Secrets to Planning An Amazing Senior Portrait Session

Creating exciting, fun senior portraits doesn’t just happen by chance - there’s a secret formula we use to make sure every client loves their photos. It all starts with the right plan!

Here’s the basic flow we use to plan an amazing senior portrait session:

1. Focus On Your Passions and Hobbies

The first thing we always talk through is, well, you! Every photo we take should fit some aspect of your personality. Think through the passions and hobbies you enjoy that may not seem typical.

For instance, just because you’re an athlete doesn’t mean you have to showcase this about yourself. We certainly can (more on that later), but what are some of the things that are “you”?

A couple of examples of how to include hobbies in your senior pictures:

Maybe you’re a skiing junkie. Your nose starts twitching at the first hint of snow, and you can’t wait to hit the slopes. Wait - Skiing in July? Don’t worry, we can make it work. We can use fake snow in the studio to create some awesome-looking snow photos, without the cold-looking, dreary weather!

Senior picture with skiing hobby and fake snow in photo studio

Are you a bookworm? Let’s incorporate books in a creative, fresh way!

high school senior laying on top of a slew of open poetry books in CCP photo studio

Got some musical prowess? Have some fun with it! Let us know about your favorite instrument and we can build a whole portion of your session around this hobby.

High school senior playing drums with water splashing and colored lights in photography studio

Budding artist? Bring your skills into the fray.

High school senior artist with artwork displayed creatively in the background

Love Snakes? There might be something wrong with you ;) Just kidding (maybe)... we can work with it. Andrew will probably stay home that day, but we’ll get some incredible photos regardless.

Senior pictures with a pet snake in Coffy Creations Studio

Into traveling? We love doing destination shoots, so definitely let us know if this is your thing!

High school senior who loves traveling in a destination photo session in Las Vegas.

Sometimes people don’t know exactly what they want to highlight before meeting with us. That’s totally ok! We’ve got some tricks to dig in and get to the root of what might get you excited about your session.

2. Planning Outfits That “Fit” Your Personality

After we talk through what you’re all about, we obviously need to chat about what clothes will pair well with your personality. You’ll also want to follow a few guidelines to make sure you’re looking your best in every photo! No sense in wasting an entire set because you end up hating how you look in a particular outfit!

Here are a few things we suggest:

Wear clothes that match your personality. You want to wear clothes you’re comfortable in. If you’re into fashion, let’s hit up some fancy clothes. More of a punk personality? Obviously, that will have it’s own unique vibe. Totally fine, we’ll just want to make sure it’s “you”.

Senior rocking a "punk"/downtown grunge vibe.

Wear outfits that don’t distract eyes away from you. Avoid contrasty patterns and bright colors that pull attention away from your face. When people look at your photos, you want them to look at you first before scanning the rest of the photo.

High school senior wearing simple dress that brings attention to her face.
Your eyes are instantly drawn to her face - before you take in the rest of the photo!

Wear form-fitting clothes. Baggy clothes tend to add weight in all the wrong places, but form-fitting clothes will help you feel more confident in your final photos.

Example of a senior girl wearing form-fitting clothes that look fantastic.

Wear outfits that fit the background vibes. We haven’t talked about backgrounds yet, but we’re about to…

Senior pictures of girl wearing "grunge"-themed clothes jumping off of a beat-up receiving door in downtown Ashland ohio.

3. Think Through “Backgrounds” - Not Locations

When you think through “where” you want your senior pictures taken (as in, what location), you obviously have a lot of options. We use battery powered flashes that allow us to get great images no matter where we go.

However, unless you have a really specific reason to going to a particular location, we suggest thinking through “backgrounds” instead of locations.

What do I mean by backgrounds? Like - fake backgrounds in a studio? Heaven’s no, we keep things way cooler than that!

We think through background styles that would match your personality and typical wardrobe.

A few ideas of common background ideas:

  • Untamed nature is basically something out in the “wild” or rather unkempt. Think places like Freer field, Byers woods, a pasture, etc. Very earthy and natural vibes.
  • Tamed nature is basically “manicured” nature settings, such as the well-maintained grounds at Ashland University, a golf course, etc.
  • Clearn urban would be a setting similar to main street Ashland, where there are nice buildings and facades, and the alley by Uniontown Brewing Company.
  • Grungy urban has more grit to it. Things are a little more worn down and, well, grungy. 
  • Modern photography studio has a lot of options, and is typically very clean-looking and very classy. We have a lot of fun here, and we hope you will, too!

There are plenty of options for locations that fit each of the “backgrounds” listed above. But you’ll typically want to pick something that fits your vibe and personality and go from there. Don’t see something in the list above? That’s ok! You might want to go to a theatre if you’re into musicals/plays or a sports field if you live and breathe for a certain sport.

4. Integrating Sports

Speaking of sports, you can get some pretty epic photos without them feeling like the typical senior sports photos.

High school senior girl wearing a baseball cap and jersey at a baseball field during senior pictures.

What does that even mean?

Athlete’s love feeling kind of BA, which is exactly what we like to provide. While many photographers focus on the school/letterman jacket in a way that distracts from YOU, we like to help you (and your sport) remain the focal point of the photos. If you love football, there are ways to integrate this into your photos without making it all about your school. You look and feel awesome, and the photos don’t date themselves as soon as you graduate.

Soccer player doing a trick with a soccer ball in a downtown alley.

5. Who’s Important To You?

It’s always special to include people who mean a lot to you. We’ve incorporated moms into several shoots. Occasionally, we’ve had a dad, sister, brother, or even a close friend join in the session. Essentially, you’re free to pick one or two people who mean the world to you and have them join for a section of your senior photoshoot. 

High school senior with her mom during senior photo session.

Note: this is not a family photoshoot - no worries! It’s your senior session, so it will all be built around you and your interests.

Ready to plan your senior photoshoot?

Get in touch to schedule your style consultation! We’ll dive into all of this together and get an amazing senior photoshoot planned, just for you!