Posing Ideas for Creative Senior Pictures | Phoenix Senior Portrait Photographer

Posing Ideas for Creative Senior Pictures | Phoenix Senior Portrait Photographer

Take Senior Photos From So-So to Stellar

What do we want? Less boring senior pictures! When do we want it? Since forever.

I’ve seen whole sessions that seemed to be more focused on a single tree in the background than the actual client. In fact, if you’re becoming a little too familiar with a background component, you know you’re doing something wrong.

A Tale as Old as Time

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been scrolling through online photography collections for inspiration or out of interest and ended up filled with despair as a clearly uncomfortable senior stared out awkwardly from the images.

In truth, it’s not their fault. In fact, I’ve had seniors come to me heartbroken that their previous senior session didn’t work out. Somehow, out of about 70 pictures, they didn’t find a single one that stood out. They either ended up with duplicates or bland images.

From Boring to Breathtaking

I feel their pain, and I want to change the way their photo shoots turn out. How? By dedicating my entire career to making sure my shoots are NEVER boring!

My Policy Doesn’t Include Generic

I’m at the level where I can confidently say that now because I once wasn’t. Let me tell you, having someone call your portfolio boring is a watershed moment. You either curl up into a ball and give up or pretend you’re Oprah Winfrey being fired from her first tv job (fact) and work even harder to succeed.

Distinctly Dazzling: Meet Erica

Over the years, I’ve learned the key to photography doesn’t just lie in having the best equipment or angles, but also in bringing out the best in every client. That means spending time talking to and getting to know everyone I work with.

Erica is a vivacious and energetic girl, and I was thrilled to help her create the best photo shoot ever! As adventurous as she is, I’m pretty sure those steps aren’t the most comfortable thing ever to lie on, but in this shot, she looks perfectly at home. What a great photo Erica ended up with simply by taking a chance on an outside-the-box pose! If you love her style, check out more from Erica’s senior portrait session!

scottsdale senior portrait photographer

Helen’s Freeze-Frame Moment

What about Helen framing her lovely face with her hands? By doing this, she draws attention directly where it should be and creates an air of fun-loving confidence that jumps out of the photo.

I love working with seniors who are fearless and willing to try new things when it comes to expressions and poses! Sometimes we end up with gold…and sometimes the ideas just don’t work out. Either way is ok. Because when we it does work, we end up with stunning images like this one. WOW! Helen has an entire gallery filled with gorgeous senior pictures!

fun phoenix senior pictures

My Secret?

When I was just a baby photographer looking for my footing in the professional world, I often asked other photographers what their favorite lens to use was. Of course, I loved their work and was trying to figure out the secret behind it.

I can’t tell you exactly when it happened, but one day, I became THAT photographer…the one I used to ask all the questions of. I found myself answering more and asking fewer questions.

My answer to the favorite lens question? After years of experience, I tell photographers who are learning that using the same lens and camera all the time won’t do you any good. You save yourself the cumbersome step of wondering why all your photos look the same, no matter what you do, when you realize the fault lies in the lack of equipment diversity.

For the curious among you, I love my Canon 70-200 2.8L II to the moon and back, but I only task it with closeups and compressing backgrounds.

If I want to include a lot of the surroundings, my Canon 24mm 1.4L is the best lens around!

Leverage Unique Locations

I’ve wanted to shoot ’50s vintage senior pictures in a diner for a long time, but I had to find the right person. And along came Rae! She was just as excited about shooting at Chase’s Diner as I was, and she was so prepared! She bought the perfect polka dot dress and shoes and even selected a leather jacket and pants for a second outfit.

Chandler Senior Picture Ideas Diner

When you’ve got a client who’s absolutely excited about branching out and going with an exciting theme or venue, absolutely go for it! It gives you the opportunity to broaden your experience as a professional photographer, and you’ll get to deliver unique and artistic images, too. It’s a win-win!

This is why you’ll also hear me talk about day-to-night photo shoots, waterside shoots, and drives into the desert to capture the perfect setting. When I said there’s no such thing as generic in my photo packages, I meant it!

