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How to Take Senior Portraits

Updated on July 17, 2015


Senior year is a defining time in any young person's life. That's why senior photos need to be just as unique as the senior!

You can even do your own senior portraits, if you have a digital camera and a friend. All it takes is some creativity and time, and you can have great looking photos without the price.

Photo credit: Paisley Studios Photography, Blackfoot Idaho

A Portrait

is a photograph of a person, created with intention. It usually features the person's face and shows some kind of personality.

Graduating year

Photo credit Cortney Dani Hostin.

Use photo editing software to add your graduating year to your portrait!

Other ideas for including your class year:

- Hold it up on a chalkboard

- Write it on the bottom of your shoes

- Draw it in sand or dirt in your photo

- Have your friends make the shapes

Hobby photos

Photo credit: ReasonToBreathe.

The girl above likes fashion and beauty, so a make-up portrait is perfect.

More hobby photo ideas:

- Musical instruments (or a microphone!)

- Sporting equipment - ball, pom pom, weights

- Lots of accessories or costume pieces

- With a vintage camera

- Dancing shoes

- With technology

Sports Photos

Photo credit Natalie Bacon.

Student athletes don't have to be playing for a great portrait - put on your uniform and post on the empty field, next to the fence, or in the locker room.

More ideas:

- Hold the ball/mitt/pom/etc halfway in front of your face for a mysterious portrait

- Sit on the steps of the stadium

- Wear regular clothes but pose with the equipment (like a basketball) on the court

- Get into action in an abnormal place - like doing ballet in front of graffiti

500 Poses

Since it's easy to get a high-quality digital camera these days, the biggest thing separating amateur and professional photography is posing. Don't do static photos - use a book like this to help find flattering poses and shots for your senior photos.

Music Portraits

Photo credit Ryan Austin Dean.

Take your instrument out into the world and take photos!

- Play it. Play against a wall, against the sunset, on the railroad tracks (be careful!!), or someone else unique

- Hold it covering part of your face for a mysterious look

- Lay down and place your instrument next to you

- Singer? Take a microphone with you instead!

Become a professional

Interested in becoming a professional portrait photographer? Jeff's book is full of great advice on starting your business, marketing, and landing a contract with high schools.

A Kid And His Car

Photo credit Brandon Mulnix.

A first car is a huge deal - if you have an interesting-looking one, this could be a great portrait.

Or find an old car to take photos with, for a vintage look!

Other ideas:

- Pose with a luxury car

- Go to a parking garage for an edgy look

- Open the door and sit inside

- Take photos in the back seat

- Shoot through the front windshield at the "driver"

Edit your photos

Touch up your photos after the shoot with basic Photoshop techniques. Don't let that pimple haunt you forever!

Portraits with Pets

Photo credit theRYEstudios in Stillwell, Kan.

Pets are a big part of many student's lives. Take this opportunity to document your cross-species friendship by including Fido in your senior portraits!

- Dress your pet in a costume to match yours (tux and dress, shark and surfer, chef and lobster, etc)

- Run with your pet

- Let your pet be in focus, and you smiling in the background

- Put your arms around your dog and kiss her head

What's your favorite senior portrait idea?

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      Colin323 4 years ago

      I like the music theme with this age group, as it looks natural and part of their lives - which it clearly is. Some great shots here.