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Parents: Taking Your Senior’s Portraits :: Jenna Wren Photograph {Colorado High School Photographer}

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high school seniors pictures do it yourself

So many of our summer plans have changed this year, and if you are anything like me then you are having to figure out how to do a lot of things on your own! I want to share a few tips if you are going to be taking your senior’s pictures this year. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions! Hopefully, this quarantine won’t last too long. Yet, I do hope that if parents need that they can take their high schooler’s portraits with confidence and ease!

  1. Tools of the Trade

Please, do not feel like you need to purchase an expensive camera and lenses to be able to take beautiful photos of your teen! If you have a camera at your disposal, then I highly recommend spending a little time fully learning your camera’s settings and tools. Educating yourself about your camera will go a long way in taking great shots! Even if you don’t have a camera, I still would recommend using your phone’s camera. Spend a little time with a few practice shots and try googling tips for phone photography before you start to learn how to capture light, edit in camera, and maximize your phone’s capabilities.

urban teen portrait burnt orange with golden bokeh

2. Lighting

The greatest part of making a photo beautiful is making sure to capture the light just right. As you begin planning your session, spend a few days watching the light in the evening hours. Golden hour is a real thing, and it is a great way to ensure gorgeous lighting in your shots. Golden Hour is the hour right before sunset, so if you can schedule your session around that time then you will already have a head start. Reflectors are amazing ways to bounce light back onto your teen’s face and make their eyes pop! If you need help figuring out how to use a reflector, then watch this video!

warm backlit senior girl in a blue denim dress

3. Outdoors or Indoors

Right now, much of the globe is on a complete lock down as we wait out the Covid-19 pandemic. So as much as I would love to have you take your senior’s portraits at a local park or outdoor area, I am not sure what quarantine laws may be in place around you. If you aren’t able to get out in public, don’t let that stop you from planning out your pictures! Indoor locations, your backyard, or a walk around the block can work just fine! Drive around or take a walk to see if you can spot an area where the flowers are blooming, the lighting is stunning, or the backdrop is to die for. You’d be surprised how many spots that photographers use for their portrait sessions may actually be surrounded by clutter and junk. Again, watch the light! If you have a sunny room in your home or a perfect spot in the shade in your backyard, then watch how the light falls and use it.

parking garage roof senior portraits

4. Outfits

Now is an awesome time to let your teen’s style and personality shine! I would recommend planning for 3-5 outfits ranging from normal day-to-day wear, sports uniforms or attire, and dressy outfits that really capture their personality and interests in this stage of life. Layout each look on a bed with shoes and accessories, and then take a photo of each look. If you have the time and resources, then head out and grab a few new items to add to their wardrobe!

Planning out your outfits for your senior portraits

5. Hair and Makeup

Practice a few days before your planned shoot with hair and makeup looks that tie well with their outfits. If you are able to get their hair and make up styled, then I highly recommend it! It is a great way to pamper your teen and have them camera ready. If you aren’t able to then don’t sweat it! Selecting matte colors for eyeshadow, powder, and foundation will help their glam look pop on camera. Try different lipstick and eye looks that can be easily varied during the shoot. For guys, a clean shave and clean hair are a must. Don’t forget to paint and clean nails as needed.

6. Talk and Plan

Get your senior as involved in the planning process as possible! Ask them what they dream of for their shots, and spend time searching for poses and outfit ideas on apps like Pinterest and LiketoKnowit. If you can, I would schedule an evening shoot on a weekday and plan for 4-5 hours from beginning to end. You may need to plan extra time before you start shooting for hair, make up, and travel time.

Planning poses for your senior summer pictures

7. Practice

Practice as much as you can before the big day by taking portraits of still life and adjusting as go to find the best way to capture your senior. Photography takes time and patience, so don’t be too hard on yourself as you learn and practice in the days leading up to your shoot. Have your senior practice their smile with you and then practice guiding them into certain poses, so that you both feel relaxed and prepared. The biggest way to capture your gorgeous teen is to help them to feel super comfortable in their own skin. Tell them how amazing they look, get them laughing, and let them tell you if they aren’t feeling a certain angle, pose, or look. Comfort in front of the camera goes a long way, even for your selfie taking teens.

Coffee drinking high school senior laughing during her portrait session

8. Last Touches

Find an editing program or app that you love and use it to touch up your shots. Even a little sharpening or brightening can do wonders for the final images. I’m a big fan of Adobe’s Lightroom which also has a mobile app available. Don’t over edit the portraits, but try to keep them as clean and classic looking as possible. Many yearbooks have specific requirements for their headshot submission, so make sure to double check their guidelines as well. More important than anything else, have fun! This is a special season in both of your lives, and it will be over before you know it. Senior portraits are a big milestone for graduates, so enjoy taking them with your teen this summer!

If you need any help with photographing your senior, or you’d like more information about booking a session with me feel free to contact me here!

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