Using some photos from my latest senior portrait session with Peyton in the wonderful city of Portland, Oregon I’m going to write some tips for a successful senior portrait shoot. A couple weeks ago I wrote about the one secret to a successful senior portrait shoot (which you can read here). Today I wanted to expand a bit and share some more concrete tips and advice for photographers embarking on a senior portrait session.
One of the most important aspects when planning a portrait shoot (or any shoot for that matter) is location. The idea is to pick a place that will allow you to capture a lot of different backgrounds and moods all in a short time. For Peyton’s shoot we met at Tanner Springs Park in Portland, OR. We were able to capture nature (the leaves photo at the top of the page), bridges (the photo right above this) and really cool city buildings (the photo right below this) all within a 4 minute walk of each other. We essentially were able to capture three completely different moods without having to get in a car and travel to multiple locations. When planning out a shoot, try to find somewhere with a variety of spots that will let you capture your senior in a lot of different ways. Even if you’re shooting in the middle of the woods somewhere, try to find a spot that has big trees, small trees, flowers, leaves, water, open fields, etc. The more variety you can get in a small area, the better and easier your shoot is going to be.
The next tip is actually one of my favorite ways to shoot any type of scene, whether it be portraits, weddings or sports, but is especially applicable to senior portraits. Shoot through stuff! What do I mean by that? I’ll include a bunch of examples first and then explain why I love this technique so much.
So, as I said, this is absolutely one of my favorite techniques when it comes to capturing a subject in a cool and different way. Here’s why. First of all, it’s easy. All you have to do is place something in front of your lens: it could be either a leaf, a light, some grass, anything that’s going to add some color and texture. And just like that you’ve turned a regular photo into something cool and fantastic. The photos I included above this only work because of the added color from whatever I chose to shoot from. Aside from adding color/texture to an image, this technique creates layers and depth to the image. It subconsciously helps to draw the viewers eyes into the part of your frame where your subject is.
The reason I especially love this technique for senior portraits is that the chances are your senior has never done any type of professional photoshoot before. More times than not, this is the first time they’ve stepped in front of a real camera like this. Shooting through stuff lets you create magical and surreal photos that they’ve likely never seen or been a part of before. And that’s what it’s all about. Creating a memorable and awesome experience for your senior.
This tip is fairly simple and won’t come as a surprise to most of you. But when shooting senior portraits, you want to blur out that background as much as you possibly can. Get a long lens, open up that aperture as large as you can, and really make that background disappear. Again this is likely the first time your senior has stepped in front of a professional camera, make them stand out in ways that iPhone cameras can’t (yes I know the new portrait mode is great, but it isn’t quite as powerful as a professional DSLR with a nice lens is). This technique dramatically brings out your subject in a photo and really shows off their beauty and personality.
Those are three of my top tips for a successful senior portrait session. Location, shooting through stuff, and blurring out the background as much as possible. They’re simple concepts, but can go a really long way in creating beautiful photos for your senior.