You’ve heard it a million times: Senior year is going to fly by.
Is it cliché? Maybe a little. But you know why everyone says it? Because it’s true.
You’ve got AP classes to take. Football games to attend. College applications to complete. A homecoming dress to find. Volunteer hours to submit. And those are really just the basics. Of the fall semester. You’ve also got memories to make. Goodbyes to prepare for. An exciting future to dream about (and a ton of dorm room shopping to do). Combine must-do tasks with mixed-up emotions and what do you get? One big blur.
Someday soon you’ll put on the last “first day of school” outfit you’re ever going to wear, then you’ll blink and find yourself standing on a stage in your cap and gown. This year is going to be equal parts special and surreal, and yes... it’s going to fly by. My job is to make sure you remember every second of it.
No, I can’t follow you through the hallways on a daily basis with my camera (although I’m sure a documentary starring you would be pretty cool). But during your senior portrait session, I can capture you exactly as you are. From experience, that’s the real key to recalling everything you’re getting ready to feel and see and do during this once-in-a-lifetime season of life.
Hey, I’m Ericka!
I wish I could tell you that my photography journey began when I joined my high school’s yearbook staff, but that’s not my story. The truth is that I’ve always been a perfectionist... and I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities because of it.
My natural tendency is to wait to do anything until the timing is (you guessed it) perfect. In high school especially, I resisted trying new things because, hey—if you don’t try, you can’t fail. Hence the reason I put off exploring my interest in photography until after college. Guys, that’s a seriously restrictive way to live. And it’s the last thing I want for you.
So, no. I’m not going to promise you a “perfect” senior portrait session. I’m here to help relieve the pressure you’re feeling—not add to it! Plus, rain might cause us to reschedule. The wind might blow a few strands of hair into your lip gloss. Your mom might make a wrong turn on the way to our first location, causing you to feel stressed out when you step in front of the camera. Life happens, y’all, we have definitely learned that this past year (thanks, 'rona). But even when it does, here’s what I’m offering: A meaningful senior experience resulting in confidence boosts (because, girl, you ARE beautiful) and pictures that are you, right down to your core.
Remember, no matter what happens on the day of your session, it’s all good. And with me as your guide, you’re going to look incredible.
Step 1: Book & Prepare
So, you’ve taken a look at my gallery and Instagram and you like what you’re seeing. Awesome! After we’ve officially gotten your session date on the calendar, I’ll send you a questionnaire that will help me get to know your likes, dislikes, and everything in between. Understanding your vision is the key to planning a portrait experience that fits you like a glove and makes you feel at ease.
Choosing the perfect wardrobe: Styling assistance is included in every EWP Senior Portrait Package, so make sure to take advantage of the help. Picking outfits for senior portraits is a little different than picking outfits for the first day of school or even dinner out with your friends. Some pieces look amazing in person but aren't flattering on camera (see What to Wear page for more tips). Make sure to choose pieces that flatter your body and show off your waist. Most seniors send me pictures of their wardrobe options for feedback (via text or email) and that helps me plan the rest of their session!
Choosing the perfect location(s): The way to ensure that your senior portrait session is amazing is to pick location(s) that compliment your outfits. If you are unsure of where you want to shoot, that's totally fine, my job is to help you plan the session of your dreams and that includes finding the perfect place to shoot!
Hair and Makeup: I cannot stress enough the difference that professional hair and makeup makes for senior portraits. Not only do professional hair and makeup artists (HMUAs) know how to properly apply makeup to make your skin look flawless, they use professional products that last throughout your entire shoot. Pro HMU bonus? You have 2 less things to worry about on the day of your session! The EWP Ultimate Senior Session includes professional hair and makeup but, even if you don't book the Ultimate Session, check below for some of my favorite HMUA recommendations!
Step 2: smile & shine
Feeling awkward on the day of your session? Good news: I’m awkward too. Surprisingly, that makes me really good at making other people feel comfortable! At this point we’ve probably only spoken over the phone or by email, so when we get to your first location, I’ll introduce myself and give you a quick run-down of the day. No worries if you need a minute or two to loosen up. We’ll go over a few posing tips (including how to turn, where to stand, and what the heck to do with your hands) before beginning. Turning on your favorite music will help us to create a laid-back atmosphere, and then it’s time to start shooting! I’ll provide guidance every step of the way to make sure you always look your best on camera. When you’re ready to change into your next look, I’ll have a changing tent available just for you. Because, hey, modest is hottest.
It’s your time to shine. And seriously...you’re not going to believe how AMAZING you look in these portraits!
Step 3: Share & Print
After your session comes the really fun stuff—curating, editing, delivering your portrait gallery and having your optional ordering session.
Make sure to follow me on Instagram if you aren't already because that's where I will post your sneak peek image the day after your senior session (don't worry, mom, it will also be on my Facebook page)!
Within a week or two of your session, I’ll send a selection of proofs your way to kick off the process. You’ll narrow the images down and let me know your favorites. After undergoing a final polish, your photos are ready for delivery...and here’s the best part: Digital photos are included with EVERY senior portrait package. That’s right: You’re not just paying for my time and talent! A print release is also included, meaning you are welcome to order your own prints. If you want to ensure the highest quality prints or just don't want to deal with ordering on your own, you can always place an order through me.
Optional Ordering Session: Both the Classic and Ultimate Sessions come with the option of having an in-person (or Zoom, if you prefer) ordering session and print credits are included. I highly recommend checking out the amazing professional prints and products that are offered, whether you end up ordering anything or not. EWP Seniors have access to hand-selected, exclusive products, at the best rates.
