Best Senior Photographer Mesa Arizona
High School Senior Portrait Photography | Peek Behind the Scenes

High School Senior Portrait Photography | Peek Behind the Scenes

Your High School Senior Photo Shoot: A Not-So-Top-Secret Look Behind the Scenes

Everyone wants to know—but not everyone wants to ask—“What in the world actually happens at a photo shoot?” I’m about to give you the inside scoop so you’ll be ready to tackle your day with enthusiasm and kick the nerves to the curb. Hint: It’s probably a mix of some of the things you were thinking and a surprising amount of things you hadn’t even dreamed up. Trust me, your day in front of the camera lens is going to be all you imagined…and then some.

Choosing a Location

Don’t worry; you don’t have to choose just one! I like to wander, so I hope you do, too. We’ll move around a lot during your photo shoot so I can capture you with as many different backgrounds and environments as possible. If we’re in a downtown area, we’ll easily walk several blocks to find the best locations for you.

Sometimes we go to popular areas like the Riparian Preserve or Nichols Park. Downtown Gilbert or a small local park are great because they are often less crowded and we’re able to get more creative shots and use the great backgrounds and colors that nature provides. Most high school seniors like a combination of both the natural elements AND a bit of the urban environment. When you’re with me, we cover a lot of ground—and that means we get a wide variety of shots.

C’mon, let’s take a look behind the scenes of what will make up your amazingly fun photo shoot!

Behind The Scenes

We typically arrive at our first location between 3:00-4:00 in the afternoon, depending on the weather, the sun, and the locations you’ve chosen. We’ll go through your outfits to determine which outfit will give the best vibes, which ones are “must-haves,” and you’ll use our portable changing room to change into your first outfit. My team and I will set up the equipment and take some test shots, and then we’ll be ready to capture some amazing shots of you in action! 

In this shoot, I am working with my clients, Trevor, a 17-year-old basketball athlete from Mesquite High School, and his mother, Gina. During our session, Gina snapped a few pictures of Trevor’s session and I thought it would be fun to show some behind the scenes pictures compared to the final senior portraits.

This red wall really isn’t anything special, but when paired with Trevor’s flannel shirt, the headshot is great! Couple that with some prompts to get that genuine smile, and it’s a win for both of us!

High School Senior Pictures Gilbert Photographer

High School Senior Pictures Guys Outfits

It’s All About Lighting

Well, if you’re gonna do basketball pictures, we need a basketball court. Gina told me about a great park near their home with a nice basketball court. While this was a great opportunity to highlight Trevor’s love of basketball, I needed to assess the location and lighting—and we had to be careful because often, neighborhood parks can be crowded, making it tough to get the shots we’re after.

Gina was able to snap a few casual pics for me so that I could determine the layout of the park, including potential lighting issues, landscaping, and other details. The park was at street level with a lot of trees, so I instantly knew I could shoot great photos without houses distracting the scene. Score!

It’s not uncommon to find me climbing a ladder or laying on the ground to get the exact shot I want. Sometimes we just get creative and see what the results are! These shots really show what it’s like behind the scenes!

High School Senior Pictures Basketball

High School Senior Pictures Sports

As the sun went down and we were done with action shots, it was time to pull out the lights. Since Gina is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, she also chose to paint a ball silver and the results were even better than we’d hoped! 

High School Senior Pictures Gilbert Athlete

High School Senior Pictures Sports Letterman Jacket

After Dark

We were having such a great time we kept shooting after dark. After a quick uniform change, we captured even more unique basketball shots. The sun sets quickly, and with the off camera lighting we can choose how much of the background to include in each photo offering plenty of variety.

High School Senior Pictures Basketball Player

Trendy Night Shots

If you want nighttime portraits—a popular photo trend for the Class of 2020—then we continue shooting into the evening. Downtown Gilbert is a favorite nighttime location, even if it’s just the edge of a parking lot or parking garage!

High School Senior Pictures Gilbert Photographer After Dark  High School Senior Pictures Guys Suit

High School Senior Pictures Downtown Gilbert

Highlighting Your Hobbies and Interests

Many high school seniors choose to include their sports because it might be the final games of their career. Trevor added basketball in several ways. We chose to start with Trevor’s Mesquite high school uniform (shown above) and a standard basketball. You want your senior in a suit and tie? No problem! It’s an incredible look and trust me, the guys love it when we combine this snazzy look with their favorite sport.

High School Senior Pictures Gilbert Photographer Night

High School Senior Pictures Gilbert Photographer Sports

You don’t play sports?

This is actually a very common concern with my high school seniors! “But I don’t play sports, I’m not active in clubs, I’m just a regular teenager!” Well, one solution is to include your favorite pro sports team, as Trevor did. Now, his was even more awesome because he has a personalized Phoenix Suns jersey! However, any of your favorite sports teams would work.

