know this is a lot to read, but if you follow these tips, you will look like a rock star!
Sleep - Try to get a lot of REST the night before your shoot. Don’t stress over it; trust me - we’re going to have a great time together! If you are getting early AM shots, I suggest applying cold compresses to your eye area for a few minutes before applying your makeup to reduce puffiness. Make sure you EAT before your session so you’re not miserably hungry. If you are bringing family or friends to your session, feed them, too! And be sure they’re aware we’ll be photographing for a couple of hours.
Skin – AVOID SUNBURN! Not only is it bad for you, but it is bad for your appointment, because we will probably have to reschedule. Red or peeling skin is not a good accessory!
Hair - Don't try a new hairstyle the morning of your session. Play around in the weeks beforehand to see what works and what doesn't. You might even want to have a professional do this for you. Go for a “timeless” hairstyle. Use a little extra hair spray, but not so much that your hair is stiff.
Get a haircut at least a month in advance for girls or a week in advance for guys, so that the hair has time to grow a little and look more natural. Don’t do anything drastic that you might regret later! Especially a color change!
If you maintain coloring on your hair, try to schedule a color appointment that will give you the right amount of washing before your photos. (Everyone who colors has that “sweet spot” they like better than the first day!)
Remember, you still want to look like YOU in your photos. So if you’ve had long hair for quite some time, now might not be the time to get a short haircut if you’re not sure that you’ll love it.
Guys – be clean shaven on the day of your session.
Makeup - Wear what you usually wear, but slightly darker than normal. Please use care while applying eye makeup (eye liner, mascara), as your eyes will be the focal point of many of your photos.
Nails - Your hands will be showing in many of your photos. Be sure that if your nails are painted, the polish is not chipped. Please choose a neutral color. Same applies to toenails if you are wearing open-toed shoes. We might do some bare-feet shots also, so make sure your feet look their best! GUYS – this goes for you, too!!!
Shaving - I know it may seem obvious, but don’t forget to shave your legs and underarms if they may be seen in photos.
Glasses - If you wear glasses, please see your optometrist about loaning you a pair without lenses, or have your lenses removed for your session. If this is not an option, I will do my best.
A standard senior portrait session includes 3 outfits – the one you wear when you show up, and two changes. I recommend accessories like jackets, scarves, etc. that can be added/removed for a different look.
You'll want to wear what you normally wear, but "kicked up a notch". Add some funky jewelry, a hat, leggings, a scarf, a belt, or some other accessory. Just be sure that the accessory is not so loud that it distracts from you. Mix up your clothing from dressy to casual – Fun stuff you’d wear to hang out with friends (jeans!), and something sophisticated that will work well for sending a photo in with your college applications. Vary the style – for girls, perhaps a long-sleeved, jeans and a cute top, and a nice sundress. For guys, maybe a plain tee and jeans, a button down shirt to put over this, unbuttoned, for an alternate look, and a nice button-down shirt or sweater. Be sure to run your choices by mom and dad, or you might end up with photos you love that they won’t order for you. Can’t decide what to wear? Bring lots of wardrobe choices, and between the two of us, we'll make sure you look your absolute best!
Hats are great for a few shots, but please don’t wear one to your session and get “hat head.”
Be sure to bring along shoes to match each outfit. (Note, you do not need shoes for beach photos.)
Try your clothing on in advance to be sure it fits comfortably and is flattering. Bend over, sit down, etc. and make sure that you don’t have skin showing where it shouldn’t be in certain positions and that you’re able to do such movements.
Make sure each piece of clothing is clean and wrinkle-free. Photos taken outdoors, wear solid color or something with a splash of color. Bring a variety of colors – not 3 blue outfits.
Avoid horizontal stripes, loud patterns, sleeveless shirts (for studio), and shirts with writing or big logos on the front. Solid colors work well; especially for studio portraits. We want the clothes to accent you; not the other way around.
If you intend to wear a “strappy” dress or light-colored clothing, be sure to wear or bring the appropriate undergarments that will not show in your photos. Bra strap removal will be done at an additional cost.
Do not wear baggy clothing that may give the appearance that you are larger than you really are and avoid tight clothing that you are uncomfortable in, as you may not be able to do certain poses this way. A very short skirt can also really limit the variety of poses that you will be able to do.
Remember that during outdoor sessions in particular locations, there may not be a place for you to change your clothes, so plan accordingly (wear clothes that you can layer or that can be changed in the car).
What to BRING
Props - I LOVE props and especially welcome the ones that are a part of who you are. They can add so much to a photo and give it more of a story. Ten or twenty years from now, you’ll enjoy looking back at these photos and remembering what you were like back then. Feel free to bring sports equipment (football, football helmet, ball & glove, batting helmet, bat, mitt, soccer ball, volleyball, hockey stick, baton, etc.), sports uniforms, trophies/medals, musical instruments (Can’t bring drums? Bring the sticks!), tap or ballet shoes, sunglasses, iPod, books, motorcycle or snowmobile helmet, etc. If you are a volunteer firefighter, bring your uniform and helmet. Going into the Army or Marines? Bring along something to represent that major change in your life. Bring your CLASS RING if you have one.
Vehicles are welcome at outdoor sessions (be sure they're clean, inside and out!). I can also take photos of you with your snowmobile, quad, dirt bike, etc. Pets can be included in outdoor shots as well.
Please try to let me know in advance if you will be bringing props so that I can come up with some really creative ideas on how to showcase you with them!
People - Parents are strongly encouraged to be present during the entire session. (Mom and Dad – I do discourage barking orders or bickering during your child’s session… remember, this is supposed to be fun, and we want him/her to be happy and relaxed.) You are welcome to bring a friend or two as well.
Your wardrobe changes, of course! Go through EVERYTHING one more time before leaving the house to make sure you’ve got it all. Make sure you bring shoes for every outfit!
Touch-up stuff – lip balm, lipstick, powder, hairspray, etc.
I know it sounds silly, but practice DOES make perfect. Practice different expressions and poses in the mirror before your session. Here are a couple of things to try:
Look in the mirror and form a smile with your mouth. Now try it again, this time thinking about whatever makes you happy, and try to let that smile reach your eyes. By this, I mean, do you see how when you naturally smile, the lines form around your eyes and they light up? THIS is what we’re aiming for – not a “deer in the headlights” look.
Try some different expressions, such as the dreaded “serious face” or smiling with no teeth showing. See what you like and what you don’t.
Take note of some of the poses, and try to mimic them in the mirror. Girls’ hands should be open with the fingers slightly bent; guys should use a loose fist. Arms and legs – if it bends bend it! No locked limbs. Don’t worry – I will talk you through this during your session. But practice helps!
Copyright © 2023 Sandra Shaffer Photography