Our article will take you through all you need to know to overcome these challenges. We will also give you some great indoor and outdoor senior picture ideas.
Senior photography is a great way to immortalize many moments teens (who are not quite adults) go through. And you can capture many senior pictures—everything from graduations to moving out.
But it’s not as easy as you’d think. Posing and photographing a senior is very different from posing an adult.
10 Indoor and Outdoor Senior Picture Ideas
Senior photo sessions aren’t just about getting solid portraits for parents to showcase during graduation celebrations. No, senior photo sessions invite the still teenager (almost adult) to be an active participant in their photo session.
Having them choose outfits, locations, and props can help to make the session more personalized and meaningful to both the teen and the parents.
10. Have a Pre-Consultation with Your Senior
Seniors come into their own personalities and have their own ideas about how the session should unfold. It’s important to have a pre-consultation where you can ask questions and get to know the senior better.
Make sure you have questions ready before the teen comes to the meeting. You can ask them about their hobbies, activities, favorite music, where they like to spend their time, how they feel about becoming adults, etc.
These questions will help you to suggest the best outdoor locations and times of day for the session. You will also be able to get a read on their personality when you meet face-to-face.
Creating a questionnaire can be more productive. That way, the teen won’t feel like the consultation is an interrogation. Keep the conversation focused on them and keep it light.
Ask the parents for input since they will most likely want photos for their home, desk, family, and friends. Ask them what they plan to use the photos for. Will they make graduation announcement cards? Party invites?
This is a great way to get an idea of what you are shooting for in terms of final products.
9. Create Outdoor “Sets” to Showcase the Teen’s Personality and Hobbies
Now that you’ve had your senior portrait pre-consultation, it’s time to use all of those answers.
Create different “sets” for the photos, especially if you’re photographing the teen in an outdoor studio, to tailor to the teen’s hobbies or activities. You can also do this on location.
For example, create a small reading area in a library if the teen is into reading. You can also go to an outdoor cafe, a public library, or even a bookstore and photograph the senior there.
The teen might also play the guitar. Create a “busking set” on the street where the teen is playing or posing with the guitar.
Creating these outdoor studios or on-location setups can add more of a narrative about who the teen is right now before going off to college or becoming an adult.
It shows a lot more personality and often looks more natural. They will be more comfortable engaging in activities or hobbies they like and less stressed about the photo shoot.
The same goes for teens who are into sports. Create a makeshift field or go to the actual field and photograph the teen there.
8. Include Cap and Gown Pictures
Have the teen bring their cap and gown to the session as well. This is more for the parents than the teen. But it is a nice addition to the gallery to have cap and gown photos.
If you’re on-location, use a solid-colored wall as a background. One with a little texture can also work well to get a solid portrait of the teen in the cap and gown.
Take photos with different crops so you can offer one for the yearbook, one for wallets, and one for display in your client’s home.
After you’ve taken the classic cap-and-gown photo, take advantage of its presence and have fun with the cap and gown. Take photos of the teen throwing the cap in the air and catching it.
Maybe invite the parents into a few photos adjusting the tassel. Have the teen hold the cap in their hands while you get an up-close photo of them holding the cap.
Some teens decorate their caps so that family and friends can identify them during the graduation ceremony. If the teen plans to decorate their cap, have them do so before the session so you can get a detailed photo of their cap. This will make their senior photos even more personalized.
If the teen hasn’t picked up their cap and gown, or you do the session in advance, ask them to borrow one from a friend. Many thrift stores also carry used caps and gowns from local schools.
7. Photograph Seniors On Location
Photographing senior sessions on location is fun and keeps the session moving quickly so the teen won’t get bored.
If the teen is going away for school, you can photograph them in their hometown. Take photos of places they hang out often, like coffee shops, movie theatres, game halls, or in front of their soon-to-be alma mater.
You can photograph the teen at the local university if the student is going there. This can get them excited for their next life phase. And they can explore the campus early before their first fall semester.
Use locations that play into the teen’s personality. For example, if they run track and field, go to the track that they practice or compete at. If they play football or soccer, take photos at the school’s stadium.
If they are into music or theatre, photograph them on a stage in a local theatre or the one at their current high school. There are lots of indoor and outdoor senior picture idea possibilities!
Teens are between being teenagers and becoming adults, which can make them a little nervous. Focusing on what the teen likes to do for fun can often make them feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
Using what the teen is into can also be a great conversation starter during the session.