Or how about the college you’re attending? It just so happens that Trevor got an academic scholarship to the University of Arizona in Tucson!!!!!

High School Senior Pictures College Shirt

Finishing the Photo Session

Most daytime photo shoots take 2 – 3 hours. I like to end the day by making sure we have at least 35 great shots. A checklist includes basic poses, close-up shots, and even some candid fun and funny shots of you being your quirky self. Whatever makes your personality shine through, that’s what I’m looking for—and that’s what I’ll capture in senior portraits. 

Your memories of high school should be cherished. I will work with you to create a modern, authentic plan. When you trust me to capture your look, personality, and style in high-quality professional images, you’ll be proud to share your high school portraits with friends and family!

Baseball Senior Pictures | Varsity Sports at Perry High School in Chandler, AZ

Baseball Senior Pictures | Varsity Sports at Perry High School in Chandler, AZ

Baseball Senior Pictures

Many of our clients are high school seniors who participate in varsity sports, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever had baseball senior pictures quite like these! Amy and I talked quite a bit about including baseball for Connor’s senior pictures.  While Connor has played baseball for as long as I can remember, this would be his last season in a Perry baseball uniform. These pictures hold a special place in my heart, knowing that over the years they will become even more priceless to him and his family.

Side note: If you recognize Connor, it’s because he’s been around for awhile. I’ve had multiple sessions with the Abernethy kids, including Connor’s sister Kelci, who graduated in 2015. It’s just thrilling when you get to watch your clients go from kids to teens to high school graduates to adults!

Scheduling Your Senior Pictures

I know, athletes are tough! Between games, practice, school, studying, they’re often lucky to even remember to eat and sleep! If you play both club and high school sports, squeezing in senior pictures can definitely be a challenge! Here’s a tip. Do your best to schedule your senior pictures in the off season! If you play football or other fall sports, plan for a spring portrait session. If you run cross country, play baseball, or other spring sports, aim for having your pictures taken in the fall. Luckily, even with Connor’s schedule, we managed to have his pictures done in the spring…and then we just found an open baseball field!

Our first stop was straight to the dugout. With equipment ready, I got this fun shot showing off his graduating year. I rarely show both a color and a black & white image in my blog posts, but in this case I really do love both! When you come for your Reveal & Design, you’ll see that not all images are edited in black & white, but there will definitely be a few.

With eyes like these, you bet I’m gonna get some close up pictures to show them off!

Since this was our third and final location, it was started to get dark, so we pulled out the lights for some gorgeous action shots. That one of Connor reaching over the fence? That one definitely warrants a huge shout-out to Glen, Connor’s dad. As a photographer himself, he knew the best location for the softbox would be on the other side of the fence, so he climbed over and somehow managed to hold it in just the right spot while we had Connor run full speed at the fence to catch a ball.

Baseball Senior Pictures Action Shots Chandler AZ

 

Composite Sports Artwork

This composite is a little different. We stopped in Chandler to get some images of Connor in his regular clothes, knowing that I’d use the brick wall for a composite. Love how it turned out!
Baseball Senior Pictures Sports Perry Chandler AZ

Instagram Features in Senior Guys Style and Senior Year Magazine

I posted this shot of Connor tossing the baseball to my Instagram, and almost immediately it was featured by both Senior Year Magazine and Senior Guys Style! How cool is that? Both of these accounts feature high school senior pictures from some of the industry’s best photographers. There is nothing better than showing off your seniors on national Instagram accounts!

Senior Guys Style Featured Photographer

I just couldn’t fit it all into one post, so this is only part of Connor’s senior portrait session. Don’t miss the rest of his senior pictures!

Would you like to see more senior sessions featured sports? You might like these!
Matthew, Hamilton High School
Briana, Hamilton High School
Aaron, Mesquite High School

Tips for Senior Sports Portraits | Senior Pictures for Athletes

Tips for Senior Sports Portraits | Senior Pictures for Athletes

Tips to Prepare for Sports Portraits

Specializing in senior pictures allows me to really keep up on trends and help you prepare for your senior sports portraits! For athletes, that means making sure I can capture everything about their sport, whether they play club sports or school sports. As a mom, you may think your child will be in this sport forever, often even college. The reality is that high school is often the last time your teenager may compete. Also, for all the moms who think their son won’t enjoy a senior portrait session, this is just one way to get them involved and loving it! Don’t pass up what might be your last opportunity to create senior pictures like these!

Bring Your Gear

I know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often socks are forgotten or the ball is left in the garage. Plan ahead, make a list, and bring it all! Pack your uniform, ball, t-shirt, jersey, letter jacket, warm-ups, shoes, socks, and other equipment for your sport.