Remember: The more willing you are to go off the beaten path and discover new opportunities, the more unique images you’ll end up with. And the more versatility you’ll show clients!

Top 5 Tips for Turning Same Ol’ Shots Into Spectacular Moments

  1. Get to know your clients. Every client is unique, and when you get to know them AND what they like, you’ll be a gazillion steps ahead when it comes to getting the location and setting right for their senior photos. Plus, they’ll feel more comfortable and be more likely to express themselves more naturally in photos.
  2. Be daring. I’ve been known to go out on limbs (literally) for the perfect pics, and I’m not about to stop now. If the perfect angle happens to be from the middle of a pond, I’ll be photographer in a tiny rowboat.
  3. Be on the lookout for magical moments. They can happen anywhere…from the middle of the desert to the middle of an asphalt parking lot. When the lighting hits just right or your client pulls a once-in-a-photo-shoot expression, you better be on your toes if you plan on capturing it!
  4. Hope for the best; expect a monsoon. Most of the time, things will work out seamlessly (ok, fairly seamlessly), but you’ll never get through an entire photography career without running into at least one rainstorm, mud puddle, or bird poop situation. If you’re prepared with a “go kit” that contains everything from Tide sticks to hairspray, you can conquer the world AND keep taking photos!
  5. Loosen up. You’re the professional, but it’s ok to laugh, be a little silly, and have fun with the clients when it’s photo shoot time. Why? Because when you’re relaxed, they’ll feel more comfortable, too. And that means you’ll get more authentic expressions and fewer stiff and stilted movements.

The trick to taking super creative senior pictures for every client? Keep your eyes open for opportunities, get creative with your planning and perspective, and keep working on your own personal photography style!

Ideas for Outdoor Senior Portraits by the Water | Chandler Professional Photographer for Casteel High School

Ideas for Outdoor Senior Portraits by the Water | Chandler Professional Photographer for Casteel High School

Smiles for Miles: Unique Photo Ideas for Outgoing Clients

After meeting Bryn, I’m convinced there’s literally nothing this girl can’t do—and nothing she won’t accomplish! She’s got huge plans, and she’s headed for the future with a bright smile and a super-smart outlook on life. I was even more excited for her photo shoot after talking to her and hearing what she loves, what she’s got her sights set on, and what energizes her!

A 2021 graduate from Casteel High School in Queen Creek, Arizona, Bryn has plenty of memories to keepsake—all while she’s making exciting plans for what’s right around the corner. She’s a swimmer, so right off the bat, she was excited about getting some great shots in her team suit. With the lovely waves in her long hair, I just had to add some waves of my own to the pic to complement her entire look. You’ll notice this theme throughout her shoot, however: Nothing can beat her thousand-watt smile!

Casteel Swim Team Senior Pictures

A Gazillion Looks, One Amazing Personality

When I tell clients to bring several changes of clothes and outfit options to their photo shoots, I’m serious. Lots of times, they don’t know exactly what will photograph well or look good on them for pictures, so I’m always there to help out. But let me tell you, Bryn knew exactly what worked for her—and she had a wide range of styles to prove it!

From athletic swimmer to feminine and relaxed by the waterside, Bryn pulled off every single look she went for! These photos of her by the water’s edge capture her carefree and laid-back personality, adding a softer tone to her portrait collection.

Chandler Professional Senior Photographer Girls Lake

Notice her selective choice in accessories. She’s barefoot and chose a single necklace and dangly earrings to offset the flowy white dress. This effectively made her the star of the show—exactly as it should be!

Edgy Style & Cozy Comfort

Did I tell you this girl can pull of any look?! This girl can pull off ANY look! I was holding my breath to see what she’d pull out of her fashion collection next.

She looked cozy-comfy in a fluffy pink pullover, and then she turned on a dime and rocked an edgy nighttime-under-the-lights look in dark denim paired with a leather jacket. Notice she’s still all smiles, even during the slightly-sassy over-the-shoulder jacket toss?

I try to mix up clients’ serious faces with their smiling faces, but with Bryn, it was natural for her to smile in all of her shots. Serious just didn’t look right on her, so we decided together to go with what suited her personality and style. And this beautiful girl ended up with an entire collection of photos that simply look like “her.” That makes my professional photographer heart happy.

