Get Prepared To Shoot Your First Senior Portrait Session With These Helpful Tips

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Every spring, there’s a slew of high school seniors who are looking forward to having their senior portraits taken. Senior portrait sessions are a great way for the students to take their minds off of school work for a moment and have fun by showing a little self expression by collaborating with a creative photographer to make some awesome, unique photos. Not only are these types of sessions a blast to shoot, but senior portrait sessions can also be a great way for serious amateur photographers to earn a modest income to help offset the costs of their hobby.

Ask Questions

Before the day of your session, make sure you’ve spent some time consulting with your client to gather information from them, in addition to giving them useful tips to make sure they show up prepared for the shoot you have in mind. Many times, they will already have a few ideas in mind about what kind of portrait they’d like to have, so asking them if they have any preferences or requests right off the bat will help you determine what it is they want. Some may already have a location picked out, a theme they’d like to stick with, or a personal item they’d like to be photographed with. Knowing about these things before the shoot will help you be prepared and eliminate any surprises the day of.

If they don’t have any specifics, ask them a few more questions about themselves to better understand their person style, if necessary, and be prepared to offer them a few suggestions for style or theme of the shoot so you both have at least a general idea of what to prepare for. Before wrapping up this initial conversation, be sure to ask them if they have any questions for you.


Ask your clients to bring a few changes of wardrobe to the shoot. This gives them more of a variety in their photos, but also offers some backups in case one of the outfits they choose doesn’t photograph well. It’s also important that your client has a place to change their clothes in, so make sure you know where the nearest public restroom is so there’s no guessing the day of the shoot.

Your client will more than likely already have a few outfits in mind that they favor, but it never hurts to offer them some basic guidelines to ensure the clothes they are photographed in makes sense in relation to the location you’ve both decided on.
A great tip to keep in mind is to keep an online portfolio or lookbook of wardrobes from other senior portrait sessions–this can even be a Pinterest board of portraits that you’ve curated. Just send them a link after your consultation so they can browse through the photos and get a little inspiration for their wardrobe.


Most people do not instinctively know how to act in front of camera and will need a little direction from the photographer. Be sure you’ve studied up on poses, so you’re prepared to direct and offer suggestions as needed. Most will welcome your direction with open arms, so don’t be afraid to speak up if your client is looking a little awkward–you both want to take great looking photographs and it’s certainly a team effort.
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Lastly (but definitely not least important) is to make sure your client feels comfortable. Keep the tone conversational and show a genuine interest in them and their ideas. You want to build a trust with them so they are able to relax in front of the camera and act like themselves–that’s how you’re going to be able capture authentic portraits!

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Published Monday, May 23rd, 2016 Pin It

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About the Author: Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is an adventure and fine art photographer based in Hawaii. When she's not climbing volcanoes or swimming with sharks, you could probably find her relaxing in a hammock with a book somewhere near the ocean.