There aren’t many photo sessions that have the potential to be as fun as senior portraits. The senior year of high school is all about completing one phase of life. Next year you probably won’t be living at home anymore. You’ll be leaving many of your friends behind. And you’ll be striking out on your own in the world as an adult.
Senior pictures serve as a window into your school years. Once these students move on and leave these things behind, their memories fade. Few people’s lives follow the plan they lay out for themselves in high school. In reality, we become different people as we grow and learn. But no matter where you wind up, a trip down memory lane is comforting.
Senior photos will one day be their trip down memory lane. Most commonly, these portrait sessions focused on one person. Getting to know them is crucial, as is tailoring your photo session to their interests and personality. If you are a family photographer or a professional looking for more business, you need to create an impressive portfolio. Pixpa has all the tools for you. Get started by taking a 15-day free trial.
Why are Senior Pictures Important
Senior pictures are a right of passage for many teens. They serve to commemorate an extraordinary time in their lives. They symbolize growing up. They will eventually look at their senior portraits to remember their teen years.
Traditionally, senior portrait ideas have been limited to run of the mill portrait sessions. Classic themes include using the cap and gown from graduation, or sports and school uniforms. But the technique has expanded lately. Chances are, seniors will have special requests they will want to incorporate. Today’s senior portrait ideas are more intimate and personal. They include everything from posing with their pets and best friends to showing off their favorite extracurricular activities.
For photographers, senior portraits are a great opportunity. If you are a freelance photographer, senior photos are fun and easy to add to your lineup. Once you’ve done a few, word of mouth marketing will get you more. A winning portfolio is crucial if you are aspiring to make a successful career. It is vital that you choose the right platform to showcase your best shots and creative ideas. Pixpa is a portfolio website builder platform that is trusted by creative pros around the world. Have a look at some outstanding portfolio website examples. Pixpa offers an easy yet powerful drag-and-drop website builder and includes Client galleries, eCommerce, and blogging tools to enable you to manage your complete online presence through one seamless platform. Explore all features that make Pixpa the perfect choice for creative professionals such as artists, photographers, designers, and others.
Sharing these photos on social media ensures marketing opportunities. In short, these photos can easily sell themselves when done well and creatively.
Top Tips for Senior Picture Portraits
Senior Photo Consultation
As with any personalized photo session, a sit-down consultation is vital. Teens are engulfed in a sharing and social media-driven culture. The chance that your clients will come to the table with zero ideas about their photos is almost zero.
Getting on the same page as your client will likely be easy. Have them put together a Pinterest board of senior picture ideas they like. Or simply have them collect a set of great example photos from around the web. Get to know a little bit about what they like to do and where they like to spend their time. Ask them what they want to remember about senior year and high school in general.
It’s best to do the consultation a few days before the shoot so that you can scout locations and make a plan. If you need any props, you’ll have time to put it all together. Run your ideas by them and share the locations you want to use. Guage their excitement level and then fine-tune your plan as necessary.
Leave the Big Choices to the Seniors
Every session should include some basic portraits and headshots. It’s probably a good idea to include a shot or two in the cap and gown for mom and dad. But remember, the senior portrait session client is the senior. Make it as personalized as you possibly can. Your goal should be to create some pictures that are special to them.
After your consultation, you should have a pretty good idea of what your client likes to do and where they spend their time. For example, if you senior is an athlete, make sure to include their uniform and equipment. You might want to shoot those shots on the ballfield at the school or local park.
The same concept can be applied to any hobbies and other extracurricular activities. If you’re looking for senior picture ideas for guys, just think about what they like to do. If they like to spend time fishing on the lake, then plan some shots at the lake or a dock near water. If they like shooting or hunting, get permission to take photos at the shooting range or go on a hike in the woods.
The key to being successful here is to listen to your client and get to know them a little bit.
Then apply a little creativity and some research online.
You’re sure to come up with some unique ideas that will make their senior portraits rock!
Basic Senior Picture Poses
One of the biggest challenges with portraits, especially when looking for boy senior picture ideas, is to avoid awkward poses and fake smiles. While you will surely come across many teens that are confident in front of your camera and who might be ready for a modeling career, these will be the minority.
To get teens to relax, start with some sitting down poses. This naturally eases awkward postures and gets the client comfortable in front of your camera. Use benches, stairs, or whatever is handy. This is one of the best senior picture ideas for guys, but it works great with the girls too.
Poses with them leaning on things is another great way to ease the mood. A wall, a tree, or their car make great backdrops. Keep it natural and try to make it match their personality. Use the location to your advantage.
Where Should They Look?
While mom and dad are going to be looking for a classic toothy smile, chances are your client is going to want something more subtle. One way to nail perfect shots every time is to have them look away from the camera. Looking into the camera is overrated, and fake smiles are unnecessary.
For boys, senior picture ideas, consider taking serious, thoughtful poses. Have them sit on stairs or lean on walls, and look into the distance thoughtfully. Discuss something that’s important to them, or talk about their plans for the future.
Get the teen relaxed and share some jokes. Snap a shot of a real laugh. These shots are the best boy senior picture ideas for capturing authentic and natural-looking poses with any client.
Another great way to capture the spirit of the student is to divide your time between posed shots and candid shots. The candid shots in between poses can reveal some real gems.
