Are You Having A Battle About Senior Photos? The Top 4 Reasons teens say NO

Is there a battle about senior photos in your house?  I’m here to tell you, this is one argument you don’t want to lose.  It might seem like an easy one to give in to, and not have them done, but it’s not a good one to lose in the long term.

I LOVE working with the seniors that don’t want senior pictures.  I had this battle about senior photos with my own son many years ago and I learned a few things then, and with the hundreds of seniors I’ve worked with over the years, I’ve seen even more.  

I’ve heard a lot of reasons from parents and kids why they aren’t having senior photos done, or why they are, but only after bribery did they get the kids to do it.  Here are the typical reasons I hear and my thoughts on those reasons.

The top 4 reasons there is typically a battle about senior photos

  • #1 They tell you they know they are expensive, and they don’t want you to spend the money.
  • #2 They say they don’t need to mark the milestone of leaving school because they don’t care about school
  • #3 They say they don’t like to have their picture taken
  • #4 Or more specially, they don’t like pictures of themselves (which is different from #3)

These are my thoughts & experiences on all of the above, for consideration in your battle about senior photos.

#1 – They know they are expensive, and they don’t you to spend the money

Well yes, compared to yearly school photos, senior pictures are more expensive.  Even if you stay with the school’s photographer the packages are different, and they no longer offer that $29.95 package in the senior photos category that underclassman photos offered.

But finding a senior portrait photographer doesn’t have to mean a second mortgage on your home either.  There is a balance and one that can be worked out.  There are a LOT of options for senior photographers, and I go into that in detail in my Ultimate Guide to Finding a Senior Photographer that you can grab here.  It outlines the options you should think about before hiring someone so you can make a good decision for you, your senior, your budget.  And budget is a big concern, those of us in this business know it is and have offerings to work within all budgets if you ask.  

But the bigger point here is actually, probably, good news – you have a teenager that understands the value of a dollar!  Embrace that!  

Unless of course, it’s an excuse for #2, 3 or 4 here.  Then we should address the excuse before they use #1 to support, or mask #2, 3 or 4.

#2 – They don’t want to mark the milestone of leaving school, because they don’t care about the school

It might not be a battle about senior photos, really. It might be they just don’t want to think about the process it took to get to graduation.

It’s not that they don’t see the accomplishment, but they somehow tie the way they feel about THE school environment with the celebration.  I only figured this one out just recently.  My own son didn’t enjoy high school.  And he didn’t feel the need to document the leaving of said school with a big to-do of pictures that would be splashed around.  He didn’t even want to go to graduation, so he certainly didn’t want the photos.

A little tougher to navigate because as parents we can’t change their opinion of THE school, but we can put our foot down and make the plea for the photos.  And we should. Because for whatever reasons they don’t like the actual school – be it the physical building or the environment it created daily – this is a celebration!  

They aren’t looking at it like we as parents are – we know, with impending doom of the empty nest, that these images will have to hold us for years.  They are going off to do their thing, and they may or may not be close enough when they go for us to see them with any regularity.   Wherever they go, our role in their lives changes and they become their own independent selves.  And we rarely get to be a part of that daily transformation from this point on.  

Not seeing those faces on a daily basis is the biggest blow most parents find and the one that gives them the most heartache.  (And it is almost physically painful at times, I won’t lie)

So photos help US make this transition.  

Are You Having A Battle About Senior Photos? The Top 4 Reasons teens say NO - 1
Anything can be incorporated into their senior pictures – even a favorite Rubik’s cube. So as a parent, look all around and bring anything they love, any hobby they have, any activity they seek. If you need more help, call ahead of time and I’ll be happy to brainstorm how to incorporate it into their senior photos.

Little pieces of them around our home, on our computers, in our lives on a daily basis…it helps US when they are off to their new adventures and not calling home daily and not there for a quick hug as they go off on their day.

Use the guilt card if necessary

And we can tell them that, and use guilt if necessary to get the photos we want.  I’m pretty sure we were dealt a large hand of guilt cards when we brought our children into our families…and how we use them is up to us.  (And if you have friends that don’t use theirs, take theirs – it never hurts to have a lot of cards to use)

So say this to them – “I NEED these photos.  Please do this for me”. 

I promise, it’s actually good for them too to see you needing this.  It reminds them stop and think about other people’s feelings when they are boldly going off on their new adventures …. they should see it makes you sad, even if you are happy for them at the same time.  

battle for senior pictures 1
This boy was fun to work with! But in the beginning, mom wasn’t thrilled with this t-shirt and jacket. I knew when we went over the clothes that this t-shirt and jacket combo was something HE loved. So I made sure to use them. In the end, it was one of the favorites of the day. Let them wear whatever they want! You will see this image a lot – because it’s a constant reminder to me to give them some control over this and they will LOVE the results.

