Senior pictures makeup tips


How to Take Senior Portraits That Kids and Their Parents Love

Have you ever tried to photograph a high school senior, only to come home and discover that all your photos look awkward and stuffy? Whether you’re a professional photographer that’s being paid or a friend snapping photos in the backyard, senior portraits can be a huge challenge for photographers of all types because you have multiple clients to please.

It’s important for the high school seniors to have fun and look like themselves in their photos. It’s also important to capture images that will please their parents and fit their school’s requirements for the yearbook photo. Having lots of cooks in the kitchen can make things challenging, but not impossible. Here are a few tips for before, during, and after the session that will help you take senior portraits that are loved by both kids and parents.

Before the Session

1. Ask Questions in Advance

When it comes to senior portraits, every high school does things a bit differently. Some high schools have very specific requirements for the senior portrait to be used in the yearbook. I’ve even encountered one school that specified that all girls were to wear a black crew neck shirt with pearls, photographed with a gray backdrop, with the subject turned slightly to their left. Other schools are much more relaxed and may specify only the orientation and whether the image should be color or black and white.

Some schools require that seniors use their in-house photographer for the yearbook photo but they can use images from independent photographers for graduation announcements and other things. So, as the photographer, it is so important that you are aware of the school’s yearbook photo requirements for seniors before you even begin shooting.


Also, I always ask about each school’s deadline to submit photos to the yearbook. Some schools require that photos be submitted before Christmas, other schools don’t cut off submissions until late spring. This is another situation that varies from school to school, and it’s a really important question to ask. You’d be surprised how often I get calls for senior portraits two or three days before a school’s deadline, asking if I could squeeze in a session and them assuming that the images will be edited and ready to go the very next day.

Sometimes it may work for me to squeeze in a session, with the agreement that I’ll provide 3-5 images by the yearbook deadline and the rest will be delivered within my standard time frame. Other times, I just can’t swing it. Asking the question allows me to be transparent with prospective clients, and also to help set reasonable expectations for the session well in advance.

2. Wardrobe Choices

Every photographer approaches wardrobe selection a little differently. Some ask their client to model prospective outfits in advance and help them choose. Other photographers create little handouts that include examples of what to wear (and also what not to wear). Still, other photographers prefer to capture whatever their clients show up wearing.

Your approach will likely be influenced by whether you tend to capture styled sessions or lifestyle sessions. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I want my clients to be comfortable and to look like themselves, but I also find that most people benefit from some gentle direction about what to wear for a session.

Giving direction

When it comes to senior portraits, the direction that I usually give is to bring three outfits:

  1. One casual outfit, something like jeans and a solid colored top.
  2. A dressy outfit; slacks and a button down shirt for the guys, a dress or slacks and a nice shirt for the girls.
  3. One outfit that describes their senior year in a nutshell. This might be a sports jersey, a t-shirt with their favorite band, their prom dress, or it could be a really trendy outfit that they absolutely love.

For the first two outfits, I usually tell both the seniors and their parents to select medium to dark-wash jeans with no holes, and either a solid colored shirt or very classic patterns (like plaid). I also tell them to feel free to be creative and think outside the box when it comes to the third outfit. I’ve found that the parents typically prefer the images of their kids in the first two outfits, while the seniors typically prefer the images of themselves in the third outfit. In my experience, offering this simple guidance in terms of wardrobe has been the most important factor in ensuring that both the parents and the kids love their senior portraits.

Two examples of “Outfit Three” images.

3. Posing

High school seniors are in a bit of a tricky spot. At 17 or 18 years old, they want to look and be treated like adults. I really try to be conscientious of that dual dynamic. This may be my own personal soapbox, but I also try to be mindful to guide these kids through poses that make them feel like confident and strong young adults, without being overly risqué or mature. DPS has great posing guides for men and women. Take some time to scroll through and identify the types of poses that you think are age appropriate for high school seniors prior to the session!

During the Session

1. Build Rapport

As you begin your session, ask the senior more questions. If they play a sport, ask how their season is going so far. Ask about their plans for next year, or what they think they’d like to major in. Find out what they usually do on a Friday night. Get them to tell you about their favorite part of high school.

Really listen, pay attention to their answers and when they share something awesome, tell them so! Hearing praise from someone other than their parents will help build their confidence in front of the camera. More importantly, when you’re genuine with your feedback it helps build relationship and trust, which in turn will lead to more genuine photos.

2. Mind your aperture

I love seeing the images that families choose for the graduation announcements. More often than not, in my experience, that image is a head and shoulders portrait of the senior looking at the camera and smiling, with a nicely blurred background. There’s something about that sort of image that’s timeless and classic. To achieve this for senior portraits, I almost always have my aperture set somewhere between f/1.8 and f/2.5 depending on the lens.

3. Acknowledge the Awkward

Portrait sessions are odd for most people. When you add hormones, acne, insecurity, and that not-quite-adult dynamic we mentioned earlier to the mix, senior portrait sessions can feel downright embarrassing. One of the simplest techniques I’ve found has been to simply acknowledge the awkward. I’ve been known to say things like, “I know it feels weird to be the center of everyone’s attention and to be posed like a doll, but you’re doing a really good job and everything looks great so far!”

Or maybe something like, “I know this is going to feel absolutely awkward and ridiculous, but I want you to give me your biggest, loudest Santa laugh. Like this (insert ridiculous Santa laugh here).” I know it’s a weird request. They know it’s a weird request. Acknowledge the weirdness, and be willing to be an active participant in the craziness. It’s really not about the Santa laugh itself. But, if you can get them to participate, it’ll often make them smile or laugh, which is the moment you’re really waiting for.

Just acknowledging that senior photos are not a comfortable everyday experience for most kids can go a long way towards putting them at ease and capturing images that really show their personalities.

After the Session

1. Utilize Social Media

Shortly after the session, I post a preview image to my Facebook page. I try to select one that I think will please both the kid and the parents, which is often those head and shoulders portrait I mentioned earlier. Many of the images you see in this article were the preview images posted to Facebook after the sessions.

I also make an effort to post a caption for the image that captures one of the cool things that the senior shared with me during the rapport-building part of our session. My heart in doing so is to affirm and acknowledge these kids. I’ve photographed a lot of different kids from a lot of different backgrounds, and each one has blown me away talking about their passions and hopes for the future. I want them to see and hear that they matter and that they were heard during our session, as well as to encourage each of them and build them up, if only in some small way.

You’ll have to find your own groove in terms of how exactly you share images on social media, but for high school seniors especially, don’t skip this step! I’ve had more referrals for senior portraits come from Facebook than any other avenue.

2. Keep the Editing Style Classic

When it comes to editing senior portrait sessions, I try to keep my editing style clean and classic. Again, every photographer has their own niche and style, and I’m not suggesting that you change yours. I am suggesting that when it comes to senior portraits, that you be mindful of creating images that will stand the test of time. For me personally, this often means offering more black and white images than I might from other sessions and fewer images with a matte treatment.


In all, capturing senior portraits that both parents and kids love is one part preparation before the session, and one part rapport-building during the session, with a drop of thoughtful post-processing thrown into the mix.

It’s not difficult, but it does take some advance preparation. Do you have any other tips for capturing senior photos that parents and kids both love? Please share them in the comments below.

High School Senior Portrait Tips


Our High School Senior sessions are fun and exciting. To help it run smoothly, we hope you take some time to read through the information we have included. {You can use these tips for any session}



The right clothing allows your face to dominate the portrait, all other elements in your photo should be secondary. So our goal is for the face to be prominent, not the clothes. For this reason we discourage busy patterns and bright colors in your clothing, they will draw the eye to the clothing instead of the subject • Never wear a lighter colored pant with a darker colored shirt, it will make your bottom half look larger than your top and that is not a good look for males or females • Short skirts or dresses really limit your posing options, so think carefully before choosing a lot of this type of clothing. It’s a good idea to vary your clothing styles, not all of one type • Big stripes will add at least a dress size to your looks as well as distract from your face, don’t wear them • Big logos across your chest are not only distracting, they’re going to date your portraits. Strive for a classic, timeless look, something that will be in style now as well as 20 years from now • Choose varying styles of clothing. Shirts with different necklines, casual and dressy clothing. Sweaters and other garments with textures are a good choice • Jackets can be added for a completely different look • Include scarves and hats to add more different clothing looks • Wrinkles WILL show up in your portraits. Iron your clothes if necessary and bring in on a hanger • Make sure your clothing is clean • Plan ahead • Your senior portraits are only going to be as good as the combined effort of your photographer and you. You cannot expect the photographer to work a miracle and make your clothes perfect if you haven’t done your part • Girls need to try on their clothing with the undergarments they’ll be wearing • We discourage clients from wearing white shirts for most portraits, because white tends to draw the viewers eye, and detracts your eye from the face of the subject. Bright white tennis shoes will stand out as well • Long sleeves or sleeveless shirts are best. If you are concern about the size of your upper arms, then, of course, you’ll want to wear long sleeves. Mostly short sleeves visually cut the arm in two, short sleeves should be avoided except in the most casual of photographs, however, three-quarter sleeves are fine.


