How to prepare for your senior session
Feel perfectly prepared to rock your senior session. Here are some of my best tips and tricks to ensure that you feel like a million bucks during your senior portrait session!
What should I bring to my senior session?
Decide what you want to remember most about this upcoming year and where you have come from. Whatever is YOU is what you should want to highlight during your senior portraits!
My why: The Beginning of my photography journey
Growing up my Grandma was always behind a camera - trying to capture every moment for us. She needed it and we placated her most of the time. Now that she is gone, I know just how valuable those moments she captured are, and I want to save those memories for everyone around me too!
July 23, 2019
Hey there sweet friends!! I hope you all are doing well.
Lately, I have been doing more and more education as well as research (and hands on practice, of course) to become the best photographer that I can be, and to be able to provide the best experience for you that I can. You’ve probably heard the saying that “it takes 10,000 hours at something to become an expert at it”. I have been hard at work at those hands on hours, but again, have also invested my time and other resources to be able to be the best professional that I can be.
My heart is to build genuine friendships with my clients. I want to be open and warm and joyful. I want to go beyond a transactional encounter with the amazing people that I get to work with! I want to be a person that the people around me know they can come to no matter what is going on in their life. One of my biggest passions is being able to take Senior Portraits and creating an EXPERIENCE for each amazing person who comes in front of my camera! I love being able to work with high schoolers who are about to make some big life decisions and be able to hopefully touch their lives in a deeper way than just being their senior photographer.
I am SO excited to share this post with you today, because being in front of the camera can be nerve-racking and potentially awkward and uncomfortable. But I want to prepare you in a way that helps take some of those nerves away! And to be completely honest, everyone is nervous and a little awkward to begin with, it’s totally normal! So, I have prepared this blog post for you with help from fellow professional photographers, such as Hope Taylor, Amy and Jordan, and Katelyn James. Also, I have a great system in place to help you warm up while you are in front of the camera, and you will be feeling like a pro within 20 minutes! (No modeling experience required, in fact, I love my clients that I get to completely teach and direct my very own posing system to!)
But, without any further ado, let’s get to it.
For one of my senior packages you are allowed 2 outfits and the upgraded senior package allows 3 or 4. But, a lot of my senior clients choose to bring more additional outfits from home so we can work together to choose just the right outfits for you and your session! Below, are my best secrets and guidance to help make your portrait session the absolute it can be and to help you look and feel like a million bucks!
Choosing what you will wear for your photo shoot is a HUGE decision that can make or break your senior portrait session! I know that sounds a bit dramatic…but, really, if you accidentally wear something that isn’t flattering on camera or something that you don’t feel confident in, it can truly ruin the whole experience for you! So, I have some helpful tips and tricks here to best help you know how to choose what to wear:
In my experience, every woman, regardless of her shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos. So, if there are pieces in your closet that make you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable, don’t include them in your senior portrait wardrobe! Additionally, we will most likely be sitting on the ground, laying down, walking and doing other things that could be difficult if your clothing is uncomfortable!
Have you thought about rocking a gorgeous gown, tulle skirt or flower crown but just never had an occasion for it? This is your chance to do it up! Remember: There is no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your portrait session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun!
On camera, solid black + white can make skin tones look very washed out and unflattering. So, when choosing outfits for your senior session, you can choose colors that POP and that compliment your hair and skin colors! Primary colors like red, royal blue and yellow photograph beautifully as well as emerald green, bright purples, pinks, oranges and any other colors that really POP! Sometimes, color combos that may seem odd in-person end up photographing beautifully on camera!
Or, if you don’t want to go bright and bold, you can go natural and soft when choosing colors for your outfits. If you choose to avoid ultra-bright, bold colors, it can help bring all the attention to your face instead of the bright colors. The camera really does love shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. This softer color palette fits wonderfully into pretty much any natural, outdoor environment, including the beautiful mountains and fields here in Montana.
In the cold months (fall/winter), adding layers to your outfits always looks STUNNING in portraits! A sweater with a flannel underneath paired with a vest plus a statement necklace or scarf adds so much dimension to your images and makes for super fun posing options!
