The high school senior year. It’s a rite of passage for all students. It’s a year full of fun, friends, and creating memories. In most parts of the United States, photographing your child through senior portraits is either a requirement for the yearbook or a fun experience for their own enjoyment.
Gone are the days of a single image photographed on the same backdrop with the same drape for every child. Nowadays, high school seniors want a custom experience filled with lots of pictures in a variety of locations. Creating personal, memorable imagery for your child or a paying client takes a fun personality, the proper tools, and some great posing techniques.
THE RIGHT GEAR
Creating beautiful portraiture starts with using the right gear. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the ultimate workhorse in my studio. It is weather sealed, durable, lightweight, and has fantastic built-in image stabilization. I love to pair my camera with phenomenal prime lenses like the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.8 and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2 PRO or a zoom lens like the versatile M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. These lenses produce the most amazing, sharp portraits while living me soft, defocused backgrounds.
THE RIGHT LOOK
For all of my senior clients, I love to offer a clothing consultation. This ensures the senior arrives at their session with clothing and accessories that emphasizes their natural beauty, accentuates their positive features, and eliminates anything that distracts from their eyes and smile. I also like to offer all of my senior girls a full hair and makeup session. Senior girls love this! They feel pampered and beautiful while still showcasing who they are. Having their hair and makeup professionally done also helps to reduce the amount of retouching that needs to be done in post production. I would much prefer to spend my time in behind the camera instead of in front of the computer.
Note: I also offer the boys an opportunity to have their hair professionally done, however most do not choose this option.
THE RIGHT EXPRESSIONS
I have always said “expression over perfection.” I firmly believe that a beautiful expression is always more important than a perfectly posed subject. In order to capture my clients’ personality I love to spend time getting to know them. I ask them how they describe themselves. I ask them what they love and don’t love about themselves. If they see themselves as funny, I photograph them laughing. If they see themselves as joyful, I photograph them smiling. If they see themselves as serious, I photograph them with a thoughtful look.
THE RIGHT LOCATIONS
High school seniors love to be photographed in a variety of locations. When I do a senior session, I expect that I will spend several hours with my client visiting local parks, interesting architecture, or their own high school football field or gymnasium. Being able to create meaningful imagery in familiar locations is an important part of the high school portrait experience.
THE RIGHT POSES
High schoolers don’t want to look like little kids and their parents don’t want them to look too grown up. As a senior portrait photographer, you have to walk a fine line between making two (or more) very different people happy at the same time. Making your senior happy means creating fun opportunities for them to showcase their personality. Making their parents happy means creating imagery that reminds them how awesome their child is. Although I love to photograph creative poses and looks for my clients, the images that always sell are the smiling faces and simple, classic poses.
ABOUT LAURA HICKS
Laura Hicks is a professional portrait photographer with a personal passion for macro photography. Throughout her career, she has had the privilege of photographing hundreds of weddings and thousands of portrait sessions, and of being the official photographer for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” filmed in West Chester, Ohio.