Girls and guys should have fingernails clean and filed. • Remove chipped nail polish: it will show • Black and blue fingernail polish keep popping up as a fashion trend • Don’t wear either for your senior portraits, it’s too trendy: it’ll make your fingernails look odd and they’ll look even stranger 20 years from now • Neon polish may draw too much attention and may clash with some outfits. • Girls should really stick to neutral tones, light to mid pink is a good choice.


Oily skin, especially on your face really is the enemy, oil will show up as unattractive shiny spots on your face in a photo, ( especially on your forehead) • Wear a foundation makeup that doesn’t have oil in it and if you do have oily skin, refresh your makeup with translucent powder during the shoot • Face blotters work well keeping makeup intact • Don’t use makeup with spf protection in it for your session • Makeup or “base” or foundation that contains spf protection has a reflective quality, i.e. it looks shiny in photos • Use a fresh tube of mascara so you don’t have clumps • Close up photos will show • Neutral eye colors, such as grays and browns are best • Avoid pastel shades and especially highly frosted shadows • Don’t use eye shadows, lotions, blush anything with glitter in it • Highly frosted eyeshadow will do the same thing, it’ll show up as tiny white spots all around your eyes • If you use lotion of any kind, especially on your face it will show up as shine • Chapped or cracked lips are going to show in your portraits • Moisturize your lips BEFORE your session • Don’t wear super glossy lipstick or lip gloss because they make huge white spots from the shine on your lips wherever the light hits it.


It’s nice to include special or important jewelry in your portraits however keep in mind that too much jewelry can be distracting • Pendant type necklaces will be tough to keep in the proper place when you move around as you pose • Organize jewelry by putting in baggies and slipping over the coordinating outfit hangers so you won’t be hunting around for it.


Girls should have shaved under your arms the day of your session • Poses may have hands over your head and even wearing a sleeveless top, stubble may show and it won’t look pretty • Boys should make sure to shave their beards for the same reason.


Don’t use a lot of hairspray, gel or other product in your hair • Your hair should move with you when you tilt your head and blow nicely in the breeze • Hair spray can be used to tame flyaways on top of your head or keep hair out of face • Don’t forget to take your ponytail holder off of your wrist • Don’t get a last minute haircut or hairstyle change • Give your hair a week or so to grow in a bit from a haircut.


Sunburns are nearly impossible to fix or retouch • Suntan lines are also tricky so you should vary your shirt sleeves and bathing suit tops when tanning to avoid lines • Don’t spray tan before a session, it will photograph orange and it will probably be blotchy, darker in the knees, elbows, hairline and other dry areas • It’s best not to over tan even if you do your tanning in the sun.


Of course, there are always exceptions, if your favorite outfit in the world falls under any of these categories, bring it and we’ll use it for a few poses with a carefully chosen background.


• Bring more outfits than you need • That way we can help pick outfits that are more flattering • Try to be prepared to change outfits quickly. That way we can spend more time shooting photos. • Have accessories ready in baggies like previously discussed • Have a friend or family member come along to help fix hair and outfits.

• Bring props • Whatever your hobbies may be, music, sports we can incorporate it into any photo • Bring a favorite CD with your music • Bring photos from magazines or websites that you like • You’ll be sure to get the poses you like • If not, we can definitely take charge of the posing, no worries with that, we are the professionals


n. Folklore consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them. Urban legends are often distorted, or false, and are exaggerated or sensationalized.


The same photographer who takes your yearbook picture must also take your senior pictures.

This is simply not true.

Unfortunately, people often believe they must purchase ALL their senior pictures from the same studio that takes their yearbook picture. In fact, you are free to choose the photographer who will take the pictures that you hand out to friends, send out with graduation announcements, and display at home for years to come. Instead of getting stuck with senior pictures that look identical to everyone else, seize the opportunity to have photos that portray your unique personality. Michaelangelo’s lets you decide how and where you’d like to be photographed, encouraging you to have fun and most importantly, be yourself!

Call us today to chat about what Michaelangelo’s Photography has to offer for your High School Senior Portrait.440.260.7660 or email us

How to take Senior Pictures

If you haven’t scheduled your high school senior to have their portraits taken, no fear, you can do it yourself! Whether you have learned to Say NO to Auto or not, you can take some pictures of them with just a few helpful tips.

Taking great senior portraits is often just about remembering a handful of tips:

  • Great Light
  • Fun Locations
  • Casual Posing
  • Take Candids
  • Variety of clothing & props

I’ve shared over 30 images below that I’ve taken to help illustrate my points, below each image is a link to click over to see more from that session, for even more ideas!

Great light is simply looking for the best spot to photograph within your location. You don’t want full sun glaring in their eyes, or into your lens, but you don’t want a super dark pocket, either. Look for the light in their eyes. This shows some backlight as the sun is going down below the trees. {Tips on taking backlit pictures}

More here

I love the look of shooting through the tall grass, and the light is beautiful!

more here

Finding the light reflecting in their eyes just perfectly, you know you found a good spot

see more images from this session here

Fun locations are about keeping your eyes out for COLOR and/or TEXTURE. Texture can be anything from a brick pattern, stone arrangement, pipes, tiles, anything interesting…even a dumpster. They are often blue or green, with great texture! If you get close enough, no one will ever know it was a dumpster, either.

This location is just a wire fencing, but shooting THROUGH the fencing, made for a cool effect.

More Here

If you can photograph the skyline in your hometown, it makes for a FUN backdrop!

see more from this session HERE

This was just on the girls driveway, but the blue of the bus and the texture makes for a great image! (Also love her posing: thumbs in pockets, ankles crossed, laughing candid looking away)

More here

I love everything about this next picture (posing with stomach towards wall, clothes) but the background with lettering on the train works pretty fabulously here.

See more HERE and HERE.

Playing in a candy shop? Yes, please!

see more here

This double mirror makes for a fun location.

more here

This fun location is called the Cathedral of Junk, it was a fun spot to take pictures!

see more HERE

This is a GREAT textured background, behind our city library.

more here

I love how the poles draw your eye right in, with this location

see more here

This location was at the back of a restaurant, I LOVED the color AND texture found here

more here

A simple tall stairwell makes for a great background with texture.

More here and HERE

Whenever I see a fabulous and colorful textured wall, it’s a must for pictures

see more here

I look for doors and walls with color everywhere I go, I love the windows on this set, too

see more here

Casual posing can be tricky. It’s also different for a boy or a girl, too, because you don’t want your girl to look to masculine and you don’t want your boy to appear feminine, right?

I love the casual posing here, and how she is looking away. The background is also pretty fabulous (see color AND texture work well with her solid dress)

more here and HERE

Hands or thumbs in pockets is great when they don’t know what to do with their hands–especially boys!

see more here

I love this “leaning up against a bridge” shot, so natural

see more here

Crouching, knees to the side, feet apart. Arms casually resting on each knee. See more of this session here

This pose on the stairs is casual, because he’s comfortably leaning up against them. Anytime they can lean ON something, it always looks more natural

see more HERE

Notice, one knee is bent, so she doesn’t look so stiff. Arms clasped behind her back is more natural than by her side. MORE HERE.

This posing on the stairs is good to notice her knees together. She’s just chillin, I love this background, too. More of this session HERE.

I like this “looking away” pose. Serious, and it works.

more here

This pose against the wall is more casual with one foot up against it, looking away is an extra fun element of casual-ness!

see more HERE

Taking candids are very important to me, because it’s more of a snapshot of LIFE. I love to have seniors include something they love, whether an instrument or athletic pieces.

Playing the guitar (more images on the link)

Can’t get more candid than snapping a picture of someone driving, right? I LOVED this VW bus!

see more here

Candid with the violin (here jewelry makes nice texture, too)


Have some FUN! This was at a car wash!

more here

I love this handstand shot!

more here

This candid is a FUN silhouette! {For tips on }

More here

A variety of clothing is important, and I often suggest 3-4 outfits. That covers about an hour and a half of shooting at 3-4 locations. Casual/jeans, a dress, hat, jewelry, mix it up and show personality, showing off their favorite outfits!

