The Boys are Back in Town!

The Boys are Back in Town!

A senior photographer recently commented online, "I never look forward to working with senior guys. The girls show up excited and ready to go. The guys just don't give a..." and you can fill in the rest for yourself.

I've worked with a lot of senior guys, enough to know how they tick. And being a guy myself, I get it! The biggest market in senior photography is for high school girls, and that's hardly surprising. Peruse the sites of senior photographers and you'll often find images, videos, styles, colors and marketing aimed at girls. Some even name their packages for it -- the "Diva Package," the "Princess Package" -- and parents have commented to me before that sometimes this marketing sends the message that the boys just aren't that important.

The Internet is filled with advice for how to pose men, and I won't repeat it here, although I'll provide a link to this video by photographer Pye Jirsa that gives a great introduction (Pye is an incredible photographer, and he shoots with the same camera gear I use, so I like him even more!)

What I will do is to give some pointers to the moms and dads who need to find photographers for their sons, and help them overcome their initial resistance, which is usually some variation of "meh," "I dunno" or "sure...whatever."

  1. Get him involved in the process. It might take a little prodding, but have him look at the galleries of the photographers you're considering. Which stand out to him? Which styles does he like? Does the gallery communicate "We get you, guys" or does it communicate "Guys are an afterthought?"
  2. Get him thinking about what makes him, him. What are his passions? What's his vibe? I've found that, while everyone likes to have their uniqueness captured in portraits, guys are generally much less willing to just stand in front of a camera and smile. Making it about the action really helps to get them engaged in the process! (And once they're engaged, it's amazing how suddenly they're ready to stand in front of the camera and smile).
  3. Dad -- lookin' at you -- get involved! It's a guy thing! The stereotype is that only Moms care about senior portraits, and that senior guys only do them to make their Moms happy. But when I've seen a guy and his dad show up for the pictures, they click in a way that doesn't quite have a parallel. Some of the best senior portraits have the senior and his Dad in them. And lastly, there's the secret weapon nobody else can wield: if we can't get a guy to relax and smile, break out the Dad Jokes and watch the eyes start rolling 🙂

When it comes to planning the shoot, make sure to keep your son as involved as possible, so he's part of the process and doesn't feel like he's having something done to him. Photographers do business with the parents, but that doesn't mean they can't engage directly with the seniors, and in my opinion they absolutely should.

When prepping for the shoot, I've found a progression that leads to good results. So help your son think through three main styles: casual, themed, and formal.

The first comes pretty easily to any guy -- whatever he's comfortable in (jeans, t-shirts, shorts, hoodies, ball caps, etc.) is what he can wear here. It's a great way to get started in a photo shoot because he's not posing, he's just hanging out and having a good time. You can get shots of him walking toward you, away from you, leaning on a tree, leaning on a wall, leaning on a rock, leaning on...you get the idea! It's a great way to warm up.

Casual senior portraits come naturally and are a great way to get your senior looking like himself -- and to get in the swing of the photo shoot

The second is usually where the real passion comes in. This can be his baseball uniform, his basketball jersey, his cross country running spikes, his trumpet, his disc golf gear -- the stuff he lives for! It could also be his car, his dog, Scouting badges, or anything else. These will become themed portraits. And keep this in mind: he may wear his baseball uniform and glove, hold a bat, and even get his portraits taken on the baseball diamond, but these aren't sports photos, and they aren't team photos. He already gets those taken every season. These are sports-themed portraits, and it's an important distinction. (Or music themed, car themed, etc.)

Themed senior portraits really bring their interests and passions to the forefront of the images

And the last is the classic James Bond look. For the last 20 years we've been in the anti-formal era, where CEOs of the world's largest companies wear t-shirts and ripped jeans in board meetings. So wearing a classic suit and tie, or even a tuxedo, is almost counter-cultural. Guys just look good in well-fitting formal styles. For most, this will initially be the look they're least likely to be excited about. But when they see themselves in these portraits afterwards, they'll feel like a million bucks! Nothing beats confidence.

There's something about a suit that just makes a guy feel confident!

And there you have it! There's no magic formula, but I've found that working in that order (casual, to themed, to snazzy) can really bring a guy out of whatever shell he's in and lead to some incredible photos, whether that's art on a wall or an album you'll keep for the rest of your lives.

Reach out to me if you want to talk about setting up your son's senior portraits in Beavercreek, Kettering, Fairborn, Bellbrook, Xenia or any other area around Dayton, Ohio!