly Weaver Photography – based in Denver

  • Print package options between $125 and $675
  • Digital package options between $1,295 and $1,995
  • Higher priced packages include more poses, outfits, locations, and the option to have a complementary family shoot

J. Tori Photography – a California photography company that has been nationally recognized

  • Minimalist, Fashion, Model, and Experience senior photo packages
  • Package sessions from $265 to $595, with a minimum purchase of $625 to $2,550
  • With the Experience package you get your behind-the-scenes footage made into a music video

Ann Latinovich Photography – a Chicago-based photography studio

  • Portrait collections start from $395 all-in
  • ALP offers studio or on-location shoots to capture you

Using this mix of value and high-end photographers from around the country (and choosing the cheapest senior portrait package) we end up with a national average cost of senior pictures of $318.

Prices vary! From national budget companies to award-winning local firms, there are lots of options. And, according to the Washington Post senior pictures and prices are always evolving. We will keep this article up-to-date.

The Finished Product

A good photographer will help you discuss everything from poses to final prints. If you are hiring a photographer, you can expect to pay at least $300.

The DIY Route

Cheap senior pictures can even turn out better than expensive ones if you work hard at getting the following right:

Locations – Think of a few places that would provide a nice background for your shots.

Clothing – It’s not all about splashing out on expensive and luxurious outfits. Have a dig around in your closet and ask siblings / friends for a loan, too. Maybe you could rework something you already own?

Hair (+ Makeup) – there are tons of tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube that are super easy to follow at home.

Lighting – If it’s cloudy or indoors you will need to think about getting the correct equipment so your photos aren’t under or overexposed.

Camera/Equipment – You can rent cameras and equipment from borrowlenses.com with prices starting at $60 for three days. If you know someone who is keen on photography you could ask to borrow their camera — or ask them to do the shots!

If you can use what you already have for locations, clothing, hair, and make up, you could be looking at $10 or less if you were to take your own senior pictures.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Research local photographers and check out their work beforehand (listen to word of mouth, too!)
  • Book your senior portrait packages early
  • Bring your own ideas — your photographer will do everything they can do to accommodate
  • Bring a selection of clothing and make up (if such services aren’t included in your package) just in case
  • Check the weather if you’re planning an outdoor shoot

In Summary

To recap, senior photos cost about $320 for a basic professional package and about $100 if you DIY and must buy some basic equipment/hire a freelancer. Senior portrait packages aren’t very expensive (compared with the upcoming college tuition). So, cheap senior pictures are attainable. And, remember that senior picture prices are usually an expense free of regret. Enjoy!

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6 comments

  • I am confused about prices as well. I am a photographer from Ohio, and the average cost of prints, rights to print, and collections, you will be paying a total cost of around $600-$1500. Very confusing list. Seems to be a lot of information, but really just a bunch of numbers thrown together. $300 range will NOT get you what you want out of portraits. For $300, I give 3 hours, 3 locations, unlimited outfits, rights to print, and flash drive with complimentary 8×10 collage.

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Abby,

      We gathered prices from photographers across the country to come up with our price list. We found that everything from sitting fees to photo packages can vary widely.

  • Laura Miller says:

    As a photographer I am a little confused by the price lists here. Some do not seem to include *final* cost, just the session (sitting) fee. I don’t know a single photographer who would only charge $25 – $55 (Lifetouch) unless that is only the session fee, not including prints and packages which typically range in the $100s. So I visited the Lifetouch site and they are currently offering a 10% discount, with a minimum purchase of $299… so clearly the prices you have listed are not a final cost. Or for instance, a local studio here in town charges an $85 session fee, but packages can run the customer upwards of $1500. It would be helpful if those extra costs would be included in your figures here. Unless, of course, someone is really out there doing photography for $25… ??

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Laura,

      You’re right! After looking into this, the prices for Lifetouch were clearly sitting fees and not package fees. We have removed this company from our list due to the inaccurate information. Thank you!

  • Jeremy C. says:

    I’m looking to start a small business where I take all of my friends’ senior pictures and have them tell their friends about me. Is this a good thing to invest time into? Could I turn a profit without ripping off my friends? To whom it may concern, I already have a high quality camera, photography gear, and skills.

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Jeremy,

      Starting a photography business is definitely a viable way to earn some extra income. Particularly if you already own a professional-grade camera and know how to use it, there’s nothing stopping you from at least trying it out (that’s the great thing about digital cameras — if you have a computer, a memory card, and a computer, it won’t cost you anything but time). You may need to do a few jobs for free or at a very low rate to start out, so you can build up your portfolio and connections — but if you do a great job and your friends can recommend you to all their friends, you can certainly build up a steady stream of business, especially if you’re smart about using social media to spread the word about your services. Competition in the photography world is fierce, so I wouldn’t necessarily quit your day job right away, but you can start photography as a side gig and try to build it into a full-time job if you have really strong photography skills and a good business sense. Best of luck!