Preparing for Senior Photos

We're at the end of March, which means it's about that time where high school juniors should start thinking about senior photos! Senior photos is how I started out in the business of portraiture and over the years I have had many frequent questions and have noticed several things while doing these sessions. I wanted to write this blog post to answer some of those "FAQ," help you prepare for your session and know what to expect.

Anthony '15, Traverse City State Hospital

What do I wear?

Honestly, what you wear is totally up to you. Make sure you choose clothing that reflects on who you are (i.e. if you're not a dress girl, don't wear a dress, but if you are then definitely do! Don't wear yellow if you hate yellow, but wear colors that you like and that you think you look good in). What I'm going to tell you with this section is what to avoid.

Avoid horizontal stripes and graphics. You know the saying "the camera adds 10 pounds?" Horizontal stripes are horrible for this. Because they go across your body, they make you appear "wider" than you really are. If you want to go with stripes of any kind, go with vertical stripes, they make you look taller (and I can tell you at my 4'10" height, I enjoy this!). Do make sure that if you wear stripes that the shirt is not too busy, more subtle or neutral colors work best or just a solid color with white stripes. Also avoid graphics on your shirt, they are distracting!

Don't go sleeveless. It doesn't matter what size you are, if you go sleeveless it tends to make your arms look bigger. A simple short sleeve can easily solve this problem! A long sleeved shirt in some of the hot summer days that I do sessions doesn't generally go well either, no one wants to be sweating in their photos, so be conscious of the weather too.

Colors. This kind of goes along with the dress idea mentioned above---if you don't like pink, don't wear pink. If you love green, wear green! If you are wondering about what to wear for the studio portion of your session if your package includes it, I am always willing to let you know the colors of my backdrops and what looks good on them.

Accessories. Bringing things like scarves, jewelry, hats, etc. allows for some variety in photos!

How do I change outfits during outdoor sessions? This is a tricky one, especially for girls. Easiest thing to do for girls is to wear either a white/black/skin tone cami or tank top under your shirt. That way you can easily change wherever we may be. For guys, a white undershirt seems to work best. When it comes to pants, there is no easy way (at least that I have found) to do this besides wearing the same pants with each shirt or changing in a car. Usually a nice pair of jeans or khakis work well with many tops.

Bring plenty of outfit changes and know that some may be used and some may not. If you have particular ones that you want to have photographed, make sure to communicate, but having plenty of options means being able to choose what is best for the scenery. Be stylish, but also the advice of your parents isn't a bad; you don't want to look at your photos in 30 years and say "why did I wear that?!"

Kelsey '11

What should I bring?

Outside of outfit changes, there are some other things you may want to bring along whether they may be in the photos or not. Here's a list of some things that you may find useful.

Hair brush, hair spray, hair pins, etc. This is mostly for the girls, but you never know when the wind will blow and mess up your hair! Hair spray is also a good thing to bring to help with fly-aways that may appear during your session.

Props. Do you play any sports, an instrument, or participate in other extra curricular activities? These are great things to have for your session, they truly highlight your high school experience! Other things to consider for these types of activities are any awards, varsity jackets, uniforms, medals, etc. They can always be incorporated!

Someone who will make them smile. You don't want to look grumpy in your photos! Someone that can make you smile or laugh is always a good person to bring along. On the other hand, don't bring someone who is going to be too distracting.

Michelle '13, Calder Sculpture in Grand Rapids

How do I pick a location for my session?

I have my favorite spots (along with a bucket list of locations) to photograph, but I always leave it up to you, the client unless you ask for a recommendation. Is there a spot that is special to you (i.e. a certain beach, a certain building, a nearby park, etc.)? Think of the places that you like to go in your area, where you and your friends/family hang out, somewhere that you think is beautiful, there are many possibilities. Is there a location that you love in my photos that you want to go to? Just ask where it is! Asking others places that they like or places where they had their photos done never hurts either.

Audrey '16, Hager Park in Jenison

Other things to consider

Details, details, details! Certain details commonly go unnoticed until after photos are taken and create more editing time (which means not only more work for me, the photographer, but a longer time in between your session and when you see your photos). Make sure that you remove unwanted or partially-gone nail polish, clothes are clean and stain-free, no hair ties around your wrist, and any other things that may be "everyday" items that go unnoticed.

Hair cuts. Don't get your hair cut the day before your session. If you need your hair cut, do it about one week before your session, that way it has time to "grow into itself." I'm sure you'd also hate to get your hair cut 3 hours before your senior photo session and get a "bad" hair cut, then there is no time to have it fixed.

Scheduling. Make sure to schedule your session out far enough that you will get your photos back in time and time to pick your yearbook submission before the deadline. For me, plan on 4-6 weeks after your session before your proofs are posted. Rushing a photographer could mean a sloppy editing job and I'm sure you want your photos to look the best that they can! Make sure to also communicate your yearbook deadline and any information you may have from your school on submission.

Ben '14, Interlochen Arts Academy Campus

With all things considered, I hope this helps those of you getting ready for your senior year! Don't ever hesitate to ask questions either, I'm always willing to help. Check out my senior photo page for more photos and  contact me today to book!