Woo-hoo, it’s finally your senior year and you get to celebrate all of the fun milestones this year has to offer, including senior photos. One of the most Googled phrases is “How do I plan for senior portraits?” or “Senior photo tips” so I am here to help! While there are many suggestions I have (and you can check out my favorite posts about planning here), I’ve narrowed it down the absolute musts when it comes to advice about senior photos.
When it comes to senior portraits, planning is KEY
Taking the time to plan out the details of your session sets you up for success, not only in how the photos will look, but also in how you’ll feel. When things are in order, you are more relaxed and your true self can be reflected in your images- not a frazzled shell of yourself. That doesn’t mean you need to stress about every little thing, but planning out key elements for your session are a must. This includes your outfits, of course, and spending time coordinating pieces and trying them on to make sure you are comfortable and can move freely in them. Also, gathering inspiration for your makeup so you’ll have something to show the makeup artist and know what to expect when she completes your look. I always make sure my seniors know they can ask me any questions if they are unsure about any part of their planning and even have a customized app to help them along the way. This ensures sessions go smoothly and exactly how you envision and everyone can relax and have fun.
Take care of your skin
If you want to set yourself up for beautiful photos, you’ll need to put your best face forward and that starts with giving your skin some love. We all know the teen years are not without breakouts and they always seems to happen at the most inopportune times right? If this happens, don’t panic. Most professionals offer complimentary retouching on small skin issues, but you can do your part to make sure you give your makeup artist a good canvas to start with. Be sure you are washing your face every night before bed (sleeping in makeup is a HUGE no-no!) and using moisturizing immediately after. Exfoliating once a week with gentle scrub or liquid exfoliant is also a good idea to get rid of dull, dead skin. It’s also a good idea to lightly rub your lips with your toothbrush at night and apply Vaseline or lip balm before bed to keep lips smooth. Lastly, stay hydrated! The best way to have glowing skin is from the inside out so make sure you’re drinking your water in the days leading up to your session.
Don’t make big changes before your session day
I get it- girls get bored with their look and want to totally reinvent themselves from time to time, but right before a photo session isn’t the time to do it. I’m all for experimenting with hair colors, cuts, and styles, but sticking with what people know you most as is best. I’m not saying be boring- hey, if you are already a bit of a fashionista or always have your hair dyed purple, roll with it! That’s YOU. But if your style is girly and you normally sport a shoulder-length hair, I’d advise against chopping your hair to a bob, dying it blue, and wearing destroyed denim with a leather jacket. For one, you won’t feel yourself and it will show in photos and when you look back at them years from now, it won’t feel like a representation of your style and personality.
In my first tip, I tell you that this isn’t the time to throw it all together the night before. But you also want to make sure you aren’t overscheduling yourself and your session is just a line on the to-do list. Never schedule your date the day after an event that is going to wear you out- competitions, trips, sleepovers- not only will you look exhausted in your photos, but it also takes away from being able to plan out final details the night before. You mostly likely won’t be hydrated, get enough sleep, or be up for giving your best. Thinking ahead also means making sure you don’t schedule appointments for waxing or spray tanning right before your session. Spray tans look orange on camera and waxing (and threading) cause makeup to not adhere to skin properly and is very difficult to work around. Don’t book a session if you will be spending all day in the sun the day before and risk getting burned. It’s another issue that is not easily fixed in photos.
Have your makeup done by a pro
Many senior photographers include professional makeup application with their session because they now the importance of it in photos. You might be good at makeup and do your friends’ for prom, but applying makeup for photos is a whole different animal. Pro artists know what type of foundation works on different skin types, how to keep your makeup from melting off from sweat, and what colors to use for your skin tone. They can also accentuate or tone down features based on your preference. They know how to make you glow without looking shiny and use quality products that are hypoallergenic on most people (and ask about any allergies you do have). If your photographer doesn’t offer makeup, I highly recommend booking your own before your session- it’ll be well worth it when you see the end results.
I know what you’re thinking- of course she says this, it’s what she does for a living. But even if you don’t choose me, I cannot stress enough how important it is to use not only a professional photographer, but one who specializes in senior portraits. Like with many other professions, knowing one type doesn’t necessarily mean you know another (or worse, ALL of them!). Just because someone is good with a camera and produces pretty photos doesn’t mean you should use them. Why? Because you may not end up looking like the girl in their photographs simply because she knows how to pose or is photogenic and knows how to do the serious look. Knowing how to coach anyone to produce beautiful photos takes skill in lighting, angles, and knowing what to put where when posing based on body type. Pros guide you through planning to ensure you are set up for a successful session and know what photographs well and what doesn’t. A professional can also deliver quality products so you don’t have to do all the leg work after your session and that your images will look just as good printed as they do on your screen.
*Bonus Tip- Take the Quiz
If you need some direction before you begin designing your session and want inspiration for outfits and makeup, then take my Style Quiz to help find what vibe suits you best. At the end are links to curated Pinterest boards to get you started pinning ideas and what you should shop for (or pull out of your closet).