If you have a Senior session you’d like featured, click here to send us your photos!

How To Pump Up Your Senior Model Program


Today’s article is from .

Tosha Says:

This session was so much fun for me and my spokesmodels. I went with a fun theme – Jewel tones – to inspire their clothing choices and makeup. I think it turned out better than I had anticipated and the girls love sharing their images with their friends which brings me more referrals…SCORE!

Group laughing

This was my second year with my Senior Spokesmodel program and I had made some huge changes to pump it up! Here are the major changes I made to the fashion shoot to generate a ton of interest and help my girls promote me as much as possible:

1. Offering two different shoots.

My first change was offering two different fashion shoots instead of one. I broke the girls in to two groups so they could decide which one they were most interested in. One of them was a winter wonderland shoot and the other was the jewel tone inspired spring shoot (which is the one I’m featuring here).

This gave my models some options in case they weren’t interested in a jewel shoot or a winter wonderland shoot; they at least had another option to choose from.

Briana alley way

2. I spoiled my girls.

The next change was how I set up the shoot and spoiled the girls throughout the whole thing. When I was planning for my shoot I gave each girl a jewel tone color that would compliment their skin tone, hair and eye color. I worked closely with my MUA to help me make that decision and to determine how their makeup would feature that color. We decided to focus the color on their eyes and lips (one or the other on each girl).

This made each model feel pampered, and like I was paying close attention to each and every one (because of course, I was!).

Haleigh and Briana

3. Color swatches.

Next I gave each girl their color swatch (just picked up some color swatches from my local hardware store) and told them to go shopping! I started a GroupMe group for my Spokesmodels where they could share their finds with me and each other. This helped me make sure their outfits meshed well together and it showed the other girls what to expect. (And it made them totally excited for the shoot too!)

Ashlyn walking

4. Snacks.

During hair and makeup I had yummy snacks and a lunch ready to go since this was going to be a long day. I made sure of any food allergies ahead of time (one of them ended up being allergic to gluten). Making sure there is enough for the moms is important too! Don’t forget them 🙂


5. SnapChat.

Yes, SnapChat! One of the funnest and best marketing things I did was had a SnapChat takeover the day of the shoot. I got the idea from Ari Dorfman, who shared this with all the Seniors Ignite followers. I gave each girl a pre-designed image to post on their Instagram, the day before the shoot, that said they would be taking over my SnapChat for the next day and to follow me @toshacolephoto.

Then, the day of the shoot I had them post pics and video during their hair and makeup, during the shoot, and so on. I gained a ton of followers and had over 100 people viewing my story from that day!

Ashlyn window

6. Easy Promotion.

Finally, I focused on making sure my models could easily promote my studio with these images. I made sure that each Spokesmodel had a mobile app from StickyAlbums of the best images from the day. I even ran a contest that whoever got the most views and shares by the end of the month won an awesome prize.

Group sitting serious

There’s so much more to planning a Spokesmodel shoot than just picking outfits and makeup. You have to make sure it will generate interest and excitement that will lead to new clients.

I hope this helped give you some great ideas to pump up your Spokesmodel program!


Tosha used a Nikon D700 (affiliate link) & Nikon D300(affiliate link) with a Nikkor 85mm 1.4 lens (affiliate link) and a Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Tosha Lijewski is a Saginaw, Michigan Seniors Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Wardrobe and Styled Shoots.


Tosha has some great ideas regarding senior portrait photography, but if you’re looking for more, Seniors Ignite is really the place to get it. Everything from lighting to marketing to sales, you name it, they have information about it.


Finding Locations with Diversity


Today’s feature is from Tracy Waitkus.

Tracy says:

“These images are from a Class of 2016 senior portrait session that I took in August.”

Tracy’s Photography Tip:

My tip is location, location, location!

I do a lot of two-hour senior portrait sessions, where we have lots of time to shoot different outfits and go to two separate locations.

This particular senior portrait session was only a one-hour session, but I still wanted to deliver to my client a nice variety of images with different backgrounds, colors, textures, and moods. So, choosing a versatile location was key.

We decided to shoot this session in the Village of Arroyo Grande, which is an historic downtown area. Within just a few blocks, we had access to storefronts, vintage buildings, a swinging foot bridge, a green park with white fencing and a gazebo, and a creek area with lots of foliage.

What more could you want? And with one outfit change and the addition of a denim jacket, I was able to get a lot of different looks for my client to choose from.

So, if your shoot time is limited, you can still get the illusion of a longer, multi-location session by finding a location with diversity.






Tracy used a Nikon D610 (affiliate link) with a Nikkor 85mm 1.8G AF-S lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Tracy Waitkus is a San Luis Obispo County, California Portrait and Performing Arts photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location.

If you’re looking for more tips on all things Seniors, we highly recommend you check out everything by Seniors Ignite. They provide tons of free info on their blog about the senior portrait photography biz, plus produce tons of products and opportunities to learn more.

Read more about Seniors Ignite here (affiliate link).


Current Trends in Senior Portrait Photography

Current Trends in Senior Photography - Priscilla Davis Studio

If there’s one sect of the photography industry that’s constantly changing – it’s definitely the senior portrait market. One of our readers who specializes in Senior Portrait Photography, Priscilla Davis, shares some of the current trends in senior portrait photography industry – from makeup to unique shoot ideas – to help you stay on top of your senior portrait game.

Hair & Makeup

Professional Hair & Makeup - Priscilla Davis Studio

Getting all glammed up once or twice a year for homecoming or prom isn’t the only time to get pampered. Instead of just showing up for a photoshoot, girls these days LOVE getting some special treatment in the form of a great hair blowout, a styled hairstyle and/or some professional makeup to be photo-ready.

Some photographers include professional hair and makeup in their services while others only offer it if their client feels like it. I find that most teenage girls will opt in for the professional makeup because unlike simple hair curls and every-day makeup, most girls do not know how to do/wear the heavier makeup that works best for a photoshoot.

Plus, they want to play dress up a little bit! They love it.

