How to Prep for your Senior Session

I have been planning this post for a long time now, and I am super excited to finally share it with you all! I am so passionate about senior photography, and it is something that I have absolutely LOVED since day one of my business. Part of my job as the photographer is to relieve as much stress as possible before the day of the session arrives, so that my client can fully enjoy their senior portraits with no worries! The addition of the Senior Styling Studio has helped with this SO much, because it relieves some stress regarding wardrobe choices + styling issues. However, there are still TONS of other ways that you can prep before your senior session in order to make it the BEST possible experience!

While using pieces from the Senior Styling Studio is always an option, a lot of my senior clients choose to bring additional outfits from home to use as well! So, I will be including some tips + tricks to guide you while choosing outfits as well as tips for hair + makeup and more!

CHOOSING OUTFITS: 

Choosing what you will wear for your photo shoot is a huge decision that can make or break your senior portrait session! I know that sounds dramatic…but, if you accidentally wear something that isn’t flattering on camera or something that you don’t feel confident in…it can ruin the experience for you! So, here are some of the best ways to choose what to wear:

1. Be COMFORTABLE:

If you do not like fitted clothing (super tight dresses or pieces that fit awkwardly) then leave them at home! Personally, I try to steer clear of items that are fitted in the tummy area (don’t we all?) just because it makes me self-conscious and I’m constantly wondering if it looks bad. So, if there are pieces in your closet that make you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable, don’t include them in your senior portrait wardrobe! Additionally, we will most likely be sitting on the ground, laying down, walking and doing other things that could be difficult if your clothing is uncomfortable!

2. Be BRIGHT + THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX:

On camera, solid black + white can make skin tones look very washed out and unflattering. So, when choosing outfits for your senior session, try to choose colors that POP and that compliment your hair + skin colors! Primary colors like red, royal blue and yellow photograph beautifully as well as emerald green, bright purples, pinks, oranges and any other colors that really POP! Sometimes, color combos that may seem odd in-person end up photographing BEAUTIFULLY on camera! Here, Kayla paired a bright plum-colored top with a pair of Tiffany blue pants and it look AMAZING! Some may look at this outfit and think it’s “too much”, but in photos, she ROCKED it!

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3. Add LAYERS:

In the cold months (fall + winter), adding layers to your outfits always looks STUNNING in portraits! A sweater with a flannel underneath paired with a vest + statement necklace or scarf adds so much dimension to your images and makes for super fun posing options! Even in the warmer months (spring + summer) you can add these layers + dimension by wearing a tank top with a cute sheer cardigan or by throwing a denim vest over a dress! Sara rocked out this adorable brown leather jacket with her lace top:

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And Skylar looks AMAZING here with this grey sweater, plaid flannel + vest! Adding layers also means that we can REMOVE layers to create multiple different looks with just one outfit, like she did here by removing her sweater!

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4. Play with TEXTURES

Sometimes textures like sequins, furs and sparkles can be considered “daring” or “over the top” but, in portraits, they are the BEST! Adding texture to your outfit makes the biggest difference, and it prevents the images from looking dull! Combining textures that you may not normally use together like sequins + cable knit sweaters or leather + fur make GREAT pairs! Stephany + Erika both rocked this tip in the studio! Stephany chose a silver sequined mini dressed paired with a cable-knit cardigan while Erika used a fur scarf to play up her beautiful features!

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5. Don’t be afraid to ACCESSORIZE:

During a senior session, or any photo shoot, the more the merrier!! When planning your outfits, don’t forget to plan accessories!! Stacks of bangles, long necklaces, statement pieces, scarves, hats, bright shoes and other add-ons can make or break an outfit! Don’t be afraid to over-accesorize, either…it’s always better to have more than not enough! Here, Katie rocked it out with a lace hair piece, beautiful bracelets, boot socks and a patterned cardigan! LOVED it!

