Monday, July 7, 2014

FAQ: Tips for Shooting Seniors

It's no secret that I love shooting portraits! This morning I was sitting at my computer editing images from my most recent senior session and I started making a list of things I've learned over the past couple years of shooting seniors that I wish I had known when I first started!! So I thought I'd share them with you!! I'm absolutely still learning and I learn something new every shoot, but hopefully this will help someone!!!

1. Demonstrate!! This is huge for me. I sometimes have a hard time describing what I want when it comes to posing and sometimes I don't even know what I want until I demonstrate. It gives me a chance to try out what I want to do and see if it's comfortable or if it will even work. Especially if I'm having someone lay down or do something a little crazy, I will do it first so they know it's not THAT bad. Haha. 

2. Do running/walking/moving shots! I wish I had known this when I first started. I almost always start shooting a senior with a walking shot and end the shoot with a running shot. The walking shot loosens up the senior a little because they can look down and don't necessarily have to stare at the camera right away. And I end with running shots because once the senior is comfortable, it almost always makes them laugh!

3. Don't shoot everything with the senior looking at the camera. Make sure to get shots where they're looking off their shoulder or to the right or left side. It varies up the poses. I usually do each pose with the senior looking down, looking off, and looking at me.

4. Play music while you're shooting!! I actually have only done this with personal shoots but if you're feeling a little nervous, just turn on some music in the background. Don't blast it, obviously, but music ALWAYS loosens me up and as long as you're still communicating with your client, music is great!!

5. Don't be afraid to ask parents to give you and the senior a few minutes alone. Moms may not realize it but seniors are much more comfortable without them around. Usually as soon as parents step aside, I'm able to get more out of the senior. Make sure you're kind about it, though! Don't make anyone feel like they're a burden. 

6. Shoot less!!! I tend to be an over-shooter and I'm working on this but I'm really trying to focus on what I'm seeing in the camera. I'm making sure legs look natural, that no undergarments are showing, and that makeup and hair is how it should be. It takes practice but it's better to take the time to fix those things. Not only will you save yourself time post-processing, but you probably won't take as many shots if you're spending time fixing hair and whatnot. 

7. Ask questions!! It's so simple but make sure you're asking your client questions! Everyone loves to talk about themselves so if it's a senior, ask about their year, classes, college, sports, their summer, etc. It's hard to focus on shooting, light, posing, managing your camera settings, and chatting, I know!! But if you take your time and ask questions, you'll probably help who you're shooting feel more comfortable and in return, you'll get more natural poses.

8. Change lenses!!! I shoot all prime so I don't have the option of zooming which is nice because I am forced to change lenses and get a variety of focal lengths. I tend to use my 85mm 1.2L for 80% of my shoots but I'm noticing that when I challenge myself to shoot with my 35, I end up loving it!

9. Bring blotching squares (if it's hot), lipgloss, and powder! Usually I tell my seniors they're welcome to fix up their makeup during outfit changes, but just in case, I bring these three things!

10. Make sure to explain that if you're not talking, it's not because they're doing anything wrong. It just means you like what they're doing!! I sometimes take a step back for a minute and shoot if they happen to fall into a pose I didn't actually pose. But if you don't talk, sometimes people get nervous. So just explain what you're doing and that they're doing great!! And otherwise, make sure you're encouraging them! I tend to say the word "gorgeous" a thousand times during a shoot. Haha. 

Alright, those are my ten tips!! I'm sure there are more that I can't think of so if you have any questions, please ask me on Tumblr!! :)


  1. Great tips, Meredith! Totally book-marking this. :)

  2. love, love, love these! this entire post was so helpful and different from "normal" faq senior posts.
    you rock, babe.