5 Tips How to Take a Great Senior Portrait

The List of 5 Tips How to Take a Great Senior Portrait

There are many things to consider when thinking about how to take a great senior portrait. Let’s begin with an explanation what a senior portrait it. A senior session is devoted to take portraits of a graduating high school senior. There are two main reasons for this session. The first one is for the family to have this very important time in the senior’s life captured properly and the 2nd is to choose a portrait that the graduate will use in the yearbook.

Senior portrait is typically a headshot style photo (waist up) but full body shots have become very popular over the years. Some high schools have their own requirements as to what the senior yearbook photo should look like with what is allowed and not. Please check with you school to make sure that the photo you are choosing will align with their rules and requirements.


Working with high school seniors for over 10 years now, I was able to comply my top 5 tips and recommendations on how to take a great senior portrait.

The list of top 5 Tips on How To Take a Great Senior Portrait

  1. Hiring a professional photographer who specializes in senior portraits
  2. Location
  3. Time of the session (season and day)
  4. What to wear
  5. Be YOUrself
A young woman leaning against a railing with bokeh lights behind her.

Top 5 Tips How to Take a Great Senior Portrait



#1 Hiring a Professional Photographer who Specializes in Senior Portraits


If you would like your senior portrait and ultimately your senior yearbook photo to stand out I highly recommend hiring a professional photographer who specializes in senior portraits. That individual is familiar with the entire process and it will make your life easier. They will be familiar with all the locations in your area. They will advise you on what to wear and what outfits to avoid. The key to making this work is to hire a professional who aligns with your vision. The best way is to review that photographer’s website and social media. Make sure that you like their style. Ask for a consultation to see if your personalities align. That is the perfect way to make sure that you will like working with that photographer. Ask for their client’s reviews. Are they trusted in your community? Choose someone who you can rely on and who will lead you through the entire process. A good fit with personalities will make your session and the experience very enjoyable and unforgettable.

A young girl sitting on a top of a rock in the forest.

Top 5 Tips on How to Take a Great Senior Portrait

#2 Location


Location. Location. Location. Be clear with your vision of the session. If you are adventurous and love the outdoors, ask for the locations that are the closest to your liking, like the Garden of the Gods, North Cheyenne Cañon, Bear Creek Park. I devoted an entire blog to the best locations for senior portraits in Colorado Springs.

If art is your passion, I highly recommend modern, city settings. The possibilities are endless in Colorado Springs Downtown as well as in Manitou Springs.

Taking your senior portraits in the right setting will make you very happy and it will show in all the pictures.


A dancer throwing her skirt to the side.

Top 5 Tips on How to Take a Great Senior Portrait:

#3 Time of the session


There are few very important things to consider here. Most senior portraits are taken during the summer prior to your graduating year. Doing the senior portraits session before school starts is a very decision. Not only does it eliminate the stress of trying to fit in your already busy schedule but you have to consider that most photographers book fairly quickly in the late summer and in the fall for family portraits. Your choice of a professional photographer may not work out if you late too long. Booking your session in your junior year will save you all the headaches.

The time of the session is very important. If you love summer, you should certainly choose that time of the year. The days are longer and the beautiful soft golden hour light has no match to any other time. Having your pictures taken in the summer with the long gorgeous evenings can create some spectacular images. Those images would certainly stand out in the yearbook.  If you prefer the gorgeous Fall colors and in Colorado, we certainly have beautiful autumn, make sure you plan ahead to book that session. Also, a very important part is to check with your school when is the yearbook deadline, so you give yourself and the photographer plenty of time to have the session done. I have seen time and a time again when that information sneaks up on the seniors and their parents. Cheyenne Mountain High School’s senior portrait yearbook deadline has been the first week of October for the last could of years. Thinking about your senior yearbook picture a the end of the junior year is a truly a great idea.


A young lady wearing a black dress.

Top 5 Tips on How to Take a Great Senior Portrait

#4 What to wear


What to wear and what outfits to avoid is very important and it will make your senior portrait stand out! My first recommendation would be to wear an outfit that is season-appropriate and that you are comfortable with. If there is something even slightly uncomfortable it will show in your senior portraits immediately. I’m a true believer in solid colors, layers, and accessories. Most seniors bring a variety of dressy and casual outfits. Bring more than enough, and we’ll look through them together to choose the best options for you and for the location. Don’t forget the accessories like hats, sunglasses, and jewelry! If you have a favorite t-short of a hat showcasing your future college, bring it too! We will discuss your outfit choices during your complimentary consultation as well. Layering is fantastic to easily change up your look as we love textures! As you’re choosing your outfits keep in mind the locations we’ve decided on and the season. Bring shoes and appropriate undergarments for each outfit too. We discourage flip-flops. Remember that socks may show, depending on the pose. Be sure to iron or press your outfits before the session. 

Things to avoid:

-Thin strips – this can result in something called moire (a wavy distorted effect in a fabric)

– Crazy patterns – huge floral patterns, bold plaid, thick or thin stripes, etc. These patterns are very distracting. We want to focus on you. We love solid colors. 

-Getting a tan/sunburn right before the session.

– Experimenting with your hairstyle. Trying a new color or cut. 


Young lady playing a flute by the stream.

Top 5 Tips on How to Take a Great Senior Portrait

#5 Be YOU


We hear that all the time but there is some truth to it! Be yourself and do what you love and your personality will show in your senior portraits. I highly recommend trusting your instincts on what you would like to include in your session. You don’t want another stiff picture with a cheesy smile. If you don’t like smiling – don’t. Just be YOU! If you want the portraits just to represent you in your favorite spots around town – just do that. Save pictures of other seniors that you have seen and spoke to you to show your vision with a photographer. 

If you have been playing sports since you were young and that means a lot to you, incorporate that in your session. Make your letterman jacket a part of your outfit choices. 

If music and art have been your passion all your life, make that a part of your session as well. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas, as crazy as they may sound to you. There is no wrong answers here. Yes, you will choose your school appropriate portrait for the yearbook but the rest of the session if for you!

If you are graduating with one of your best friends, make them be a part of your session! THey can join use at the beginning or at the end of the photoshoot.