Seniors – Preparing for your Session

Hello Seniors and Parents! Thank you for choosing Sue Daniels Photography.

Graduation portraits of high school and college seniors can have a range of looks depending on what the senior wants to capture as he/she transitions to a new phase of life. Senior portraits can and should be interesting, fun, and exciting. Families love to have pictures of their graduating seniors. A quality portrait is timeless, elegant, and priceless. I strive to make every portrait a masterpiece that you will treasure for a lifetime.

Here are some tips to help you prepare so that we can have the most fun and get the best images.

What Can I Bring?

Most seniors bring two to five outfits to their session. The shortest session (45 minutes) would allow for 2 outfits. As sessions get longer in length, there is more time for changing outfits. It is important for you to feel comfortable in the outfits you select. If you feel comfortable this will be reflected well in your portraits. Please feel free to bring along accessories that will help convey your personality or interests. Items such as musical instruments, dance shoes and danceware, sports uniforms and equipment, jackets, hats, scarves, jewelry, hobby items, and electronic equipment will help convey YOU in the portraits. If you have a “trademark look”, then by all means bring along the essential elements so that we can capture your unique style. An goal of senior portraits is to capture your personality, style and interests.

The style of your senior portraits is completely up to you. Whether you want formal poses, informal poses, or something completely unique and different, I am happy to help you achieve the look you desire. If you have an idea that you believe may be just a bit too kooky or crazy, let me know. I am pretty much game for anything as long as it is safe.

Your Choice of Style

Here are a few ideas for selecting clothing, accessories, and outfits for your senior portraits.  These are only suggestions and guidelines.  Feel free to be creative, imaginative, and expressive in your senior outfit selections.  If you aren’t sure about an item, bring it anyway and discuss it with me.

What to Consider 

  • Wear clean and ironed clothing.  Wrinkles may not come out in the wash and they can be very hard to remove in a photograph.  Spots, streaks, and discolorations on clothing can be very distracting in a photograph.
  • Bring both casual and formal attire.
  • Bring a uniform.  If you are involved in a sport, band, or other activity requiring a uniform, bring it along as one of your outfits. You may need to contact your school or coaches in advance to obtain these items during the summer months.
  • Hobby or Outside Interest.  Perhaps you ride horses, ski, play football, practice a martial art, play guitar or dance.  Any outside school interest usually has attire or props that will readily convey your interest and experiences in a photograph.
  • Plan for a variety of outfits (at least 3). Bring a couple of outfits your parents like, and some that you like.  That way, everyone is happy.
  • Avoid sleeveless tops.  Bare arms draw attention away from your face and longer sleeves tend to give portraits a more balanced and pleasing appearance.  Naturally, if one of your outfits is a wrestling uniform, a leotard or a bathing suit then it won’t have long sleeves but bring it any way.
  • Darker socks are generally preferred, especially in more formal portraits.
  • Darker clothing generally provides a slimming effect in portraits.
  • Guys, just be aware that a 5’oclock shadow cannot be retouched. The look is fine and very contemporary but if it is not the look you are going for then you should shave shortly before the photo session.
  • SMILE! Braces can be removed from the final portrait (for a modest, additional charge).

Props and Accessories You Might Bring 

  • Caps, hats, and scarves can often add character and personality to your senior portraits.  Sunglasses can add a similar flair.
  • Musical instruments photograph well and add a personal touch to senior portraits.
  • Your letter jacket, your school ring, a school pendant, etc. can be useful additions to some of your portrait images.
  • A leather jacket often looks great when worn or draped over the shoulder.
  • Sports equipment including items such as jerseys, balls, bats, gloves, helmets, racquets, and shoes.
  • Dance attire – Pointe shoes, tap shoes, jazz shoes, tights and leotard, flowing dresses, jazz pants, tutus, etc.
  • Hobby or Outside Interest –  If you participate in activities such as video gaming, off-road vehicles, photography, or if you are a member of a club or organization, you can probably think of items that will convey your interests in a photograph.