Be Ready to Play

The best part is capturing seniors doing what they love. I mean actually playing and having fun! Of course during a game or meet, this can be difficult, but during your senior pictures we’ll have time to shoot and play around with some creative ideas. Admittedly I don’t know much about every single sport, so while I definitely have ideas, I also want your input. Be prepared to show off! It’s OK, I absolutely love meeting all these talented athletes and sharing in their success!

Athlete Senior Pictures AZ

Go All Out

Even though the stands aren’t full, don’t hold back! I was reminded of this during a spring photo shoot when I asked one of my track kids to go run. Let me tell you, he sure did and it made the images that much more amazing! Going full speed brought the photos to life with his realistic emotion and expression.

Be Flexible With Locations

Sometimes your school will be great for senior pictures and sometimes other locations might work better. Always check with your school and get permission before your photo shoot if you’d like to use the field. We’ve used grassy areas, urban streets, neighborhood courts, and even other schools’ fields (again, with permission!) and much to my surprise, the alternative locations have been far better than we’d imagined!

This urban area provided the perfect backdrop for Nicholas’ wrestling pictures! Mom loved the blue, the texture was perfect, and Nicholas came with every single detailed piece of clothing as if he were ready for a wrestling match. Check out the socks, that’s the best part!

This particular day, Perry had either baseball practice or a game, but another local high school’s baseball field was completely empty! It made this the perfect night for taking our time and capturing exactly what we wanted without having other people around.

And sometimes, we get lucky and the school works out beautifully! There was actually practice this day, but since we didn’t really need much space, the coaches at Mesquite High School were more than happy to let us use the track.

Want to see more more senior sports portraits or other senior photography ideas? Here are a couple more posts you might enjoy!
Matthew, club soccer
Jalen, high school football
Connor, high school baseball
Trevor, high school basketball

Hamilton Senior Pictures | Chandler Senior Portrait Photographer

Hamilton Senior Pictures | Chandler Senior Portrait Photographer

Downtown Chandler Senior Pictures

Senior pictures in Downtown Chandler and the surrounding areas are so much fun! There is such variety. We can find everything from rustic to green to urban! Plus it is a great place to shoot senior pictures at night!

Graffiti Walls

Graffiti walls are very popular for senior pictures, so we found this fun wall with lots of options. Keep in mind, this is just off the side of the road. As with many of my favorite places, there isn’t really an address or specific parking, which is why I prefer to load everything in my van and go together.

Senior Pictures Chandler Graffiti Wall

Including Your Car for Senior Pictures

Below you can see another image that includes more of the wall, as well as our next stop, which included Briana’s Jeep. I love the simple clothing she chose! If you’re unsure about what to wear for senior pictures, simple is best. I love the cute tank top and white shorts. It’s a great contrast with the black Jeep! And as always, bring your sunglasses!

Over the years, many of my favorite locations have been demolished. Such is the case near Downtown Chandler. Instead, we found a dead end road and with a little Photoshop help to remove fences, you’d never know! Photoshop also came in handy for the Jeep pictures since there was a small dent.

So Beautiful!

Bri is a very talented gymnast and I was able to convince her to do some jumps for me. The result is this gorgeous silhouette taken at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler. This is the perfect example of being able to image the outcome before you click the shutter. Check out our Facebook page or Instagram to see the before and after of this shot!

I also recommend that gymnasts bring chalk and grips, as well as medals. Bri was the all-around champion at Westerns last year, so she chose to bring those medals.

Checklist for Gymnasts

I’ve photographed many gymnasts over the years and here is the list that I use. Place chalk in a Ziploc bag, then put that bag zipped into another bag. Let’s just say I’ve learned from experience. Cleaning up spilled chalk isn’t easy!

  • Competition Leotard
  • Warm Ups
  • Grips
  • Chalk
  • Medals
  • Wipes (to clean up after our chalk fun!)
Queen Creek Senior Pictures | Gymnastics | Queen Creek High School

Queen Creek Senior Pictures | Gymnastics | Queen Creek High School

Queen Creek Senior Pictures

Coming up on 10 years as a senior portrait photographer, I wanted to share some of my favorite gymnastics pictures. Kenzie Douglas is 2014 graduate of Queen Creek high school and I thought it would be fabulous to share some of her accomplishments since then!

I asked Kenzie’s mom Laura for a quick update, since I knew she was now a college graduate and had started law school! I’m so proud of her! I’ve actually known Kenzie since she was about 14 or 15 years old, when she was on the same gymnastics team as our daughter. It is absolutely incredible to watch my seniors grow up and be so successful!

Kenzie had a very successful D1 gymnastics full ride scholarship at BYU. She graduated in April of 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She is now attending Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University. When she’s not at the library she enjoys spending time with her new rescue dog, Theodore Roosevelt, aka Teddy.  Her future goals will hopefully be doing something in the political world.

Gymnastics Senior Pictures

These silhouettes were actually shot on a different day that Kenzie’s senior photo shoot, but are still some of my absolute favorites!