Concept Shoots

Concept Shoots - Priscilla Davis Studio

Whether the idea comes from the photographer or the senior, I find that many photoshoots now have a concept or a “theme” to it. I love this idea of a concept shoot because it gives the photoshoot such a great sense of direction.

Many times the senior and the photographer will collaborate together to see what outfits photograph best, what type of makeup should be applied, and even what hairstyle fits best.

If a teen girl wants to look like Cinderella for an evening shoot, why not! It’s probably the one and only time she’ll have the chance and photographers will wind up with amazing images to add to their portfolio – so it’s a win win.

I also see photographers who can easily get burnt out from the day-to-day normal shooting, so a concept shoot is a great personal project to get them out of a rut and spark that creativity.

Candid Shots

Candid Shots - Priscilla Davis Studio

What is a candid shot? Well it’s certainly not a yearbook mugshot! Sometimes portrait photography can look so stiff and posed and even though models look amazing in certain poses in the pages of a magazine, teenage girls might have a hard time connecting with a certain pose or look.

A candid shot is capturing a natural expression or movement from the senior. A young girl laughing at something funny, strolling down the street and twirling in a fluffy dress are all examples of a candid shot.

These shots still require some direction from the photographer but I find that they are more relaxed and often result in genuine smiles and expressions from the senior.

Moms love these candid shots too because it reminds them of their little girl who is all grown up but still has the same smile since she was a toddler.

Unique Locations

Unique Locations - Priscilla Davis Studio

Teens are often thrown into a pool of uncertainty when they enter high school and they graduate with a newfound confidence. Photographs during their senior year should demonstrate that confidence, which why many seniors request a location that is either unique or their friends haven’t used.

Teens do not want to have their graduations announcements or pictures looking the same. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “everyone one else just goes to the park” for their senior shoot.

It’s important to work with teens on a great location that still has amazing light and opportunities for great images. Seniors and the photographers should work together to find a great location that matches the teens personality, wardrobe, and stands out.

Best Friends Shoot

Bes tFriends Photoshoot - Priscilla Davis Studio

Sometimes a photoshoot all by yourself can be scary and awkward, so what is the best way to remedy this? A Best Friends photoshoot!

Having two girls or a group of friends is a great way to get some of the most amazing candid shots and heartfelt photographs because teens tend to open up so much more when they are around their friends.

Documenting a friendship is especially important during Senior year because honestly, sometimes you don’t know if you really will be able to keep in touch with everyone.

Having images with your best friend is truly priceless and it makes a photoshoot so much fun. Everyone in the shoot has their own individual shots of course but when you get everyone together, it’s a full blown party.


For more killer tips on Senior Portrait Photography, Seniors Ignite (affiliate link) offers some of the most comprehensive, up-to-date info on the senior portrait photography market. Check them out here (affiliate link).


About the Author

Priscilla Davis a Las Vegas Senior Photographer who loves getting to know her wonderful teenage clients! Her clients become her friends and she captures their journey through their school achievements, their sports, their talents, their beliefs and their dreams. She’s a Canon girl all the way and is obsessed with all things Tiffany Blue and Apple.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Creative Lighting Techniques Using a Projector

Lyndsey wearing a Forever 21 dress and Ray Ban sunglasses

Today’s feature is from .

Photographers know that the use of creative lighting techniques can turn a normal photo session into an extraordinary one. Have you ever thought to use a projector as a photography tool?

Danielle says:

“For this session, I had a Valentine’s Day fashion theme. I shot with three awesome girls (one senior and two juniors) in fun, funky outfits from Forever 21, H&M, and American Eagle. I shot in studio with a Savage seamless background and just one single heart-shaped spotlight.”

Danielle’s Photography Tip:

The lighting technique I used for this session was extremely simple. I borrowed my boyfriend’s gobo projector – basically a spotlight. There are a bunch of stock images that you can buy or you can create a custom design. I just bought the stock heart design and put that in the projector to create the shape of the light. I used the white setting since the seamless paper was a pink tulip color, and also there were color filters that could also be added to make the heart more pink, red, purple, etc. It took two minutes to set up and I loved the look of the images.

Here’s one more tip: The projector is extremely bright, so standing off to the side a bit or shooting from below for some shots worked the best so that the models weren’t staring right into the light. I grabbed some sunglasses for my blue-eyed model, too, which helped! Shooting from the side also helps to not get your own shadow in the shot.

Lyndsey wearing a skirt and vest from Forever 21 and Ray Ban sunglasses
Anne wearing a Forever 21 skirt and top
Anne modeling a Forever 21 beanie
Dana in a Forever 21 skirt and her own top
Dana in a Forever 21 skirt and her own top

Danielle used a Canon Rebel T2i (affiliate link) with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Danielle Chudolij is a Boston, MA Senior Portraits, Wedding, and Family Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.

Off-camera lighting is key to understanding some of the ideas in this tip from Danielle. But if you’re not 100% familiar with it yet, it can be a bit of a struggle.

Thankfully, there are a lot of resources out there to help you understand the in’s and out’s of off-camera lighting, and one of our favorite guides (affiliate link) even includes a list of portrait recipes with 24 different lighting setups to use for quick reference.


Keeping Clients Confident on Cold, Cloudy Days

This is a prime example of why shooting in winter can be fantastic. Layers, faux fur, and so much texture.

Today’s feature is from .

Victoria says:

“Michaela’s session was a senior and dance session combo. I had worked with her in the past with dance, but was more than excited to be taking her senior photos as well.

We shot the session on Michigan State University’s campus, at the Board Art Museum and a few other areas around campus. It was absolutely freezing out, but Michaela was more than willing to brave the cold (even with bare legs!).

The first half of her session was focused on dance, using part of her costume from The Nutcracker. She wanted an “alternative” look, so she paired it with a lace top, bare legs, and long hair rather than the traditional top, tights, and a bun.

The second half of her session focused on her awesome sense of style. Not only is she gorgeous, but she also has some pretty amazing clothes.”