Even in the warmer months (spring/summer) you can add these layers and dimension by wearing a tank top with a cute sheer cardigan or by throwing a denim vest over a dress! Adding layers also means that we can REMOVE layers to create multiple looks with just one outfit! Who doesn’t love that?!
Sometimes textures like sequins, furs and sparkles can be considered “daring” or “over the top” but, in portraits, they are the BEST! Adding texture to your outfit makes the biggest difference, and it prevents the images from looking dull! Combining textures that you may not normally use together like sequins and cable knit sweaters or leather with fur make GREAT pairs!
During a senior session, or any photo shoot, the more the merrier! When planning your outfits, don’t forget to plan accessories!! Stacks of bangles, long necklaces, statement pieces, scarves, hats, belts, and other add-ons can make or break an outfit! Don’t be afraid to over-accesorize, either…it’s always better to have more than not enough!
Want your photos to look more editorial? Bring a little extra something with you! Fresh flowers bring an extra “wow” factor to just about everything, especially a floral crown! Flowers are also a beautiful and a statement when attached to something else, like a bicycle basket, tree swing, tent, picnic basket, balloons or car bumper. Whether you want to incorporate larger items like classic cars or bikes, or smaller ones like blankets or hats, even planning for just one extra styled item could be a fun way to make your session more unique and true to you!
When planning your outfits, make sure that you have a VARIETY of looks! I tell all of my seniors to choose from these categories: casual, cozy, dressy, school-related, sports-related, preppy or edgy. I always recommend choosing 2-3 of those categories and finding outfits accordingly. This provides a beautiful array of looks during your senior portrait session, so each outfit looks dramatically different!
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, I recommend that you do not get a spray tan before your session, even a few days prior, because it tends to photograph orange even when it’s applied subtly and by a professional. Your actual skin tone will photograph the most beautifully and naturally.
This is another HUGE part of a senior session that can completely alter the overall outcome of your images! I HIGHLY recommend professional hair and makeup to ALL of my clients for SO many reasons. I promise I’m not just saying it to get you to spend more money! It really does make HUGE differences.
When you are investing in a professional photographer, you want to make sure that the images look their absolute best. Professional hair and makeup artists are TRAINED to do hair and makeup so that they photograph well. While your makeup may look AMAZING in person, it will look completely different on-camera, and these professionals are trained to know the difference! They will conceal spots you don’t like, contour your face so it looks the best in every light, use colors that compliment your skin to make it look flawless, make your eyes POP with false lashes and shadows, manicure your eyebrows to perfection and more! Some may think that there isn’t a difference…but I PROMISE you, the difference is HUGE!
The images below are of me, the one on the left is makeup I did myself when getting some headshots done, the one on the right is from my wedding, where I had my make up professionally done, by Acacia Linn Aesthetics. Both are beautiful, but as you can see, there is a BIG difference!
Preparing for a senior portrait session is stressful in and of itself. (finding a photographer, scheduling the date of your session, finding or getting the right outfits, etc.) Trying to do your hair and makeup by yourself can make things even harder. Professional camera equipment is designed to pick up every little detail in an image (even details that the eye can’t see) so hiring a professional makeup artist really is the best way to go.
I don’t EVER want my seniors to feel like their portrait session is just simply “taking pictures”. I want it to be an EXPERIENCE. So, if my seniors arrive after an hour of being pampered, beautified, and relaxed, the entire experience has already started on a high note! If a senior arrives frustrated or stressed, it can affect the entire experience, including the way you look in photographs!
You are naturally beautiful! And, doing your own makeup will still be beautiful, but professional make up artists know just how to accentuate your natural features by highlighting your beautiful eyes, contouring your stunning cheeks, AND adding the perfect pop of color on your lips!
*If professional hair and makeup is simply not in your budget, that is okay, too!! I just recommend doing your makeup slightly heavier than normal, making sure to add a pop of color on your lips, and using fake lashes if possible! Those little details will make the biggest difference!*
And, one last tip!! In all of the chaos of senior session prep…don’t forget to pamper your nails! During your shoot, a lot of the poses we do will have your hands in the frame or close to your face, so make sure that your nails look just how you want! Try to avoid any chipped polish or crazy patterns. French manicures, light/natural colors and even nails with no color at all photograph best!!