 

Tumbleweed Park

While Tumbleweed Park is often used as a more rustic location, it doesn’t have to be! It worked great for Kenzie using one of her favorite tops and adorable Miss Me jeans!

Custom Portrait Products

I created this beautiful storyboard for Kenzie which included a great closeup of her favorite boots.

Queen Creek Senior Pictures

Ideas for your gymnastics senior pictures:

  • Comp Leo
  • Warm Ups
  • Grips
  • Chalk

Want to see more gymnastics pictures?

Check out Briana’s senior portrait session! She’s a 2019 graduate from Hamilton High School and we did some some awesome gymnastics pictures during her session!

Chandler Senior Portraits  |  Swim & Dive Photos for Senior Pictures  |  Kelci

Chandler Senior Portraits | Swim & Dive Photos for Senior Pictures | Kelci

Chandler Senior Portraits

I don’t know how I missed this, but in going back through my blog I realized I never shared Kelci’s senior portraits! So yes it is late (very late!), but how can I not share these images of this beautiful young lady? Kelci is a Perry high school graduate who received a full scholarship to Bryant University!!! Now that she’s done with her sophomore year of college, I can say I’m even more proud of her! I can’t tell you how often this talented diver breaks records and wins meets with her team!

Styling Ideas For Senior Girls

Anyway, I remember her session well even though it has been a couple of years now. Mom wanted wildflowers, Kelci wanted water, I knew it would be amazing!!! We headed out super early one morning, Kelci was quite the trooper. We shot for nearly 2 hours and incorporated everything from her dive medals and gear to her perfect spring wardrobe! They even brought along her cruiser bike! Oh, and the flowers!!! How could I forget those? Just a simple colorful bouquet, but it really was a stunning, colorful addition! I encourage all my seniors to bring anything their heart desires. I’ve seen everything from animals, favorite outfits, props, buckets full of shoes, long boards, and more! These are definitely some of my favorite sessions! Watching these young adults really show off makes my heart smile every time!

Kelci’s styling was exceptional!  Her beautiful blonde curls just flowed and worked well with the blue hat from our Style Closet. She chose a colorful bouquet, which was different from other flowers I’ve used for props.  And I love getting new ideas!

Style Closet

These senior portraits prove that you don’t always need a spectacular location.  This here?  This is a ditch off the side of the road that happened to have some color.  Of course, it takes the right lens and proper styling to really make it work.  This hat and scarf from our Style Closet worked perfectly with Kelci’s spring dress!

Include Your Favorite Sport

Being a diver, of course Kelci wanted to incorporate water into her senior portrait session.  Well, this waterfall was exactly what she was looking for!  She had no problems standing knee deep in the water and splashing either!  While I love the gorgeous smiles, I also love having my seniors be in a relaxed environment.  That is why most of our sessions take place weekdays, so that we don’t deal with a lot of people around.

Ohhhhh, those beautiful lashes!!!  No wonder I love my seniors!  Kelci and her mom were so much fun and willing do do anything!  This image actually was just a test shot.  I was setting up for the glitter shot and Kelci was carefully picking through the glitter in her hands.

High School Senior Girl Blonde Curls

Senior Girl with Glitter Stars

Products to Show Off Your Senior Portraits

And to top it all off, the products Kelci chose were amazing!!! Mom got a beautiful heirloom quality 20×20 gallery storyboard showcasing her favorite images.  Kelci chose my personal favorite, a custom senior portrait magazine, which has all of her session images. They also chose a smaller 8×8 storyboard to display in her dorm room. Then we designed beautiful custom graduation announcements to use for the open house. Her parents also wanted to share information about Kelci’s scholarship, so for the first time I was able to order small, double-sided square inserts with the exciting college information on one side and an image on the other side. So unique and useful, exactly what they wanted! I love that I’m able to design and order so many custom products, all depending on what each client requests. It makes the entire senior portrait experience special for each family.

Heirloom Quality Products Chandler Photographer

Custom Storyboard Collages

This is one of our best selling items for high school seniors!  Our storyboards come in many sizes, but this 20×20 storyboard is definitely a client favorite!  It allows our seniors and families to choose 9 of their favorite images and can be printed with a beveled edge for a timeless look.  The smaller storyboard, an 8×8 of Kelci’s favorites, is our deluxe mounted storyboard.  This thick mount ensures that your products will last for generations to come!

Custom Senior Magazine

Ok, what girl doesn’t want to be a cover girl???  Now they can!  This senior magazine is 20 pages and allows you to show off your entire senior portrait session and makes a great keepsake! Everything is personalized; titles, stories, patterns, and colors!  During your Revel & Design Session, you may see a sample cover.  This is one piece that is not designed right away, but you’ll receive a proof of the entire magazine before it is ordered from our fine art facility.

Senior magazine keepsake for Chandler senior portraits

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