Victoria’s Photography Tip:

This session was shot on a very cold, overcast, ugly day. We made sure to bring plenty of blankets to bundle her up between shots, and I made heavy use of a reflector to brighten up her face.

Sometimes, it’s hard for clients to trust us when we tell them that shooting when it’s twenty-five degrees out, overcast, and in the dead of winter (with no snow in sight), can actually be a great thing.

By continually raving about the photos throughout the session, I know I helped Michaela and her mom both feel more comfortable with the shoot.

During outfit changes, I’d look through what we’d already shot and talk about how amazing they were turning out, how excited I was to process them and show them.

I’d also thank them for trusting my instinct and experience, and continued to reassure them that overcast days are better than full on sunshine because the light looks better, there are less squinting eyes, etc.

I know that both Michaela and her mom left the session feeling confident with the images that we got, as well as the experience as a whole.

This has to be my favorite dance photo from the set. This perfectly captures Micheala's essence.
Dancing on pointe always turns out beautifully in photographs. Attention to the little details, like the arch of her foot, makes all the difference.
Allowing her to have freedom with posing during the dance portion of our session provided with some very elegant images.
This image showcases the "alternative" feel that Michaela was hoping for.
The tall grassy areas around the museum provided for some great contrast compared to the metal building.
Allowing Michaela to relax throughout or session helped keep poses flowing freely and  natural looking.
Michaela's eyes were just to die for. I had to showcase them in at least one image.

Victoria used a Canon 6D (affiliate link) with a Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Victoria Simmons is a Columbus, GA and Phenix City, AL Seniors and Couples photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Relations and Lighting.

Working with seniors is really fun and rewarding, but also challenging – who are you marketing to? Their parents? The seniors themselves?

Thankfully, the masterminds at Seniors Ignite (affiliate link) recognize this challenge, and have put together a ton of free information on their website all about addressing this issue. Check out the Seniors Ignite Website (affiliate link).

Bringing Seniors Out Of Their Shell


Today’s feature is from .

Mitch says:

“These images are part of Luke’s senior portrait session that were taken in Anchorage, Alaska.

The first day we went out to photograph it was an absolute downpour of torrential rains, so we were mostly limited to photographing in areas with overhead cover.

For day two of Luke’s session we lucked out with better weather (which is always a blessing in Alaska!) and were able to walk around downtown to photograph in various locations.

We have a general rule at our studio too when it comes to finding great places to shoot – the more awful the place smells, and the more sketchy it looks, its likely the best place for pictures!”

Mitch’s Photography Tip:

One of my favorite parts about working with high school seniors is bringing them out of their shell and showing their character!

A lot of the times Senior Year is a year of self discovery, and oftentimes their senior photos are the first time they are expressing their newly found selves.

Conversation can be a bit awkward at first, but as the session evolves, its important to maintain high energy the entire time.

Most importantly, make sure they feel comfortable in their poses.


Mitch used a Canon 5D Mark III (affiliate link) with a Canon 70-200mm 2.8 (affiliate link) lens, a Canon 24-70mm 2.8 (affiliate link) lens, and a Canon 50mm 1.8 (affiliate link) lens lens to capture these images.

Mitch Kitter is an Anchorage, Alaska and Destination Senior Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Personality and Location.

Working with seniors is a lot of fun, but marketing to them is a bit different than other portrait markets.

The leaders behind Seniors Ignite know this, and there are tons of free resources all about Senior Portrait marketing on their website. Check it out here!


In-Camera Settings and Post Production


Today’s feature is from .

Stephanie says:

“This photo session is pretty special to me because it was such a needed creative release for myself.

For a big chunk of the year I had been photographing the same types of shoots without having time to do any creative work on my own. So I grabbed one of my favorite models and we made an afternoon of it.”

Stephanie’s Photography Tip:

My biggest tip to photographers is to not shoot at a time where you don’t really have control of the sun.

You’re so limited at high noon that it’s hard to get that really pretty lighting that either early morning sunrise or sunset can achieve.

Another tip is to capture photos the way you want them to be edited.

For example, if I want my photos to be on the warm side, then I set my in-camera white balance to a little on the warm side so my images come straight out of camera closer to the way I want them to look as a finished product.

I do this to minimize the amount of post-processing and over-editng as much as possible.


Stephanie used a Nikon D4s (affiliate link) with a 35mm lens to capture these images.

Stephanie Parsley is a Central and Northwest Arkansas Wedding and Portrait photographer, but also shoots all over the country and internationally as well.

Click here to see more tips on Camera Settings.

If you still need a bit of help with the manual settings on your camera (which you need to know how to do to custom set white balance), one of our favorite quick-start guides by Photography Concentrate will put you on the fast path to nailing it!


Working with Distant Locations


Today’s feature is from .

Tosha says:

“This session was very unique for me considering that I had never been to the shoot location before. This location meant so much to Anissa, because it’s the same Christian summer camp that she went to when she was a child and now works there as a leader.

I took some excellent steps to ensure that, even though I hadn’t shot at the location before, I could still give my client amazing images!”

Tosha’s Photography Tip:

Shooting at a location that I had never been to, and was so far away that I wasn’t about to test shoot there, absolutely made me nervous at first!

But now that I’ve done it, I have some excellent tips that can help you overcome those nerves and let your creative juices flow.

First, get an idea from your client of what’s at the location. I explained to Anissa and her mom that when I shoot at a location I like to know that there is a lot of variety to work with.

They explained that it was a wooded location that had little cabins, a little beach, and multiple little areas that the camp used for different events.

The second thing I did was use Google Earth to get an aerial view of the location, which helped me get an idea of where the sun would be while we were there.

The beach was tiny but seemed great to add that extra something to the images. My view was very wooded but I could tell there were various overturned logs and fallen trees that would make for great environmental backgrounds.

This got me super pumped to shoot there!

With all the prep work I had done, once I finally got to the location I felt pretty prepared! If I hadn’t, I would have been stressing out trying to find all of these little spots and may have missed the timeline for our second location, which was to take place in town during dusk.