I love this blazer paired with a t-shirt, and REALLY love me some sunglasses in a shot

see more of this session here

More here

I love the track shoes as a prop here

see more from this session here

Bring the letter jacket if there is one (more here)

I love that this gal wore her favorite Yankee’s Tee in one outfit (cool location, too!)

more here

I hope this post has given you a variety of ideas for locations, clothes, and posing, you just have to think outside of the box a little when taking senior pictures!

Want more photo tips? I’ve got lots!

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27 Fun and Creative Ideas for Beach Pictures

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Family Silhouette Inspiration

What to wear in Family Pictures by Color

How to Start a Photography Business

How to Decide What Camera to Buy

How to Take Great Backlit Pictures

Did you have a favorite senior image above? I’d love to hear!

Want to start your own photography business? Check out the business book I co-wrote!

If you’d to join the Capturing Joy Photo Club on Facebook, where we have photo challenges, Q&A’s, and image sharing, request to join HERE:

Tips for planning the best Senior Photography Session ever

Being a high school senior is an exciting time. With one more year of school left, there are a lot of memories to make with friends while also figuring out the next steps of life. It’s a time for young adults to embrace their individuality, learn more about who they are and determine their goals for what they want to become.

It’s a memorable time for teens and parents, and one of the best ways to capture this milestone is through Senior Photography.

These pictures are used for graduation announcements, decor at grad parties, gifts for loved ones and, of course, proudly framed at home. They honor the importance of today and become cherished keepsakes that capture the momentous occasion for years to come.

Once you have a Senior Photography Session scheduled, you might wonder what to expect and how to prepare to get the best images possible. The experts at Prestige Photography by Lifetouch provide some tips and tricks for an amazing experience that results in incredible images parents and teens will love.

Plan ahead

Embrace a proactive attitude when it comes to Senior Pictures. When you plan ahead, you feel comfortable during your session and can truly be yourself. Keep in mind, Prestige Photography by Lifetouch sessions can include outfit changes, so you can present a variety of personal looks in your photographs. There are many facets to your personality, so let them shine bright in the clothing you select!

Check out the different types of sessions and choose the one that’s right for you. Remember, different sessions include different options for posing, outfits, background and lighting. For example, the Ultimate session allows for four different outfit changes and up to seven backgrounds for plenty of options that reflect every part of who you are.

Select clothing

The Senior Photography Session can include a variety of pictures, including close-ups, full-length poses and everything in between. When putting together an outfit, remember to think about looks from head to toe. From hats and hair accessories to just the right shoes, you want wardrobe options that reflect who you are.

Check out your closet and start brainstorming which styles you want to highlight in your images. From sporty and preppy to casual and cool, you can make each image your own through clothing and accessories. Feature favorite pieces and supplement with shopping for some new items if necessary. Start planning several weeks ahead of time to make sure you have everything set for your session.

Have fun with color and experiment with layers that feature a variety of textures. This adds visual interest to the picture and gives you plenty of options. Your wardrobe helps to convey your entire personality. For example, you could wear your sports uniform; or a more casual outfit you might wear to a family holiday; or, get the most out of that suit or dress from the school dance.

Be inspired

Have you seen other senior pictures that you like? Maybe it’s friends, family or even examples you’ve seen online? Maybe you have your own concepts you’d like to bring to life? Consider poses you like and props you can incorporate to really make the pictures your own. For instance, if you play an instrument, it can be a wonderful addition to an image.

Of course you don’t have to feel pressure to know poses before the session. The professional photographers at Prestige Photography by Lifetouch will offer plenty of suggestions for helping you look your best and reveal your true self. Every senior is one-of-a-kind, and it’s the photographer’s goal to let that uniqueness be seen in all Senior Pictures.

11 Tips for Photographing High School Senior Portraits

A Guest Contribution by Meghan Newsom.

When it comes to planning for sessions, seniors are some of my favorite people to work with. Don’t get me wrong, I love families, children, engaged couples and wedding ceremonies.. but seniors are close to the top of my list.

Why, you may ask? It’s simple: seniors are excited to model, seniors are some of my best marketing tools, and seniors know what they want. They also have a great sense of style, which translates well in their photographs.

When a high school senior books a session with me, I do several things right from the start to help them know I am excited about working with them. I also do my best to get to know them so I can tailor their shoot to fit them perfectly. I find that if you do these things, your session will not only run smoothly, but you will have a client who LOVES to refer you to their friends.

Before the Shoot

1. First things first, let them know how excited you are to work with them. Since seniors are all about social media, I tweet about how excited I am to work with them and plan their session a few days after they book with me.

2. Next, I send each senior I book a tailored questionnaire so I can get to know them better. Some of these questions found in their questionnaire include:

  • What are some of your favorite features about yourself?
  • What do you want to remember most about this time in your life?
  • Are there any specific locations you have in mind for your shoot?
  • How would you spend your ideal Saturday?
  • How would you describe your personal style?

3. Even though seniors are on top of the latest styles, they often need help when it comes to deciding what to wear to their session. So, a week before their session I send them a link to a pinterest board I have created to help give them specific ideas of what to bring with them. This small act not only helps your client, but it will also help you achieve the look you want in your own portfolio.

At the Shoot

The morning of the session, I contact my client to make sure they know what time and where we are meeting up. I make sure they have their outfits picked out, and give them one more opportunity to ask me any questions they see fit.

During the session I do several things to make the couple of hours I have with them memorable and stress free (and fun!!) for my senior client. You can do this too by doing the following things:

1. Seniors are at an awesome stage in their lives, they have their whole future ahead of them. Talk with them, ask them questions, find out what their plans for the future are. Encourage them and invest in them while you are with them. They will feel appreciated, valued, and will feel confident hearing assuring words from an adult that isn’t their parent.

2. Most seniors have never been in front of a professional photographer other than the cheesy pictures their parents had them take when they were younger. Make them feel comfortable. Praise them when they look good in front of the camera. I love to turn my camera around and show them some little peaks of how well they are doing. THEY LOVE THIS! It will encourage them to keep up the good work, and will give them confidence in their appearance.

3. Posing. You may have some go-to poses you use for your seniors. But since each person is uniquely different, you need to have several tricks up your sleeve. Enter my i-phone. Recently I have been taking screen shots of poses I am inspired them and putting them into albums on my i phone. When I hit a rut, I whip out my phone and look at my posing guides. At first I thought this was like “cheating” during a shoot, but my seniors LOVE IT! They think it is so cool that I thought of them enough before hand to plan for their poses during their session. Again, this makes them feel valued. I have a great Pinterest board to help you out if your stuck in a rut.

4. Props. I love to bring small props for my seniors to hold or sit on during their session. This could mean an old folding chair, a cute beach hat, an old quilt.. or even some books. Some people feel really awkward in front of the camera at first, so these little props give them something to do with their hands while they are adjusting to your presence.

After the Shoot

After their session, you can keep up the “hype” by doing several things:

1. The following day post a “teaser” or “sneak peak” photo from their session onto facebook. This is another reason why I love seniors. They will share that teaser with all of their friends through social media, which means more publicity for you and your business!

2. The following week, after I have edited all of their images, I will send ten images to them through PASS. They will also share these images through facebook, and it will give them a great idea of why they should purchase a disc with ALL of their high-resolution images from me.

3. As soon as I have all of their images edited, I will order a custom book for my seniors and send it to them along with a really appealing package. The package includes a hand written note, business cards, and other little goodies I sneak in for them. They always love how personal I make these for each of them (another great reason so send them a questionnaire and get to know them well during the session!)

4. After they have their images, blog all about their session, including images they haven’t seen in the ten I sent them. This blog post will also be shared through social medial to their friends and family (more free advertising!).

In post processing senior photos, always remember that you are photographing for their parents as much as you are your senior client. I keep “fad” type editing out of the equation because I know ten years from now their parents will want a solid (not overly processed) image on their wall.

Instead of using “fad” editing techniques, I always let the style speak through the locations I choose. You can easily do this by choosing old brick buildings, abandoned farm houses, fields of cotton etc. The seniors love this, and their parents will appreciate the timelessness of the photographs they receive.

It is not hard to rock a session with your seniors, it just takes some extra things to go above and beyond so they know you appreciate them and want to know them. All of those extra things will make your client feel special, and will translate into those coveted word of mouth referrals for you and your growing business!

Meghan Newsom is a lifestyle and wedding photographer located in Northern Alabama. When she’s not writing for her lifestyle blog, cooking up gluten free recipes, or taking pictures, you can find her exploring outside with her husband and pup.

Seniors – Preparing for your Session

Hello Seniors and Parents! Thank you for choosing Sue Daniels Photography.

Graduation portraits of high school and college seniors can have a range of looks depending on what the senior wants to capture as he/she transitions to a new phase of life. Senior portraits can and should be interesting, fun, and exciting. Families love to have pictures of their graduating seniors. A quality portrait is timeless, elegant, and priceless. I strive to make every portrait a masterpiece that you will treasure for a lifetime.

