My son had his senior photos taken this past Sunday. All of the emotions, people! Whoa! It’s not easy watching our youngsters getting ready to leave the nest. To keep the tears at bay, I threw myself into the creative process and loved watching his session unfold. I also learned several tips which I’ll share today that may help your senior portrait session (or any family photo session) look amazing. (All the photos shared in this post were taken by me capturing the actual session).
30+ Senior Portrait Ideas (Boys)
great ideas for girls, or a family session too!
We rarely have professional photos taken as a family, so I needed a refresher on what clothes he should wear, locations and props. I’ve always loved candids, personally. It was one of the easiest photo shoots ever – but I learned that the art of simplicity is what can make (or break) a portrait session. I know I preach about simple decorating here on the blog, and the same principles (simpler is better) apply here, too!
A sneaky way to find a photographer:
Instagram is all about photography, but a typical photographer will only showcase still life as their artistic subjects. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they do portrait sittings – chances are they do! I found our photographer straight off of Instagram and I had no referrals. Her feed spoke volumes to me – I simply loved her work, and sometimes a mom’s intuition serves us well. Instagram makes it easy catch a glimpse of a photographer’s eye and how they see the world. I found Shutter Tree Photos and got very excited because she was local. Her Instagram feed includes a lot of still life and animals, I wasn’t sure if she did senior portraits. So I emailed her…and she confirmed that she did! You can follow Shutter Tree Photos here on Instagram, and visit her Etsy shop, too. I loved the contrast and composition of her photos, and I’m so glad I didn’t assume that she didn’t shoot senior portraits.
Communication tip prior to the shoot: It’s also important to communicate the style of photography you love and share examples prior to the shoot. The style of photos you prefer may alter what lenses and filters the photographer brings the day of the shoot. I have always loved a photojournalistic style of photography (the kind you see in Time Magazine). I created a Pinterest board of what we liked as a family and shared it with the photographer ahead of time.
Choosing a Location:
I chose a location that had history and meaning to us as a family–a local metropark. A great photographer will scout a location before the shoot, and that’s exactly what Christine did. Photographers can also make an average looking location seem magical with the right filters and editing. (I quickly over-edited this photo just to prove my point):
When scouting locations, here is what to look for:
- Places that have history or meaning
- A field of tall grasses, wildflowers
- A long path
- Old stairs
- Stone walls
- Old barns
- Textured walls as a background
- The woods, but only if you can get a fully shaded spot
Christine had several locations throughout the park in mind (all within a short distance of each other). I kept the air conditioning running to keep him cool as we changed locations.
Tips for Clothing + Hair:
She also suggested to dress in layers — leaning on the more casual side – clothes that he’d wear every day. Some things I learned or thought of after the shoot:
- Bring a comb & hairspray (especially if you’re outdoors and there is a breeze)
- Bring scissors, a lint brush
- A mirror
- Bring water (we ran out and it was a hot day)
- Choose contrasting colors (ex. dark pants / light shirt) when putting together outfits
- This improves the contrast in any photo converted to black & white
- Avoid bright colors against the face which can alter the tone of the skin
- Longer sleeves pulled up is better than short sleeved shirts
- Creates better balance in the photo, sometimes a bare arm is emphasized in a shot
- Same goes for shorts – not a hard and fast rule, but a suggestion
- Layers are always better for shirts including:
- Tees worn under any of the following…
- …button down shirts
- A variety of pants including:
- Dark jeans
- Lighter jeans
- Make your belt and shoe color similar shades
Props & Poses:
Be natural. You’ll want some timeless photos that not only look great today, but for years to come. But don’t forget to let your senior have a little fun in a few shots that show their personality. (My son had a crazy Pete Townshend-inspired moment with his guitar standing on a wall). My #1 piece of advice? Avoid cheesy props and overly dramatic poses (I’ve seen a lot of high fashion looking poses). I created a Pinterest board and found a few simple poses (with props) that he liked and I shared them with the photographer ahead of time.
Here are the props, people and pets he chose to include in his session:
- A shot with Buddy, our dog (who got the bath of a lifetime the day before the session)
- A few shots with his sister
- His guitar
- An oversized empty picture frame (ok, that was me overthinking things, but he liked it)
- An old chair with good bones (I found one for $2.99 at the thrift store — highly recommended for outdoor shots)
- Some baby photos (ok, that was me…again)
Only time will tell if we avoided cheesy, but it was my best attempt to capture classic style and poses. For instance, back in the 80’s I *thought* this scarf would be timeless. And mauve. And big hair and earrings. But…you know, only time would reveal the truth.
And by the way kids? It’s OK if we parents have a say in how your pictures look! After all, we are the ones that want these displayed in our homes for years to come.
Our job as parents during the session:
During the shoot it was just me, my son and the photographer. I became more than just a spectator. My #1 job was to act as my son’s stylist (yes it’s ok to fuss over his hair and straighten his shirt on this day!) It’s not because we are being moms – it’s because, when we are the subject of a photo session, we actually DO need help. We can’t always tell when our hair is standing upright. So this is one moment when it is completely okay. My #2 job was I became my photographer’s assistant. You want the photographer to concentrate on getting the best shot of your son or daughter. Because Christine and I communicated beforehand and had our Pinterest board to refer to, we would sync up occasionally and refer to our Pinterest board to ensure we got all of the shots we wanted.
Follow on Pinterest:
Once the proofs are finished I will update this post. I’ve seen a few already and Christine absolutely captured the style of photos I love. I hope these tips help you make your next family photo session a huge success!