Bonus tip: Be sure to charge for the extra travel and time. This location was an hour away, which extended my overall time of the shoot and travel from 2 hours to 4. Plus the drive was extra in gas, which needs to be accounted for.

Branch out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges. I hope this little tip helps!

Anissa beach
Anissa sitting
Anissa headshot
Anissa hat
Anissa laying

Tosha used a Nikon D700 (affiliate link) and a Nikon D300 (affiliate link) with a Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8 lens (affiliate link) and a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Tosha Lijewski is a Great Lakes Bay Region, Michigan Senior Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location.

One of the best ways to make sure all travel expenses are covered for travel outside of your usual radius is by putting all travel expenses and additional mileage in your senior portrait contract (affiliate link).

That way, the client understands from the beginning that they are responsible for those fees and it’s worked into their total session fee.


Why Your Senior Model Program Isn’t Working


Everyone in your area is trying to get models to promote their studios. Except it’s not working for them because traditional rep programs don’t work.

Not only that, but the few models that those studios are getting aren’t ideal clients. Models who don’t place orders, expect everything for free and never refer anybody.

They are giving away more than they are bringing in!

And you know why?

You’re doing it wrong.

It’s time you started making more money in your senior business and attracted the right type of senior clients!

The Seniors Ignite Model Marketing System

Seniors Ignite is an industry-leading standard when it comes to Senior Portrait Photography, and are always on the ball when it comes to the changing marketing patterns of Senior Portraits Marketing.

Their Model Marketing System is a complete, proven system created by Jen Basford (one of the Seniors Ignite Masterminds), and is the exact blueprint she uses to bring in $30,000+ just from her model program each year.

In other words – let your competitors chase the ‘headache’ models and their high maintenance parents and let Seniors Ignite give you the tools you need to find the right models and learn exactly how to approach them. You’ll get them excited to work for you – for free!

The Model Marketing System is delivered in a simple-to-follow, go-at-your-own-pace package created for helping photographers market and grow their senior business with a senior model program.

It includes:

4 Teaching Calls
Jen Basford details the exact system she uses to bring in $30,000+ from her own, highly-successful Model Program

Beautifully Designed Marketing Templates (shown below)
Use the marketing pieces as is, or easily customize them to fit your own look. With Jen’s Senior Model Program templates all the work has been done for you. You simply drop in your own images, colors, and branding and you’re ready to go.


Copy + Paste Scripts
Jen has included her exact scripts, wording and forms that she uses in her own model program. No more guessing how to approach them, what to say, and how to word it – everything is already laid out and ready to go. No more struggling with when to contact them, what to say, or how to say it – it’s all right here, including her exact model contract that keeps her models in check all year long.

If you photograph seniors at all, you owe it to yourself to check out this program on how to run a successful senior model program.

Get $100 off!

The Model Marketing System usually runs for $499, but with the special Belovely You code belovelymms you can get the whole system for just $399 (a 20% savings).

But don’t wait!

I knew that Jen had already run the course LIVE this year, but she agreed to bundle the recorded teaching calls together and offer it again to you guys for just a few days – only through December 8th!

Check it out here and turn your Senior Portraits business around!



*Thank you for using the links above, as they help us earn a commission and support the site, keeping it free for everyone.

Senior Portrait Tips from Jessica Drossin


Today’s feature is from .

Jessica says:

“The young woman in this session really wanted her senior portraits to be an urban session to express how much she loved visiting downtown LA.”

Jessica’s Photography Tip:

I’ve actually got a few different tips related to this session, so here goes:

1. Senior Portrait Success. I think a huge key to making a senior session a success is showing the model the work as it progresses by sharing the back of camera images somewhat regularly. Essentially, you are teaching them about what looks good in terms of modeling while also building trust. If they don’t like something (i.e. “my hair looks too messy”), you will hear about it early on so there are no surprise emails later.

2. Lighting in an Urban Setting. The biggest issue for me is always finding flattering light. This can sometimes be a little tricky in an urban environment with tall buildings casting shadows. We really timed the session around how the light was going to change, so I finished with my open sky images last and shot the open shade images first.

3. Color and Cohesiveness. For the overall color and feel of the session, I took some liberty and enjoyed playing with color and details. I used a variety of the tints I create in order to push the color palette and make the overall image feel unified.

There you have it! Enjoy my session, and try out some of these ideas in your next senior session!


Jessica used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens to capture these images.

Jessica Drossin is a Los Angeles, CA Portrait, Fine Art, and Wedding photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location and Lighting.

Jessica did a great job with the color palette in these images, but to do that she definitely had to have a solid knowledge and understanding of Photoshop and Lightroom.

If you’re looking to beef up your skills, check out a 7-day free trial at Lynda.com – there’s tons of tutorials on both programs that should get you started in the right direction.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Blending Traditional With Modern

Senior Portrait with mom's favorite dress

Today’s feature is from Dana Zebrowski.

Dana says:

“This was a very special photo session as it featured a senior from the dance studio I teach at. I have watched Hanna grow up and become a beautiful young lady and an amazing dancer.

Her mom had dreamed of having portraits taken of Hanna in a simple black leotard and skirt with pointe shoes, and I totally loved this idea. So simple, yet so glamorous and elegant!

Hanna and her mom had the best time shopping and coming up with outfits for Hanna to wear. They had lots of ideas for props and we managed to get it all in, so we shot the session all the way up until dark.

The gusts of wind and looming dark clouds couldn’t stop us! Hanna totally rocked it!”

Dana’s Photography Tip:

It can be challenging to balance a session when you have a parent who wants traditional photos and a senior who wants a more modern look, so my tip for this session is to combine classic and traditional poses and settings to please the parents with a more edgy and modern looks to please the senior.

During Hanna’s senior session, we chose outfits that both Hanna had picked out as well as her mom’s favorites. We also made sure to include poses and locations that made them both happy as well as showed off each of the styles they were looking for.

Hanna wanted the beach and her mom wanted something with flowers and a greener backdrop. Thankfully we found both at the marina location we chose.

