Tips For Better High School Senior Portraits

So you’ve survived twelve years of school (maybe more,) and every year you’ve taken the same school photo, sometimes after P.E., in front of the same monochromatic backdrop, with the same “photographers” jabbing you in the back, wrenching your shoulders, and demanding that you smile on three. You’ve had enough, and you swear to yourself that this year is special. This year is going to rock, and you are going to have the pictures to prove it! But how in the heck do you do that?

  1. Clothes matter. Sorry, Mom, but they really do. For your portraits, try and choose clothing that does not distract from your face. Select two or three outfits from casual to dressy. Layers look great, but take care not to look too bulky, and beware of bold prints, polka dots, and horizontal stripes. Yikes, those patterns can add pounds as well as take the focus off of your face.
  2. Consider bringing personal items to make your pictures unique. If you are a cheerleader or athlete, consider including your uniform in your pictures. Letterman jackets, sports equipment, books and other “props” can help you make a statement with your pictures.
  3. Bring a trusted friend or family member to the shoot. This serves a lot of purposes, the primary one being someone to make you feel more comfortable during your photo session. This other person can also help you hold clothes and accessories, help you change quickly and discreetly, and remind you when it is time to comb your hair, or for ladies, touch up your makeup. If you bring a friend, he or she may even be able to join you in a picture or two. (Double check that this is OK with the photographer before you show up with your BF.)
  4. Hair. The day of your photo shoot is not the day to try something new with your hair. Unless you’re a risk-taker, don’t get your hair cut the day before your session, either.
  5. Meet the photographer ahead of time, if possible. Looking stiff or unnatural can wreck your senior pictures. For most of us, that’s how we look when we meet someone new-a little reserved and unsure. Feeling comfortable with your photographer will go a long way towards eliminating that rigid, forced-smile-look of so many portraits.
  6. Be sure you know how your photographer feels about retouching images. If you are going with the school’s photographer, you may not have a lot of choice about retouching, but, if you have the luxury of hiring a professional photographer, make sure you understand exactly what he or she is willing to do to improve your pictures after the shoot is over. Some photographers do little or no retouching; some do a lot (maybe too much); and others charge extra for it. If you have a break out on the day of your big pictures (let’s face it; that happens to teenagers) do you want your photographer to fix that for you? If so, make sure you’ve hired someone who will do that for you.
  7. Get some rest the night before your photo session. Um…I think that one’s pretty obvious.
  8. Last, plan to spend about two hours at your senior portrait session. The last thing you want to do is rush around frantically trying to get fantastic pictures. You will be stressed, and it will show in your pictures.

There are only a handful of times in our lives where we get to be the center of attention and hire a photographer to document it. Getting your senior pictures taken should be one of those times. Relax and enjoy it, then show off your amazing pictures to your friends.

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