25+ Unique Senior Picture Ideas
1. Have them sit on the school’s front stairs or entrance. Use the school's sign, flags, or other academic themes to show the location and timing of the photo. Look for student banners hoisted around the campus saying “Class of…” or other fitting messages. The bleachers in the gym or stadium are also great places to start shooting.
2. Use school-related backdrops, like buses or athletic fields. You can pick specific places for the teen’s hobbies, like the football field for athletes or the library for bookworms. Where do they spend their time when on campus?
3. Get off the campus and go for a walk on the beach or at the local park. You can do posed action shots of walking or candid shots along the way. Look for unique backdrops, benches, or trees that the student could lean on and pose.
4. Incorporate their graduation cap and gown. They could wear it around the school campus, or wear it somewhere unexpected. Shooting a crowd scene with only the student in their graduation outfit would be unique. Shots of the student walking away, or tossing the cap, show the symbolism of the event in their lives.
5. Use their school uniform or jacket in their wardrobes. Take action shots, or include it in poses. Write their class year on the football and set it up in the shot, for example.
6. Focus on their class ring. Do close up portraits with it featured, like you would an engagement ring during an engagement portrait session.
7. Use signboards or scrabble letters to write out messages, i.e., “Class of 2020” or “I’m outta here!” Let your senior customize the message any way they like. If they are artistic, you might consider letting them create a special sign or message that they could use during the shoot.
8. Have them bedazzle their mortarboard caps for graduation. Many seniors go all out with their class year and personal messages. Or, you could provide a mortarboard for them to decorate just for the photoshoot.
9. Capture the celebration vibe of graduation time. You could have them blow confetti or light paint with sparklers.
10. Have them lean on their car, or take some shots of them driving through the windshield. This is a classic cool look, one of the perfect boys' senior picture ideas.
11. Incorporate their class year however you can. Consider writing it in the sand on the beach or spelling it out in autumn leaves. You could write it on their arm like a tattoo, use kid’s party balloons, or put it on a football or soccer ball.
12. Another creative idea is to incorporate their name or class year into the photo during post-production. You could superimpose it over walls or other items. The key here, however, is to make it look good. It’s easy to get tacky and cheesy when adding graphic elements after the fact.
13. Make their pictures a group activity. Include their best friend. You could also make it a couple’s shoot for students is steady relationships.
14. Include their larger group of friends and make it a full-on group shoot. You could then do individual portraits with each one.
15. Ask your client if they have any pets at home. Have them bring their dog or cat. Dog owners will especially love the inclusion of their best friend. As a bonus, if you start with pup pictures and move on portraits, you may find your subject is already relaxed in front of the camera. Pet photos are one of the most requested senior picture ideas.
16. Ask mom and dad to participate. They will love a few shots of the family together. It might be above and beyond the purview of senior portrait ideas, but it also might entice them to book a future family session! Here are a few creative family portrait ideas to capture that perfect shot.
17. Include some details and closeup shots. Not every picture you take for them needs to be a portrait. Take a detail shot of the soccer player’s cleats or their hands wrapped around a softball bat.
18. Try your hardest to incorporate their favorite subject or hobby. Writers could be photographed writing in their journal in the coffee shop. Science nerds could be posed in the lab with test tubes. The possibilities are endless.
19. Break up your photoshoot by visiting their favorite senior year hangouts. The beach, the coffee shop, the mall, or wherever they spend their time might make perfect photos of them in their element.
20. Get creative with the setting and mix it up. Furniture stores or amusement parks can provide colorful and different backgrounds. Both provide a variety of settings in a small place. Take animal lovers to the zoo, or take wakeboarders out on their boat.
21. For city dwellers, shoot their portrait session like it’s candid street photography. Set a unique tone and style. Try a slow shutter speed in the moving crowd, and have your client standstill.
22. Take scrappy-looking grunge photos in a junkyard. Use old cars or abandoned buildings. Try creating a cohesive mood by using washed-out colors and lighting to match.
23. Have the senior bring a childhood photo with them, and have them hold it up to the camera.
24. Talk with your senior about what they want to do after graduation. If they want to travel, include globes, maps, or luggage. If they want to work in a specific field, include hints to their future as nuggets inside the photographs. Pilots could have model airplanes, or lawyers could dress in suits and pose in the library. Have fun with it and get creative!
25. Get silly! Not every photo needs to be thought out and posed. Make funny faces, do jumping shots or any other wacky idea that pops in your head. Take your cues from the client and play along.
If the shoot is dragging on and everyone is getting tired, grab some coffee and just hang out awhile. See what pops up, but don’t put down your camera.
The possibilities for senior pictures are limitless. Yes, you will need a standard headshot and some shots of their cap and gown. But ideally, each session should be different from the last. Ideas are everywhere for making their shoot special. Crazy costumes and nuanced lighting might suite some of them, but these pictures are more personal than that.
Luckily, no one is more tech-savvy than a graduating high school student. Have them do their homework, go online, and communicate what they want the photos to look like. Chances are they’ve had friends get the perfect photo, or they’ve seen something neat online that they’d like to replicate.
So whatever you do when shooting senior portraits, try not to get into a rut. Keep the creativity flowing. Share what you do online and look at what other photographers are trying. With seniors going every direction in life with different goals and dreams, it’s easy to tailor a personalized photo shoot just for them.
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