The 4 Secrets of Senior Photography: How To Get The Best Photos

Believe it or not, August is here which means its time for some incredible senior photos! Every senior wants a unique experience, one that captures their true personality, yet we all know stepping in front of the camera can often feel uncomfortable and plain out awkward. Here’s four secret tips that will make the experience great for both you and your photographer:


1. When To Shoot

It’s no secret that photography is all about lighting, but during the long days of summer its easy to forget to wait for those prime moments of light. While most may consider the afternoon to be the best and brightest time to shoot, I find it leaves harsh shadows and extreme coloring. Instead, ask your photographer to shoot either in the morning after sunrise (yes, I know that can be early) or right before sunset which falls later in the evening. These two times of day, called golden hour, have incredible light that’s both soft and colorful, letting the image be incredibly vibrant and in return, highlights you as the subject. Plus, you’ll avoid the strong heat by waking up early in the morning or by waiting till the evening!

  Taken in an open field at sunset, creating a beautiful lens flare.

Taken in an open field at sunset, creating a beautiful lens flare.

  Taken an hour before sunset, creating nice soft even light.

Taken an hour before sunset, creating nice soft even light.

  Taken right at sunset, as the light was peeking across the water.

Taken right at sunset, as the light was peeking across the water.

2. Location, Location, Location

The second most important part of your senior photos, is the location. What will your background be and how will it highlight you? I think the biggest challenge with location is that its easy to use what everyone else is using… that alley way, that one spot by the river, and the list can go on. But why choose an overused spot when you could use a spot just for you? This might require getting to know your photographer and vice versa, but a simple questionnaire or meeting can let your photographer get to know you personally. It only takes a little communication before their creative minds begin running with ideas on which locations to use. Photographers often seek out adventure, and so they can be the best source for finding the perfect spot for you. Tell them who you are, what you’re about, and what styles you’d like them to incorporate and then sit back and enjoy the awesome locations they find!

  Hayley wanted a retro theme so we found a spot at a local diner!

Hayley wanted a retro theme so we found a spot at a local diner!

  Megan loves cheerleading so we went to where she cheers at her high school.

Megan loves cheerleading so we went to where she cheers at her high school.

  Tesea wanted a formal look with lots of color so we used a metallic building with a cute porch.

Tesea wanted a formal look with lots of color so we used a metallic building with a cute porch.

3. Poses

Feeling comfortable in front of the camera can make or break your senior photo experience and posing is the number one culprit. When I was a senior, I had no idea what to do in front of the camera besides smile, yet I knew I wanted photos that reflected me and not some formal version of myself. Well, there are a few tips to make sure posing goes smoothly:

  1. Look Away From The Camera. Work with your photographer and ask what angles work best. Maybe you should look over your shoulder, down at your toes, or laugh in the air. They’ll know best and can direct you accordingly.
  2. Bend Your Ligaments. I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically find myself standing straight with my arms down perfectly at my side in my day to day life… and so you shouldn’t expect to in your photos! Bend your arms and legs, relax your shoulders, and do what feels naturally and comfortable. Let’s show off you, not some stiff-bodied statue.
  3. Incorporate Some Motion. Seniors are active, so let’s show it off! Try walking down the street, giving a twirl in the dress, blowing some bubbles, or splashing water into the air. All of these are super fun and let your photographer get those small expressions you might not get otherwise.

All of these things will help with posing, but the overall rule of thumb is if you don’t feel comfortable, it won’t look good, so don’t be afraid to speak up, change your positioning, and try another pose. Without much work and some smiles, you’ll be all set!

  Looking over her shoulder

Looking over her shoulder

  Both bent arms and legs

Both bent arms and legs

  Spinning in her dress

Spinning in her dress

4. Wardrobe

What you wear in your photos is a very essential part to getting the unique photos that reflect who you are. Can you imagine showing up with a costume on? Yeah, that just wouldn’t fly. The same approach should be taken with how you select your attire. If you wouldn’t wear it besides your senior photos, it’s probably not a good choice. Instead, choose a variety of styles from very casual, to maybe something more formal, but with each selection make sure you don’t feel like you’re wearing a costume. Find your favorite shirt, dress, suit, etc. and use that! And don’t forget that basic accessories can transform your outfits, and saves you prime shooting time.

Bonus: If you’re really feeling up to it, communicate with your photographer what you’re wearing so that the location can compliment it. Busy patterns look best with simple backgrounds while something more plain, can use some color.

  A solid white shirt against the busy background makes Hayley stand out.

A solid white shirt against the busy background makes Hayley stand out.

  The pastels in Kenzie's dress match perfectly with the golden sun and natural surroundings.

The pastels in Kenzie's dress match perfectly with the golden sun and natural surroundings.

  The soft background compliments the dynamic pattern in Jaime's wardrobe.

The soft background compliments the dynamic pattern in Jaime's wardrobe.


So, there you have it. Four simple steps on how to get the best senior photo experience. If you can, schedule your session for early morning or before sunset, show off your personality so that your photographer can find you a custom location, try out a few posing techniques, and pick an outfit that reflects you! At Genuine Photography, we walk through each of these steps so that every session is fun, personalized, and genuine. Are there any tips that you’d like to share?