Chandler Senior Photos Casteel High School

Casteel High School Senior Pictures

Prom Night Memories

During one of her outfit changes, this lovely girl pulled out one of the most gorgeous prom dresses I’ve ever seen. Its striking navy blue color was accentuated by layers of ruffles and an embellished bodice—all of which brought attention to her glowing face and hair. Of course, a bokeh-style photo sequence was in order, and I allowed the twinkling nighttime lights to gently fade into the background, ensuring the focus was on Bryn.

Prom is one of the most impactful high school memories for many grads, and even though Covid may have taken its toll on many over the past couple of years, creative clients and photographers have found fun ways to work together to ensure this special moment still gets captured as a memory. And once again…parking lot for the win! I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that!

Casteel High School Prom Senior Pictures

Into the Sunset

A toss of the graduation cap is a must for most grads, and for positive, future-focused Bryn we made this moment happen—along with some photos to make sure the memory lasts forever. She walked right into a gorgeous sunset as she tossed her cap high to celebrate her accomplishment.

Chandler Professional Senior Pictures Casteel

Described as bubbly and friendly by those who know her best, Bryn says that in her free time, she usually chooses to read a good book, watch movies, or hang out with friends. She loves to go on walks, and she plays the piano. A lover of rom com and Marvel, you might also find her cozying up in front of the TV with a chocolatey snack and her favorite movie.

College on the Horizon

Bryn is planning to head to college at BYU-Hawaii (WHAT?! Can we all visit and get surfing lessons?). She’s also excited for her upcoming mission! She’s not sure which will come first, but she’s on her way to big and exciting things, and I’m sure this smart and vivacious girl will carve a path that’s all her own.

Chandler Senior Pictures Casteel Graduation

It’s been so much fun to work with you. Can’t wait to hear where your path takes you, Bryn!

Adding Variety to Your Senior Photo Shoot | Combs High School Senior Pictures | San Tan Valley, Arizona

Adding Variety to Your Senior Photo Shoot | Combs High School Senior Pictures | San Tan Valley, Arizona

Up for Adventure: Captivating Senior Photos That Reflect the True You

While I am located in East Mesa, I have clients come from all over the Phoenix area, including Bryan, who recently graduated from Combs High School. It’s not often that photographers get to work with graduating senior guys who are open to the whole photo shoot idea. So when someone like Bryan comes along with his enthusiasm and can-do attitude, I’m instantly ready to grab the camera and click until we have approximately a gazillion senior photos to choose from!

Combs Senior Portraits San Tan Valley

In the image below, Bryan chose a dressy black shirt to complement his long, curly locks and dark eyes. He is relaxed and at ease, and the rich color of the wood in the background brings a nice, warm tone to the moment. It always helps to make sure guys have something to do with their hands, or they can end up feeling awkward or antsy. This pose offered the perfect opportunity for a casual lean and a brush of his hand through the hair, giving the overall appearance of a guy who feels perfectly comfortable and in his element.

Combs High School Senior Pictures

A 2021 graduate from Combs High School in San Tan, Arizona, Bryan has an impressive set of skills and hobbies that he’s honed over the years—as well as a very cool man bun that we had to make sure showed up in some of his senior pictures! When I initially chatted with him and found out his interests range everywhere from wrestling to anime to a love of Japanese culture and arts, I knew this would end up being a super-cool photo shoot that showed off everything this dynamic young man has been up to throughout his school years.

Combs High School Senior Portraits

Style and Humor: This Guy Has it All

One of the first things I learned about Bryan is that he has an amazing sense of humor! I’ll let you all in on a little secret. All of my clients fill out a get-to-know-you questionnaire that helps me get going in the right direction with planning and brainstorming for their individual photo shoots. I picked up on Bryan’s sense of humor when I read his answers to one of the questions. When asked what he’d miss most about high school, he responded by letting me know he would really miss “not doing taxes.” You got that one right, Bryan…just you wait!

He says his biggest accomplishment in high school was taking first place in a high school wrestling meet. (I’m convinced Bryan is good at everything he sets his mind to!)