What to wear
Remember... styling assistance is included in every EWP Senior Portrait Package, so make sure to take advantage of the help.
- Know your colors and wear what's best for YOU. The colors that look amazing on you might be different than the colors that look great on your BFF, and that's okay. Skin color, eye color, hair color and skin undertones are all important in determining what colors look best on you. Want to find your power colors? CLICK HERE
- Variety is important. Be sure to stay away from only wearing one style, especially all short dresses. Pick a variety of different styles for your session: casual and dressier, mix of skirts, pants/shorts, and dresses. Bringing all short dresses to your senior shoot will really limit posing (we want to stay modest).
- Plan full outfits. Think head-to-toe when choosing wardrobe for your senior shoot. Don't forget shoes and jewelry.
- Be comfortable. Make sure you can sit, stand and walk comfortably in your outfits and check to make sure you have the right undergarments.
- Accessories are your friend. The quickest and easiest way to change up an outfit is to play with accessories. Hats and jackets can easily be taken on and off to get the most variety out of your look without having to do an entire outfit change.
Don't forget to send pictures of your final outfit choices (via text or email) before your scheduled session. This helps me plan your shoot so we get the most out of our time together!
Choosing location is one of the most important decisions you will make for your senior portraits (besides picking me as your senior photographer, of course). Combining killer outfits with the perfect backdrop will make you stand out and make your senior portraits epic. Don't let picking location(s) for your senior shoot stress you out, I am here to help, every step of the way.
To make sure I steer you in the right direction, there are a few things for you to consider...
Your wardrobe. We want to choose location(s) that compliment your outfits, so I always suggest picking outfits first. Remember, styling assistance is included with every EWP Senior Portrait Session, so make sure to take advantage of that!
The weather/season. This is so important, but also often forgotten. Locations DO NOT look the same throughout the year, especially nature locations. Nature locations make gorgeous backdrops during mid-late spring, summer and early-mid fall. If your session is scheduled for November-early March, when the weather gets cold, and everything begins to die, you will want to avoid nature locations (you won't want to do your whole session in brown sticks and dead grass). Urban locations look great all year but we will want to think about any holiday decorations that might be up, especially the closer we get to Christmastime.
To check out some of my most popular locations CLICK HERE. Don't see exactly what you're wanting? That's totally okay, we can find the right location together! I love exploring new locations with my seniors.
Other tips and tricks
- Check makeup in natural light. If you choose to do your own hair & makeup, make sure to apply in natural light to prevent uneven coloring, especially around your jawline.
- Shave. Although we try to not take any pictures starring your armpits, you will still want to be prepared. While you're at it, go ahead and shave those legs too.
- Clean nails are best. Chipped nail polish never looks good in pictures, so make sure to get a fresh mani/pedi before your senior session. Neutral colors are always your best choice, we want you to be the focus of your photos, not your nails. If you don't have time for a mani/pedi, just grab some nail polish remover and take off any chipped polish.
- Avoid tanning. Sunburnt skin and noticeable tan lines can be extremely distracting in senior portraits so avoid lake days and laying out the week or two before your scheduled session. Spray tans should also be avoided unless you are very familiar with how your skin reacts to spray tans. Always avoid dark tans for senior portraits (even if you're used to cheer comp season) because the camera picks up orange tones that the normal eye does not and no one wants to look like an Oompa Loompa. If you do choose to get a spray tan, visit Mindy at Perfect Tan and tell her you are tanning for your senior portraits with Ericka Williams Photography, she will know exactly what to do.
what others are saying about their EWP Senior Experience
My daughter’s EWP Senior Experience was flawless. From the moment that we met Ericka, we knew that we wanted her to do our portraits! It takes a special person to be able to relate to teens, and she is incredibly talented in the respect. She listened to our thoughts and had amazing ideas to help bring our visions to fruition. I would not change a thing about our experience and we are so grateful that we found Ericka. My daughter’s portraits are gorgeous! -Rachelle Thomson, 2021 Senior Mom
If you want the best senior photos experience, book with Ericka! Seriously the sweetest person ever and her work is amazing. Throughout the whole process, she was always there if I needed any tips or advice or anything! She works her magic behind the camera to capture the best images of all of her clients! Plus, she works SO QUICK! Had all my images back the next day! SO CRAZY!! I’m so so glad I booked with Ericka and I couldn’t be more pleased with my senior pictures! - Mia Dorsett, 2021 Senior
We had an amazing experience! I'd love to book Ericka for other events, such as cap & gown, sorority pictures, family pictures and college son pictures. Ericka's communication is wonderful, she answers questions quickly and produces fabulous work. She has an eye for creative poses and works well with her subjects. -Christie Lane, 2021 Senior Mom
I have absolutely loved and enjoyed getting to work with Ericka as a model on her elite model team, her and I have bonded so much and I can’t imagine anyone else being my photographer. She’s definitely doing my college senior photos. I’d want no one else. Being one of Ericka’s models has done so much for me personally as well. It helped me find my self-confidence again and I learned to love myself when I’m in front of the camera. I’ve had so many opportunities to take so many cool pictures that I never thought I would ever take. The shoots that Ericka plans are such a blast and the photos always turn out AMAZING! She was a huge plus to my senior year especially during this whole covid thing. You’re in for a treat when you join Ericka’s team. I know that I will keep these photos forever. I will be able to look back on this chapter of my life when I’m old and reminisce and go back in time through looking at these photos. -Jammy Johnson, 2021 EWP Model
Ericka Williams Photography