Here are some tips to help you prepare so that we can have the most fun and get the best images.

What Can I Bring?

Most seniors bring two to five outfits to their session. The shortest session (45 minutes) would allow for 2 outfits. As sessions get longer in length, there is more time for changing outfits. It is important for you to feel comfortable in the outfits you select. If you feel comfortable this will be reflected well in your portraits. Please feel free to bring along accessories that will help convey your personality or interests. Items such as musical instruments, dance shoes and danceware, sports uniforms and equipment, jackets, hats, scarves, jewelry, hobby items, and electronic equipment will help convey YOU in the portraits. If you have a “trademark look”, then by all means bring along the essential elements so that we can capture your unique style. An goal of senior portraits is to capture your personality, style and interests.

The style of your senior portraits is completely up to you. Whether you want formal poses, informal poses, or something completely unique and different, I am happy to help you achieve the look you desire. If you have an idea that you believe may be just a bit too kooky or crazy, let me know. I am pretty much game for anything as long as it is safe.

Your Choice of Style

Here are a few ideas for selecting clothing, accessories, and outfits for your senior portraits. These are only suggestions and guidelines. Feel free to be creative, imaginative, and expressive in your senior outfit selections. If you aren’t sure about an item, bring it anyway and discuss it with me.

What to Consider

  • Wear clean and ironed clothing. Wrinkles may not come out in the wash and they can be very hard to remove in a photograph. Spots, streaks, and discolorations on clothing can be very distracting in a photograph.
  • Bring both casual and formal attire.
  • Bring a uniform. If you are involved in a sport, band, or other activity requiring a uniform, bring it along as one of your outfits. You may need to contact your school or coaches in advance to obtain these items during the summer months.
  • Hobby or Outside Interest. Perhaps you ride horses, ski, play football, practice a martial art, play guitar or dance. Any outside school interest usually has attire or props that will readily convey your interest and experiences in a photograph.
  • Plan for a variety of outfits (at least 3). Bring a couple of outfits your parents like, and some that you like. That way, everyone is happy.
  • Avoid sleeveless tops. Bare arms draw attention away from your face and longer sleeves tend to give portraits a more balanced and pleasing appearance. Naturally, if one of your outfits is a wrestling uniform, a leotard or a bathing suit then it won’t have long sleeves but bring it any way.
  • Darker socks are generally preferred, especially in more formal portraits.
  • Darker clothing generally provides a slimming effect in portraits.
  • Guys, just be aware that a 5’oclock shadow cannot be retouched. The look is fine and very contemporary but if it is not the look you are going for then you should shave shortly before the photo session.
  • SMILE! Braces can be removed from the final portrait (for a modest, additional charge).

Props and Accessories You Might Bring

  • Caps, hats, and scarves can often add character and personality to your senior portraits. Sunglasses can add a similar flair.
  • Musical instruments photograph well and add a personal touch to senior portraits.
  • Your letter jacket, your school ring, a school pendant, etc. can be useful additions to some of your portrait images.
  • A leather jacket often looks great when worn or draped over the shoulder.
  • Sports equipment including items such as jerseys, balls, bats, gloves, helmets, racquets, and shoes.
  • Dance attire – Pointe shoes, tap shoes, jazz shoes, tights and leotard, flowing dresses, jazz pants, tutus, etc.
  • Hobby or Outside Interest – If you participate in activities such as video gaming, off-road vehicles, photography, or if you are a member of a club or organization, you can probably think of items that will convey your interests in a photograph.

What to Avoid

  • Text, logos and symbols on clothing. The name of a band, company, celebrity, or even a trendy phrase may not hold up well over the years.
  • Your pictures should be about you, not about advertising for someone else.
  • Don’t get a haircut the day before your senior portrait session. Give your hair a few days to lie naturally again following a haircut. Also, freshly washed hair always looks best.

Suggestions for Guys

A darker suit or sport coat with tie is a good selection if you want some formal portrait poses. A sharp dark outfit against a dark background has a very nice look to it. Please ensure that you have matching shoes and socks for this portrait.

A black shirt and a white shirt.

Jeans. Shorts.

If you normally shave then it’s a good idea to shave shortly before the portraits. Minor grooming actions such as cleaning finger nails (they will show in the portraits), washing and styling hair can help ensure you have an excellent senior portrait series.

Suggestions for Women

For the more formal poses bring a special dress or gown, a nice sweater, a dress jacket, or whatever will make you feel elegant and special. Informal poses can be done in almost any clothing, but you will appreciate the process and the resulting images more if your clothing is not too revealing (fixing your top every few minutes won’t make you feel comfortable, relaxed, or spontaneous). Consider bringing clothing that has colors you particularly enjoy. Whatever you bring, ensure it feels comfortable and that you enjoy wearing it.

Nails need to be considered since they will be visible in the resulting portraits. If you wear polish, then you should ensure the polish is not chipped. Other than that, simply ensuring that the nails are clean and well-shaped is all that is necessary.

Light make-up (lip gloss, mascara, blush) is appropriate for women. Do not wear a base that creates a sheen. If your base creates a shiny surface please use powder over it.

In most cases your hair should be done like you normally wear it. A significant change in how you normally wear your hair will make your portraits appear to be those of another person. If you want more than one hair style in your senior portraits, then consider hair styles that can be quickly and easily changed in just a few minutes. If you feel you must have some work done with your hair (hair cut, perm, etc.), then have it done at least a week before your portrait session so that the changes have a chance to settle in before your senior portraits are taken.

If you wear jewelry bring several pairs of earrings, necklaces, bracelets. Don’t wear rubber bands or pony-tails holders around your wrist.

Studio or Location

Studio photography has the great benefit of always having good lighting. I am able to employ numerous lights and lighting control mechanisms to ensure your portraits have perfect colors, contrast, and detail. This is the true benefit of studio photography; absolute control of all elements that go into a successful and stunning portrait. I also create very unique lighting patterns with my studio lights – unlike what you would find in other studios – to help ensure your portraits have interest, charisma, and outstanding composition.

Images taken on location often benefit from natural lighting conditions and scenic surroundings. They may also reflect your particular interests (for example, shooting on a ranch if you ride horses, a soccer field if you are a soccer player or a dance studio if you are a ballerina). Or, the surroundings may give flair, contract and excitement to your portraits – for instance, shooting in an urban alley-way, against stained glass windows, on a chair-lift or on a rooftop.

If you have a location in mind, let me know. Nothing is out of the question as long as it is safe. I can also suggest some great locations – both urban and country.

You may select either a studio session, location session or combined session.

Fun Things You Can Get After Your Session

I love to play in Photoshop and create interesting and unique photographic effects. I offer a lot of fun products that use these special effects, for instance, my coffee table books, which contain an assortment of images from your session. I also create custom designed graduation/party announcements, “rep” cards (think wallets, but longer and slimmer) and collages. Wall portraits are a wonderful keepsake and you can get a different look by ordering a Canvas or Metal Print instead of the more traditional framed, photographic print. If you prefer a framed look, prints can be made on Fine Art Paper, which looks especially good for black and white prints. What about a hand crafted wooden frame made especially for you by a local artisan? These frames are custom painted with a whimsical design that match the colors in your photograph. Love prints? You can order wallets, 4×6 or 5×7 prints which come in a beautiful, custom designed image box with the senior’s image on the top of the box. If you are totally into digital, I can create Slideshows with music and effects that can run on multiple devices (computer, DVD, ipad, ipod, etc). Even if you have an idea of your own, let me know – it is more likely than not that I can turn your idea into reality!

Hair & Makeup Tips for Senior Pictures

Part of preparing for your senior session is thinking about how you want your hair, makeup, and nails to look. You have two options – set up an appointment with a professional, or do it yourself.

There are many benefits to letting the professionals help with your senior pictures:

  • Professional makeup artists have experience in makeup application for photography
  • They know how different makeup will appear in camera
  • They have high quality products in every shade imaginable
  • They know how to contour and choose colors that highlight your best features
  • They’ll have you feeling confident, beautiful, and ready to start your session!

Check out this post to see a video of the stylists at Salon 511 in Sheboygan Falls using airbrush makeup to help transform my group of models before their photo shoot!

If you can’t afford both hair & makeup, I definitely recommend the makeup application. If neither is in your budget, below are some tips for doing them yourself!