Hanna and her mom couldn’t have been happier with the result. We covered the more traditional photos with Hanna holding a sign saying “Class of 2015” and posing on a green lawn and under flowering trees. For the more modern look, we did poses on the docks, the beach (Hanna’s choice) and with a more dramatic feel.

Her mom wanted photos of Hanna in a classic black leotard and skirt and we combined this look with a dramatic feel. A looming storm gave us the dark background and the poses added to the drama.

So when you have two very different ideas for a session, don’t panic. Just try to find a way to pick the most important aspects each person wants and work them in. It can be done, you may just have to use some creativity.

Senior Portrait dancer pose
Senior Portrait traditional pose on beach, a compromise
Senior Portrait dance pose, classic yet edgy

Dana used a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 85mm 1.2 lens and a Canon 35mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Dana Zebrowski is a Hampton Roads Family, children, Wedding, and Couples photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Personality.

Seniors can be a lot of fun to work with, but marketing for seniors can be a little different than marketing for other types of portrait sessions.

The masterminds behind Seniors Ignite know this too, so make sure to check out what they have to say on the subject.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.


Underwater Photography

Arizona senior underwater in prom dress by Phoenix senior photographer Alyssa Campbell

Today’s feature is from .

Alyssa says:

“Ashlee wanted a fun shoot that was different from her friends’ senior photos. Instead of going to all of the usual places, we instead hopping in the water with one of her old formal dresses and created different and beautiful portraits of her in her pool.”

Alyssa’s Photography Tip:

Seniors are looking to stand out from their friends and get social approval and attention. Offering a one-of-a-kind session with something that generates buzz – such as an underwater session – will create word of mouth referrals and keep the inquiries coming in.

I recommend looking at what your competition doesn’t offer – anything from a different type of session or a different kind of product that answers the need of seniors to be different – and marketing that. What would your ideal client respond best to? Where is the best place to market this unique offering that would get eyes on your work?

I have been photographing seniors and couples underwater for about four years. Being underwater creates a lot of challenges, the number one of which is protecting your gear. Research all of the housing options, keeping in mind your specific needs before committing to anything. I have found cheaper housings are not as effective as investing in the more expensive housings.

The second biggest tip about photographing people underwater is lens selection. You want your pool to be as clear as possible. The more water between you and your subject, the more particles you have to clone out later and the more contrast you will need to add. So, a wider, sharp lens is a must – which is why I typically shoot at least as wide as 35mm.

Senior girl in prom dress underwater  by Phoenix senior photographer Alyssa Campbell
Underwater prom dress photos  by Phoenix senior photographer Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa used a Canon 5D Mark II in Ikelite housing with a Canon 17-40 F/4 L lens to capture these images.

Alyssa Campbell is a Phoenix, AZ Wedding, Senior & Underwater Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Personality.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Using Reflectors in Low Light

I just love how dark and contrasty this image turned out.

Today’s feature is from Chelsee Teleha.

Chelsee says:

“This was my first ever styled session, featuring my good friend and coworker Paige! I took lots of time planning the poses I wanted to use, and Paige took direction really well as I posed her.

My wonderful friend and makeup artist provided incredible makeup, and the flower crown was custom made and the necklace was specially chosen. For the location I contacted my old middle school teacher to ask if we could use his yard because it is just lovely.

I am so happy with how it turned out! I’ve always wanted to do a styled session and I’m so glad I got to do it. They’re a lot of work, but the end result is so satisfying!”

Chelsee’s Photography Tip:

Lots of different aspects went into this session. I shot about 45 minutes before sunset, and it was relatively overcast. For some of the images I used a reflector to bounce some extra light back into her face. In the shade, I held the reflector sort of flat like a pancake to illuminate her face.

And when the sun was behind her, we held the reflector more straight on in order to bounce some extra light back into her face. I also needed to bump up my ISO up into the thousands, since I was shooting in pretty low light conditions most of the time.

I like to shoot wide open (for a nice bokeh affect) and at fast shutter speeds (to avoid motion blur since it was low light and I was using the camera hand-held) so my ISO had to be raised to compensate.

Obviously not all settings and lighting tips will translate into every session, but generally I find that shooting with a fast shutter speed and wide open aperture creates gorgeous images with a dark, contrasted background. When I raise my ISO pretty high, I find that the noise reduction function in ACR helps a ton to reduce noise artifacts.

I shot this in the shade and used a reflector held underneath her to bounce extra light into her face.
I love the natural feel of this pose! Plus the direct light was perfect, it was just the right amount of overcast.
I love backlighting! The background looks bright and vivid, and I used a reflector to bounce light back onto her.
I love haze and sun flare. The lighting was tough, so I had to use manual focus.
I had to get a closeup of the amazing makeup by my makeup artist. The sun was to Paige's left, so I held a reflector to her right to reduce the shadow on her face.

chelsee used a Canon 6D with a Canon 85mm 1.8 lens and a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Chelsee Teleha is a Northeast Ohio Senior portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.

Looking at specializing in senior portraits? Seniors are great fun, and a lot of photographers are picking up on this.

If you’re looking to get into senior photography though, make sure you have all your bases covered with things like model releases and contracts.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Using Interests to Inspire a Shoot


Today’s feature is from Sophia McClure.

Sophia says:

“For this photo session, we wanted to create something unique that properly represented her personality. We gathered some props that helped me tell her story and went over to the forest, which thankfully had phenomenal lighting.

It was the golden hour, around 5:30 in the afternoon here in Illinois, so those golden rays were brilliant. Good lighting always makes everything easier, from posing all the way through to editing.”

Sophia’s Photography Tip:

As a portrait photographer, it’s essential that you create images that are creative and unique for whoever you are photographing. Sometimes this can be really hard to do, especially because Pinterest makes it so hard not to copy other photographer’s ideas. Here are my suggestions for how to take original photographs that portray your subject’s personality.