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Kristiana had this amazing floral crown CUSTOM made for her senior portrait session and it blew me away!! Going above and beyond to customize your senior portrait session makes all the difference!

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6. MIX it up:

When planning your outfits, make sure that you have a VARIETY of looks! I tell all of my seniors to choose from these categories: casual, cozy, dressy, school-related, sports-related, preppy or edgy. I always recommend choosing 2-3 of those categories and finding outfits accordingly. This provides a beautiful array of looks during your senior portrait session, so each outfit looks dramatically different! Angelica was a MASTER of this! Her first outfit was “casual” followed by something “dressy”. Then, she got cozy in an adorable cream sweater before throwing on her varsity jacket for a “school-related” outfit! All of her looks photographed beautifully, but they were completely different from each other!

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HAIR + MAKEUP:

This is another HUGE part of a senior session that can completely alter the overall outcome of your images! I HIGHLY recommend professional hair and makeup to ALL of my clients for SO many reasons. I promise I’m not just saying it to get you to spend more money! It really does make HUGE differences.

1. They are TRAINED professionals:

When you are investing in a professional photographer, you want to make sure that the images look their absolute best. Professional hair + makeup artists are TRAINED to do hair + makeup so that they photograph well. While your makeup may look AMAZING in person, it will look completely different on-camera, and these professionals are trained to know the difference! They will conceal spots you don’t like, contour your face so it looks the best in every light, use colors that compliment your skin to make it look flawless, make your eyes POP with false lashes + shadows, manicure your eyebrows to perfection and more! Some may think that there isn’t a difference…but I PROMISE you, the difference is HUGE!

2. Less STRESS:

Preparing for a senior portrait session is stressful in and of itself. Trying to do your hair + makeup by yourself can make things ever harder. Professional camera equipment is designed to pick up every little detail in an image (even details that the eye can’t see) so hiring a professional makeup artist is the best way to go.

3. Who doesn’t like being PAMPERED!?

I don’t ever want my seniors to feel like their portrait session is just simply “taking pictures”, I want it to be an EXPERIENCE. So, if my seniors arrive after an hour of being pampered + beautified, the entire experience has already started on a good note! If a senior arrives frustrated or stressed, it can affect the entire experience, including the way you look in photographs!

Below, I am using my best friend Erika as a wonderful example! In the first image on the left, Erika did her own hair and makeup just to take some headshots for fun. While it looks BEAUTIFUL, the photo on the right shows the dramatic difference with professional hair + makeup. On the right, Erika chose to have GoGoGorgeous do her hair + makeup for her senior portrait session. Erika still looks naturally beautiful, but GoGo Gorgeous knew just how to accentuate her natural features by highlighting her beautiful eyes, contouring her stunning cheeks + adding the perfect pop of color on her lips!

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*If professional hair + makeup is simply not in your budget, that is a-okay, too!! I just recommend doing your makeup slightly heavier than normal, making sure to add a pop of color on your lips + using fake lashes if possible! Those little details will make the biggest difference!*

 

Don’t Neglect the Nails!

And, one last tip!! In all of the chaos of senior session prep…don’t forget to pamper your nails! During your shoot, a lot of the poses we do will have your hands close to your face and in the frame, so make sure that your nails look just how you want! Try to avoid any chipped polish or crazy patterns. French manicures, light/natural colors and even nails with no color at all photograph best!!

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POSTED

January 15, 2015

  1. Kathryn Bruns

    January 16th, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Great article, woman!!

  2. What to Wear | Engagement Sessions » Hope Taylor Photography Blog

    February 26th, 2015 at 9:02 am

    […] month, I blogged about how to prep for your senior session, and I think it was SO helpful for all of my senior clients! But, today, it’s all about my […]

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I'm Hope Taylor, an international Senior Portrait and Wedding Photographer based in Charleston, SC. I'm also an educator, international speaker, and the host of multiple sold-out workshops each year!

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