Senior Picture Portrait Tips

Senior Picture Portrait Tips

Great portraits don't just happen.  They are the result of preparation on both sides of the camera.  Your portraits will reflect the thought and effort you put into them.


  • Your face should be the focal point of your portraits.  Therefore simplicity is the key with clothing.  Solid clothing -- items without bold patterns, stripes, plaids, or excessive logos -- work best.  Classic clothing styles will stand the test of time and keep your portraits looking fresh for years to come.
  • Stripes and bold patterns make you look bigger and wider.  Dark colors are slimming.  Brown, burgundy, blue, and black always photograph well.  Solid light colors should also be in your mix, but they tend to draw attention away from your face.
  • Layer clothing.  Take a page from the playbook of J. Crew, Abercrombie and the Gap.  Use this simple technique to build visual interest.
  • Texture and more texture.  Play up perfect smooth skin by introducing lots of texture.  A knit scarf, corduroy jacket, or ripped jeans all contrast wonderfully with smooth skin.
  • Shoes & Socks.  Because shoes often show in portraits, ensure that your shoes compliment your clothing.  However, blue jeans and bare feet also look great. Consider dark socks instead of the eye-catching white ones.
  • With every rule there are exceptions.  It is great to include a few flirtatious shots in an evening gown, halter top, or muscle shirt.  Of course you should also include your team jersey or ethnic outfit, but it is best to think of all of these as “extras”.
  • How many outfits?  The norm is two outfits for the studio and two more for outdoors, however everything is flexible.  Bring double the quantity and more variety than you think you will use.  I can help you decide what will work best.  Try to span from very casual & fun to formal.  Not everything needs to be a complete outfit.  For instance it is great to throw on a sport coat or sweater for a few head shots even if you don’t bring matching pants or shoes.

More Tips

  • Glasses create glare, distortion and darkness.  If you wear glasses and didn't pay for the premium anti-glare coating then please ask your optometrist to loan you a pair of frames without lenses.  Eyes that “pop” and grab your attention are the single most important factor in great portraits.  Yes, getting special glasses is a hassle, BUT IT IS WORTH IT!
  • Makeup -- Powder! Powder! Powder!  I'm sure you've seen makeup artists applying makeup to actors before an appearance.  The makeup artist is constantly patting the actor’s face.  Have you wondered why?  The reason is that powder, and lots of it, is necessary to create the beautiful matte finish which is part of a great portrait.  Even if you never use powder it is important that you use it for your photo shoot.  When applying powder, use a lighter shade under the eyes to help eliminate any shadows or dark circles that the concealer didn't take care of.  Use mineral powder makeup and bring it with you for touch-ups.  Evening makeup is generally best, applied moderately, to accent your eyes and lips.
  • Avoid fake tans and especially sunburns before your portrait session.  These can make your skin look "muddy".
  • Please don't experiment with a new hairstyle for your portraits.  There's nothing I can do to create a portrait you'll love if you hate your hair.
  • Men should shave a couple hours before their portraits to eliminate any redness.
  • Start thinking about props!  This can make your photograph unique.  Consider hats, sports equipment, a musical instrument, or even pets.  I can also work with larger objects such as boats, sports cars, planes, or motorcycles.
  • Let’s plan ahead for the best outdoor locations.  I have access to many secret hideaways. Just tell me what you envision in your perfect images.
  • It is fine to bring “inspiration” photos of others.  Watch for awesome photos in magazines or on the web and bring them with you.  You may be amazed at how I can often re-create something similar!
  • If you have troubles smiling naturally think of how you would look if you just ran into a best friend on a nice sunny day at the beach.

A great portrait session is only the beginning.  I will work with you to pick the best images and finishes such as B&W and printing materials.  I also look forward to helping you with top quality printing, framing, and graduation announcement cards.

Finally smile and have fun! Let me capture you being you!

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