As for incoming freshmen, Bryan has a simple piece of advice he says has served him well over the years. “Just do the work.” This is a seriously smart grad! There’s no magic potion or secret trick; just work hard, keep your eyes on the finish line, and keep moving forward.

Gamer Extraordinaire

Like most most grads and young adults, Bryan is into video games and says he also loves anime and Magic: the Gathering. We couldn’t leave out his affinity for gaming, so as we planned the best photo ops, there were definitely game controllers and headsets in the mix! You can see some of Bryan’s serious looks coming into play as he shows the focus it takes to conquer his opponents. Even Bryan’s mom, April, loved this look because this how she sees him most of the time!  I had a little extra fun with the background in these photos. Yes, they were shot in the same indoor location, but check out the background colors. I specifically added the colors from Magic: the Gathering. I didn’t want that in-your-face look, just a subtle touch to tie it all together.

Gaming Senior Pictures San Tan Valley Combs

For these pics, he took a more casual turn with his wardrobe and went for a plaid hooded button-up over a tee with vibrant neon colors. (His fave colors are red, neon yellow, and purple!) Casual shorts rounded out the look—because no one can rule in the gaming world if you’re feeling all stiff and formal!

Culture, Creativity & Character

Long-revered in Japanese culture, the sword is a symbol of the Samurai’s soul. After a visit to Japan, Bryan was impressed by both the beauty of the sword and the traditions that came along with it. This was a key component of his photo shoot, and we ended up getting some amazing senior pictures of him dressed in a kimono and reverently holding a katana, including one of him in shadow as the sun went down.

San Tan Valley Senior Pictures Guys Sword

San Tan Valley Senior Pictures Sword

Bryan was up for creativity, and he was willing to try out different poses and venues that would best show off his interests and skills—and because of that, we ended up with some phenomenal photos that everyone in his family will love!

Big Plans for the Future

Not one to follow the crowd, Bryan has big plans his future, and they don’t involve hopping onto the mainstream track! He’ll be adding to his vast collection of knowledge and expertise as he becomes a professional animal breeder, specifically focusing on reptiles and spiders.

Known as an outgoing and personable guy by his friends, there’s no reason in the world this amazing grad won’t do every single thing he sets his mind to! You guys already know this, but one of the best parts of my job is getting to see the amazing things my young clients accomplish as they move past graduation and into the world!

Combs Senior Pictures Swords

Print It!

I’m one of Arizona’s top senior portrait photographers not only because of my creativity, but also because of the incredible line of designer products available. Bryan was no exception! Can you guess which image Mom selected as her Signature Silk Wall Portrait? Yep, it was this gorgeous close-up…close-ups are almost always mom’s fave!

San Tan Valley Senior Pictures Guys

Bryan’s collection also included an 8×8 Keepsake Book, Gift Prints for family, Wall Art, and custom Graduation Announcements.

san tan valley senior photos


San Tan Valley Graduation Photos







Best Locations for Senior Pictures | Gilbert Senior Photographer

Best Locations for Senior Pictures | Gilbert Senior Photographer

Stunningly San Tan: Fab Photo Venues Close to Home

As a senior portrait photographer in the Phoenix and East Valley area, I’ve scouted many vibrant and beautiful locations, and guess what? If you think your senior pictures have to be complicated, far away, and involve exotic locale bookings, you can think again! I’ve gotten some of the best senior portrait images from spots that are so close you barely have to top off the gas tank to get there. And here’s the best part…a lot of times, you only have to turn around or take a few steps for a completely different look, style, or change of scenery. One of my favorites for both daytime and nighttime photo shoots is San Tan Village in Gilbert. 

An Unexpected Photo Venue

When locals hear the name, they may initially think of shopping, entertainment, and food. But from a photographer’s point of view, San Tan is so much more! It’s a modern, open-air space that’s full of opportunity. I see a venue that’s quaintly decorated with charming lighting, eclectic chairs, textured walls, modern patterns, unique storefronts, and a pretty footprint that provides lots of symmetry and lines for framing the perfect shot. (Bet you didn’t think of all that last time you went shopping, huh?)

