Getting Ready for Your Senior Portrait Session

Set yourself up for a smooth portrait session that creates images you will enjoy by following these simple tips.

The Basics

  • Be yourself. Let your personality come out. If you are enjoying the session, the photos will end up looking better.
  • Dress from head-to-toe. We will take a wide variety of photographs, including full-length images that show your footwear.
  • Arrive on time. In addition to the possibility of other commitments after your scheduled window, our photo sessions are usually timed based on expected lighting conditions, so being late can make it difficult to create the best images. 
  • Show up camera-ready. To maximize the time we have to take photographs, be in your first outfit in time for the start of the scheduled session. Leave yourself plenty of time to drive to the location so you don’t feel rushed.
  • Bring at least one outfit change. Even if you have one special outfit that you really want to have photos in, it’s a good idea to have a second one to allow us to create a different look. You just might be surprised at which photos you like best.
  • Keep your parents happy, but… Wear that outfit your parents want (but you don’t really like). We will get those photos done so they have them, but let your other outfit(s) speak to the image you want to create.

What to Bring

  • Family member or friend. If you have someone with you, they can often help provide feedback and ideas. They can also help by holding personal items like keys and phones. Of course, we’re happy to take a few photos with anyone who accompanies you, too.
  • Comb/brush/hair control. Outfit changes, wind, and just moving around can make a mess of your hair, so having something on hand to adjust it can be very helpful.
  • Makeup/lipstick. It can be a good idea to bring along some of what you used when getting ready to apply any necessary touchups.
  • Multiple outfits. We always recommend at least one outfit chosen by your parent(s) and one that you want, but we can work with more outfits as time permits.
  • A prop or two. Your photos can be more personal if you have an item in it that has special meaning.

Outfits

  • Having 2-3 outfits is usually best. If you try to have one outfit that is more dressy and one that is more casual, that will often lead to better variety of photos to choose from when we are done.
  • Consider adaptable outfits. If you have a jacket or sweater that can be revealed to create a different look, that will allow you to have more variety in your final package since you will spend less time changing.
  • Factor in changing time. Some locations have easier access to private changing areas than others. Some outfits are more easily changed than others, too. There is no limit on how many outfit changes we can accommodate, but the time it takes to change does eat in to the time we have to take photographs.
  • Limit clothes that limit poses. To have a good variety of photos, we will often mix in seated positions and other poses that can be difficult with some outfit choices. Try to have at least some outfits that give you posing flexibility.
  • Look out for wrinkles. Remember to iron/press/steam your outfits to have them looking their best before you leave home. Also be sure to transport any outfit changes on hangers or neatly folded to avoid introducing new wrinkles.
  • Keep your pockets empty. Phones, keys, or other items in your pockets can create unflattering outlines or cause your clothes to drape awkwardly, so leave those items in the car or have someone hold them during the session.
  • Avoid tightly packed dots and lines. Most patterns are just fine (and can add visual interest), but highly compressed lines and dots can create challenges and lead to a weird wavy pattern appearing, especially when photos are shrunk down and shared on social media.

Hair

  • Avoid a same-day haircut. Freshly cut hair often doesn’t look especially flattering, so give it a little time to grow out naturally. 
  • Prepare for a breeze. If we are shooting outdoors, there can be a bit of wind even on calm days, so bring a comb/brush as well as hair control if you have long hair. If you regularly use hairspray, mousse, gel, or other similar products, these can be helpful, too, as long as you keep a natural look.

Makeup

  • Keep it natural. Wear whatever you would usually wear for the outfits you chose. There is no need to apply extra makeup or lipstick for the camera.
  • Most blemishes can be removed. When you select your final images, we can usually retouch them to hide any blemishes or anything similar that you may not be able to hide/cover, so don’t worry about it.

Facial Hair

  • Wear facial hair the way you want it in the final image. Whether you shave before your session is up to you, but keep in mind that it is difficult to remove facial hair while maintaining a natural look to your photos. 

Footwear

  • Wear something comfortable. We will be moving around a fair amount during the session to find different looks and backgrounds, so make sure you choose footwear that makes it easy to get around. For example, high heels probably aren’t the best choice if we are photographing in the woods or at the beach.
  • Remember that your shoes will be visible in some images. While you want comfortable footwear, it still needs to be something that you feel works with your outfit. There are no rules here, though: it’s what you are happy to see in the final image that matters most.

Props

  • Bring something that has meaning. The portraits we produce should reflect who you are and what is important to you, so we don’t suggest random items just for a different look. You should bring things that will mean something to you and your family.
  • A few ideas to consider. Musical instruments, sports equipment, a family watch, letterman jacket, or a favorite hat are all things that could work. You might even bring along a pet if they are permitted in the location we choose and you have someone with you to take care of it.