For all of you students (and parents) you’re well aware that graduation is just around the corner. If you’re like us here at Three16, your year is already flying by and May will creep up on you faster than you can imagine. We know that senior pictures aren’t always the first thing on your mind or to-do lists, so this is just a friendly reminder! You definitely don’t want to be the one who withheld sending in a senior photo to the yearbook editor because you haven’t had them taken yet- only to realize it’s the last week of school and they’ve already sent in the yearbook to be published. Don’t end up stuck with your Junior year photo twice in a row! Because we’re approaching the end of the school year oh so quickly, to avoid that all together we suggest you check your schedule for availability and reach out to book a session ASAP if you haven’t already!
If you have no idea where to start or what to expect in a senior portrait session, we’ve got you covered! We’ve created a list of the most asked questions and answered every one so you don’t have to stress! Our job isn’t just to take your photos but to help you through this whole process.
Why not just shoot my senior photos myself or have a friend take photos?
Maybe you’ve been hesitating to book with a photographer because you’d rather take the photos yourself (#selfie !) or have a friend or family member do it for you. Taking photos with a phone, or on a camera not created for high-resolution photos, means that your photo may turn out discolored, blown-out, too dark, or highly pixelated. You don’t want to get the yearbook back and be the only one with a photo too pixelated to recognize.
As professional photographers, we know the most flattering angles, the best locations to shoot, and how to adjust camera settings properly for the perfect lighting. If you book with Three16, you can be assured that you’ll get high-quality photos that look beautiful and professional!
What can I use all my senior photos for?
There are so many ways to utilize the photos you get from your senior session! The most obvious use is for the yearbook. A lot of schools require seniors to have a professional photo in the yearbook. If they don’t receive a photo from a senior, they have been known to take the photo from the previous year. Not only can you use the photos for your yearbook picture, but for other school-related things like your own graduation announcements, or invites to your graduation party open house. Having an abundant supply of professional photos of yourself also means a ton of options for profile photos on social media! On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you’ll have plenty of options to post for #seniorsunday. Not to mention, leaving high school and starting towards a degree in the field you wish to work in means building your professional network, and having a professional photo for your Linkedin profile definitely helps!
Mom and dad are sure to want a framed photo (or two, or three) of you in the house- especially when you’re away at college. This way they’ll have plenty to choose from to display at home. Having professional senior portraits taken also gives them options to use on holiday cards, ornaments, or gifts to grandparents and other loved ones!
Where can I go to shoot a senior photography session?
There are plenty of amazing locations to shoot a senior portrait session in Southern California, but it all depends on your preference! We always suggest to our clients that they choose a location that suits them. From the beautiful sandy beaches of Laguna to the historic and enchanting atmosphere in San Juan Capistrano – at the Mission San Juan Capistrano and the Historic Downtown area. If you prefer mountain views and green fields, then we might suggest the Holy Jim Trail near Trabuco Canyon or the Hidden Redwood Forest in Yorba Linda. Maybe you’re interested in more of an urban location, and in which case we would suggest Old Town Orange. There are endless possibilities from which to choose. We encourage you to do your research and find a spot that fits your style. However, we’ve been capturing a wide array of photography sessions all over Southern California for years now and would love to recommend spots so you can skip all the tedious research!
What should I wear to a Senior photoshoot?
When it comes to senior pictures, the hardest part is picking out an outfit. You want to look nice, but don’t want to look or feel uncomfortable. Like picking a location, we recommend you go with an outfit (or outfits) that fit your style. These photos are a representation of who you are, so try to dress to be exactly that- yourself! Pack several outfits and styles, and try to make the colors and patterns diverse- not just your favorite hues and not just t-shirts (psst, guys, we’re talking to you!).
Make sure you’re comfortable!
Your number one goal while planning your wardrobe for your shoot is to be comfortable! If you choose tight-fitting clothing, and you’re not used to wearing super-fitted outfits, your discomfort will unfortunately probably end up showing on camera. Even if you have clothes that you love, but don’t love the look or way they fit you, leave them at home. If you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable, don’t include them in your lineup of outfits! You’ll be walking around, sitting, and maybe even laying on the ground, and we want you to feel at ease through it all!
Patterns, solids, and black and whites
Try to keep your clothing simple. As much as we love stripes, they, unfortunately, don’t always photograph well. When determining your outfit for the shoot, avoid large logos, words, pictures, designs, or crazy patterns. An exception to most patterns that do typically translate well in photos is plaid. Remember, you want your face and eyes to be the focus of the photo- not a bold print that draws the attention away. Solid black and white can sometimes cause skin tones to look washed out on camera. So our recommendation is to choose colors that compliment your skin tones and hair color, and that will pop on camera!