  • Apply eye and lip makeup slightly darker than normal. Cameras don’t pick up the contrast & definition our eyes see in person.
  • Avoid makeup with SPF & mineral makeup. While great for everyday use, they create an unflattering shine.
  • Don’t go overboard with layers of heavy makeup. It’s hard to photograph cakey makeup.
  • Set foundation with translucent powder that reduces shine. Shine is hard to Photoshop.
  • You might not normally wear lipstick, but I recommend it for your session, even if it’s a shade close to your natural lip color.
  • Mascara is a must. Clean not clumpy. At least 1 coat, 2 if you normally wear mascara.
  • Pastel eye shadows will look washed out – go for a medium or dark, rich tone. Browns and golds are pretty safe!
  • Avoid heavy black eyeliner, which makes your eyes look smaller. Go with gray or brown and blend well if you’re wearing eyeliner.
  • Avoid any sparkles and shimmers. Matte makeup will photograph better!


  • Don’t try a new cut, style, or color before your senior session!
  • Have your hair trimmed and any color touched up a couple weeks before your session.
  • Keep your hair natural. If you have straight hair you can give it a light curl, which adds volume and framing for your face.
  • Even if you don’t normally use hairspray, use it for your session – especially on all those little fly-aways. Just try not to overdo it with sticky products.
  • We’re going to be outside for a couple hours. If your hair tends to get frizzy, use products that help minimize frizz!


  • Natural nails look great for portraits – just make sure they’re neatly trimmed, filed, buffed, and clean!
  • If you want painted nails, choose a light and neutral color that goes with all of your outfits.
  • Chipped nails look terrible, so wait until the night before your session if you’re painting them!
  • If you’re wearing sandals or going barefoot for any photos, don’t forget your toes too!

Most importantly, if you’ll be doing your own hair & makeup – do a trial run at least a week in advance. After your trial, have somebody photograph you close up, outside in both shade and sun. Look at the photos to make sure your makeup and hair look the way you want them. If they don’t, you have a couple more days to practice and get it right!

If you have any questions, or want to book your senior session, please get in touch with me and I’ll email you details!

Your everyday makeup routine won’t cut it at portrait time, but these makeup ideas for senior pictures can help. Learn what looks great on camera so your photos will look amazing.

Try a Subtle Smoky Eye Without Sparkle

Many eyeshadows have mica or other ingredients that give them some extra sparkle. This is great in person, but it doesn’t work in photos. The sparkles can catch light and distract from your eyes and appearance. Instead, look for makeup that has a flat appearance. Try a bold, smokey eye in the same colors you would normally use. Feather the shadow out from the outer corners of your eyes for a bold but natural look. It’s always a good idea to practice your technique before the day of your portraits too.

Show Off Your Lips Without Shine

Your smile is a huge part of your senior pictures. In fact, it can make the difference between a gorgeous senior photo and one that feels boring or blah. To get the most out of your smile, you can go a little lighter on the eyes and play up your lips instead. You can do this with your favorite lipstick, as long as it isn’t too shiny. Like eye makeup, any sparkle or shine on your lips can glare in photos. If you love your regular shade but it shines too much, you can also transform it to a matte lipstick with a product like Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer.

Make Your Brows the Star

If you prefer a simpler, sportier look, let your brows take center stage. A strong, clean brow can make a natural look feel polished. A week before your portrait session, have your brows shaped at your local salon. Keep the rest of your makeup super simple and use a brow definer to perfect their shape and texture. If you have sparse or over-tweezed brows, you can fill them in with the definer, or you can use it to accentuate the arch. Either way, practice before your session so you can make sure your brows have the perfect look.

Layer Concealers to Cover Your Breakouts

Life is stressful, and senior pictures can add to the stress. If you find you have a breakout at the time of your portrait session, remember that your photographer can improve things with retouching. However, if you want to cover up any imperfections yourself, you can do so by layering concealers. Start with a primer to fill in any scars or dips in your skin, and follow this with a little green concealer to help cancel out redness. Then apply foundation and regular concealer, and finish your makeup routine as usual. Again, you’ll want to stay away from sparkle here, since it will draw attention to skin imperfections and reflect light in your photos.

Keep It Light and Fresh

For a natural look that still feels polished, choose light, fresh shades of your favorite products. This works especially well if you want a light, high-key look to your pictures. Use your regular techniques for applying eye makeup, lipstick, and blush, but choose shades that are a bit more neutral and light in tone. If you wear foundation, keep that the same. Try out a few looks before the day of your portraits so you can make sure you’re happy with the results. As always, it’s important to steer clear of anything that reflects light.

Use Neutral Makeup With Bold Clothing

If you plan to wear something super bright for your senior portrait session, keep your makeup neutral. This doesn’t mean you have to skip makeup altogether, but stay away from bright colors or bold looks. You can do a subtle smoky eye or a little mascara, but pick eye shadow that goes with every color and doesn’t draw attention to itself. The same goes for lips. You can wear lipstick; just choose one in a shade that’s similar to the regular color of your lips. Otherwise, your makeup and your clothing will fight for attention in your photos.

Pay Special Attention to Your Eyes With Glasses

If you wear glasses, your eyes can get lost behind the frames in photos. You want your eyes to really show up in your senior pictures, so pay special attention to how you apply your eye makeup. After an eye makeup base, use a peach shadow or other neutral tone to add color to your lids. Follow up with a brighter highlighting shade. Then add liner, paying attention to wear your frames hit so you don’t allow the liner to intersect with the frames. Finally, add plenty of mascara to make your lashes show behind your frames. Let your mascara dry completely to keep from smearing your frames.

Makeup That Looks Like You

No matter which makeup idea you choose for your senior portraits, be sure you practice it ahead of time. In addition to getting the hang of the technique, you can make sure you’re using makeup that looks like you. After all, these are the photos your friends and family will have for years to come.

With school back in session, photo days are on the schedule for many students and their families. Earlier, we discussed ways to improve the quality of yearbook photos. Today, we’d like to focus on a special sub-genre of yearbook photography: the Senior Portrait.

Senior Portraits are probably the most unique yearbook photos taken. Generally, throughout the US, seniors are given a particular appointment with a special photographer who will be in charge of senior portraits only at that time. Therefore, senior photos usually do not occur during the same time frame as the other yearbook photos. They may be scheduled during the summer break with the in-coming seniors being photographed one-by-one then. They may be scheduled during the latter part of the fall semester or during the spring semester. Also, these sessions run much differently than normal yearbook photo sessions and will generally come with instruction packets that request the student bring or wear certain clothing or avoid certain clothing. Pay attention to these as the photographer is not sending this packet just to be a control freak. Beyond that, follow our tips below to get the best senior photos you can.

1) Check the previous yearbook senior photos – The photos that run in the yearbook for the senior class almost always keep the same style. For most schools, this means that the backdrop will be a single-toned neutral or dark color (generally grey or black) and that the young men will all wear tuxedo shirts, bow ties, and black jackets. The young women will all appear to be wearing a gown that is off-the-shoulder. Check the style of the classes before yours and be prepared for that.

2) Prepare for the formal attire photo – Men will need to bring a plain white dress shirt that is appropriate for a tuxedo. Women will need to bring a bra that is either strapless or one where the straps can be slipped down beneath the draping without causing a wardrobe malfunction.

3) Ladies, bring your mother, sister, or a good female friend – The ladies’ photos do not actually require them to wear a dress. Instead, they will be given a drape of cloth and sent to the restroom to put it on. It will need to go over their arms and generally closes in the back with clothes pins or another simple (yet adjustable) closing mechanism. Drape the cloth over your chest so that it covers everything decently, adjust your bra straps as needed, and then have someone else pull it over your arms and snug behind you to pin it. Unless you have magical powers, you are not going to be able to do this on your own.

4) Know the hairstyle you’ll be using – Unless the session indicates that there will be time for multiple wardrobe changes and hairstyle changes, plan to use the same hairstyle in all of the photos. If you have an appointment that will allow you to visit a stylist in advance, feel free to do that. Otherwise, make certain that you can not only get your hair styled the way you want but that you can fix it quickly on your own or with whoever you have helping you.

5) Arrive at least ten minutes early – This will give you time to prepare for the formal photo (it’s usually the first shot that is done) and to make any last-minute fixes to your hair or make-up. Speaking of which…

6) Be conservative with the make-up – Go easy on the toner, base/foundation, and powder. Use an eyeshadow that compliments your irises (this is frequently the color that is opposite your eye color on a color wheel). Short hand is: use honey/gold/orange if you have blue eyes, lilac/lavender/light purple for green eyes, blue/cyan/pink for brown eyes (variable depending on the tint), etc. Keep your blush/rouge under control and looking like a healthy glow and choose a shade of lipstick that complements your entire face. If you normally wear flashy make-up or apply your make-up with a trowel, this is the time to visit a professional and learn a lighter, more mature touch.

