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Jill Welch Photography/Tips for a Great Senior Photography Session/Columbus GA Senior Photographer/LaGrange GA Senior Photographer/Auburn AL Senior Photographer

August 18, 2011

It’s not often that I encounter the parent (translation: mother) of a high school senior who doesn’t tear up a bit at some point while I’m shooting her child’s senior pictures.  This milestone is bittersweet because it signals the major transition from childhood into adulthood that makes we, as parents, feel old, yet more relaxed, sad, yet excited about all of the wonderful things they will accomplish, and anxious that we may not have taught every single life lesson thoroughly enough.  I am happy to report that my first “senior,” who graduated eight years ago, is still alive and doing very well in the IT business.  My next, and last, will graduate in 2013 and I am confident that he will be just as successful as his big brother.

Senior pictures have come a long way! In my day, one chose between a boring head shot in the traditional cap and gown or a full length picture of yourself leaning against an artificial plant in front of a fake rainbow ( the backdrop for my senior class’s session.) It’s now the 21st century, baby, and today’s senior portraits are colorful, awe-inspiring, mini-masterpieces shot at a scenic location that artistically express the uniqueness of the subject. Photographers now aim to capture the very essence of a senior’s personality through candids of the young person just “hanging out,” close -ups of changing expressions as the face in front of the camera laughs and interacts with others, formals shot from unique angles, bodies in motion playing sports or dancing, and by utilizing personal props brought from home like favorite hats, musical instruments, or even Dad’s sports car. Shooting on location is now the norm, and personal style is reflected at places like farms, gardens, a modern city street, a shabby old house, an industrial park, or even the school sports arena.

5 Great Tips for a Fabulous Senior Shoot

1.  Choose clothing and accessories very carefully.  Extremely trendy clothing will outdate your pictures fast and in only a few years leave you scratching your head and wondering what you must have been thinking when you chose that outfit.  Timeless items like jeans (in a traditional cut), solid or very small patterned blouses, shirts, or polos, khakis, and classic style dresses are always a great choice.  Avoid large jewelry, clothing with any logo prominently displayed, mini skirts or  “maxis,”  theme clothing like western shirts and camouflage, and very tight clothes ( only the thinnest of the thin can pull this off without looking like a stuffed sausage.)

You certainly want to bring along accessories that are funky, fun, creative, and provide a peek at who you are, but these should be added to a few select pictures, not all of them.  For example, a country-western buff may want to wear cowboy boots under his jeans  or even his hat in some shots, and a leggy fashionista may be dreaming of placing a picture of herself on Facebook in a short skirt with platform shoes, but these should not be your main clothing items.

2.  Have a vision.  Are you aiming for sophisticated, high tech, intensely colorful images or would you rather have soft, subdued dreamy images with a romantic flair?  Are there specific locations where you’ve spent a lot of time that are important to you?  Are you  into sports, music, or drama?  Think ahead of time about what you want to see in your final images.  The internet is a cornucopia of senior, fashion, sports, and commercial images, and nothing beats a Starbucks and a stack of magazines on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Make a folder of ideas and take it with you when you meet you photographer.

3.  Family adds flavor.  An image showing proud parents and siblings crowded around the senior always add a nice touch.  Although the main focus of the session should and will be the senior, most photographers will pull in family members for one or two shots.  Mom, Dad, and brothers and sisters who come along should dress up a bit in preparation for a few of these pictures.  If you are not sure whether or not your photographer will include these, just ask!

4.  Be prepared.   Bring along a make-up kit, a needle and thread, safety pins, hairspray, wet wipes, a snack, bottled water, and a couple of extra changes of clothes.   A colorful umbrella and cool rain boots are also a necessity for young ladies if it’s cloudy outside.  Photographers will not shoot in the rain or fog, but a light shower that comes and goes leaves behind beautiful, dewy leaves and flowers and shiny puddles to splash in.  Flat shoes are a must for walking to and from locations if you are being photographed in heals.

5.  Decide in advance what size pictures you want and where you will display them.  A photographer may shoot more candid images for a coffee table book than for traditional prints on paper.    Faces are easier to see on wallet sized prints if they are shot close up.  You may want a specific color scheme in portraits that will be hung in a particular room in your home, such as the living room or your bedroom.  Make an informal inventory on what you plan to purchase and share this with your photographer.

Columbus GA senior photographer, Lagrange GA senior Photographer, Aauburn AL senior photographer

Collages are a nice way to display senior pictures.

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A good example of pictures incorporating a family member into the session.

columbus GA senior photographer, LaGrange GA Senior Photographer, Auburn AL senior photographer

The parents of this drop dead handsome young man wanted a contemporary look. We accomplished this with a concrete and water background setting and a print on metallic paper mounted on masonite for a modern, frame-less display.

Calvary High School Columbus GA senior photographer, Columbus GA senior photographer, LaGrange GA senior Photographer, Auburn AL senior Photographer

This close-up is perfect for wallet prints. Becky is pictured with her sister, in center image, in vintage clothing, for a fun twist to her session.

Calvary High School Columbus GA senior photography, LaGrange GA senior Photography, Auburn AL senior photographer

Timeless clothing + vintage setting = unique candid to place in a coffee table album.
Harris county High school columbus GA senior photographer, LaGrange Ga senior photographer, Auburn AL senior photographer

Is he a deep sea fisherman? A scuba-diver? A timeless pose with a "themed" background.

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