Many Looks, One Location

In the photos below, I took advantage of several of San Tan’s sleek and symmetrical features to offset Marissa’s casual chic style. The daytime lighting was perfect to catch her reflection in a store window, and with just the right angle, I was able to pull in a few of the brightly-colored pottery pieces that are scattered along the sidewalk.

best locations senior pictures gilbert

I wanted to get a nice close-up of her jean-jacket style, beautiful smile, and flawless look, so a shot with this gorgeous background was a must. Afterward, we angled for some distance shots and a casual shoulder-drop of the jacket. Key to every one of these shots is the varied and vibrant San Tan background with its lively lines and textures. All of these things worked together to add even more star power to Marissa’s overall classy-meets-trendy style.

Best Locations Outdoor Senior Pictures Gilbert

Impeccable Style & a Smile for Miles

With Rylee, I focused on her cosmopolitan sense of style, which was complemented perfectly by the glossy black and white lines of the building pictured below. Yep, you guessed it! It’s also located in beautiful and lively San Tan! She chose a perfectly paired outfit of ripped black skinny jeans topped with a feminine lacy black crop top and peep-toe heels, showing off her talent for mixing and matching textures to create her own unique style. With stunning hair and make-up to top off her mod look, she stood out like a runway model against the lines of the building.

Arizona Creative Senior Pictures

Moving from denim to dress-up, Rylee shifted gears and opted for a black mini tank dress with ankle-tie heels. It was perfectly chic and perfectly simple—allowing me to focus on capturing her vibrant personality and impeccable style. I wanted to get a few photos of her from a distance, as well as some casual and unexpected pics, like the one of her sitting on the back of a bench. One of the things I love about going to San Tan is the variety—all within shopping (er, walking) distance!

AZ Creative Senior Picture Photographer

Night Lights & Playing in the Street

And then there’s Brenley. This 2021 senior couldn’t take a bad picture if she tried! We took things from day to night at San Tan, starting with some playful and flirty shots of her playing in the street. I love the fact that traffic moves slowly at this venue, so there are plenty of gaps, which lets us take advantage of cross-walks, street pavers, and signs that we couldn’t capture in other places.

urban gilbert senior pictures

After dark, we let San Tan’s ambience work in our favor, and we took advantage of the pretty lighting. Using it as a background to bring the lovely Bren into focus, I was able to capture both her serious and lighthearted sides. 

unique locations gilbert senior pictures

Locations Gilbert Senior Pictures

Finally, she got to enjoy a gourmet chocolate—and of course, I had to capture a photo of her treating her sweet tooth to a much-deserved break after all her hard modeling work. 

Gilbert Senior Pictures Candy

The Photographer’s Eye

It’s a blessing and a curse. I’m constantly on the lookout for places that will make excellent photography venues. When you’re at a quaint café drooling over the chocolate cake, I’m looking at the décor and thinking of ways to pull off a vintage shoot incorporating the adorable checked tablecloths and the jukebox. Same thing happens in ditches, beside ponds, and on lunch dates. Lovely, interesting, and artistic places always get bookmarked for a return visit with my camera!

What Seniors Want

Whenever I talk to seniors who are getting ready for their photo shoot, they always tell me they’re looking for “something different, pics that highlight their personality…that aren’t like everyone else’s.” That makes a lot of sense to me. After all, their senior pictures should be just as unique as they are!

Flashback Time

Luckily, today’s high school seniors don’t remember the days of the old-school portrait studio. You know the one with the fuzzy bolster pillow to prop your arms on while you posed in a contorted position and held a fake smile while the photographer rolled down a canvas background behind you? Yeah, you remember. We all looked the same. Sure, we had different features and outfits, but the poses and expressions? Those were all the same. (Unfortunately, for many of us, so were the haircuts.)

I love what I do, and I’m thrilled that today’s senior classes aren’t limited to the roll-down canvas backgrounds we had. There’s an entire world out there, and I’m on the lookout for exciting locations to photograph in every day!

