High school senior pictures are an American tradition that have been around at least since World War II. These timeless photos taken by a professional photographer during the high school senior year captures a teenage freshness as it’s poised on the brink of adulthood, ready to begin a new journey of college or career.
When it comes to planning for sessions, high school seniors are some of our favorite people to work with. Don’t get us wrong, we love families, children, engaged couples and wedding ceremonies… but seniors are close to the top of our list.
Why, you may ask? It’s simple: seniors are excited to model, seniors are some of our best marketing tools, and seniors know what they want. They also have a great sense of style, which translates well in their photographs. However, we still get asked many questions about senior photos. We have already published some basic senior photo tips here but wanted to expand on those tips so you have the best information for your senior photos.
Before the Shoot
Build a Relationship
When a high school senior books a session with us, we want to build a relationship with that senior. We do several things right from the start to let them know how excited we are about working with them. We also do our best to tailor their shoot to fit them perfectly. Find a photographer you connect with. Feeling comfortable during your photo session is the number-one most important thing if you want to have great, relaxed photographs. When you’re relaxed and comfortable around someone, you become more natural in front of the camera, allowing for even better pictures.
It’s also important to at least have an idea of the photography style you like the best, and that comes from researching and looking at photos! Convey these ideas to your photographer. We will help by asking some preliminary questions to help you start thinking about what you want. Some of the things we ask may be:
Get Parents Involved
No way, you may think—but hear us out. Your parents have different tastes, yet they do want what’s best for you, and they are paying for those pictures (usually)! Plus, they have the perspective of time. You may want to wear every trendy outfit for your pictures, but parents know you’ll regret it in the future. You need at least one outfit that will stand the test of time, one you can look back at and not be embarrassed!
That may be hard to visualize as a senior, but your parents most likely have experienced it. What was trendy to wear in the ‘60s, 70’s and 80’s doesn’t always look so cool now…
Even though seniors are usually on top of the latest styles, they often need help when it comes to deciding what to wear to their session. The main thing you need to do is be yourself and try on your outfits ahead of time. We suggest having a friend over to help you choose. Layering your outfit is a good idea, too. It gives your photographer many options and gives you many different looks—taking off or putting on a scarf, jacket, hat, etc.
And just say no if you are tempted to hit the stores and buy stuff you’ve never worn before. Why? The main regret we see in our senior clients is someone who was talked into a new outfit, then looks at her images and says, “That’s not me.”
So instead of shopping, look in your closet. Consider outfits that you live in, things that people would recognize you in. Try it on and see if you feel good in it. If you don’t feel good in that outfit, you will project it in the photos. This is your unique opportunity and we want you to look amazing!
Know The Poses You Will Want/need
The overall goal is to appear natural and upbeat. Popular poses include a seated shot that highlights your face. Full body pictures are taken, as well, showing a person standing, sitting, or crouching in a relaxed manner. Outdoor shots typically make use of background fences, trees, and attractive or interesting doorways. Black and white, color, and sepia are also traditional options for your pictures. Don’t forget you will need a traditional headshot for most school yearbooks.
At the Shoot
Have the right Mindset
Have fun! We’re going to make you look great and you’ll have a great time. That’s why you chose Studio C41 Photography! Relax. We like to think we’re rather cool and easy to get along with. Plus, we help you with posing, so there’s no pressure on you.
Arrive early or on time to your appointment. Showing up late means you lose camera time, and we don’t want that. If you’re coming from out of town, give yourself plenty of time to find your way around. The streets in Omaha tend to have a lot of construction and having a buffer in case you get delayed will save you some stress.
Day of Styling
Group your outfits together on hangers. Make sure items are ironed and ready to go. Plan on changing quickly. The faster you can change outfits, the more time we have to photograph and the more photo choices you’ll have later.
Use clothing to accentuate your best features. Girls may want to forego short sleeves or spaghetti straps if their arms are heavy, since these styles will only accentuate that feature. Don’t bring outfits with words or designs, stripes or pictures, except possibly your school logo. You want your face, eyes and expression to command attention, not the words on your shirt. Solid colors photograph much better than busy patterns. Bring a variety of colors and mix the level of styles. Some should be dressy, some dressy-casual, and some casual.
Don’t forget about your shoes! We will not photograph you in flip-flops. Yes, they’re comfy and we all love them, but they don’t photograph well.
Any hair changes during the session should be quick and simple so you have as much camera time as possible. Bring hair spray, clips, pins, and whatever else is needed to keep your hair out of your eyes if it’s windy. Also bring a brush and mirror for quick hair touch-ups. Do not make drastic changes to your hairstyle right before your photo session.
We didn’t forget about the guys. A fresh shave for guys is recommended, and moustaches or beards should be neatly trimmed. Style your hair as you normally would and get a haircut at least a week in advance.
If you wear glasses, avoid glare. Either buy or borrow a pair of suitable frames without lenses to prevent glare and reflections from the glass. Or you can ask your optician to remove the lenses from your frames for the photo session. Most will do this for you at no charge, but give them plenty of notice so there is no rush.
Make sure your hands/feet are presentable. Like shoes, hands or feet can show up in some of your favorite poses, so be sure to take the time to make them presentable – guys should trim their nails, and girls might need to touch up their manicure.
Well-done makeup is one of the best preparations you can make for your session. Apply your makeup as you normally look on a day-to-day basis, but bring your makeup with you and let the photographer know you have it. If the photographer feels you need a touch more blush or eyeshadow, he or she will let you know. Avoid glitter or sparkly anything – it tends to reflect the flash and leaves white spots. Makeup helps a lot here, but we do retouch your photos, so please don’t be concerned about minor breakouts.
When it comes to jewelry, keep it simple. Big, shiny jewelry can distract from the most important subject – you. However, the proper jewelry can really complement your outfit. It’s nice to have a variety to choose from and it doesn’t hurt to bring numerous options with you. If you have different jewelry for different outfits, you might put each set of jewelry in a plastic baggie and hang it on the hanger with that outfit.
They’re great! We invite you to bring favorite props to the shoot, such as sports equipment if you are a team player or fan, musical instruments, or hobby items. Bring props that help showcase who you are. Some popular choices are:
Don’t worry about clouds because they actually even out the light and make for ideal shooting conditions. But falling rain is an issue and we will have to reschedule. We will try to contact you first, but please call us if you have any doubts or concerns.
Because senior portraits are so meaningful and last a lifetime, it is important to prepare for the big day by getting suggestions for poses and clothing from friends, your parents, and the photographer. Planning ahead will make the busy day more manageable and arm you with the confidence you need to take outstanding senior pictures that you can be proud of the rest of your life.