Senior Portraits: Tips for an Impossible-to-Forget Portrait

October 12, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Create an impossible-to-forget senior portrait with these tips!Impossible-to-forget senior portraitCreate an impossible-to-forget senior portrait with these tips!

Leave your mark in the yearbook by incorporating these ideas into your senior portrait session

It is finally here! You worked hard and you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel – high school graduation. You may plan to go off to college, trade school, start your own business, or pursue a career in the arts. I know a lot of the clients who work with me desire to pursue a career as a professional dancer!


It also means that is time for that final yearbook. To sit down for that final yearbook picture. Perhaps, this is why most high school yearbooks reserve such a large chunk of space for the seniors, to showcase their many hobbies, interests, and achievements. Your senior yearbook is truly the final chance to leave your mark, or as those in the performing arts might say – the final curtain call.

Create the perfect graduation announcement!Create the perfect graduation announcement!Create the perfect graduation announcement!

So why then, do most senior portraits all look the same? When this is your final chance to stand out from the crowd and to give your classmates something to remember. Below you will find tips for creating an impossible-to-forget senior portrait. Although I primarily work with dancers and performing artists, these tips can be applied to any senior portrait session!

If you are a dancer graduating from high school in 2022, I am currently offering a unique, once-in-a-lifetime senior portrait experience. For a limited time, I am offering 75% off my usual session fee for senior dance portraits. Why? So you can have the opportunity not only to create a masterpiece sure to amaze your classmates, friends, and family – but so you have the chance to hang with a professional ballerina – Alex Gosiengfiao! Click here to learn more.

Now on to the tips

Work with a photographer who can work a little photoshop magic

I will preface this tip by saying senior portraits with the normal image touch-ups are beautiful! However, if you desire a bit more drama or a touch of creativity in your photos, I suggest working with a photographer who is comfortable with photoshop. I call these images – masteredits, because of the additional time I put into adding creative elements. This could be as simple as adjusting the lighting to adding lightning! Anything is possible!

Masteredit by Mark Steelman PhotographyMasteredit by Mark Steelman PhotographyCreate a story with your senior portrait by adding elements with photoshop.

Add character to your portrait by adjusting your environment – like adding a chair or shooting on location!

The best images incorporate the immediate environment in a creative way. Even in the studio, we can chairs, box elements, and even change the background. When shooting on location, there is no limit to your imagination. For example, it is a common practice to incorporate your car into your senior portraits. Don’t let this limit you! Think of the story you wish to illustrate to your loved ones.

Add an explosion of color with smoke, glitter, or fabric.

Color elements are a fun way to add personality to any photo. In my experience, I have used different color fabrics, smoke, and even natural elements like sand. Adding pops of dynamic color can add drama, fun, and even showcase movement. This is why I use this tactic with so many of the dancers who step into my studio!

Play with color and fabrics for your senior portrait session!Play with color and fabrics for your senior portrait session!Play with color and fabrics for your senior portrait session!

Play with light – both inside and outside the studio

If you want a dramatic senior portrait, make sure to talk with your photographer about how you can use light to achieve your desire imaged. In the studio, this can be adjusting the lights to create angles. On-location, it is key for the photography to contour with the natural light available, so make sure the sun is out if this is the route you choose to take.

Achieve a dynamic portrait by choosing the right on-location venue

So you don’t want a studio senior portrait? Shooting on location is a sure way to create a unique senior portrait. I suggest choosing a location that is either important to you or a location that provides a dynamic background. A location with vibrant textures is always the best route, like the beach or an urban setting with a lot of brick.

Find the perfect on-location spot for your senior portrait!Find the perfect on-location spot for your senior portrait!Find the perfect on-location spot for your senior portrait!

Add in a prop important to you, showcasing your well-rounded interests

Showcase your well-rounded interests by incorporating them into your portrait session. May it be music, sports, etc., just make sure to pick a prop that can either be used in the background or is easy for you to adjust your poses while holding.

Incorporate an in-action time-lapse to creatively show your athletic prowess

For graduating seniors who may be athletes or performing artists, ask your portrait photographer if they will work with you to do an in-action time-lapse. This is the perfect way to showcase your athletic prowess.

Include a hint at your graduation year somewhere in the picture

Find a creative way to incorporate your graduation year into your senior portraits. You can add it to the background of the image, like in the sand if you are shooting on location, or adding it as a small detail. It is common for some seniors to put this on the bottom of their shoes.

Put that graduation cap to good use

I have never understood why graduation caps are not frequently used in senior portrait sessions. You worked hard for the cap, it would be a shame to only use it once on graduation day. Even if you don’t want to wear the cap, it makes a fantastic prop for your senior portrait session.

 

 

 

 


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