Let’s be honest, senior photos can be really nerve-wracking. When’s the last time you had your photo professionally taken? I’ll take a guess – when you were pulled into a family photo at your cousin’s wedding? Or maybe when your mom got you all matching flannels for a Christmas card (God bless moms!). It might be wayyyy back when you gave the photographer a two-toothed grin while sitting in your diaper in some studio in a JC Penney’s. Was I close? I’m here to help you be ready for your moment in the spotlight! Don’t worry – your photos will be amazing no matter what. To reach full super-mega-amazing level for your photo shoot, take a look at these tips below

1. Avoid hiding behind objects

There are sports, hobbies, awards, and more to be proud of. Involvement in schools and communities is so important and it’s a great idea to showcase how you have been involved and what makes you unique. I am not saying by any means you shouldn’t bring your trumpet, debate award, cheerleading pom poms, etc to a senior photo shoot. What I am saying is that you need to be careful not to make those objects the focus of the shoot. Remember, these photos are about YOU. You know what makes you the most unique? That pretty face of yours. Twins included! You will look the most like you and no one else with a genuine smile and natural stance, which leads into my next point.

2. Avoid being unauthentic.

Have you ever scrolled down your Instagram feed and thought “Wow, that person does NOT look like themselves?” The glowy-heart filters and heavy editing doesn’t help. Quick rant here – I will never forget when I first discovered the Snapchat filter that thins faces, including noses. I was HORRIFIED. I didn’t even recognize myself. We live in a world that tells you to suck in your tummy, tilt your head a certain way, flex your arms, and give a soft smile. You don’t see many big-real-teeth-flashing-right-to-the-camera smiles any more! It’s a CRIME. Read these words one by one: BE. YOURSELF. NOT. A. COOKIE. CUTTER. INSTA. MODEL. Showing your true personality, your real laugh, your raw smile, your unfiltered self…capturing those moments end up creating the BEST photos!

3. Avoid uncomfortable clothing (including SHOES!)

Here’s when I feel helpless as a photographer – the person I’m photographing is so not feeling the outfit or shoes they chose. Don’t get me wrong, I’m down for ditching shoes at appropriate times during a shoot, but there’s many times where footwear is a must. And clothes? You’re stuck with them unless you have another outfit packed or the photo shoot happens to be at the mall (genius idea, honestly). While you can’t tell in photos that your heels are killing you or that you hope no ones standing behind you because if you hold the squatting pose for another 2 seconds your pants will rip in the back, you can tell when someone is not comfortable in photos. Also, photo sessions should be FUN, okay? Who has a good time in uncomfortable clothes?

4. Avoid getting on your phone during the photo shoot.

Your photo session is all about you. When you check your phone and open apps like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or even iMessage, that time instantly becomes about someone else. You deserve time dedicated to you and your accomplishment of graduating. If find yourself subconsciously reaching in your back pocket, pass your phone to someone who may have joined you and your photographer on the photoshoot, ask your photographer if they would feel comfortable holding on to your phone, or leave your phone in the car. We could all use some time away from our devices. Use down time in your shoot to talk about your future plans, what you’re most excited about with graduation, and your favorite people that you are graduating with. Bonus – your photographer learns more about you and will use the information to help shape the session!

5. Avoid using glitter.

I’m guilty a part of my life containing lots of glitter. Give me a break – I was in a sorority. I still have nightmares of all the glitter I would find in corners and crevices in my room, no matter how many times I cleaned it. Imagine that, but the room is the outside world. Try cleaning THAT mess up. You can’t. I admit to being ignorant about this in the past, but I will 100% find alternatives to glitter before blowing those shiny tiny pieces everywhere. Check out this alternative below from a senior session! We used shredded fall leaves, which were on the ground anyway!

6. Avoid going to your session hungry or thirsty.

“Hangry” is real, y’all. You know it’s bad when your husband is like “you might feel better after you eat something” (he’s the most patient person I know). It’s so hard to relax when you’re overdue for a snack or drink of water. If you’re reading this and graduating high school soon, surely you’ve heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Take care of yourself! Oh and I highly encourage all of my clients to bring snacks or water if they want on their session! Make sure you’re comfortable because remember (I can’t stress this enough) this session is about YOU. If you’re hungry, the session becomes about food. Now if you want to do your senior session at Taco Bell, that’s another story…

7. Avoid locations with TONS of people.

What’s distracting from the person who’s the subject in the photo? Other people in the photo. While a lot of photographers can work their angles and use their skills to keep people from stealing your spotlight in your photos, it’s easier to do that on a city street on a Sunday afternoon, instead of a Friday during rush hour. Think about where you want your photos taken. A popular locations are just that – popular. People flock to those locations. Don’t let that stop you from taking photos from what your heart desires, but I would speak with your photographer about your ideas and ask for their thoughts on how the location would work in your favor!

8. Avoid being too serious.

I hate to break it to you, but the photo session isn’t meant to be head shots to help you find professional jobs. Don’t be afraid to laugh, smile, dance, or whatever you’d find yourself doing while hanging around the house or walking around with friends. Just because you’re entering the adult world doesn’t mean you can’t be childish. Your future self will thank you so much for it. When you pull out your senior photos down the road, you’ll love to see your silly younger self.

9. Avoid stressing over posing and what the photos will look like.

If you hired a professional photographer, that photographer has your back. The photographer’s job is to tell you how to pose, where to look, and will compose the photo for you. Your job is to have fun. The photographer is working, not you! It’s nice when we take selfies on our phones and instantly delete them if we don’t like them. Prepare yourself mentally to let those thoughts go and trust the photographer to pick photos from the shoot to edit and share with you – no, it’s not the one with you mid-sneeze or with a triple chin yawn.

10. Avoid freezing when you pose.

Thank goodness we’re human and not mannequins, right? Yet, when someone takes a photo of me, I sometimes find myself holding my breath and every bone in my body freezing. Am I robot? Am I a human-being? You can’t tell when I do that in a photo. Professional photographers have the skills and gear to allow movement. The time of holding still for a portrait is over! No more painters standing behind an easel to get your picture! I joke that when I take your photos, it’s not like the dentist’s office. I’m not going to ask you a question and then ask you to keep your mouth still. The point isn’t that dentists don’t like small talk (I’m exaggerating here), but the sound of my camera shutter does not mean “STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW!” I love photos of laughing and dancing, both of which require movement.

Bottom line? Be comfortable and enjoy YOUR photo session! You deserve it. Leave the work to your photographer. You’re doing yourself and the photographer a favor when you are genuine self. Want some senior photo inspiration? Check out my gallery here! Are you out in the Kansas City or Lawrence area in need of a photographer for your senior photos? I’m your girl! Send a message my way!

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