John Carnessali Syracuse Portrait Studio Photographer | High-School-Senior-Yearbook-Portrait-Photography-Tips


May 04, 2012  •  Leave a Comment


Senior Portrait Frequently Asked Questions  -




When should I have my senior portraits taken?

Senior portraits are usually taken the summer before your senior year. If you want to be in the yearbook, most schools require that your photo be taken before school starts or very early in September. I begin shooting senior portraits in May and continue through June, July, August, and September. Don't wait too long to schedule!  I get very busy by August, so I recommend coming in June or July. If you must wait and have pictures taken later, I can also take you at any time of the year. Just remember, you may not be in the yearbook if you wait.

How do I get an appointment?

Please contact me so I can send you a  price list and decide what kind of Senior Portrait package  is most appropriate.  I have plenty of appointment times in the summer, but they fill up VERY quickly, so call early. If you call on August 1, it is very likely that I will not have any appointment times left before school starts! So it is important to get your senior portrait studio session scheduled EARLY.

Do I have to pay something when the pictures are taken

Yes. You must pay a sitting fee when the senior pictures are taken. The sitting fees vary depending on how many outfits you wear for the sitting and/or package.

How much are the sitting fees?

This is all explained in my price list... contact me at



Should I bring my parents along with me when my senior pictures are taken?

Yes! I have found that bringing a parent (or both parents) along to the studio sometimes helps you feel more at ease, and will help us to take better photos.  After all your parents have known you all your life, so I really value their input. However, each person is unique and sometimes having a parent there can inhibit the picture taking process.  It is entirely up to each individual to decide.... some people may want to bring a friend, which can be a good idea as well.

How do I look at the photos from my senior portrait session and decide what I want to order?

I will post your senior pictures on my website in a special password-protected area.  Your photos will be available online after your sitting is taken.  You may view your pictures online and decide what poses you would like to order (if you decide to print from my website).  You may also share the website with your family and friends, to get other opinions.  After the photoshoot, you will receive a disk with all the images on it.



Are all of your senior pictures the same?

No! Your basic senior picture is called a formal pose. This is the kind of pose required for most yearbooks. It is a head-and-shoulder portrait using traditional lighting and backgrounds. Other types of senior pictures are often called casuals or informal pictures. These are the poses where you get to have fun! Full-length, indoor, outdoor, casual outfits, photos with your best friend or your pet. Syracuse has a lot of locations to choose from - whether you are in East Syracuse, Liverpool, Baldwinsville, Fayetteville, Skaneateles, Cazenovia, etc... there is usually a beautiful location to work with. I know that not everyone wants all these different types of pictures, so I have different sittings for different people. If all you want is the formal yearbook style pose, I have a sitting for that. If you want to wear three or four different outfits and take pictures inside and on location (very popular package), I can do that, too. Be sure to let me know what kind of sitting you want when you schedule your senior yearbook pictures. Of course, the more outfits you wear, the more you have to pay for the sitting fee (due to extra time).



How long will my senior picture sitting take?

At the studio I schedule you for about 20 minutes per outfit that you wear. So if you wear two outfits, it will be about 40-45 minutes. Three outfits takes an hour (sometimes longer). Taking portraits is not an exact science and it depends on whether you would like some outdoor pictures in the Syracuse area. If you need extra time, I will spend it with you.

What should I wear for my senior portraits?

For your formal yearbook style portrait, I recommend that you dress up. Guys, jacket and tie is appropriate. Girls, a formal sweater or dress is good, or you can wear one of our drapes if you want. For the formal pose, long sleeves are best - a formal portrait taken in short sleeves may not look good. Avoid strong patterns - simple is best for formals. Middle tones or dark colors usually look best for the yearbook style poses. For casuals or outdoor photos, wear what you like - light colors are great, and some people really like to dress down for casuals. Earth tones work best for outdoor photos.



Does my school have a dress code or background requirement?

Some schools do have dress codes and/or required backgrounds. This policy is set by your school, not by me. You should check with your school yearbook advisor or with the school office to see if such a policy exists. Do you provide tuxedos or other outfits for guys? I do not.



Will you take outdoor pictures of me?

Yes! Outdoor photos are great. I can take them at a location we pick near the studio or a location of your choice, but you cannot usually use an outdoor pose in the formal section of the yearbook.  It is very poplar for students to book both studio and outdoor pictures. Syracuse and the upstate NY area has a lot of different locations to choose from.



What if it rains on the day that I am scheduled for outdoor pictures?

Come in and have the indoor portion of your sitting taken. I will reschedule your outdoor pictures for you at that time.

What can I do to help make sure my pictures look good?

The most important thing to ensure good senior pictures is to spend time preparing for your sitting. Choose outfits that you like and that look good on you. Get input from your parents and your friends.  GIRLS: even if you are not used to wearing makeup, wear it for pictures. Keep it natural. Mascara, lip gloss & foundation are a great basic look. If you have any questions or concerns about makeup or your complexion, see a dermatologist or visit the cosmetics counter at the local department store.  GUYS: shave before your appointment. Don’t panic if you break out before your scheduled time. You can apply some makeup to your skin, or see us for help. I can retouch all of your finished pictures, so it may be best to leave your skin alone.  GUYS & GIRLS: Make sure you are comfortable with your hair - if you get a new hairstyle on picture day and you don't like it, you won't like your pictures. You should get your hair cut 1 – 2 weeks prior to your appointment. Get plenty of rest the night before your appointment. Bring your clothes in on hangers, and make sure they are neat and not wrinkled up. Finally, come in with a good attitude. Don't be a grump on picture day!



I got this HUGE zit on picture day! What should I do?

I can retouch most blemishes out of your pictures. For more information on retouching, contact me.



I wear glasses. Is this a problem for pictures?

There is no simple answer - it might be. If you have had school pictures taken in the past with glasses and there has always been reflection in the lenses, then you might get reflections in our pictures too. If possible, remove the lenses from your frames. This is the best solution. Or you can take your glasses off for your pictures.  Please understand that I can only do so much with posing and lighting - you may still have reflections if you leave your lenses in.

I heard somewhere that there are special camera lenses that make you look better. Do you use them?

Certain camera lenses are designed for portraiture. I use these types of lenses and always have. Portrait lenses don't distort your face.  Portrait lenses compress the features which is generally beneficial when taking head shots and portraits.



Do I have to buy a package of pictures?

No. I provide a disk with all the images from your portrait session.  You can choose which ones you would like to print or not.  Unlike some studios, I do not have a minimum order amount, and I do not hide or complicate  prices.

Will my senior pictures be retouched?

Yes, for an extra charge.  Simple retouching can cost as little as $10.  More advance retouching can cost up to $40... it all depends on what you would like done.  If you are concerned about something, tell me before hand if possible.



How long will it take to get my finished pictures?

That depends on the time of year. If you come in early and order early (like in May or June) your pictures will be ready in about two weeks.  During our really busy time (August - October) finished pictures may take as long as 3 weeks. This is all custom work, and it does take time to complete.  I shoot all senior portraits in RAW which simply put, is like a film negative.



Why should I choose you?

In truth there are many photographers out there who would like to sell you pictures... I don't sell pictures... I capture moments and memories. I believe that the quality of my work in combination with my reasonable prices,   makes me someone you should consider when looking for a photographer in the Syracuse area to take your senior portraits.   I feel very blessed to be doing exactly what I love and I think my enthusiasm and the creativity that comes from it, helps my work to stand out.   I am the professional.  I have many satisfied customers as well as a large number of positive reviews from Google and Yahoo users.



Thank you for your consideration.  If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.






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Thank you,

John Carnessali




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