Local Photographer Makes Seniors Look Good

Photo taken by Ali Johnson

Ali Johnson

Photo taken by Ali Johnson

Patrick Dieter, Fluco Beat Editor

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If you’re a 2016 senior, chances are good you had your tux or drape photo taken by Ali Johnson Photography, a locally-owned business run by the titular Ali Johnson. While seniors can get senior yearbook photos taken for free by Life Touch, the photography company contracted with the school district to take student and staff photos, increasing numbers of seniors have chosen to have theirs taken by Johnson, either instead of or in addition to Life Touch.

Johnson started taking pictures at a young age. “One day, I took some photos of a good friend’s baby. She showed the image to a few of her friends and they started to contact me, asking what my rates were,” Johnson said. After starting to take pictures of all kinds of subjects (from motorcycles to books to sports), she was contacted in 2010 by a senior who had missed the Life Touch yearbook photo deadline and asked if she could get it done with Johnson. After taking the photo, Johnson continued to take more and more yearbook pictures for the school to the point where this year, she took 112 senior pictures, over a third of the senior class.

Johnson tends to take the yearbook photos during the summer, as fall is usually taken up with taking outdoor senior portrait packages. Doing the school photos during the summer also allows her more time throughout the year to focus on her other work. “I absolutely love to take portraits that capture my subject’s individual style and interests,” she said.

Despite being relatively news to the senior portraits world, Johnson considers herself very professional and is proud of her work. “I use a Canon 5D Mark III with high quality lenses,” she explained, “and this helps me take the best portraits possible.” She also has her own studio set up in her old garage, which allows her flexibility and the ability to work on her own time.

Johnson’s process of taking senior photos is efficient and time friendly. “I schedule yearbook photos in 30-minute increments. The student comes to my studio and I provide the drape and tux,” she said. After taking the photos, Johnson displays them for the student. “If the student finds one they love, we’re finished. If they aren’t happy with their hair or expression, we fix the problem and try again.” Johnson provides a free download for the picture, the ability to order prints, and personally sends the picture to the high school for the yearbook. The entire process takes around ten to twenty minutes.

Johnson’s 2017 senior yearbook photo schedule will be announced at the end of May and the first round of portraits will be start being taken in mid-June. Her sitting fee rates are $40 for a senior yearbook photo session. If you’re interested in taking a picture with Ali Johnson, contact her at her website, alijohnson.com, or text or call her at 434-906-0418. You can also follow Ali Johnson Photography on Facebook or Instagram to see samples of her work.

Alternatively, seniors can get their yearbook pictures taken for free with LifeTouch, which will host an information meeting in late April for 2016 juniors. Life Touch will mail postcards to rising seniors with appointment times during June. They typically do two photo sessions in the summer and one in the early fall.

FCHS Journalism Adviser Elizabeth Pellicane, who publishes the FCHS Yearbook, stressed that upcoming seniors need to keep one crucial point in mind, regardless of who they choose to take their senior yearbook portrait. “If you only take a senior photo with Ali Johnson, it will be impossible for you to get a senior ID card. This is because Life Touch makes the cards and they only use Life Touch photos,” she said. She added that she encourages all seniors to take a senior photo with Life Touch first. “Even if you decide you want to take your portrait later with Ali Johnson, at least you’ll be able to get an ID card if you’ve taken a photo with Life Touch. Every year, a number of seniors come to me asking for an ID card which they can use to vote or because it is required by a job. But if you haven’t taken some sort of photo with Life Touch, there is nothing I can do to help you,” she said.  

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