All Over the Valley

Stay tuned to the blog for more amazing East Valley and Phoenix-area locations. I’ll be highlighting some of my favorites, as well as brand-new treasures I’ve stumbled upon that have turned out to be spectacular spots for lighting, textures, lines, and just plain fun.

Where will your senior pics be? What location makes you feel most like YOU? Have a special hangout, a fave coffee shop you always hit with your bestie? Tell me about it! Chances are, there are some pretty great opportunities for photos in lots of the places you love. Let’s explore!


Want to See More?

If you loved these images, be sure to check out these too!

Marissa’s Senior Portrait Session, Class of 2019
Bren’s Senior Portrait Session, Class of 2021
Rylee’s Senior Portrait Session, Class of 2020

How To Get Natural, Authentic Senior Pictures | Phoenix Photographer

How To Get Natural, Authentic Senior Pictures | Phoenix Photographer

Candid Shots & Carefree Moments: Capturing in-the-Moment Magic

Being a teenager isn’t easy, especially today. There’s pressure from just about every angle to look good and present yourself at your best, and thanks to social media, everyone is “on” 24/7. Teens know, too, they can snap a hundred selfies in order to get the exact look they’re going for…and they do! So how do I prepare them for a professional photo shoot, one in which I’m behind the camera and they don’t have all that editing power?

Hello, Photo Shoot Nerves

Most future grads show up for their senior session and feel a little out of place, especially if they’ve never participated in any sort of professional photo shoot before. Think of it like driving a car. If you prefer to be behind the wheel, it can be a little nerve-racking to suddenly find yourself in the passenger seat ceding control to a different driver. Like everything else in life, there are those who are comfortable being passengers—and there are those who will always be a little antsy at the prospect of letting others drive.

Kicking Off the Fun

I do a lot of work prepping seniors for their upcoming shoots, but most of them still arrive on the big day with a deer-in-the-headlights look and joints about as flexible as The Tin Man. Faced with what’s likely their first full-body photo shoot that will include shots from hundreds of angles with multiple backgrounds is daunting, so I don’t blame them! There’s also the fact that I show up with cases full of professional equipment, including lighting for nighttime shoots, so it can all start to look a little overwhelming.

That said, it’s not surprising that some of my future grads start of a little stiff, and that’s perfectly ok! (Who wouldn’t be?) Because of this—and because I’ve helped so many teens work through their initial nerves to curate a beautiful collection of senior photos—I came up with a list of must-do’s to keep every photo session comfortably flowing.

#1 Don’t Push It

As a professional, if you’ve scheduled your sessions so that you have plenty of time to work with each client, you know that time is on your side. There’s no need to rush and no need to force actions or expressions. That’ll get you unnatural-looking photos faster than you can say “smile”!

Exciting Professional Senior Pictures Phoenix Az

Fun Professional Senior Pictures Phoenix Az

Remember the song Video Killed the Radio Star? Keep that tune in your head (you’re welcome) and remember this: Pressure killed the photo shoot vibes.

Sometimes it’s as simple as waiting for your client to warm up to the entire feeling of the photo shoot, so patience is key. Other seniors might need to open up and have a little conversation and a laugh or two before you jump right into shooting. While you might be tempted to start making posing suggestions (or even demands!), it’s too early for that if you have a nervous client. So, foot off the gas, Mario. There’s plenty of time to click away after everyone gets a little more comfortable.

Red Mountain Senior Picture Outfits East Mesa

Natural Outdoor Professional Senior Pictures Phoenix Az

#2 Start a Conversation

Make friends with your client. As prepared as they may be for senior pictures, many teens will walk in to their appointment and not know exactly how to interact with you, an adult who they may just be getting to know. (We are intimidating, scary people who occupy a part of the world they don’t normally hang out in, so they don’t really know how to hang out with us comfortably.)

Keep in mind that while we, the ones with mountains of camera equipment, participate in photo shoots practically every day. This is new for clients! Make them feel welcome, talk to them like they’re your friend, and get a conversation going right off the bat. If you work with high school seniors like I do, be sure they know you’re on their level. You definitely don’t want to come across as just another intimidating adult. We’re friendly, fun, and just barely less goofy than their parents! The point is, it’s ok to get a little playful to lighten the mood and get some natural smiles going. After all, the more at home they feel, the better shots you’ll get.