If you’re shooting your senior session during the colder months (fall and winter), wearing layers is the way to go! Not only does it mean that you can quickly change up your look (instead of having to entirely change your outfit), but it can add dimension and even more style to your wardrobe!
Changes of Clothes
We typically recommend bringing a few changes of clothes to your senior photo session. Choose 2-3 styles from either casual, cozy, formal, school-related, and/or sports-related. You want to have a variety of shots to choose from, and it’s more fun if you have different outfits! When transporting your extra outfits, keep them on hangers to avoid wrinkling. If you play a sport, bring your jersey, uniform, and/or equipment!
Footwear, jewelry, headpieces, and additional accessories
When choosing your outfits for a senior session, don’t forget about accessorizing! There are plenty of things you can pick to bring your outfit all together. Dangling earrings, long necklaces, bracelets, rings, headbands, shoes, hats- fedoras or beanies, scarves, and ties for the guys. Just make sure your shoes are clean and your socks are matching! A common question is if you wear glasses, do you take them off for photos? We would never force you to take your glasses off for photos, especially if they make you, you! Feel free to wear contact lenses, but don’t feel like you have to. We photograph plenty of people who wear glasses, and they look great!
Makeup and hair
Like we’ve stated, senior pictures are all about representing you! If you’re known for your beautiful curly hair, consider keeping it styled curly at least for a portion of the photos. Bring your makeup bag for touch-ups and don’t forget powder or oil-blotting wipes just in case! Avoid getting spray tans to keep from looking unnatural and orange. Amidst all the prep for your senior portraits, don’t forget about your nails! There’s bound to be at least a handful of shots with your hands, and you don’t want to be embarrassed by nails and hands in need of a little attention.
For your hair, consider just going with a simple curl, or straighten out the kinks. (Guys, we recommend a fresh shave and trimming any mustaches or beards.) We also offer makeup and hair services with our packages if you’d prefer to have a professional makeup artist and hairdresser pamper you and make you look and feel even more beautiful! They are trained specifically to make hair and makeup look amazing on camera. If you choose to do your hair and makeup on your own, it may look amazing in person but end up looking completely different in your photos. But if you choose to get styled by a professional, you’ll be pampered and look even more stunning in all your photos! If it’s not in your budget, that’s okay too! We just recommend doing your makeup a little heavier than you typically would- making sure to use foundation, at least some color on your lips, and eye color that is neutral and compliments your skin tone.
How do I incorporate my hobbies or sports I play into the session?
If you play a sport, consider bringing your jersey, uniform, and/or equipment as one of your outfit changes. If you have a varsity jacket, bring that along too! For those who don’t play sports, but play an instrument or have another hobby instead, don’t hesitate to ask to take some shots displaying that instrument or hobby. If you love horseback riding, feel free to ask about incorporating horses into your shoot as well. We want to show off who you are in these photos, and if you have something that you’d like to add, let us know!
What do I bring to a senior session?
A parent or friend can help you relax, and ease any tension or nerves you may be experiencing during the shoot. If you’re not used to being in front of a camera, having someone there that you know well can lighten the mood and make you more comfortable. It’s also nice to have whoever you bring help with clothing changes and watch out for hair or clothing adjustments! Pack a water bottle, brush, mirror, makeup for touch-ups, accessories for your outfit, shoes, changes of clothes, and any added props (like sports equipment or instruments).
When is the best time of year- or day- to book a senior photoshoot?
Being in Southern California, it’s very possible to schedule your senior session at any point in the year. There isn’t any snow, and most days are sunny and bright! We do, however, have a few recommendations for the most ideal shoots. If you’re currently a junior- soon to be senior- we personally think the best time to schedule a senior portrait session is in May where we aren’t quite in the super hot days of summer. Another suggestion for soon-to-be seniors in September. Sometimes the fall can get a bit hectic if you’re a fall athlete, but the weather is perfect and by then you’ll have your sports uniform if you’d like to incorporate it in. If you’re a senior about to graduate, we highly recommend getting a session in as soon as you can! April is a great time for senior portraits and leaves just enough time to use photos for grad announcements and invites!
The best time of day to shoot outdoor portraits is right before and during sunset- at a time of day called “golden hour”. The setting sun creates stunning colors and perfect lighting for your pictures!
What do I need to do to prepare for senior portraits?
First and foremost, check with your school to find out deadlines for yearbook senior photos. Next, check your own schedule and book a session with enough time before your school’s deadline! Plan and try on a couple of outfits before shoot day (see above for recommendations on what we recommend wearing). Lastly, practice a couple of facial expressions and poses in a mirror to get more comfortable. Don’t worry about coming up with poses on your own though- that’s what we’re here for!
If you have any other questions at all (if you can even think of any after this extensive list!) or if you’d like to book a session, just email us at email@example.com. We’re more than happy to help! Congratulations on being a Junior or Senior!