7) Practice your expression – Don’t smile if you don’t feel like it. However, don’t scowl or try to look overly dramatic. A neutral expression or a small smile is fine so long as it doesn’t look plastered on. My own senior portrait has my most natural expression which is one of quiet daydreaming and I’m happier with it than with the version where the photographer demanded I smile (I have trouble faking emotion).

8) For the informal shots, bring clothes that are complimentary but comfortable – Informal shots can be done indoors or outdoors and will have a variety of backdrops, props, and settings. Bring something that goes well just about anywhere but that is comfortable enough for you to sit, squat, kneel, or stand in.

9) Get information on retakes – Some people will not be happy with their first set of senior photos. Be sure that you get the information for retakes in case you wind up needing it.

10) Parents, back off a bit. Students, listen to your parents – Senior photos are the last school photos you’ll be getting. By the time a child has become a senior in high school, they are generally old enough to have a fairly large say in what they’ll wear and how they’ll look. So, don’t force the issue too much, parents. That said, students, this is the last school photo you’ll be using. This will be the one that hangs on your parents’ wall. It’s up there with the photos from your wedding. Don’t use this as the photo to launch your full-out rebellion against parental authority. Trust me – you will regret doing that.

What other advice would you offer to seniors getting ready for their portraits? Let us know in the comments below!

— da Bird

4 Wardrobe Tips & Ideas For Timeless Senior Portraits

Photographer Sal Cincotta knows his way around a portraiture shoot — but his wife, Taylor, knows her way around a wardrobe rack. Together, the award-winning pair have shot hundreds of seniors portraits that delight both the subjects and their parents. The key, says Taylor, is being able to pick perfect outfits for each shoot.

In all likelihood, your senior is going to be bringing a pile of outfits that they really like. It’s your job, as the photographer, to pick through what they’ve brought and pull out the outfits — usually three to five, depending on the length of the shoot and the package that they’ve selected — that will be not only flattering, but also diverse enough to enhance your sales and please both the senior and her grandparents.

To cut down on the time it takes to select those looks — and to make sure you’re picking the best possible wardrobe — here are Taylor’s top tips.

Know the trends for senior picture outfits.

“Pick up Vogue,” says Taylor, “read magazines.” If you’re not on top of which trends are currently popular with teens, it’s going to be a lot harder to help your senior style their shoot in a way that they’ll love. This is especially important when the hottest trends aren’t particularly photogenic, or if they’re going to be way too dated in just a few years.

“I know that big, baggy shirts are in,” Taylor explains, “and I know that they look horrible on camera. So I won’t pick those.”

Knowing ahead of time which trends don’t photograph well, or which you know date the photo, can help you explain to your subject why their favorite outfit might not be the best. But sometimes, it’s ok to let them try a few shots in a not-great outfit, so long as you know you’ve got backup.

Worst is first.

If your senior is set on a look that you know just won’t work, shoot that outfit first.

“When they start out with their photoshoot, we know they’re so nervous,” Taylor explains, “so we pick the worst outfit to start with, since we know we’re not going to get a lot out of it.”

Similarly, if there’s an outfit that you know is going to be a stunner, save that one for last. That way, your senior will be super-comfortable and the photos will come out more natural.

Be diverse.

Taylor emphasizes that “you want to make sure you have a range of styles.”

“You don’t want to have everything dressy or everything casual, because that’s going to hurt your sale.”

For senior girls, opt for one look that’s got jeans or another casual look, one in-between look like a cotton sundress, and one formal or cocktail dress. For boys, look for jeans and a t-shirt, something a little nicer, like a button-down, and then a suit or a blazer with slacks.

Ask for a solid.

Taylor and Sal always request that their seniors bring at least one solid black or white shirt.

“It’s a failsafe,” explains Taylor. Teenagers are unusual creatures, and there’s a good chance that they’ll show up to the shoot with some pieces that you just can’t make look good on camera.

“We don’t pick a lot of patterns,” says Sal. “Patterns, to me, date the picture. We don’t want to date the photograph.”

Senior portraits can be very important to both the subject and their family, and as the photographer, it’s up to you to make sure that it’s a great experience for everyone involved. By being firm about which looks work best on camera, while still keeping up with which trends seniors love, you’ll be able to pick outfits that will look great in the photos and make your customers happy.

Are you ready to learn how to take powerful portraits using your mirrorless camera? Join professional portrait photographer Miguel Quiles as he walks you through using your mirrorless device to capture stunning portrait images. Watch for free on November 3-4!

Senior Photo Clothing Tips – What to wear for senior photos

To help make your senior portraits successful a little planning goes along way.

Let’s start with the guys

It’s best if you schedule a hair cut 1 – 2 weeks in advance of your portrait session, this will give it a little time to grow out. We suggest shaving the morning of your session (be careful not to nick your skin)! While the “five – 0’clock shadow is the look these days be sure this is the look you want to be remembered by. Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now this trend may be long gone.

For the Girls

We suggest you wear your hair in the style you wear every day! This is how your family and friends see you every day. Quick changes to your hair style can be done during your session, however this does cut into the session time. We also suggest that you trim your hair a couple of weeks before your session so that your ends are fresh.

Clothing Tips

To achieve a diverse portfolio of images, bring a variety of clothing styles; casual, dressy, trendy, sporty, etc. The selection of color will also play a large part in showing more variety in your images. Select colors that you like, as well as colors that look great on you! How do you know what is the best color for you? Stand in front of the mirror hold outfits of different colors in front of you, the colors that make your eyes, skin and smile stand out are perfect! If you feel good in your outfits, you will look amazing!

Some tips on what look best and what to avoid:

Solid colors work great especially for close -ups. The focus will be on you rather than your outfit. Select colors that enhance your skin tone. If you feel your upper arms are large and don’t want to focus on them, long sleeves tend to look better than short sleeves or sleeveless. Same with your legs, if you do not want to focus on your thighs, wear pants or capri pants rather than shorts. If you can see through your clothing be sure to bring the appropriate underclothing to wear beneath it. Clothing should be pressed and on hangers, the camera will see the wrinkles.

Click on our Pinterest link in the upper right hand corner to see great clothing combinations. (What to wear senior photos board)

Style & Accessories

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

You’ve got style, and you already know how to look your best—in your own way, every day. But your senior portrait session will take a little more planning than outfits for school or going out with friends.

Prestige Portrait sessions include a number of outfit changes, as well as close-up looks, full-length, and everything in between. So be sure to wear complete outfits from head to toe.

Color and Texture

Have a little fun with layers and textures as you plan your session wardrobe. Flat fabrics and neutrals may sound like logical choices, but don’t limit yourself. Look around your closet for complimentary colors or shades of the same color to bring a lot of contrast and style to your look.


The right accessories can go far to add interest and bring your outfit together. For a little extra sparkle, girls can wear a favorite necklace, earrings or a ring, and guys can wear a great watch or favorite belt. If you like hats or scarves, bring one or two of each along with you for your session. And great shoes are a must.

Senior photography is a great way to immortalise the many moments teens-not-quite-adults go through, from graduations to moving out.

But it’s not as easy as you’d think. Posing and photographing a senior is very different from posing an adult.

Our article will take you through all you need to know to overcome these challenges. We will also give you some great senior picture ideas.

Senior photo sessions aren’t just about getting solid portraits for parents to showcase during graduation celebrations. No, senior photo sessions are an invitation to the still-teenager-almost-adult to be an active participant in their photo session.

Having them choose outfits, locations, and props can help to make the session more personalised and meaningful to both the teen and the parents.

10. Why You Should Have a Pre-Consultation

Seniors are coming into their own personalities and have their own ideas about how the session should unfold.

It’s important for you to have a pre-consultation where you can ask questions and get to know the senior better. Make sure you have questions ready before the teen comes to the meeting.

You can ask them about their hobbies, activities, where they like to spend their time, how they feel about becoming adults, favorite music, etc.

These questions will help you to suggest the best locations and time of day for the session.

You will also be able to get a read on their personality when you meet face-to-face.

Creating a questionnaire can seem more productive as this way the teen won’t feel like the consultation is an interrogation.

Keep the conversation focused on them and keep it light.

Ask the parents for their input as well since they will most likely want photos for their home, desk, and family and friends.

Ask them what they plan to use the photos for, will they make graduation announcement cards? Party invites?

This is a great way to get an idea of what you are shooting for in terms of final products.

9. Create “Sets” to Showcase the Teen’s Personality and Hobbies

Now that you’ve had your senior portrait pre-consultation, it’s time to put all of those answers to good use.

Create different “sets” for the photos, especially if you’re photographing the teen in a studio, to tailor to the teen’s hobbies or activities. You can also do this on location.

For example, if the teen is into reading, create a small reading nook or library. You can also go to a cafe, public library, or even the school’s library and photograph the senior there.