6. Use Light, Space, and Patterns for More Creative Photos
Photograph the teen in different types of lighting to offer more variety to the session. Use direct sunlight, shadows, shapes like that of a palm tree, or a flash for high-contrast images.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of lighting during a senior session. Teens are great innovators. So using light in different and interesting ways can help them to express their personalities much more than the standard senior photo pose.
Look at their social media profiles and see what draws their attention the most in photos. If they are taking moody dark photos, perhaps that is something you can incorporate into the session.
Photograph the teen from afar to create more negative space within the frame. Use shapes like the S curve, repeated patterns, color contrasts, and reflections.
5. Photograph Groups or Friends for a Fun Photo Shoot
Photographing teens together during senior portraits can be really fun for both you and the teens. You could also offer to photograph a group of seniors together.
Photograph the seniors individually first, so each person has their own set of portraits. Then you can photograph the group together at a place where they all like to hang out. Or better yet, at their current high school.
If the group is part of a team or takes part in the same activity together, you can also have them wear their uniform to the session.
Get candid photos of the group by having them do an activity together. They can build human pyramids, blow up balloons, or play games together. This will get them to loosen up and be more natural in front of the camera.
Take the same photos in the group ones, but rotate the teens around in the frame. Take lined-up photos as well as staggered photos to create more depth.
Try photos of them with their arms around each other while walking. This will cause them to laugh and pose more naturally.
4. Include Many Outfit Changes for a Variety of Photos
Seniors give a lot of thought to their style with photo shoots. Ask the teen to bring at least three different outfit changes so that the final images will have more variety.
In addition to the wardrobe changes, have the teen bring their Letterman jackets, class rings, sports uniforms, musical instruments, and any other similar props to the session well.
Clothing that reveals the teen’s personality is very important during the senior session. A good rule of thumb is to have the teen bring an everyday outfit, a more formal outfit, and an outfit that perhaps their parents want them to use during the session.
It’s also a good idea to have the teen bring more clothing changes so that at the session, you can help them to choose the best outfit according to the location and setup you have planned.
3. Play Music for a Relaxing Photo Shoot
Music is a big part of a teen’s life and can speak more to what their personality is than anything else. During the pre-consultation, ask the teen who their favorite artist is at the moment.
Download a ready-to-go playlist to personalize the session’s tone during the session. Music playing in the background can be relaxing and make the session less formal in the eyes of the teen. It can also fill in conversational gaps during the session.
You can use your cell phone to play the music or bring a small Bluetooth speaker if you’re on location. You can also ask the teen to pair their phone and use their own music during the senior portrait session.
2. Include Props to Bring Out the Teen’s Personality
Senior sessions are the perfect portrait session where you can ask the teen to include some props to showcase more of their personality.
Props can also include set-specific accessories to create the set the teen has chosen for their portraits. You can create a stage if they want to use their musical instrument as a prop.
If the teen is into DJing, they can bring some of their favorite vinyl or set up a DJ-style booth. Or you can have them pose with their horse if they are into horseback riding.
The most important thing is to prepare the sets with what is true to the teen’s personality.
Have the teen lead the session for a while by posing and using the props as they would if they were at home or at their favorite hangout.
1. Politely Ask Parents Not to Hover if the Teen Needs Space
Senior portraits (like childhood portraits) should always have a parent attend the session, being that they are still minors in the eyes of the law. This can, however, make the teen feel a little awkward having to pose, or act the part, in front of their parents.
It can also mean that parents, even those who mean well, can hover a bit and comment or direct the teen a bit more than is needed.
During the pre-consultation, explain to the parent that you would like to have some space during the session. That way, the teen can feel less embarrassed and freer to pose, use real expressions, and be themselves.
An audience can sometimes make the teen more aware of their bodies and create stiff poses and smiles.
Perhaps the parent can opt to play music and distract themselves with their phone or other activity during the session while still being at a close distance. This can help to relax the teen as well.
But be sure to ask the teen if this is something they would like. Some teens are close to their parents and wouldn’t mind having them present during the entire session.
Teens are a fun group to photograph, especially for their senior photo sessions, so that they can showcase their personalities. Bring them to the forefront of the whole process, so they are the real creators.
Offer them to make decisions about their wardrobe, props, and even locations. Keeping them engaged during the entire process will give you better photos during the session and ensure they have a great time!
We hope we’ve given you some great indoor and outdoor senior picture ideas! We have a great post on taking perfect prom photography to check out next!