Senior Photography Guide: 7 Tips to Photographing Seniors & Standing Out

Senior Photography Guide: 7 Tips to Photographing Seniors & Standing Out

Being a senior in high school is an exciting time for most students. College applications are in full swing, many are interning or working part-time jobs, and others have already committed to a college campus. Whether you're the parent of a high school senior or just the photographer of one, it can be challenging to know exactly what to photograph during this exciting time.
In this article, we’ll go over seven great tips that you can use to capture professional shots of high school seniors.

1. Think About the Weather

Most senior sessions take place in the spring or fall when the weather can be unpredictable, to say the least. Rainy days can put a damper on your photo shoot, so it's important to be prepared for whatever nature throws at you. If you know that your shoot will be outdoors, then it's best to plan for the worst-case scenario. Bring along a raincoat, an umbrella, and rain boots.
You should also bring a change of clothes. This is especially important if you're shooting outdoors in the rain because then there's no way to control Mother Nature! It’s also a good idea to carry a towel or two to dry off with after being in wet conditions, such as during an outdoor shoot where it rains unexpectedly or at any time when working with water during portrait sessions.
However, if you're lucky, you might also get a beautiful sunny day; therefore, sunscreen is also important. Make sure that everyone wears sunscreen before heading out to the shoot if it does happen to be a bright sunny day; this will help prevent them from getting burned later on in the day, after the photo shoot.

 

Senior Photography Guide: Tip 2. Let the Senior Make Some Decisions

 

2. Let the Senior Make Some Decisions

As you're preparing to photograph your high school senior, talk with them to see what they’re hoping to achieve during the session. What type of style are they looking for? What is their personality like? Are they bubbly and outgoing, or more reserved? This will help them open up more, and you will both be on the same page. It’s likely that they'll be able to relax better if they know what's going on.
Have them choose a few different outfits for the different types of photos: formal portraits, group shots, casual portraits, etc. Let them pick out their own clothes so that the images reflect who they are as individuals.
They may also want input on hair and makeup decisions, so make sure to share recommendations when asked. If you're shooting outside somewhere scenic that has been requested by your client, ask about the reasoning for the specific location. This way, you will understand the significance of the place they have chosen, and why it’s important to them. This will allow you to capture your client in their environment in the best way possible.

 

Senior Photography Guide: Tip 2. Let the Senior Make Some Decisions

 

3. Have a Theme in Mind

When it comes to setting up a senior portrait session, there are some things that you can plan in advance and others you’ll have little control over until the day arrives. First, think about what your high school senior cares about.
Is there something special that makes him or her happy? Perhaps it's an activity or a sport the senior has been involved with for years. Maybe it's another part of their life like music, art, or even fashion design. Think about what kind of props you could include during the session that would make them more comfortable and allow their passions to shine through. Including a football for someone who has played football through out high school, or ballet slippers for a ballet dancer. Think about what would add to the experience to achieve the images they’re looking for, and set up your session accordingly.
Next, if your client doesn’t request a specific location, consider where you would want to go for your photo shoot location. If you are looking for places within walking distance of their home, then consider going outside. Many people tend to gravitate towards indoor photography studios for senior sessions, because that may be what they’re familiar with, but offering to have the session outside may make all of the difference when achieving an elevated photo.  

 

Senior Photography Guide: Tip 2. Let the Senior Make Some Decisions

 

4. Think About the Lighting

When photographing high school seniors, it's important to understand how light can affect your images. You want your subject to look their best, so it's important for them not only to look like themselves but also to have flattering light on them.
The biggest mistake people make when photographing high school seniors is using artificial lighting instead of natural light. Natural light creates beautiful images because it gives off soft shadows and highlights that wouldn’t otherwise be possible with artificial light sources like strobes and flashes.

 

Senior Photography Guide: Tip 2. Let the Senior Make Some Decisions

 

5. Have Fun with the Shoot

The most important thing to remember when photographing high school seniors is to have fun with it. If you're not having fun, then the students will sense that, and it will show in your photos. It's important to be able to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective.
You also want to think about how they’re feeling on this day. What are they thinking? Are they excited? Nervous? Jittery? Maybe even a little sad because this is one of the last days of what has been a long journey for them. The end of an era, if you will.
If you’re having fun with the shoot, then the senior will pick up on that, and they’ll loosen up and have fun themselves, which will almost always result in better, more natural photos. When possible, try to capture some candid shots as well; these often turn out better than forced poses where the senior might feel more rigid and self-conscious.

 

Senior Photography Guide: Tip 2. Let the Senior Make Some Decisions

 

6. Encourage Friends and Family to Attend the Session

Anything you can do to make the senior feel more comfortable during the session will lead to better, more natural-looking photos, and one of the best ways to make the senior more comfortable during the shoot is by encouraging them to bring along a friend or a family member.
This will give them something extra to look forward to. If they know that they will have a friend or family member there, it will make them even more excited about their photo shoot. It will also give them someone else to interact with during the session!
Having someone else in the room also makes for more interesting photos as opposed to having just one subject sitting there by themselves. Now, the senior may not want anybody else present for their photo shoot, and that’s fine too. But make sure that they know it’s up to them.

 

Senior Photography Guide: Tip 2. Let the Senior Make Some Decisions

 

7. Incorporate Things They Love into the Photos

Another way you can customize your senior pictures is by incorporating things that the student loves. For example, if the senior loves their dog, bring the dog! If they love their sport or team, make sure to get a shot of them in their gear or wearing a jersey. If they love music and play an instrument, include it in your photos by having them hold it or play a song.
Anything that shows off the student's individual personality will make for a better photo. Depending on how long the shoot is, you may want to have them change several times so that you can capture them in various outfits or with various different props. So for the examples above, you might get a few shots of them with the dog, a couple of shots in their football uniform, and a few shots holding their guitar.
Be sure to let them know that they should bring all of their unique props to the shoot on photo day, and also make sure you have permission from administration if you're shooting on school grounds. In most cases, it won't be a problem, but it's better to know in advance before they show up with their pet, only to be turned away.

8. High School Senior Shoots are Always Special

Whenever you're doing a photo shoot for a high school senior, it feels special. They are at a critical time in their lives and are just about to go through one of the biggest transitions imaginable. As such, it's not uncommon to encounter a range of emotions on photo day. Ultimately, the goal of the shoot should be to ensure that the senior feels relaxed and comfortable so that you can capture them as they really are at this particular moment in time.


Pro Prints is an industry leader in professional photo printing and custom canvas prints, so once you capture the perfect shots of your high school senior, be sure to check out Pro Prints so that you can sell prints to your clients that they will treasure for many years to come.