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3 Tips for Amazing Senior Photos | jen mcken, photography

By July 20, 2017 No Comments

3 Tips For Amazing Senior Pictures

If I had a nickle for every time a senior gal told me that they were nervous for their senior photos because they didn’t know how to “pose”, I’d be on a beach with a margarita RIGHT now! I’m a firm believer that EVERY GAL is model worthy in the hands of the right photographer! I got you boo! You don’t have to know how to “pose”. That is my job…..and trust me, I LOOOVE bossing people around! Kidding Kidding.

However…… there are some things that you can do BEFORE showing up for a shoot that don’t require posing….preparation is key. I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks on how to prepare for your senior photos. They will take your images to the next level-from good to HAY GIRL HAY!!

Locations, Location, Location + Season

Location: The location we shoot at will determine the feel to your images. It also helps to highlight your personality + interests. This is where we can get REALLY creative! Don’t be afraid to ask! If you see a location that you feel inspired by…don’t be shy! Ask the owners of the property (even if it’s personal property) if you can use their location for a session or two. Most will be flattered. I’ve done some of my favorite sessions ever, simply because I asked. The worst they can say is no…but they might say YES!

Maybe you choose a location that has a lot of color and funky patterns/textures,  maybe you like nature and want a more outdoorsy feel, maybe you choose a location that is sentimental or a place you’ve spent a lot of time, an activity that you enjoy ….think outside the box.

Season: Are you thinking fall leaves, snow or maybe you love the bright colors of spring and summer. These are things you need to consider when thinking WHEN and schedule your session as soon as you can so that you have first dibs on the available dates. Especially summer and fall which is high volume senior session season.

senior girl pictures in the snow after a snow storm in indiana pa

Hair + Makeup + Nails

Hair:Do you have long hair? Add curls to pump pump pump it up! Listen, don’t go getting a new haircut or color days before your session. If those are things you want, consider having that done a few weeks prior to your session. Give yourself a few weeks to master the cut or style!

Nails: If you paint your nails, make sure they’re done well for your session. Chipped nail paint will show and distract from you. Avoid bright colors that will distract from you and may not work with all your outfits. Instead, opt for basic or natural tones.

Stay away from the spray tans, they can make you look more orange and less tan in your images
If you will be applying your own makeup, here are a few tips:

  • Apply your makeup slightly darker than normal. Cameras don’t pick up the contrast & definition our eyes see in person.
  • Avoid makeup with SPF & mineral makeup. While great for everyday use, they create an unflattering shine.
  • Don’t go overboard with layers of heavy makeup. It’s hard to photograph cakey makeup.
  • Set foundation with translucent powder that reduces shine. Shine is hard to Photoshop.
  • You might not normally wear lipstick, but I recommend it for your session, even if it’s a shade close to your natural lip color.
  • Mascara is a must. Clean not clumpy. At least 1 coat, 2 if you normally wear mascara.
  • Pastel eye shadows will look washed out – go for a medium or dark, rich tone. Browns and golds are pretty safe!
  • Avoid heavy black eyeliner, which makes your eyes look smaller. Go with gray or brown and blend well if you’re wearing eyeliner.
  • Avoid any sparkles and shimmers. Matte makeup will photograph better!

Bring these with you to the shoot:
-powder for your face to touch up in between
-don’t forget the lip gloss
– hair spray + brush

tips on how to get the best senior photos


Be Bright
When choosing your outfits for your senior session, think about choosing colors that POP and that compliment your hair + skin colors! Primary colors like red, royal blue and yellow photograph beautifully. Other colors like 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! Oh and don’t forget to hang up your clothes on hangers…ain’t no body got time for wrinkles!  Please make sure the colors of your undergarment coordinate well with your outfits and don’t show through your clothing. If you need a strapless, please bring one to your session. Tucking or moving straps will not always work or give the most pleasing look.  Check ahead of time to ensure that undergarments don’t leave unpleasing lines underneath your clothing.

Add Layers + Accessories
In the colder months of fall + winter, adding layers to your outfits always looks STUNNING in portraits and it adds so much interest! 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! What about the hotter months in 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! Think outside the box and get creative.

Play with Textures
I love love LOOOVE textures! It adds so much visually  and helps your images from looking dull. Things like different clothing fabrics, furs, sparkles and even sequins in some cases. Combining textures that you wouldn’t normally use together like sequins + cable knit sweater or leather + fur…or linen + voile.

Danger lurks here. Kidding, but seriously, these are some things to avoid:
-shirts with logos or big words
-super crazy busy patterns

senior photo session under fire escape steps for urban sessionhow to get the best senior photos

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you are unsure, just ask. I’d be happy to give you suggestions. Remember, these are not the rules……the most important part is that I want you to be yourself!


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