Everyone is unique, so firstly: ask your subject about the things they enjoy doing. This can give you prop ideas which, when incorporated, can get those great ideas in your head flowing. In addition, adding these familiar items or activities usually makes your subject more comfortable because they are utilizing things they’re familiar with.

Another way to get those ideas flowing is a relatively simple concept: try or learn something new! Are you normally a bright, contrast-y editor? Try a low-key edit. Is your posing usually smiley and happy with little direction? Try a serious pose, carefully constructed from the direction of the eyes to the placement of the toes.

However, keep in mind that while it’s great to try new things, you still need to make sure that if you are doing a paid shoot you get enough solid keepers too. If you are nervous about trying something a little bold with a paid session, offer to do a free session to someone with whom you are comfortable. Turn it into a fun get-together and hangout afterwards. That can really get those creative juices flowing.



Sophia used a Nikon D610 with a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens to capture these images.

Sophia McClure is a Sterling, IL photographer.

Click here to read more tips about showing off your Client’s Personality.

Need some creative ideas with your editing? Sophia has the right idea, that every once in a while it’s fun to experiment and try new things – whether it’s with lighting, posing, or even editing.

So next time you sit down to edit, try adjusting the temp and white balance a little different than usual, or adjust the curves and give your images a matte finish, or even try experimenting with some of the great presets and actions out there.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Working With Senior Guys

Urban Senior Guy Photo Session with Grafitti

Today’s feature is from .

Suzanne says:

“Selecting locations for my high school seniors that truly represent who they are and incorporate the things they love is something I pride myself in and have built my business around.

Upon learning Aaron’s passion for music I knew instantly the perfect spot for his senior portraits – a grungy, urban band practice space in an old warehouse building in the city.

Utilizing a variety of locations in and around the building provided us some incredible light, color, and texture, and produced an amazing one-of-a-kind senior portraits session.”

Suzanne’s Photography Tip:

Many high school senior photographers shy away from working with senior guys. I, however, embrace them! The guys are so cool, laid-back, and fun. And believe it or not, just like the girls, they want awesome senior pictures too.

When working with senior guys you have to keep it real. No cutesy looks or awkward poses. Their body language has to flow naturally from one pose to another with a masculine feel. And make it quick – the last thing they want to do is stand around while you snap a hundred shots.

Mix their facial expressions up with some serious and some smiling (those are always Grandma’s favorite). To nail the serious look my trick is to have them look away from the camera. I’ll instruct them to look at me on the count of 3, which usually yields a perfect serious-but-inquisitive look every time.

Finally, pick a location that is of some interest to the senior. Many of my guy athletes want their senior portraits at the local high school – on the track, around the ball field, or in the stadium. I’ve taken my senior actors for shots outside the local theater, and of course, my musician, Aaron, at the band practice space.

Incorporating a senior guy’s likes and hobbies into their session also insures their interest and active participation, which nails a perfect image every time.

Black and White Senior Portrait with Guitar
Grungy Musician Senior Portrait
Senior Guy Musician with Guitar and Grafitti
Senior Guy Portrait in Urban Location
Musician Warehouse Practice Space Senior Guy Portraits

Suzanne used a Nikon D610 with a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens to capture these images.

Suzanne neace is a Rochester, New York High School Senior Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location and Client Personality.

Need a little more experience working with senior guys? Suzanne’s not wrong, in that a lot of photographers can sometimes shy away from working with the guys.

But like Suzanne also said, they can be a lot of fun! At the Seniors Ignite event in February, the senior models they use during the portfolio-building sessions is a mixed crowd of both guys and girls.

So if you’d like closer instruction on working with guys, we definitely suggest you check the event out – but don’t forget to use our special Belovely You discount code!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Boosting Confidence During a Shoot


Today’s feature is from .

Lisa says:

“This is the lovely Hannah – she was one of my 2014 senior representatives. Her session was done in 2 parts – a spring shoot in the red rocks and a fall shoot here in Kingman. Hannah is such an outgoing, friendly girl and I hope to have captured that in her images.”

Lisa’s Photography Tip:

When working with seniors (or ANY client really) the key is to make sure that they are comfortable with you. That will translate to natural, relaxed looking images.

Communication is so important in this – make sure that you talk to your senior client, ask about their interests, their boyfriend/girlfriend, their plans for the future, etc. And then, when you get a killer shot, show it to them on your camera’s LCD screen! This will help build confidence and make the rest of your session sail smoothly.


Lisa used a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 200mm 2.0L lens and a Canon 85mm 1.2L lens to capture these images.

Lisa Holloway is a Las Vegas, Nevada and Northern Arizona Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Relations.

Need to give your senior portraits biz marketing a boost? Having some of the most gorgeous images in the world (like these) is great, but if no one has heard of you – does it help? No, not really.

While I’m sure Lisa has clients lining up to work with her, that’s not always the case – and the Masterminds behind Seniors Ignite know this.

They’ve put together a bundle of low-cost, proven marketing techniques (that they themselves have used) just for senior portrait photography. It comes with templates, marketing strategy guides, and bonus action sets too. Check it out here, but don’t forget to use the special Belovely You discount code!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

How your clients can market for you


Today’s feature is from .

Joey says:

“The session I am submitting was shot with one of my seniors, Molly, whom I met Molly while photographing the plays and musicals at our local high school. Not only is she obviously beautiful but she is a riot as well. So much so that I had been looking forward to working with her since she was a sophomore in high school.

I love working with all the theater kids and Molly is someone very special. We shot in the studio for about an hour then took a forty minute ride to a location where I grew up. Her session yielded over six hundred images so choosing eight here was difficult.

Molly started singing in elementary school and performed in shows whenever she had the opportunity, and was one of the leads in Aida – which is her favorite to date. Once she graduates in 2015, she will be pursuing a career in business and finance and her top choice schools so far are Northeastern, George Washington Univ, and Boston Univ.

For our session she created her own personal clothing style by mixing trendy pieces with basics.”

Joey’s Photography Tip:

You need to have a genuine interest in the kids.

My career has never been just about taking pictures for money. There is a purpose to my work.

