CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The flyers start coming in the mail the summer before senior year. Email boxes are flooded with offers. Everyone is asking the same question: "When and where are you getting your senior pictures taken?"
But senior pictures can be pricy depending on where you go and what kind of package you choose. Additionally, some schools require that the drape photo for the yearbook be taken a certain way by a certain company, so if you don't go there for the rest of your pictures, that's more money you have to spend.
However, if you're strapped for cash or simply don't want to invest a large chunk of change in your senior photos, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
Almost everyone has a friend who is a good photographer, whether they've taken a digital photography or yearbook class, take photos for publication or just shoot pictures for fun. Very politely say to them, "Hey, I need someone to take my senior pictures. Would you do it?" (Of course, you'll probably want to add "please.")
If that's not an option, find a friend who's in the same boat as you and work together. You can take their pictures, and they can take yours.
Before you begin taking pictures, you first need to find locations to shoot. Walk around your house, visit a local park or scout out places in downtown Charleston.
From there, find a digital camera, charge its batteries and figure out how it works. Remember to look at settings such as black and white and sepia as well as tints, sharpness brightness, etc.
Once you know how to use the camera, have your most fashion-savvy friend do your hair and makeup (or get it done at your local salon or makeup counter) and pick out your favorite outfit or outfits. Then, go to the places you selected and take hundreds of pictures.
Have the model try many different poses and actions and just keep snapping photos. Direct him or her by making adjustments you think will make the most impact.
If shooting on location isn't an option, find a room with excellent lighting, tape a sheet in your desired color on the wall and get creative. Use props that represent who you are, pose with your favorite furry friend or flip on the fan for some windblown poses.
Wherever you are, remember to have fun with it. It's not going to hurt to take a crazy picture. You can always delete it later. And who knows? That crazy picture may turn out to be the best one. Besides, it's your senior year -- ham it up and have a blast.
When you're done shooting, upload the pictures to the computer and open them in a program like Photoshop. Play with effects and fix problems. Then, save the edited photos to a disc or jump drive, take them anywhere that you can print photos, and voila! You've got senior pictures at a fraction of the cost of professional ones.