If you want to plan some amazing senior pictures, there are a few easy things you can do to get started. Let’s face it, there’s a lot more pressure than there used to be to have stunning senior photos. They are so much more than a picture to submit for the yearbook! I mean, Instagram. Need I say more? The rise of Senior Sunday,Pinterest, and Instagram worthy photos has taken center stage. But don’t worry! Just follow some easy steps and get going with your planning.

senior portrait tips locations seattle

1. Plan ahead and schedule senior portraits early

Get your senior portraits on the calendar early. Most senior photographers book out months in advance. Especially if you are hoping to schedule your session when certain flowers are in bloom or during the warm summer months. Start looking through Instagram, websites, and talk to friends to find a photographer that is just right for you. Pay attention to editing style and the type of experiences they offer. If you are dreaming of amazing locations, outfit changes, and a personalized experience, don’t wait to book early!

2. Start a senior pictures inspo board

Hop on Pinterest and Instagram and start creating a great inspiration board. Mood boards are the perfect way to pull together a full senior photo shoot look from the vibe of your location to outfits. You will want to try to add several different types of outfits, accessories, and even props. Keep in mind a range of outfits from casual jeans to more formal dresses (or even slacks/suits for guys). Locations don’t need to be specific to your area. As long as they represent the overall look you are going for, your photographer will be able to guide you in the right direction.

3. Choosing your senior portrait outfits

Now that you have a mood board with some inspiration, it will be a lot easier for you to start pulling together some outfits. Try to include casual and more formal outfits, a range of styles, and even sports related uniforms. The goal is to have enough variety for your final senior gallery to show some diversity and fun style. Avoid too tight clothing, anything uncomfortable, things that just aren’t your style, holes, wrinkles, and logos. And remember to bring along the right undergarments for each outfit!

Some examples (but the possibilities are endless!):

  • Jeans,top,tennis shoes – sundress,cowboy boots – long dress,heels
  • Shorts,tennis shoes,flowy top – long sundress,bare feet – short formal dress,heels
  • Wide leg pants,bare feet, tank top – cheer uniform – long flowy dress, boots, hat
  • guys: t-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes – sports uniform – slacks, button up or waffle knit, brown shoes

Lay all your choices out and include shoes and accessories. This helps to get an idea of how everything will look when you put it together. My seniors get a Senior Guide with a ton of inspiration and clothing ideas. This can be really helpful if you are struggling to get started with outfits.

5. Locations

Your mood board will help you here too! Instead of trying to decide on a specific location, think more about the overall vibe and look you are dreaming of.

  • Edgy and urban
  • Rural and rustic
  • Open and airy
  • Beachy
  • Floral and romantic
  • Mountain
  • Rivers and Lakes
  • Manicured/park

Think about how different types of locations might look during the month you have planned your session. For example, rivers in the spring will be much higher than late summer or flower fields are vastly different from one growing season to the next.

4. Senior hair, makeup, and skin

  • Your hands will be shown close up in some of your senior pictures so trim nails and touch up manicures before your session.
  • Wax unwanted facial hair and shave any hair you don’t want in your pictures. Guys should trim up their facial hair
  • Guys – get hair cuts a week or two before your session to give it some time to look a little more natural.
  • Girls – keep your hair cut and style as close to your natural look as possible. It might not be the best time for a brand new style. Bring along a brush and hairspray for touch ups during your session.
  • I don’t recommend self tanner! If you would like some color, you can use a gradual tanning lotion. But we want to avoid unnatural orange tones.
  • Remember sunscreen, especially in the weeks before a summer senior session. Burns and dark tan lines can be tough to get rid of and look distracting in your photos.
  • If you are doing your own makeup keep it as natural and close to your normal look as possible. Avoid anything shiny or sparkly. It doesn’t photograph well and can make skin look uneven. And be sure to bring along some powder and lip product for touch ups.
  • Finally, don’t worry about blemishes! Avoid picking at any acne or using harsh treatment on your skin before senior pictures. A little editing can take care of those, no problem.

6. Timing and flexibility

You will want to be as flexible as possible with your senior portrait session timing. Weather, location, and lighting play a big role in how your images will look. Your photographer may ask to adjust the timing of your session if you choose a location that has more trees, is near mountains, or is more exposed. I like to schedule my seniors for an estimated start time and then make small adjustments when we get closer. I want to find the best possible light! And sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate. We jut reschedule to one of the days I keep open for exactly that.

7. Don’t stress over posing!

Posing is something you really don’t need to worry about before or during your senior session. You can certainly look around on Instagram, Pinterest, or blog posts for some general posing ideas. If you see something fun that you would like to try, definitely show your photographer. It can be fun to try something new that you’ve seen. Throughout senior sessions I always talk through a lot of different poses and demonstrate everything. Seniors are never left standing around and feeling awkward! So relax and trust your photographer to help you feel confident and show you exactly what to do.

8. Personalize your senior photos

It’s a great idea to bring along things that will add a personal touch to your senior photos. These can be related to your sport, music, art, pets, a piece of jewelry, hats, car, and more. There is really no limit to what you can do. Just go over it with your photographer ahead of time so that they can make plans to incorporate it. Especially if you will be bringing a pet or something large that will require some logistical planning.

9. Choose your photo shoot crew

Plan to bring at least one other person along with you to your senior portrait session. This can be a parent, friend, sibling, or other family member. The right people can be invaluable during your session. They are your cheerleaders, help hold things, lighten the mood, assist with outfit changes, and are fun to incorporate into a few photos. Just make sure you choose the right people. Select someone who you know will be helpful, allows you to shine, and can elevate your experience.

10. Remember that this is YOUR experience!

Keep in mind that this experience is all about YOU! Talk to your photographer ahead of time to ask questions and come up with a plan you love. Think about what would make it enjoyable for you and tailor the day to your vision. Senior portrait experiences aren’t one size fits all.

Where to go next?

Now that you are all set to get planning an amazing senior portrait experience, head on over to How To Prepare For Senior Pictures – 5 Easy Tips. I’ll walk you through a few easy things to do right before your senior session to make sure it goes as amazing as possible.

Ready to get in touch? I would love to hear from you and help you plan your dream photo shoot! Check out my Senior Portrait Experience or click the Book Now button to get going. I can’t wait to make some photo magic!

…. a few more seniors who showed off some great style and outfit choices:

Thanks for reading!

XO, Janelle

Janelle Barrow Photography serves couples and seniors in Seattle and the surrounding areas. With an emphasis on bringing out the natural beauty of all her clients, Janelle is passionate about building confidence and joy in everyone who steps in front of her camera. Her light, romantic wedding images capture every moment of the wedding day from arrival to the final exit. She thrives on attention to detail and a great ability to take the stress out of photos.

If you are planning your senior pictures in the Seattle area, please get in touch to see how Janelle Barrow Photography can serve you.

10 Tips For Planning Amazing Senior Pictures!

January 12, 2024

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Nationally featured and published senior photographer.... AND families, weddings, and events. I love all things photography. Taking pictures of people and helping them feel absolutely stunning is my favorite thing! I'm a fun, adventurous, romantic at heart. Equal parts introvert and extrovert. And always excited to truly get to know the people I work with.

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