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What to Know Before Senior Portraits

Updated: May 20, 2020

One of my favorite sessions to photograph is seniors because I remember almost every detail about that year. I find it so easy to connect with these beautiful people that have so much adventure ahead of them. My senior year, I was full of so many mixed emotions. Excited and nervous to finally be done. Sad about leaving some of my close friends. Scared of what was coming in the mail that day - was it going to be a big envelope or little letter. 📬 Happy to be moving on to bigger and better things. Senior year is stressful and tad scary. I won’t lie. But, for all my seniors babies, take it all in. You’ve worked so hard to get where you are today and I’m SO proud of you.

Senior portraits can be a little intimidating, I totally get it. You've most likely never done one before and for the parents, you most likely did one just a few years ago when you were a senior. ;) I'm here to relieve all that stress so when your photo shoot comes you can enjoy it and focus on being yourself. Here are my top tips for senior sessions!

1. Be yourself! It sounds corny, I know. But, senior portraits are about you or your child! What you do, how you dress, what you look like on a day to day basis. Senior portraits are all about capturing who you are as a senior, so when you look back in a year, a decade or a century. . . It brings back all those memories.

2. Don't bring the whole girl squad or the bros. . . Having friends there may be fun for them, but I promise the photos will come out wayyyy better if you are not distracted. During your senior session, it should just be you and the photographer and maybe your mom. Sorry moms, sometimes it's best if you aren't there. It really depends on your relationship with your child. But, sometimes it's best if the mom is there. Moms have a super power of pointing out the fake smile.

3. Wear your favorite outfits that you already own! Everyone's first thought is to run out and buy new clothes. I mean, I'm not telling you to wear that old stained and ripped shirt from sixth grade. . . But, buying new clothes is usually not the best choice. The clothes you already have are YOU! They're perfect for a shoot that is well, all about YOU!

4. Mix it up! Most photographers allow their seniors to have a few outfits. Don't bring your whole closet. I usually tell my clients to bring 3 of their favorite outfits. And, if they can, make it a variety. Whether it be one casual, one formal and of course, the uniform. This allows a variety of final images in the end. Grandma is going to want the formal photograph. The sports program is going to want the spiffy looking portrait in the uniform and most seniors want to be in their favorite casual outfit.

5. Nails! It sounds silly. . . But, for the girls. . . You will regret not taking the few minutes to paint your nails or take the chip manicure off from three weeks ago. You don't need to paint your nails, but if you do try sticking with a neutral color. Boys, I recommend cutting your nails also.

6. Location! Locations can be a fun way to incorporate a sentimental place! Some photographers allow multiple locations. When scheduling a senior shoot I try to have a variety of places. I try to stick to 2 locations that are near one another to ensure we don't feel rushed. Perfect locations for senior portraits could range from the football stadium, your high school, to the local park or maybe even just a pretty farm! Some places even have different areas that it's possible to have 3 different looks in one location! It's truly what YOU want!

7. Makeup! You're getting your picture taken, your first reaction is to do a smokey eye. NO! Don't do it! I promise, you will regret it! I'm a big fan of the smokey eye but, it's not the most photogenic makeup. Due to the darkness, it creates dark circles around your eyes - not what we want. Save the smokey eye for another time. I recommend doing a natural eye look with a neutral lip color or gloss.

8. Props! Most of the time, this is the first time a senior has ever done a professional shoot. It can be a little nerve-racking. Having something to hold usually helps make it easier. Don't just pick a prop to have one. Think of what makes sense. A guitar, a football, field hockey stick. . . Whatever is meaningful to you.

9. MEEP MEEP! Cars are a big deal as a senior. Just recently licensed and if you were me, just recently spent all my money on a car. I NEEDED my car in my portraits. I mean, I spent all my money on an adorable VW Beetle Convertible - it was making it in my shoot. Some seniors share their mom's or brother's car, so this wouldn't be as fun. But, for some it's super sweet in the future when you no longer have that car.

To my sweet seniors, don’t worry about the little things. You’ll get into the college you’re suppose to. You’ll get that dream job. Your true friends will stay in touch and you’ll make even more best friends in the future. Please, don’t rush it. Go stand in the student section dressed up for the theme night screaming your head off. Go to prom wearing the dress you’ve always dreamed of. . . Go to the local diner at 2 am just because you can. Before you know it, it will be graduation and you’ll wish you did all those things. From a girl that packed up her life at 18 and moved 12 hours away from home. . . Make your senior year the best year EVER and don’t be afraid of the future!


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