In the city of Chicago, most high schools contract with photography companies to take photos of students for the yearbook. If your student is a senior, they also offer these images for senior portraits. Some parents ask the question – if the school is taking senior photos of my kid – why do I need a senior photographer to take more? It’s a fair question, and one I’ll happily answer.


As you’ll see, the differences between the contracted school photographer and what I offer in a senior session at Shalimar B Photography are so vast, it’s really like comparing apples to bananas.

high school senior girl leaning against wall

A typical high school may have 300 to sometimes 1000 seniors in it’s graduating class, depending on the school. The school photographer is usually given a few weeks to photograph all of these seniors – that’s a very short time per senior. This means the same exact set up for every single senior. Not only for the sake of time, but for the consistency that is needed for the yearbook purposes. The same poses and lighting set ups are used.  And I’d guess they are probably using the exact same phrases to “try” and get that senior to give them a smile. Do you think it’s going to be a real smile? Really?? Theses photographers just don’t have the time to customize anything. And don’t forget, they still have to photograph the freshman, sophomores, and juniors!!!



Compare that to a session with me – it starts with a phone consultation where I talk to whomever is setting up the appointment – parent or senior. Next, I send an in-depth questionnaire for the senior to complete. This helps me to know their likes, dislikes, memories from senior year they’d like to capture, places that hold meaning for them, possible locations, etc. We start to build their story. What happens is the end result is customized just for them. The locations that are chosen for their session are based on them – maybe places they gathered with their friends, a favorite park or a baseball field where they played. I help with outfit selection, and details down to jewelry and shoes, hair and makeup. During the session, we go to 2-3 locations, with 2-4 outfit changes. Also, I am sure to use a variety of natural poses while making the senior feel comfortable in front of the camera. After the session, the products are boutique-quality that you’ll be proud to display in your home. Heirloom albums and gorgeous wall art. But these sessions are more than just pretty pictures – they are meaningful experiences that make memories themselves! How am I able to pay so much attention? I only accept a limited number of senior sessions per year!


Hopefully, this has clarified any confusion about school photos and custom portrait sessions! As always, please reach out with any questions! 773.230.5441 or

High school senior sitting at the Chicago lakefront




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