Natural Smile Professional Senior Pictures Phoenix Az

Professional Senior Pictures Desert Phoenix Az

#3 Prepare Like a Survivalist

No, you don’t have to construct an underground bunker, but you will need to draw on your magical powers of preparedness to pull off successful photo shoots with authentic poses. Preparation in a couple different ways is key to helping teens kick back, relax, and give up their best natural poses.

#3A Be Ready for the Silly & Unexpected

First, when you set out into the desert for outdoor pictures in Arizona, you’ll need to be vigilant of your surroundings (no scorpions needed in these pics!). At the same time, you need to be ready to capture even the slightest movement of your clients on camera, because you don’t want to take the chance of missing the perfect pose or expression. Encourage silliness and expression; then stand back and watch the magic as clients allow their personalities to shine. Keep your eyes open for perfect moments that show off their unique identities; these photos are golden!

#3B There Will Be Emergencies

Another part of being prepared and setting your clients at ease involves being a bit of a traveling supply store. I usually keep a fairly standard supply of bobby pins, safety pins, tape, lipgloss, lotion, and a few other necessities in a There Will Be Emergencies Kit…because, you guessed it, there will be emergencies. And the last thing you want is a nervous, tense, and distraught client who’s upset over a broken strap that could easily be safety-pinned for pics.

#4 Swap Your Technique

It can be tough to switch gears in a photo shoot. For example, if you’ve gotten your client loosened up, laughing, and having fun, it can be difficult to turn around and slow things down for more serious photographs afterward.

To settle back in for more formal poses, ask the client to close their eyes, take a few deep breaths, and count to ten to reset. When they open their eyes, the result is usually a relaxed, at-ease, authentic expression—exactly what you’re going for!

Professional Senior Pictures Guys Phoenix Az

How to Get Candid Shots

Want to know how I’ve managed to capture some of the award-winning shots I’ve taken to date? I’ll tell you a few of my best secrets, but just remember, it all boils down to patience and taking the time to get to know each individual client.

Make sure you begin by introducing the client (the graduating senior and any family members who may be helping out or attending the shoot) to several unique senior portrait ideas. Continuously update your portfolio or client demo so you show your freshest work!

When it’s time for the real deal, you’ll have a good chance at getting more candid, natural shots if you:

1. Choose the space and location carefully. Work closely with clients to hone in on their interests. When they are in a place they feel comfortable, they’ll be more likely to relax and show their genuine selves.

2. Set the mood with lighting. As a photographer, you know the importance of lighting, so be sure to change things up if you have the opportunity. Do you have the option of scheduling at sundown to get daytime and sunset pics? How about nighttime pics with background lights? Use your creativity to create multiple looks with lighting.

3. Encourage client creativity. Remember to ask clients if they have pets or besties they want to include in their senior pictures! Not only have they had a special place in their lives throughout their school years, visitors like pets, besties, and even special family members can help to lighten the mood and kick off a super-fun photo shoot. Likewise for props that represent their high school interests like sports memorabilia, art supplies, and even their revved up wheels!

4. Prompt clients for emotion. If you’re taking senior pictures, remember to keep your posing prompts on their level. Try things like, “Blow a kiss to your crush” or “Close your eyes and make a wish.”

5. Suggest comfortable poses and movements. Clients are often uncomfortable simply because they don’t know what to do with their hands or their arms or their bodies in general. So if you give them something specific to do, they’ll instantly get more comfortable. Simple things like sipping a milkshake, spinning a basketball, tossing a grad cap…any casual movement with a purpose can provide the perfect pose for a natural and organic photo.

Final Note: Stay on top of your craft and stay in touch with your clients to know what’s hot and what’s not! Follow trends in photography, as well as trends in fashion and make-up, so you’ll always be ready to snap the very best senior portraits.

Want to be inspired and see how I worked with a senior guy to combine his love of sports, his dog, and his best senior memories to deliver a senior portrait packed that truly reflected his personality? Check out Matthew’s senior pictures.