I’ve often been asked to do workshops or teach on a PPA level but have always refrained because my work or personal style really is generated from my relationships and conversations with my seniors (I am very much a conversationalist) and I don’t know how to teach that other than explain that it’s just my personality.

I am genuinely interested in every kid that I get to work with. I photograph young adults who are nearing the end of the comfort and safety of their childhood. I want to know everything about them. Their family dynamics, what their plans for their future are, how are they doing in school, who their friends are, crazy stories about their childhood, etc.

I don’t consciously look at it as a goal to make a new friend, either; rather, my goal with every session is for my subject to never feel as though they are being photographed, but rather more like they’re just hanging out with a friend. We then become good friends in the process.

I can relate to every ‘food group’ of kids too – jocks, nerds, burnouts, and non-conformists. I’ve been told I can have an intelligent conversation with a tree.

The way I see it, I have a responsibility not only as a photographer but as a mature adult (and a dad myself) to give the best experience and images to the kids as well as have a genuine interest in the well-being of the kids for their parents and our school community.

Because I’m neutral and non judgmental (not a teacher nor their parent), the kids will open up freely in conversation and truly express themselves. I will never take that responsibility for granted, and my images show it. Not only that, but the kids know it, and so do their parents.

Here is an example of what one of my seniors, Amanda, wrote about her session recently:

Joey and I had worked together previously, as he photographed most of our shows at Cheshire High School. It was amazing and fun to work with him, but I could never have imagined the level of awesomeness I experienced. My session was an absolute blast. Joey has an easygoing way about him that made me feel as though I could be my honest self around him, and that’s what makes his portraits so real. He captures the essence of everyone’s unique beauty and makes you feel like more than just a high school senior. In fact, I never felt like a senior. The portraits express my character and tell a story of who I am. They are worth a thousand words and more. I could never thank him enough.

When you reach that point where everyone knows you genuinely care about them  (and you’re getting reviews like the one Amanda left me above), you’ll create a following and you will never have to market yourself. Your clients will do it for you.


Joey used a Nikon D3 with a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, a Nikkor 50mm lens, and a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens to capture these images.

Joey Jones is a New Haven, CT Senior Portraits photographer. Joey is also one of the lead shooters at the Seniors Ignite event in San Diego in February 2015.

Click here to see more tips on Client Relations and Client Personality.

Want to watch Joey in action and see how he interacts with clients? Joey is one of the lead shooters at the 2015 Seniors Ignite event, which means that event attendees will get a chance to work with Joey directly.

If that sounds like something you’d love to, check out more about the Seniors Ignite event here, but don’t forget to use the special Belovely You discount code!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Senior Portraits Marketing

We’ve seen some pretty awesome examples of senior portrait photography so far this month, from both our audience and from the Seniors Ignite lead shooters.

But being an amazing senior portraits photographer is only half the battle – you also need to know how to market to seniors.

As you can guess, this is something the Masterminds at Seniors Ignite have already thought of, and addressed.

Enter – the Spark Marketing Bundle.


The Spark Marketing Bundle is a grouping of seven proven, low-cost marketing techniques used successfully by the Seniors Ignite Masterminds to market to their ideal seniors.

It also comes complete with ready-made templates and a guide for each marketing strategy.

Here are some of the topics and items included in the guide:

  • A year-round marketing piece template for either mailers or digital use (and includes the .psd file!)
  • The Instax Social Media Marketing Idea used successfully by multiple Seniors Ignite masterminds
  • A Social Media Marketing Guide, which includes a social media quick guide and Instagram tips
  • The Post Prom Marketing idea that will put you in front of your target senior clients (and help you give back to your community!)
  • A lighting and posing guide that explains the psychology and thought process of how it works during a session
  • Social Media Referrals and Templates for getting in front of your target senior market on social media
  • Email Marketing for High School Seniors – which is possible (no really, it is), you just have to know how to do it.

Plus there’s some great bonus material like info on senior guys sessions and an action set used by one of the Seniors Ignite lead photographers:

ooo pretty...

ooo pretty…



To help us celebrate our senior month, Seniors Ignite has provided us a special discount code belovelyspark25 for $25 off the bundle. Head on over here to check it out and pick up your copy!

Don’t hesitate though – it’s only available til the end of September, and then taken off the shelves for good!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Metro Senior Sessions


Today’s feature is from .

Teri says:

“This session was styled using metro-downtown as the setting at the specific request of our senior client. During the consultation, she said she wanted to design the shoot around fashion-edgy outfits in a modern setting that did not include a field or nature settings.

This is what prompted me to suggest a particular area of our metro downtown.”

Teri’s Photography Tip:

Shooting in a busy metro downtown area can be exciting and tricky. I have found that the time of day and the day of the week make a big difference. While traffic and headlights can create a great setting for telling the story, I prefer to have big open spaces and less traffic.

For this reason, I prefer to shoot an urban downtown session on a quiet Sunday late afternoon/evening. This ensures little to no traffic in the areas I want to shoot.

If you are interested in using your own metro area for a photo shoot, there may be restrictions to shooting on certain properties. Keep this in mind, so as not to be “shooed off” during your shoot.

Federal buildings and Federal grounds (such as the capital grounds of a city or the pretty park areas around your government buildings) typically are off-limits or at the very least require a permit. Yes, they are gorgeous, but it’s usually illegal to shoot there so just make sure to research and know your city.

My favorite areas to shoot in are alley ways because the light bouncing between the buildings can be phenomenal. This is another reason to consider a quiet weekend—city workers are not using the alleys and FedEx and UPS trucks are not parked there at that time.

Alleys also have great hidden treasures; however, they can also be unclean so warn your client and have things to use for them to sit on if they are wearing pretty dresses. They may not care, but some girls do so be prepared.

Parking garages are another fabulous source for great lighting and great views of the cityscape. Again, little to no cars on a Sunday evening means you can achieve amazing results with wide open spaces.

Look for great locations through the walls of the 2nd and 3rd stories of a parking garage and hover near the outer edge for amazing shifts of light.

