Tips for Senior Portrait Photography

Every portrait session is a unique experience that reflects a person’s own personality. Your senior portrait should be a reflection of you. We love to hear any ideas you may have as far as clothing, your own props, photos with friends, family, or pets, and/or an unusual location of your choosing. Our main goal is to portray you as a unique person, and hearing about your interests and likes helps us to accomplish that. This page covers suggestions for getting the most out of your portrait session.

Clothing Tips

So you have a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear? You may bring whatever outfits you want to wear. However, there are some clothes that photograph better than others.

  • Choose a variety of outfits. It’s a good idea to include both casual and more formal outfits in your senior portraits. You choose a couple and let Mom choose one or two, that way everyone is happy.
  • Patterns and/or words tend to be distracting. The brighter the patterns, the more distracting they will be. This isn’t to say that patterns or words are ALWAYS a bad idea – if you really like the outfit please bring it in – but solids generally photograph better than bright patterns.
  • Certain colors look worse outside than indoors. Any kind of green (except deep, forest green), tend to clash with many outdoor locations, especially areas with the green of trees or grass. We suggest mid-toned solids or darker color solids like black, any kind of blue, browns, reds (or burgundy), purples, or grey. Yellow can also work (but tighter fitting yellow outfits can accent weight). Young women may wear dresses or skirts outside, but pants allow a greater range of poses and are recommended.
  • Keep in mind that lighter colors (especially white), tight fitting tops, and horizontal lines tend to accent weight (very loose fitting white will usually look fine). If you don’t want your arms to be obvious, wear a long sleeve shirt instead of a short sleeve or a tank top. Darker colors (especially black), loose-fitting clothing, and vertical lines have a more slimming effect.
  • Stay clear of stripes! (large bold ones are tolerable but small thin ones will not photograph well).
  • Your face should be the focal point of your portraits. Long sleeve solids or very subtle prints are usually the most flattering in portraits.
  • The most common problem we see is sunburn and tan lines from the tanning salons! Everyone please keep out of the sun a week or two before your session. We often see uneven sunburn from guys who wear ball caps, peeling skin on noses from recent burns, raccoon eyes from those who were burned while wearing sunglasses. Or strap lines on the shoulders of gals who wish to be photographed in a strapless formal dress or top. Sunburn, uneven tanning and tan lines are much more difficult to retouch in post-processing and we would prefer to reschedule your session.
  • Some poses will show your shoes so don’t forget to bring shoes & socks for each outfit that you plan to wear. Barefoot and sandals! No problem for your casual clothes. And though white socks are in, they don’t photograph well. So bring darker ones too. (just in case they show!) Guys don’t forget those belts and Gals, don’t forget your jewelry!
  • Fashions can be great, but it’s a good idea to wear at least one outfit that will likely not be labeled as obviously trendy. The thing about fashion is that it goes out of fashion. You might be happy with your photos for a year, then be terribly embarrassed you actually wore such an outfit five years down the road.
  • If you have a class ring and want it in some of your portraits – remember to bring it!
  • Feel free to bring in outfits related to any activities or sports you are involved with. Most people will bring a few casual outfits, a uniform of some sort, and a dressier outfit – but again, everyone is different – you should bring in what you want to wear and what reflects you as a person.

If you are uncertain about your clothing choices, bring in more than the suggested total outfits and we can choose what will look best.

Bring Your Own Props

We personally avoid owning photographic props, as we feel these detract from the true personality of our clients. However, you are more than welcome to bring your own! Some suggestion include:

  • Sports items like a football, baseball, bat, helmet, shoes, hockey stick, golf club, racquet… the more the better!
  • Musical instruments
  • iPod
  • Collections
  • Stuffed animals
  • Live animals
  • Siblings/friend (we offer a fun and discounted friend session when you both book your session with Studio Laurent Photography & Design)
  • Flower or rose petals
  • Books
  • Blankets from your childhood
  • Hats
  • Scarfs
  • Sunglasses
  • Artwork
  • Sketchpad if you’re into drawing
  • School mascots, poms, megaphone or other activity-related items (including your own cap and gown)
  • Vehicle (car, truck, bike, cart, skateboard, roller-blades…)

or any other personal object that is meaningful or relates to your own personal interests. Use your imagination!

Other Suggestions

Don’t worry if you have a sudden outbreak of acne! This is the absolute easiest thing to fix afterwards for us, and acne removal is included with every portrait package. What is harder to fix is hair styles. If you’ve had a very bad hair cut right before the portrait session, please feel free to call us – we can re-schedule. After all, we want you to be happy with your photos and if you know you dislike your hair you are unlikely to be happy with your photos. If you are very particular about your hair, please advise the parent or friend with you at the portrait session to keep an eye out for you.

It is strongly recommended to bring in a family member or a friend (or both!). They will have the benefits of helping put you at ease, they can check your hair, help you with props and/or pets, give you clothing advice, and in general give you moral support. Plus they get to enjoy the portrait session with you!

You may bring in your own music on an iPod to listen to during the session if you prefer. Makeup artist services can be arranged, and are recommended (but not required) for those with moderate to major skin problems, or for those young women who are not comfortable with applying their own makeup. Please contact us to arrange a makeup artist at least a week or two before your portrait session.

You should wear your hair in your regular style. Guys should NOT have a fresh haircut, but should have a fresh shave! 5 o’clock shadow will show and can’t be touched up! If you need a trim, have it done about a week before. Gals, don’t go get a new style or go to a new stylist that you’ve never used before.

We try to schedule location sessions to take advantage of the best times of day (and year). Outdoor light looks best earlier in the day and later. Sunrise and sunset are considered ‘magic’ times for many photographers and artists. The beginning and end of the day have also the other advantage of being relatively cooler than the middle of the day.

If poor weather on the day of your scheduled session prevents a location session, a re-scheduling will be arranged at no extra charge. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

Skype: StudioLaurent
Tel: +1 (480) 779-8586 (MST, UTC/GMT – 7)

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