Preparing For Your Senior Portrait Session

Having your senior portrait session done in the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane areas offer a lot of variety in terms of settings and activities.

But with all those options, where do you start in planning your senior portrait session?

First thing on your senior portrait list should be COLLABORATION.

Collaboration with your photographer is key to the success of your high school senior portrait session. And browsing their high school senior portrait portfolios is a good place to start.

Nothing scares a photographer more than having someone who doesn’t express what they want, doesn’t know what they don’t like, or isn’t sure what they are expecting from their portrait session. Having nothing to go off of from the person we’re photographing doesn’t provide any direction which in turn means less chance for complete satisfaction with your images.


So, this is where asking a lot of questions helps drive that collaborative process for your senior portrait. But also knowing those likes and dislikes so you can share them with your photographer makes a huge difference too.

Here are some things to think about to make the senior portrait collaboration process a success:

  • Are you a deer in the headlights when the camera is pointed toward you, or do you go into full-on model mode?
  • Would you like to work in activities you enjoy?
  • Is there a specific location that is important to you for your senior portrait?
  • Will there be any props you want to incorporate?
  • Do you want to bring a friend along for some support, comic relief, and perhaps a few shots together?
  • Are you wanting a rural and rustic look, a downtown and urban feel, or something that’s totally unique to your personality?

With so many different opportunities and locations in the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane areas for your senior portrait, identifying those spots will help give some direction to the session too.

When you’re getting ready for your senior portrait session, once all the collaboration and planning is done, this is what you need to keep in mind:

  • It is important that you are well rested the day of your session. You want you to look your best, and getting enough sleep the night before is a good first step. Allow yourself extra time to perfect your wardrobe, style yourself, and travel. I recommend arriving for your session early and take the opportunity to enjoy a few moments of relaxation before we begin.
  • It is not necessary to accessorize your session with props unless it has already been discussed as an integral part of your session. I create timeless portraits that are natural, relaxed and pure, and I find that keeping themes simple allows for real moments, expressions and interactions.
  • When we're not in the studio and on location, I recommend having your hands free throughout the session, and so I prefer to not have you carry extra clothing, a purse, drinks, or anything else. Leave those items at our starting location (most likely in my truck or your car) and we can come back half-way through the senior portrait session to change and freshen up. Or have your friend or family member be your pack mule.
  • Embrace whatever mood you feel during your senior portrait session. Feel free to relax, laugh and have a good time. Portraits are best when you are being yourself. It’s important to remember that just because there is a camera pointing at you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be looking at the camera. Sometimes the strongest images are created when you are interacting with the environment and enjoying a moment as opposed to posing.

Also, here are a few other generic guidelines and suggestions to consider when selecting your wardrobe for your senior portrait session:

  • Simplicity is always best, so when in doubt keep in mind that “less is more”.
  • Avoid patterns and stripes, as they often will conflict with other elements in your portrait. Go for iconic patterns over trendy patterns.
  • Avoid logos, as they can be visually distracting.
  • Neutral colors such as beige, white, black, tan and grey often photograph the best, as they complement skin tones and don’t conflict with common background elements.
  • Wear clothing that fits properly. A proper fit allows you to move and feel comfortable will help you look more confident in your portrait.
  • Always dress with full length in mind, including shoes and socks in your wardrobe consideration.
  • Don’t be afraid to bring a formal outfit along.
  • Jeans are classics.
  • If you wear glasses regularly, you should wear them for your session as we want you to look like you normally do. Don’t worry about shine or glare, as I know how to look for these things and photograph accordingly.
  • I normally recommend wearing minimal jewelry for your portrait. Jewelry you wear on a daily basis is fine, but it’s preferred to not have you accessorize and add extra jewelry you normally wouldn’t wear. If you do wear jewelry, it should be kept simple and its color should be neutral and not distracting.
  • Apply makeup and style your hair as you normally would. Now is not the time to try out a new haircut or a new style of make-up you aren’t comfortable with.
  • The week before your session, don’t go for a professional tan or intentionally tanning outdoors. A fresh tan may look good in person, but overdo it and the camera will highlight your lobster color and tan lines. Plus, your natural color is always more flattering in photographs.