The teen might also play the guitar. Create a “set” where the teen is playing the guitar or posing with the guitar.

Creating these studio or on-location setups can add more of a narrative as to who the teen is right now before going off to college or becoming an adult.

It shows a lot more personality and often looks more natural. They will be more comfortable engaging in activities/hobbies they like, and less stressed about the photo shoot.

Same goes for teens who are into sports. Create a makeshift indoor field or go to the actual field and photograph the teen there.

8. Include Cap & Gown Pictures

Have the teen bring their cap and gown to the session as well. This is more for the parents than the teen. But it is a nice addition to the gallery to have cap and gown photos.

This set was taken on-location using the solid cement wall of an old building as background.

If you’re on-location, use a solid colored wall as a background. One with a little bit of texture can also work well to get a solid portrait of the teen in the cap and gown.

Take photos at different crops so that you can offer one for the yearbook, one for wallets, and one for display in your client’s home.

After you’ve taken the classic cap and gown photo, take advantage of its presence and have fun with the cap and gown.

Take photos of the teen throwing the cap in the air and catching it, maybe invite the parents into a few photos adjusting the tassel.

Have the teen hold the cap in their hands while you get an up-close photo of them holding the cap.

Take some photos with the cap and gown and some without during the session.

Some teens decorate their cap so that family and friends can identify them during the graduation ceremony. If the teen plans on decorating their cap, have them do so before the session so you can get a detail photo of their cap. This will make their senior photos even more personalised.

If the teen hasn’t picked up their cap and gown, or you do the session in advance, ask them to borrow one from a friend. Many thrift stores also carry used caps and gowns from local schools.

7. How to Photograph Seniors On-Location

Photographing senior sessions on location is fun and keeps the session moving quickly so that the teen won’t get bored.

If the teen is going away for school, you can photograph them in their hometown. Take photos of places where they hang out often, like coffee shops, movie theatres, game halls, or in front of their soon-to-be alma mater.

If the student is going to a local university, you can photograph the teen there. This can get them excited for their next phase in life and exploring the campus early before their first fall semester.

Use locations that play into the teen’s personality. For example, if they run track and field, go to the track that they practice or compete at. If they play football or soccer, take photos at the school’s stadium.

If they are into music or theatre, photograph them on a stage in a local theatre or the one at their current high school.

Teens are in between still being teenagers and almost becoming adults and this can make them a little nervous. Keeping the focus on what the teen likes to do for fun can often make them feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

Using what the teen is into can also be great conversation starters during the session.

6. How to Use Light, Space and Patterns for More Creative Photos

Photograph the teen in different types of lighting to offer more variety to the session. Use direct sunlight, shadows, shapes like that of a palm tree, or flash for high contrast images.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of lighting during a senior session. Teens are great innovators and using light in different and interesting ways can help them to express their personalities much more than the standard senior photo pose.

Take a look at their social media profiles and see what draws their attention the most in photos.

If they are taking moody dark photos, perhaps that is something you can incorporate into the session.

Photograph the teen from afar to create more negative space within the frame. Use shapes like the s-curve, repeated patterns, color contrasts, and reflections.

5. Why You Should Photograph Groups or Friends

Photographing teens together during senior portraits can be really fun for both you and the teens. You could also offer to photograph a group of seniors together.

Group senior sessions are fun, especially if the group brings props like these class sweaters. This group also brought balloons to throw in the air during the session.

Photograph the seniors individually first so that each senior has their own personal set of portraits. Then, you can photograph the group together at a place that they all like to hang out or better yet, at their current high school.

If the group is part of a team or take part in the same activity together, you can have them wear their uniform to the session as well.

It’s really important to take individual photos of each person in the group.

Get candid photos of the group as well by having them do an activity together. They can build human pyramids, blow balloons up, or play a game together.

This will get them to loosen up and be more natural in front of the camera as well.

These two best friends decided to have their sessions at the same time.

In the group photos, take the same photo but rotate the teens around in the frame. Take lined up photos as well as staggered photos to create more depth.

Try photos of them with their arms around each other while walking. This will cause them to laugh and pose more naturally.

4. How Many Outfit Changes Should You Include

Seniors give a lot of thought into their style when it comes to photo shoots. Ask the teen to bring at least 3 different outfit changes so that the final images will have more variety.

In addition to the wardrobe changes, have the teen bring their Letterman jackets, class rings, sports uniforms, musical instruments, and any other similar props to the session well.

Clothing that brings out the teen’s personality is very important during the senior session.

A good rule of thumb is to have the teen bring an everyday outfit, a more formal outfit, and an outfit that perhaps their parents want them to use during the session.

It’s also a good idea to have the teen bring more clothing changes so that at the session, you can help them to choose the best outfit according to the location and setup you have planned.

3. Play music

Music is a big part of a teen’s life and can speak more to what their personality is than anything else. During the pre-consultation, ask the teen what their favorite artist(s) is at the moment.

During the session, download a playlist ready to go to personalize the tone of the session.

Having music play in the background can relax and make the session less formal in the eyes of the teen. It can also fill in conversational gaps during the session.

If you’re on location, you can use your cell phone to play the music or bring a small Bluetooth speaker along.

You can also ask the teen to pair their phone and use their own music during the senior portrait session.

2. Include Props That Bring Out the Teen’s Personality

Senior sessions are the perfect type of portrait session where you can ask the teen to include some props to showcase more of their personality.

Props can also include set-specific accessories to create the set the teen has chosen for their portraits. If they want to use their musical instrument as a prop, you can create a stage.

If the teen is into DJing then they can bring some of their favourite vinyl or set up a DJ-style booth. Or you can have them pose with their horse if they are into horseback riding.

The most important thing is to set up the sets with what is true to the personality of the teen.

Have the teen lead the session for a while with posing and using the props as they would if they were at home or at their favorite hang out.

1. Ask Parents Not to Hover (Politely!)

Senior portraits should always have a parent attend the session, being that they are still minors in the eyes of the law. This can, however, make the teen feel a little awkward having to pose, or act the part, in front of their parents.

It can also mean that parents, even those who mean well, can hover a bit and comment or direct the teen a bit more than is needed.

During the pre-consultation try and explain to the parent that you would like to have some space during the session so that the teen can feel less embarrassed and more free to pose, use real expressions, and be themselves.

Having an audience can sometimes make the teen more aware of their bodies and create stiff poses and smiles.

Perhaps the parent can opt to play music and distract themselves with their phone or other activity during the session while still being at a close distance. This can help to relax the teen as well.

Be sure to ask the teen if this is something they would like. Some teens are close to their parents and wouldn’t mind having them present during the entire session.

Teens are a really fun group to photograph, especially for their senior sessions where they are able to really showcase their personalities.

Bring them into the forefront of the whole process so that they are the real creators. Offer them to make decisions about their wardrobe, props, and even locations.

Keeping them engaged during the entire process will give you better photos during the session and will also ensure that they have a great time.

We have a great post on taking perfect prom photography to check out next!

Choosing a Location for Your Senior Portraits in the Dexter + Ann Arbor Area

Home ” Info ” Senior Portrait Location Tips

When senior year rolls around, there’s a lot going on! Let us help you choose a location for your senior portrait session.

Senior portraits have come a long way in the past 30 years or so. What used to be a simple studio formal portrait with one outfit has become a mini model session with multiple outfits and even multiple locations.

Senior portraits are no longer just a milestone. The senior portrait has become an experience, a rite of passage.

And with that, the stakes might seem a bit higher. Some common concerns I hear?

Could bad weather ruin my senior portrait session on location?

Honestly, it won’t ruin your senior portraits. But bad weather might make us change the date. When planning a senior portrait session outdoors, I always tell my clients that bad weather is a possibility. That’s why we watch the weather in the days leading up to the session — if it looks like it will be rainy or stormy, I’ll touch base with you to discuss options for rescheduling for another day, or moving to an alternate (indoor) location. It’s as simple as that! No fees to reschedule either :).

What if the location for my senior portraits is popular?

Definitely a possibility. But, here’s the thing. Your senior portraits will be special because of who’s in them. You like the location? Cool. You like the photographer’s style? Great! You’re still a bit concerned? No prob! Just talk to your photographer. When I know you’re looking for something a creative or different at a popular location for senior portraits, I can make adjustments to the session so you end up with totally unique images. The more you share your vision with me, the better job I’ll do of making that dream a reality!

I’ve done senior portrait sessions on the same day as other photographers, even passed them on the paths. And I can guarantee that even with the same location, each photographer can create totally different looking images. The location is just one facet of a senior portrait. Trust me.

I just don’t feel like any location is “meaningful”?

