All About Senior Portrait Sessions

While I have a good number of clients who have booked me years ahead for their son or daughter’s senior portraits, I still get many people who are a little confused about the how and why of portraits for their high school seniors.

What I tell parents – is what I think about for myself, as I have my second high schooler reaching her senior year this year. While there are many reasons for outdoor, personalized senior portrait sessions, my main reason is this: it may be your last chance as a parent to convince (or demand) they spend some time with a photographer who can capture this precious moment in their life. On the edge of adulthood, but still your responsibility (for a brief time) and “child.”

When I meet with parents and their seniors for pre-session meetings, and then spend some time on location taking the pictures, it always seems to be a special time for both the parent and child.  Or, even when the senior comes on their own – the tears that I see in parents’ eyes when they see the final image…well I know that feeling all too well, and am so happy I can help share it with others.

Here is a short video I made, with some suggested answers to the question “why a senior portrait?”

Why Should I Book a Senior Portrait? from Melissa Maillett on Vimeo.


Actor Headshots: What Makes The Best Headshot?


If you’re an actor, your headshot is your single most important marketing tool. If you want to be taken seriously by casting agents, and when it lands on that decision maker’s desk or computer monitor you want the reaction to be “Wow! Let’s see that person!”

When shooting headshots for actors, I often get the question “What are they supposed to look like?”  or “how do you know you are getting the best headshot?”

The simple answer is… the best headshot for you is the one that fits your style and the look you are achieving.  Headshots can be on black or white backgrounds, and in natural or studio light. The standard white backdrop is gradually being replaced with a cinematic outdoor (but well-lit) setting, but both are acceptable as long as the image highlights YOU.  The focal point here is your personality. As long as you are not upstaged by a busy background the setting is not as important as the quality of the photograph and its ability to present the image you want.

Yes, there are some rules when it comes to actor headshots – and these fluctuate according to the type of work you are trying to get – stage, commercial, TV drama, etc.  Do some research in the field for which you are auditioning and make sure the technical details are there (print vs. file, cropping, etc). Bring all this to your photographer and make sure you leave your session with what you need.2017-01-16_0001

Christian Webb,  a renowned NYC Headshot photographers points out what I believe is the most important criteria for selecting a photographer for you actor headshot, “…make sure that the photographer is actually BEST for you regarding comfortability.  When searching for someone to shoot your headshots, it’s important to get a sense of the photographer’s personality and their way of working.  Checking referrals,  reading their info on their website,  asking around from others who have shot with them before can help in making the decision as to whether a particular photographer is BEST for YOU to work with.”

Because ultimately, you want to be comfortable in your session. After all, you may be living with this shot for quite a while and you want it to showcase you and your ability.

When I photograph actors I discuss the type of roles they are going for, whether they are looking for the commercial “I can sell cereal and cars” image or you want that big part in a then next hit Netflix mystery drama.


A headshot session should be a fun, collaborative process with your photographer. Killer images will make the casting agents stop for just that extra second to pause and consider your image.