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  • Writer's pictureGianna Connelly

A Parent's guide to senior portraits:

It’s a different experience than what you had for your senior photos

As a parent of a high school senior, you're about to embark on a journey down memory lane – but this time, it's a different experience than what you had for your senior photos. Gone are the days of cookie-cutter portraits in a school gymnasium, where everyone looked the same.


Today, senior portraits are all about celebrating individuality and capturing the essence of your child as they step into adulthood.

Modern senior portraits offer a myriad of options, from traditional studio sessions to personalized outdoor shoots. It's an opportunity for your senior to showcase their personality, interests, and hobbies, creating lasting memories of this pivotal moment in their life.

However, with so many options, it can be overwhelming to figure out exactly what you and they want. I am always happy to help answer any of those questions that might come up, but in order to prepare, here are some things to think about when planning your senior portrait session.

Don't fight, compromise with your senior!

As a photographer all I want is my clients to be happy and comfortable. That includes you as a parent AND your senior. It's not uncommon for parents and seniors to have differing opinions on the style and tone of the photos. While parents may lean towards classic portraits, seniors often crave more edgy and contemporary shots. The good news? You don't have to choose. With unlimited outfit changes and a knack for coaxing out genuine smiles, I'm here to ensure everyone's preferences are met.

There’s no need to argue over outfits or facial expressions, we can get plenty of options for what they really want and still get you everything you need. All of my portrait sessions include unlimited outfit changes, so there’s plenty of opportunities to create portraits for both you and your senior!

Of course, maintaining appropriateness is essential, but I encourage you to make a deal with your senior. Let them make some of the choices that show off their individuality and unique style. In return, they have to agree to suck it up and take some classic images in the style according to your preferences. Once we get to the session, you can leave it up to me to bring out their beautiful smile naturally, ensuring they don’t feel pressured only to please mom. This way everyone is happy, and chances are you will both end up loving each other’s images.

Approaching senior boys vs. senior girls

There are often challenges that come with planning your senior session whether you're raising a senior girl who's meticulously planning her photoshoot months in advance, or if you have a senior boy who you had to beg to even take senior photos. Rest assured, I've got strategies for both. From offering pose ideas to providing resources for outfit selection, I'm dedicated to making the process stress-free and enjoyable for everyone involved.

For senior girls, senior portraits can be more stressful than you think even if they’ve told you how many ideas they have! They might be comparing their photos to their friends, or really wanting something special and unique. But don’t worry, it always works out in the end. I’ve helped seniors on all sides of the planning spectrum and by the time their session day approaches they are able to let their guard down and end up having a blast with the whole experience.

I offer plenty of resources on how to prepare, pose ideas, and how to make your senior photos unique! But one of the things that you can do to help reduce that stress on your daughter is to take her shopping (yes i'm serious). Finding an outfit, or a few, that really makes them feel special and beautiful can go a long way. It also offers an experience for both of you to spend time together at an age where this might be rare!

If you’ve got a senior boy, it can sometimes be a challenge to first get them to agree to do senior photos, and especially to have an opinion about it! Oftentimes boys at this age just don’t want to listen to what you have to say as a parent (you know this too well). But take a deep breath, I got you! I can promise your son that I will make his senior portrait session as quick and pain-free as possible. We’ll make him look cool, and, while he might never admit it, he might even end up having fun! 

Parental Presence

As a parent, it's natural to want to be involved in every step of the process. However, sometimes stepping back can lead to more natural and authentic portraits. 

No matter who your child is, you might also have to ask yourself a question that only you can answer: “would we be more likely to get natural portraits of your senior if mom isn’t around?” It can be tough as a parent to answer yes to that question, but you know your child best, and will probably know what the choice there is. 

For some seniors the best photos we get are when mom or dad steps away for a few minutes. Just understand that this is a very normal thing for children this age and it’s nothing against you as a parent. If you do decide to come to the session, we are more than happy to have you there but we have a few rules. 

  1. You are there as a supporter and a cheerleader: Try not to nitpick or demand that your senior does something a certain way; the senior might shut down and not want to take photos at all. Even worse, they might do more of what you're telling them not to do. If you're going to be there, come as the biggest hype team they've ever seen. This will often bring a laugh or two in addition to the positive attitude we are striving for.

  2. Give suggestions not directions: While I value your input and suggestions wholeheartedly, I'd like to emphasize the importance of offering ideas rather than directives when it comes to posing and location choices. This collaborative approach allows for a more fluid and creative process, ensuring that your senior's unique personality shines through in the final images.

  3. Hire for style and trust the process: My role is to guide your senior into natural poses, beautiful backdrops, and spark the laughter. If you have some ideas or places or photos I'm happy to take suggestions. However, sometimes due to lighting, compositions and other components that go into the creation process, I just am not able to create the quality of work you hired me for and need to make adjustments to ensure we get the best quality of product possible. Before we book your session make sure that you've looked through my portfolios and determine whether or not you like the style of my work. Once you have determined that I am the right fit, trust the process, and I will deliver you the high quality, beautiful images you are hoping for.

Share with me your hopes and dreams!

We have you in for a consultation for this reason. I want to get to know you and your senior the best I can so that we can tailor their photos to their unique personality. The more you and your senior can share with me, the better I will be able to help you create the senior portrait session of your dreams. I want to know the little details that make your senior who they are today! Their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations, and what got them to be who they are today. There’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to your senior portraits, so now is the time to be a proud parent and brag about your child!

Similarly, I want to know about you and why you want these photos of your senior. Tell me about what you plan on doing with your photos after we take them- this can help us with color schemes, planning the specific photo you want to send to grandma, and so much more. I am here to serve you in every way and that goes far beyond just showing up and clicking buttons at your session. 

My mission is to capture this important time in your child’s life that they will look back on 30 years from now with their children and grandchildren while telling them about the special pieces they chose to be a part of their session. Maybe it's a special necklace from grandma, or an old truck they grew up working on. It all tells the story of who they are at this point in their life. 

In the grand scheme of things, the minor disagreements over outfit choices or poses will fade away. What remains are the memories encapsulated in these portraits – a testament to the love, support, and sacrifices made by both parents and seniors.

So, as you prepare for your senior's portrait session, embrace the journey ahead. Trust in the process, and together, we'll create images that will be cherished for a lifetime.



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