Yeah, that can happen. But trust me. If you’re not set on a particular location, there are things we can do to make sure you end up with senior portraits you love. If you like being downtown, we can plan a session in downtown Ann Arbor, Dexter, Chelsea, or wherever you like to hang out! If you are more of a nature person, you’re in luck. The greater Ann Arbor area has a ton of parks with grass, trees, paths, and even water. If one park doesn’t stick out to you, that’s fine! We can pick a park that is convenient and easy to get to — because if forests and trees are your thing, you’ll love the results regardless of the park you pick as the location for your senior portrait session.

Yes, these are all valid concerns.

That’s why I created this list of tips, formatted as a questionnaire. By answering these questions, I bet you’ll be able to see what types of locations are really meaningful for you! Or, if you can’t, maybe a family member, or even your photographer, will be able to help you connect the dots.

10 Questions to Help You Choose a Meaningful Location for Your Senior Portraits

1. Where do you go, or what do you do, when you have had a stressful day and just want to relax?

You might go for a run. Or maybe you head to your favorite cozy chair and curl up with a book, a blanket, and your favorite hot beverage. You might have an instrument you pick up and let out some chords and melodies, letting the stress of the day fade away. You could be a nature person — you head outdoors to breathe in some fresh air. What works for you?

Rachel has always loved sunflowers so we included sunflowers in her location senior portraits. Her mom told me about a photo of Rachel when she was little holding a sunflower. I think this is the perfect portrait to pair with that treasured family snapshot! .

2. What are your hobbies? Where do you go to do what interests you?

If you like to swim, you’ll head to the pool. If working out is more your thing, you’ll go to the gym, or maybe the great outdoors for a cross-country hike. Maybe you meet up with some friends to make music together. Or you’re an artist at heart and you love going to your studio… or downtown Ann Arbor so you can sketch passersby. Where do you go when you do what you love? Think about how we can incorporate your hobbies into your senior portrait session!

If you’re a musician, it might be only logical to include a portrait of you with your instrument. I love the little white flowers in the background, don’t you?

3. Do you have any pets? Or do you like animals?

While some people are ambivalent when it comes to pets, most of us know where we stand! If you have a dog, a cat, a horse, or any other type of animal… do you want to include it in your senior portraits? Some pets, like dogs, are pretty versatile and you can easily transport them to most locations for a senior portrait session. On the other hand, if you want senior portraits taken with your horse, we’ll probably head to head to the barn where your horse is stabled. Cats are rather particular about their surroundings, so if you want to include your feline, that likely means a senior portrait session at your home. It’s all about making the animal feel comfortable. I’m happy to photograph a variety of animals, and am personally not afraid of bugs/insects/snakes — but it’s always best to let your photographer know ahead of time if you plan to include your pet. I like to be prepared!

Like any young dog (and maybe Labrador retrievers in general), Roy was full of energy and excited …but willing to be around my camera equipment. In this collage you’ll see one of him playing a bit with Genna, as well as some of her other senior portraits from the same session.

4. Do you play any sports, or are you on any teams?

If you play football, you might want to do your senior portraits at the high school stadium. Or if you are on track, it might be cool to create some portraits of you at the starting line. If you know you want to do something sports-related during your senior portrait session, but you’re not particular about the location, we can definitely work that into your senior portrait session! I’ve done sports-themed senior portraits in the studio. And if you play soccer or another outdoors sport, it’s pretty easy to find a nice looking patch of green grass for your themed portrait if you don’t feel the need to pose by a soccer goal! Think about the sports you are involved with, and which might be good to incorporate into your senior portrait session. This should help you come up with some senior portrait session location ideas!

Caitlin’s mom loved this portrait …and I think this one might be my favorite of the soccer senior portrait series too. What do you think?

5. Do you like the outdoorsy, nature look?

In the greater Ann Arbor area, we have a TON of parks and recreational areas. I am always happy to suggest locations if you need ideas. Some of my clients are happy with whatever location I suggest, as long as it is outdoors and is some sort of natural setting. Other clients want me to do portraits at a specific park where they spend a lot of time. I’m happy to make suggestions, but it’s ultimately up to you. If you like being outdoors, I bet you have some places that you go to frequently. If you go there a lot… chances are it might make for a meaningful location for your senior portrait session!

I love the sunlight filtering through the trees, the dappled leaves, and the whole setting. It’s amazing how beautiful nature can be! I’m so glad we were able to create senior portraits that included the fall colors.

6. Do you like going downtown?

If the answer is yes, think about where you go when you head downtown. Is it to a particular park? Maybe you go window shopping, or maybe you love being right downtown by Michigan Theater. I’ve done senior portraits all over the place… and no two senior portrait sessions ever look alike. If gritty urban portraits are more your thing, we can definitely talk about a visit to graffiti alley — they walls are always changing so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a unique backdrop for your senior portraits.

If a smaller downtown scene is more your thing, we can look into downtown Dexter, Chelsea, Saline, or even Ypsilanti. Each city has their own unique charm, so if one spot means more to you, by all means, let’s head there! If you like going to Depot Town in Ypsilanti, it’s always a nice spot. If you want to head downtown Ann Arbor, expect to do a bit of walking. I will add that parking is usually plentiful, unless you want to have your session downtown during the week of the Ann Arbor Art Fair (been there, done that!)…and then it’s going to be more walking!

We went for a more serious look with this edgy senior portrait. I love how the hat brings out the yellow graffiti on the wall. Graffiti Alley in Ann Arbor is one place that is guaranteed to look different due to the changing artwork!

7. Do you have a favorite hangout?

Over the years, I’ve photographed seniors in coffee shops, libraries, book stores, restaurants… you name it. If there is a place that you go to hang out, chances are good that we can plan a senior portrait session there. If you love the store where you work, maybe you want to have senior portraits done there. Maybe you go to Nichols Arcade a lot, and want portraits there. Get the idea? If there’s a place that you go with your friends for fun, maybe we can make that into a location for your senior portrait session. It would definitely be memorable!

We created this dreamy portrait at sunset on Lake Michigan. It really sticks in my mind as a favorite portrait session location — because it was meaningful to my client. The she goes there practically every weekend in the summertime.

8. If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where would you want to take them?

The spots that you want to share with an out of town friend may include a great place for your senior portrait session. Maybe you want to take them to Gallup Park because of all the cool walking paths and bridges over the Huron river. Maybe you would take them on a walking tour of downtown Saline because you love that area (followed by a side trip to Curtiss Park). Or maybe Michigan Theater would be at the top of your list. Wherever the spot — you’ve chosen it because it’s important to you. So maybe it’d be a great location for your senior portrait session!

For that matter, why not invite a friend or sibling to tag along for your senior portrait session? I had a fun time photographing these brothers both together and separately for their senior portrait session at my studio (and later on location).

9. When you scroll through your phone’s camera roll, is there a spot where you frequently take photos or selfies?

If you have location tagging turned on, take a peek at the different spots where you tend to take photos. Do any of those locations seem like a fun spot for senior portraits? You might be surprised to find some ideas for where to have your senior portrait session!

If you take a lot of selfies, think of where you were when you tend to take those photos. Maybe we could use that location for a fun “candid” senior portrait of you taking selfies!

While the point of senior photos is for people to see your face, your smile… sometimes it’s good to think outside the box. Portraits like this one look great as part of a custom coffeetable album.

10. Does your family have a location that is meaningful to you as a family?

Okay, I know these are your senior portraits. You want them to be special to you,… but sometimes part of that “special” comes from doing portraits in a location that you’ve gone to since you were little. So, if you can’t come up with any ideas, but know you want something special… try asking your folks! You could do your senior portraits at the same park where your mom or dad took you as a kid, or maybe your backyard has many happy childhood memories for you. We can incorporate those memories into your senior portraits by choosing that as your location! If you have older siblings, your parents might suggest the same location as their senior portraits. If so, don’t worry about your senior portraits looking the same. We will be able to make your experience unique to you, I promise.

This orange convertible made an appearance in the senior portraits I did for each of the three siblings, as it came their time to do senior portraits. I love the continuity!

Also, if you end up doing your senior portraits at your house, we could do some pictures of you in your environment — your room! That’s up to you, of course. Some people prefer to stay outside in the backyard for senior portrait sessions at their house. But I will say, choosing your home as your senior portrait location all but eliminates your travel time. And outfit changes will be a breeze!

Now, look through your answers….

Do you see any similarities? Any locations listed more than once? Maybe that’s a spot to consider for your senior portraits. There is NO wrong choice when it comes to a location for your senior portraits.

Your portraits will be a reflection of who you are because you are in them. Your senior portraits will be meaningful because you are special.

I hope these tips to help you choose a location for your session have been helpful. I’d be happy to help you plan your senior portrait session in further detail too — just contact the studio. I’ll look forward to chatting with you soon!

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