#3 – They don’t like to have their picture taken

We can all relate to this – when we feel self conscious about something with our outward appearance, we don’t want to document that.  If it’s bad skin, bad hair, overweight, whatever the reasons – we internalize this as a good reason why the photo of ourselves right now isn’t the image we want to have in perpetuity.  

But here’s the thing – it is us right now.  We can’t change it with a wave of a magic wand, so we have to own it.  And when we can own who and what we are, we can start to relax.  

The first thing – even if it’s a lifestyle change that is needed, is to accept who we are.  If that also means changing something in our habits, that’s step two.  

But for most kids leaving high school, accepting who they are is the place where they need to be, emotionally.

And my job, or any senior photographer’s job after that is to show them how beautiful they are AS IS.  We can make the time fun and dynamic, full of seeing the positivity about themselves as someone else does.  

I’ve not yet seen an ugly senior.  TRULY.  And some of my favorite senior photo sessions have been with those that came into the process only because mom or dad bribed them into doing it.  I refer you back to point #2 – the guilt card you get to use.

battle for senior pictures 2
This beautiful young lady doesn’t always see herself as the beautiful person she is – and I never want to argue with kids, so I will allow them space so they don’t have to feel I’m pushing them. Using fences and other items strategically placed in the portrait park kids don’t feel I’m continuously asking them to be “on stage” and just smile.

And a great photographer can actually chisel away at the base of self conscious negativity and start to build up the teen, so they have more solid “good” ground to move into the world with.  

Every little bit of good opinions about themselves multiplies as it is reinforced when seeing the resulting images of themselves that they like too, around your home and shared with family and friends.  

So YOU loving the pictures is actually a really, really good thing for THEM.

#4 They don’t like the pictures of themselves

This ties in with #3 in many ways.  There is something about themselves they don’t like, something they are seeing so negatively they don’t want to see images of themselves at all, and in some case, don’t want you to show them off. 

But this one needs a little more TLC.

In some cases, this is a much more difficult one to get through to the actual senior.  But again, as outlined in #3, we can work to build UP the base of their negative self thoughts by creating positive images and experiences.  We can show them WE love who they are, HOW they are – and we not only embrace them AS IS, but we celebrate it and share it.  

Because as parents we do love our children AS IS, right?  And our jobs is to be their champions and cheer leaders.  So if they are not the social butterfly, that is OK.  Find a photographer that can bring out who they are.  Certainly don’t take them to the photographer that is only taking photos of almost model like kids – find one that truly wants the kids experience to be unique to them.  That it is ok if they aren’t smiling in all with their “say cheese” look.  

And if you are dealing with something more troubling, and maybe even have professional help with it, please share this with your photographer.  A great photographer will support the work you are doing to help you teen’s self image.

I know I love this age group and speciality because I wish I had turned the corner of negative self thinking earlier in my own life. Waiting until I was older, parenting my own kids, was such much more of a struggle.  If I had found ways to boost my own self confidence, with any help possible, earlier on, my struggle wouldn’t have been so hard.  

So I find it a personal mission to give teenagers a view of themselves that brings as much positivity about themselves into their lives as possible.

It might not seem like it’s worth it to battle about senior photos with your teen. I’m here to tell you, if you find the real concern, and if one of the above, we can work through that AND get the images you will want later. Because not getting these images now is a loss that you will most likely regret later.

And if the process can actually give something good back to the senior too, why not find a way to make it happen? Guilt, bribery…whatever it takes. Let’s build them up, and shower them with excitement for this accomplishment and for all the possibilities of what tomorrow will bring for them.

battle for senior pictures
If we as parents can give up the image we have in our minds of what a great senior picture is, we can better help our kids bring out their personality in the images we capture. This little moment of strumming the ukulele may not be a traditional “senior portrait”, but this is something mom saw him do frequently, and therefore let’s remember it and honor it at his session.

So bring the ones that want to battle about senior photos.  I’m here, and I’m ready to show them another side to senior pictures. Not the ones that scream “models-only-need-apply”, but shows the world real kids.  Real amazing, creative, thoughtful, sensitive, kids.

Check out more in my portrait park and activities portfolios on my senior web site at: pattyschuchmanphotography.com, and if you want more information about the session types I offer for your senior, and how we can create a session that will bring out the best results – start here and we can see what we can put together!

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