Schools out for summer and in just a few months you will be starting your senior year. You have a lot to do and plan before school starts again.  Near the top of your lists is your senior pictures.  You want to look your best and there are so many things to consider to make that possible.  You have to choose a photographer, decide what you want to wear, decide when and where to take the pictures, and know what you ultimately want from those pictures.  Here are a few tips for great senior pictures.Senior Picture 1Credit: Jack Estephan

1. Choosing the right photographer for your senior pictures.

     Choosing the right photographer is essential. Notice I didn't say choosing a good photographer?  There are a lot of good photographers that would be willing to do your senior pictures.  Lots that would even do them for a reasonable price.  The problem is that many of these photographers are lousy business persons.  They might wow you with their portfolio, but it may take months before you get your pictures or they may have a product line that lacks quality and choices. 

     To find the right photographer you should do some research. Ask friends and family who they have used before and ask how was their experience. Also, look online to find photographers near you. Look at their portfolios and notice a few things. Notice if their style fits you. Do you see any pictures that you could imagine yourself in? Do they offer a variety of looks or do you see pictures taken in the same places done with the same poses? Are they creative with their images or do they seem ordinary?

Senior Picture CityCredit: Jack Estephan

     After narrowing down your choices to a few photographers look at the prices and product line.  Think of how many prints and of what sizes you will need and decide which photographer offers a package that comes closest to your needs. When it comes to prices be prepared. A photographer that does good work, delivers a quality product, and has good service may seem expensive; They are not.  Afterall, they are creating family treasures that will be irreplaceable and enjoyed for years.  You should expect to pay at least $500 for a basic package.  

     Once you have found a photographer you like book your photo session and consultation immediately.  Senior sessions book quickly and you want to make sure you can get the date you want. During the consultation you should discuss what you want out of your pictures.  Cut a few images out of magazines and show them to your photographer to give him/her an idea of what you like.  Tell your photographer what activities you are involved in that you would like represented in your pictures.  Ask them about outfit changes, travel, and time limits. Finally, let them know of any concerns you have.  If you are uncomfortable with a certain feature of your body, or you don't like your smile, or whatever else it might be, let your photographer know.  They can often correct any perceived flaws with Photoshop or with posing techniques.

2. Picking out the right outfits for your senior pictures.

     After the consultation you will need to start planning your outfits. What you wear can easily effect how well your pictures turn out. There are two very important things to know when picking your clothes. First, the fit has to be perfect. loosely fit clothing looks sloppy and too tight clothing can cause unflattering bulges. Clothes that fit well will look good while sitting standing and laying down. They won't gape open or bunch up awkwardly.

     Second, and the most important thing to know when choosing outfits, is to remember that the pictures will be of you, not the clothing you are wearing. If you wear something that is too trendy, 10 years from now all you will notice in your pictures are the clothes you were wearing and you will probably do so with a bit of embarrassment. Keep it basic and keep it classic. Avoid busy prints and patterns and avoid colors that are in contrast with the background.

     If you are doing outdoor pictures, make sure your color and style picks match the season and settings.  Warm colors and earth tones are great for fall.  For example, a burgundy sweater would be a good choice.  Brighter colors work well with summer flowers. If you want any pictures during the winter, white is a great choice for the snow. Jeans and earth tones for rural settings and casual or dressy for cityscapes.


Senior Picture Fall ColorsCredit: Jack Estephan

     Now you have picked out several "safe" outfits, pick out a couple of outfits that are trendy or unique. You can take a risk because you will only use these outfits for a few shots. Have fun or go for a dramatic look.  These pictures will be great for the wallet prints you pass out to friends.

Senior Picture Unique outfitCredit: Jack Estephan

Senior picture with trendy outfitCredit: Jack Estephan

     If you play sports or are involved with other activities you will want to prepare clothes and equipment that will showcase those interests.  You may need to get in touch with someone such as your athletic director at school to acquire the items you need. 

Senior Picture FootballCredit: Jack EstephnaSenior picture TenisCredit: Jack Estephan

3. Hair, makeup, and tanning for your senior pictures.

     Makeup is a must for senior girls.  Wear your makeup as you would if you were going out on a Friday night.  A little extra than day-to-day makeup, but not so heavy that it looks like you are about to go on stage. Use your makeup to emphasize your eyes and draw attention to them.  Avoid makeup that has a shine. You don't want to look sweaty.  In fact, you will want to bring powder to cover up any shine you develop during the shoot. 

     If you are a guy, you may be required by your photographer to wear make up to even out your complexion and mask blemishes.  Don't worry, you won't have to do it yourself.  Your photographer should supply that service.

     In order for your hair to look well-groomed and undamaged have your hair cut a week before your shoot.   A week will allow it to grow in and be nicely blended.  Also, it is good to have a week's time just incase you need to do some damage control if you don't like what your stylist did.

     You may want to tan for your pictures.  A little color will make you look a bit more lively, but be careful when tanning.  You will need to avoid creating tan lines and more importantly you will need to avoid getting a burn.  Your photographer will not want to spend the hours reducing a burn using Photoshop and instead will probably have you reschedule your appointment.

4. Tips for a better photo shoot.

     It is very important to make sure you are physically ready for your shoot.  Get lots of sleep the night before so you feel and look well rested.  You will need lots of energy, so don't go to your appointment on an empty stomach.  Furthermore take snacks and water with you to replenish yourself when you start to drag. 

     Show up to the shoot with the right attitude.  If following the advice in the article you should be well prepared.  You will be in position to arrive on time without rushing knowing you are completely ready.  You will probably be nervous, but that is normal and your nerves will ease soon after you get started.  Once you relax your smile and poses will look natural.

     Have fun.  You will look your best when you feel your best. You did a lot of work preparing for your shoot and now it is time for you to enjoy it.  If something doesn't work out the way you hoped, don't worry and move on.

     Trust your photographer and be willing to do what they ask.  The more you let them do, the more creative they will be with your pictures.  It will be easy for you trust them if you do the research as advised.

     Now that you know these tips for great senior pictures it should be easy for you to be well prepared.  There is a lot of work to be done, but once you see your portfolio you will be so happy you put in the effort.