Senior pictures are often a rite of passage at the end of a significant stage in a young person’s life. It’s a way to celebrate and remember a highly impactful period and look back with fond memories.
One of the big issues when considering senior pictures is that estimates online can range from $100 to $10,000+ so understanding what you’re getting with senior pictures and what the average prices are can help you decide whether you should get them or not.
How Much Do High School Senior Pictures Cost?
The average cost to get senior pictures taken is $350 for a typical 4-hour photoshoot, which is typically 20-40 photos that you can choose a smaller selection from. Photo prints and enlargements such as frames, canvas, and albums will be extra, and digital files are generally included if you purchase a package from your photographer.
|Average Cost Range||$100 – $1,000|
|Photo Shoot Fee||$130 – $350|
|Enlargement Photos||$65 – $125 each|
|Wallet Sized Photos||$30 – $45 per 8|
The standard cost involves the photoshoot fee, which covers the time for a photographer to shoot you; the standard amount of time is 4 hours, and there may be an additional cost if you want to move locations or have many clothing changes.
Typically, you can purchase a package that gives you a collection of photos in different sizes that the photographer will choose. It’s a cheaper option than picking your own photos out individually as it guarantees a set amount for the photographer.
A La Carte
Your other option is to pick a la carte, and you can select individual photos from your photoshoot. Typical costs are $65 – $125 for large prints such as 5×7 or 7×10, you can also pick smaller photos or wallet-sized photos for around $30 – $45 each or eight wallet-sized photos.
Example of High School Senior Picture Packages
The average cost for high school senior picture packages ranges from $195 to $565, which covers the photoshoot along with a number of printed or digital pictures. If you want more photos than the package allows, you can pay per photo, which becomes costly.
|Cost||# of 7×10 Photos||# of 5×7 Photos||# of 4×6 Photos||Wallet Sized Photos||Digital Photos Included|
Packages are a much more cost-effective way to get high school senior pictures, it allows you to get cheaper photos, and the photographer has a guaranteed profit rather than hoping you like the photos and buy enough.
You may not get the digital images unless you pay for the rights or pay a higher fee as part of your package. The profit for the photographer primarily comes through giving you high-quality glossy photos; otherwise, people may only buy the smaller photos and use them everywhere.
Makeup Artists Fee
A typical add-on service that photographers may provide is a makeup artist at the start or even during your photoshoot. This can enhance your photos and help minimize the retouching required later.
The average price for a makeup artist who will help with makeup and hair is $40 – $150, and you get 1 hour of assistance.
You can book the makeup artist for the entire photoshoot, which may just be their rate times 4 hours, or the average daily rate for a makeup artist doing senior pictures is $500 per day, which provides you with a number of different makeup options and retouching.
Do Senior Portraits Comes with Digital Images?
While historically high school senior picture photographers do not give out digital images as this is their big upselling point to sell post products like enlargement and albums, most high school senior picture photographers in 2023 are now including digital images in JPG format as a part of the photography package.
Generally, a $100 – $200 digital image fee is added on top of your package. These digital images are high resolution (300 DPI) and can be printed in similar sizes as you purchased or can be used online.
If you want to use your photos for social media like Facebook and Instagram, ask for a separate copy of the low resolution (72 DPI) from your photographer.
Related: Average Cost of a Makeup Artist
Shoot and Burn vs Full Service
There are typically 2 types of high school senior picture photographers with a range of skills available in each category. You have “shoot and burn” and “full service” photographers to choose from when getting your senior pictures.
|Cost For Shoot||Cost For Post Products||Cost For Digital Images|
|Shoot And Burn||$100 – $350||N/A||N/A|
|Full Service||$125 – $500||$65 – $5,000||$200|
Shoot And Burn Photographers
A standard “shoot and burn” senior picture photographer will charge around $50 – $350 for a photoshoot that may last 1 to 4 hours with no real limitations aside from the time you have available.
You’ll typically find this type of photographer online, where you book and select whatever package or timings you want. The correspondence will be online, and you won’t meet or go over the shoot until the day of the shoot.
What is Included in Shoot and Burn
You won’t be given any printed photos and will likely be given access to all the photos taken that day and can download them from a website.
The big upside is that you get all photos; the downside is that there will be limited or no retouching or filtering of any photos, so the quality may not be as high with a shoot and burn photographer.
Full-service senior picture photographers provide a more personalized service, and the average cost is higher, ranging from $125 to $500 for the photoshoot and anywhere from $65 to $5,000 for your selection of photos, albums, and other products.
What is Included in Full Service
You’ll typically meet with the photographer prior to your shoot to get a sense of what you want, locations, clothing changes, props, and any specific types of photos you’re looking for.
The photographer will provide an overview of the day, let you know how many clothing changes or location changes are possible within the timeframe you have, and give you ideas on alternative clothing and location choices that may be a better match for your wants.
You won’t get all of your photos taken and may not get digital copies of your photos unless the photographer provides that for an additional fee or as part of the package.
High School Senior Picture Cost Comparison
High school senior pictures are typically considered expensive, especially when they’re for teenagers, and may only be used for display. The same photographer that takes your senior pictures may be charging much less for other types of photography.
|Photography||Shooting Cost||Session Duration||Photos Included|
|Portrait Photography||$150 to $200||1 – 4 Hours||20 – 50|
|High School Graduation||$150 to $250||2 Hours||10|
|Family Portraits||$300 to $350||1 -2 Hours||200|
|Newborn Portraits||$250 to $350||2 – 3 Hours||50|
|Senior Pictures||$300 to $400||1 – 4 Hours||20 – 100|
|Boudoir Photography||$450 to $600||2 – 4 Hours||5 – 12|
When it comes to portrait-style photography, senior pictures are typically the second most expensive type of photography to get, and the prices increase significantly if you’re looking for higher-quality digital photos.
Boudoir photography is generally a more expensive option due to the specialized nature and that not all photographers are comfortable with this style of photography.
The cheapest type of portrait photography is individual portraits which are typically used for professional locations such as LinkedIn or work websites.
If a professional photographer doesn’t provide these, most people can just snap their own or get a friend to take one with an iPhone.
How to Take Your High School Senior Pictures For Free
In 2023, it is very easy to create high-quality digital images with something as simple as an iPhone that most seniors will have or have friends that have. If budget is your concern, you can ask a friend to take your senior pictures for free using “Portrait Mode” on your camera.
YouTube and TikTok are great resources to learn basic photography. Just search “how to take senior portraits” and you will find many great instructions and examples.
If posing and composition did not turn out the way you like, you can always redo it by hiring a professional senior picture photographer. You can only be 18 once in your life and if you regret not hiring a pro, you can never turn back the time.
Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.