It’s completely normal to feel a little anxious when taking senior portraits. These photos are given to family and friends to commemorate this exciting time in your life so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Take a deep breath and relax.  My job is to put you at ease and make the session fun so the real you shines through.

dos & don’ts of clothing hair and makeup for a spectacular senior session

How you feel has a big impact on creating a successful photo session.  You feel your best when you look your best.  Take a few minutes to read the tips below.  It takes the guesswork out of senior session preparation.

What to wear:

Keep it simple.   You want your clothes to accentuate your face, not detract from it.

  • Girls:  Simple top and jeans, pretty dress or anything that reflects your personality and sense of style.   Pay attention to undergarments.  You want to avoid showing bra straps and panty lines.  Shoes are also important so bring heels along with flats depending on your outfit choices.
  • Guys:  Jeans and a solid t-shirt, polo or dress shirt.  Avoid busy stripes or patterns.  Wear what makes you comfortable and reflects who you are.  Make sure dress shoes are scuff free and sneakers are fresh.

What you wear is important but don’t turn it into a major production.  Have fun, ask family for suggestions and don’t stress too much.  Worse case scenario, it might be an excuse to engage in some retail therapy! Try to avoid anything too trendy, and make sure everything is wrinkle free and extra outfits brought in on hangars, not thrown into a duffle bag. 

Finishing touches:

Hair, makeup and general hygiene (as silly as this might sound) are important.  Girls seem to have more questions about the best look for a senior session.  Because of this, some find it helpful to have their hair and makeup done by a professional.  We asked two local hair and makeup stylists what advice they give seniors to make their pictures something to treasure for years to come.

Hair:  Jessica Bean, Hair and Makeup Stylist, Trashy Roots in Washington, MO

  • How soon before a photo shoot should I get a hair cut? 

Getting your hair trimmed 2-3 weeks before the photo shoot would be best. If you want a more dramatic change, waiting until after, or a couple months before is best. This way so you know you will love it the day of your shoot.  

  • Should I do something different with my hair for this special event? 

It depends on the look you are going for. Most senior pictures are more casual so fixing it similar to your normal style is a good idea. Consider wearing your hair down and bringing a clip or bobby pins to quickly pin half up when you change your outfit. 

  • I always wear my hair the same way.  What is the benefit of seeing a stylist before my session?  Can't I just fix it like I always do at home? 

Yes, you absolutely can. Getting your hair done for a special event is always a treat. If you struggle with doing your hair, or want to do a style that is difficult for you, consider making an appointment so the day runs smoothly and you aren't stressed. 

  • I don't have time to visit a stylist before my session.  Do you have any recommendations I can do at home to keep my style fresh while shooting, especially outdoors?

You definitely want to practice your hair and makeup look. Make sure you like the way you plan to style it the day of your shoot. Using a good hairspray is a must! Also, if your hair lacks volume try a dry shampoo or texture spray to get extra lift. 

Make up:  Christine Newton, Hair and Makeup Stylist, Newton’s Salon in Washington, MO

  • I've never had my makeup applied professionally.  What are the benefits of doing this for my pictures? 

There are many benefits but the number one reason would be product placement to emphasize your features. Makeup artists have so many tools available to even skin tone, enhance features and create a bright, fresh look.  Your skin will be primed and made to look flawless with either airbrush or traditional makeup that will last for the entire shoot...and the rest of the day!

  • I normally wear make-up and prefer doing my own for the shoot.  Should it be applied a little heavier so it remains visible for the entire session?

If you prefer to do your own makeup, good for you! Here are some easy tips! Brows, brows, brows!!! Your brows really do "make your face" so fill them in with a color close to your hair color or just a shade darker. I like to use shadow with an angled brush! This is especially important for blonde clients during outdoor photos! Another good tip would be to apply about 30-40% more makeup! I bet you are thinking, “Whoa, that's way too much!” Well, for an everyday look, you are probably right, but for pictures, it's a must! So go just a touch heavier with the liner, shadow and blush to avoid looking "flat" in photos! Finally, invest in some fake lashes. For a very natural look, I like Salon Perfect 53 Lashes. For a little more drama, and the lash I use most frequently, I suggest Ardell Demi Wispies!

  • I normally don't wear make-up.  Should I keep that look or add a little something?

If you don't wear any makeup or very little on a regular basis, then the thought of getting your makeup done can be daunting! Whether you do it yourself or see a professional, a "natural" look still requires some basic rules to follow to ensure great photographs. You want your skin tone to be evened out, cheek bones enhanced and eyes big and bright! Again, makeup should enhance your features, not cover them up!

Guys  :  There are a few general rules to follow.  You should get a fresh haircut, shave and wash your face about an hour before the shoot. Oily skin is always a problem this time of year so we keep blotters on hand to address it.  Pretty basic stuff!

For Both Sexes:  Be mindful of clothing tan lines, sunglass tan lines, etc.  These will be a distraction in photos so we try to avoid them if possible.  Don't forget to have clean or freshly manicured nails because dirty nails or chipped nail polish will show!  

Regarding eyeglasses in photos… If your friends wouldn’t recognize you without your glasses, you should wear them for your shoot.  However, the glare from the glasses may detract from your eyes, so I suggest having your lenses removed from your frames or ask your eye doctor to loan you a pair of similar frames for the day.

Five basic tips for taking on your senior portrait with grace and confidence.

A little preparation before will leave you with photos that capture your personality and style.  You’ll treasure these photos for years to come!

1. Use your eyes.

Eyes express emotion. When you smile naturally your whole face lights up and your eyes look bright and awake.  It may seem silly but before the session, practice smiling in the mirror and using different expressions.  Focus on what feels natural and what feels awkward.  You can then try to avoid these facial expressions during the shoot.

2. Relax.

Great photos happen when you are relaxed and confident. Let the excitement of your photo session take center stage but remember to breathe, relax and just have fun.  It’s your special day with no stress attached.  I promise to do all I can to make you feel comfortable. My camera will do the rest.  The best pictures are taken when you can just be yourself.

3. Visualization.

Hands down, the easiest way to achieve a natural smile is to think about something that makes you truly happy!  Remembering a wonderful time or event in your life could have you grinning from ear to ear or looking dreamy.  Either way it makes for beautiful shots that aren’t forced.  If you are a little anxious in front of the camera, it can also help calm your nerves.  

4. Move.

Staying stationary can often produce a very staged and cheesy look.  Just because you are sitting or standing still doesn’t mean you can’t change the angle of your body to create a look that is fresh and inspired. From behind the lens I will ask you to lean into the camera slightly to appear more engaged, ask you to shift your weight from left to right possibly, or simply ask you to move your chin slightly up or down for different shots.  This gives me a variety of facial expressions to capture.

5. Beautify.

This goes for everyone. Girls, spend some extra time getting your hair styled, your makeup done and choosing a simple outfit that makes you feel special. There is no need to go overboard with hair or makeup but you’ll want to be sure your look can handle any outdoor elements like humidity or wind.  As for the guys, be freshly showered and shave. When you look your best, you feel your best and when you feel your best, you are naturally more confident. Go the extra mile to walk into your senior session feeling confident, attractive, prepared, and inspired.