What to Avoid

  • Text, logos and symbols on clothing.  The name of a band, company, celebrity, or even a trendy phrase may not hold up well over the years.
  • Your pictures should be about you, not about advertising for someone else.
  • Don’t get a haircut the day before your senior portrait session.  Give your hair a few days to lie naturally again following a haircut. Also, freshly washed hair always looks best.

Suggestions for Guys

A darker suit or sport coat with tie is a good selection if you want some formal portrait poses. A sharp dark outfit against a dark background has a very nice look to it. Please ensure that you have matching shoes and socks for this portrait.

A black shirt and a white shirt.

Jeans. Shorts.

If you normally shave then it’s a good idea to shave shortly before the portraits. Minor grooming actions such as cleaning finger nails (they will show in the portraits), washing and styling hair can help ensure you have an excellent senior portrait series.

Suggestions for Women

For the more formal poses bring a special dress or gown, a nice sweater, a dress jacket, or whatever will make you feel elegant and special. Informal poses can be done in almost any clothing, but you will appreciate the process and the resulting images more if your clothing is not too revealing (fixing your top every few minutes won’t make you feel comfortable, relaxed, or spontaneous). Consider bringing clothing that has colors you particularly enjoy. Whatever you bring, ensure it feels comfortable and that you enjoy wearing it.

Nails need to be considered since they will be visible in the resulting portraits. If you wear polish, then you should ensure the polish is not chipped. Other than that, simply ensuring that the nails are clean and well-shaped is all that is necessary.

Light make-up (lip gloss, mascara, blush) is appropriate for women. Do not wear a base that creates a sheen. If your base creates a shiny surface please use powder over it.

In most cases your hair should be done like you normally wear it. A significant change in how you normally wear your hair will make your portraits appear to be those of another person. If you want more than one hair style in your senior portraits, then consider hair styles that can be quickly and easily changed in just a few minutes. If you feel you must have some work done with your hair (hair cut, perm, etc.), then have it done at least a week before your portrait session so that the changes have a chance to settle in before your senior portraits are taken.

If you wear jewelry bring several pairs of earrings, necklaces, bracelets. Don’t wear rubber bands or pony-tails holders around your wrist.

Studio or Location

Studio photography has the great benefit of always having good lighting. I am able to employ numerous lights and lighting control mechanisms to ensure your portraits have perfect colors, contrast, and detail. This is the true benefit of studio photography; absolute control of all elements that go into a successful and stunning portrait. I also create very unique lighting patterns with my studio lights – unlike what you would find in other studios – to help ensure your portraits have interest, charisma, and outstanding composition.

Images taken on location often benefit from natural lighting conditions and scenic surroundings. They may also reflect your particular interests (for example, shooting on a ranch if you ride horses, a soccer field if you are a soccer player or a dance studio if you are a ballerina). Or, the surroundings may give flair, contract and excitement to your portraits – for instance, shooting in an urban alley-way, against stained glass windows, on a chair-lift or on a rooftop.

If you have a location in mind, let me know. Nothing is out of the question as long as it is safe. I can also suggest some great locations – both urban and country.

You may select either a studio session, location session or combined session.

Fun Things You Can Get After Your Session

I love to play in Photoshop and create interesting and unique photographic effects. I offer a lot of fun products that use these special effects, for instance, my coffee table books, which contain an assortment of images from your session. I also create custom designed graduation/party announcements, “rep” cards (think wallets, but longer and slimmer) and collages. Wall portraits are a wonderful keepsake and you can get a different look by ordering a Canvas or Metal Print instead of the more traditional framed, photographic print. If you prefer a framed look, prints can be made on Fine Art Paper, which looks especially good for black and white prints. What about a hand crafted wooden frame made especially for you by a local artisan? These frames are custom painted with a whimsical design that match the colors in your photograph. Love prints? You can order wallets, 4×6 or 5×7 prints which come in a beautiful, custom designed image box with the senior’s image on the top of the box. If you are totally into digital, I can create Slideshows with music and effects that can run on multiple devices (computer, DVD, ipad, ipod, etc). Even if you have an idea of your own, let me know – it is more likely than not that I can turn your idea into reality!


2011 Senior Portraits Vertical Responsel

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