Formals Vs Seniors Portraits

Formals Vs Seniors Portraits

Although we all speak English, there are some words that do not work well in the UK that are used in America. If I put out a promotion for Senior Portraits in Belfast, we would end up with women and men aged 65+ calling into the studio and thinking I was running a senior citizen promotion. 

The closest thing to Seniors we have in Northern Ireland is our Formals.  

I am recently back from a photographic training trip in America.  I saw the latest trends in Seniors and it got me thinking  how lucky the American teenagers are that this tradition has developed.  Every boy and girl around 18 is booked in for a photo shoot.  They bring a range of clothes and styles to capture their youth and beauty.  We all remember being teenager and within any group you would find a vast range of personalities, styles, intersts.  In the Senior portraits, this is what is captured.   

Had I gone for a Senior Portrait when I was leaving school to go to University, it would have been big big curly hair, puffy sleeves, shoulder pads.  Yes you guessed it, it was late eighties, early nineties.  My sister is only a few years older than me, but her Senior Portrait would have been Bolton Jackets, Parkas, winklepicker shoes - and you guessed that one - she was a MOD.  Can you imagine the images that we would be enjoying looking back over Punk, Mod, Rocker, New Romantics.  

When you are living your life as a teenager, you are trying to find yourself and your identity and personality.  These type of portraits are so important as they represent that time.  I really wish it had been the tradition back then to have that Chapter of my life captured.

So what do we do here around 18 to photograph our childrens youth.  We have our daughters dress up in ballgowns, our sons in Tuxedos and they line up on the night in front of a painting of the titanic staircase.  They are with a friend or a boyfriend of the time.  That is their "formal" picture.  It is framed and hung on the wall.  Does it capture their personality, their style, the trends of today, a moment in history, a memory of youth.  I think not.  Will you look back at this picture with fond memories of that time.  More than likely you will be pickling your brain to remember the name of the boy who came to pick up your daughter that night with a rose and a box of chocolates. 

In America they have an equivalent of our "Formal"- its the "Prom" night.  And the same thing happens. Guys and girls dress up and go dancing and have their photos taken.   Unfortunately we do not have an equivalent to their Senior Portraits.   My aim this year is to start an equivalent trend here in Northern Ireland for those leaving Secondary School to book in and have their youth captured.  

If anyone can come up with a cool name for Senior Portraits that would work in Northern Ireland let us know.  If we use it, we will give you a free portrait session and 9x6" framed print.  

These are a few pictures from a recent teenage shoot.  Compare this to the traditional formal type photograph.  Which one would you prefer to show your children and grandchildren. 

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