Lots of stairs, steps, and interesting structures can also be found in the city so look for these. Have 3-4 key areas planned beforehand so you aren’t requiring your senior to walk for blocks and blocks in heels.

Tip: have her bring comfortable flat shoes for walking from area to area. Another tip: plan a scouting trip of your own downtown area to find the hidden treasures that are otherwise not seen by car.

Most metro areas are rather drab due to lots of concrete (though solid concrete walls can work wonderfully for a solid and creamy background with proper exposure), so be sure to help your senior design her wardrobe with lots of bold colors.

The main advantage to shooting metro is your senior will surely stand out as the main feature against the monotone concrete structures!

But also remember that there are many buildings that will have certain color tones that can work well to contrast and match many of your client’s outfits. Look for those.

Next time you have a senior asking for something other than the country-field look, consider your very own downtown city (whether small or large) for some interesting and unique looks.

And then mix it up each time you go metro by using new and varied areas with each of your seniors. Have fun and dare to seek the amazing nooks and crannies of your city!


Teri used a Canon 5D MKII with a Canon 85mm 1.2 lens and a Canon 50mm1.2 lens to capture these images. She also works with Seniors Ignite and is one of the lead photographers at the Seniors Ignite event in February.

Teri Fode is a Sacramento, California Senior Portraits photographer. Teri is also one of the lead shooters at the Seniors Ignite event in San Diego in February 2015.

Click here to see more tips on Location.

Love Teri’s photos? Want the opportunity to work with her directly? As we mentioned, Teri is one of the lead photographers at the Seniors Ignite event, along with some of the other amazing photographers we’ve seen already like John, Brad, Jen, Allison, and Cheri.

These photographers will be leading some of the portfolio-building sessions at the event, giving you the opportunity to learn directly from them. Check out more about the event here, but don’t forget to use the special Belovely You discount code!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Conceptual Shoots – Good For You And Your Biz


Today’s feature is from .

Cherie says:

“Anyone who photographs seniors on a full-time basis,understands that this is always an intense, high-energy, and creatively-exhausting time of year.

Because of this, I try to schedule time to do at least one over-the-top conceptual creative shoot sometime during the peak of this hectic season.

It helps me get back to the artistic side of portraiture, and re-ignites my inner creative flame, and motivates and inspires me to create compelling images that are unique and exciting throughout the rest of my senior season.”

Cherie’s Photography Tip:

I always try to stay inspired. I am always on the look-out for inspiration and ideas I can use for a conceptual shoot, sometimes collecting ideas along with images over several months. I piece together colors, costumes and hair/make-up ideas, as well as the overall ‘mood’ I am going for.

Not only does this help me stay inspired, but it also give me the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself on a creative level that I don’t normally reach during most of my senior sessions.

Finding my ‘muse’ is as easy as choosing one of the seniors I have already worked with who both inspires me creatively and is photogenic. They are always willing to dress up and be my model for a day.

You can also use this type of creative concept shoot as an incentive for active participation in your model program by offering it as part of a contest or higher-level buy-in.

Bottom line: Be sure you take time during your busy season to feed your inner artist. Come up with a concept shoot from start to finish, then take the steps to make it happen.

Not only will your creative soul thank you for it, but your clients will also – and it’s awesome for marketing your senior model program.


Cherie used a Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8 lens to capture these images.

Cherie Phelps is a Omaha, Nebraska Senior Portraits photographer. She is also a Seniors Ignite Event lead shooter and works with the organization year round.

Need some help with conceptual shoots? Shoots like these aren’t that easy to put together, especially if you’ve never done one before.

At the Seniors Ignite event in San Diego, part of the event is dedicated to just doing a concept shoot – which means you get to see first-hand everything that goes into a concept shoot like this without having to organize it all.

Plus, Seniors Ignite is offering a discount for the event just for the Belovely You audience – check it out here if you haven’t already!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Challenge Yourself


Today’s feature is from .

Brad says:

“This series is from my shoot with Megan, one of my 2015 Senior Models. The majority of her shoot took place at her house here in Hendersonville, TN. We chose this location to make it more personable, and I knew I couldn’t pass up this beautiful view of the lake.

Hours of shooting were between 5PM-Sunset. Natural light and OCF were used throughout the shoot.”

Brad’s Photography Tip:

I mainly specialize in shooting all natural light using a reflector. However, I’ve been pushing myself lately to incorporate more OCF during my sessions to capture a different look.

My tip is don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone – this is how we ultimately grow in what we do. It may take some time to perfect whatever you’re doing, but in the end it will be totally worth it. We never stop learning or growing.

Challenge yourself.


Brad used a Canon 5D MKII with a Canon 70-200 2.8 lens and a Canon 24-70 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Brad Lovell is a Nashville, TN Portrait photographer. He also works with Seniors Ignite and teaches at the Seniors Ignite event in February.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.

Still need some help working with off-camera flash? Senior portraits are a great avenue to be innovative and creative, but if you’re not using all of the potential tools at your disposal you could be missing out on some serious potential.

Using off-camera flash is a great way to open up new possibilities for your seniors, though it doesn’t necessarily come intuitively. Thankfully, there are a lot of solid guides available out there to get you started.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Editorial Athletic Senior Portraits


Today’s feature is from .

John says:

“Kylee is a senior from Beauregard High School in Alabama and she comes to us from about an hour away. She is an amazing track and field athlete and we love and attract a lot of senior athletes.

I love showing both sides of our incredible senior athletes – both their strong, athletic side and images of them looking and feeling their best with hair and makeup done.”

John’s Photography Tip:

For Kylee’s sports shot I wanted to convey the power and beauty of a track and field athlete with an editorial style look. The sky and clouds were perfect that day for the background (which was great), but to really pull off this look you have to utilize an off-camera light.

The sun was setting off to camera left and gave me some great rim light. A beauty dish is just out of the frame, camera right, to serve as my source of light. And closing down my aperture allowed me to bring that background in and convey the look I was going for.

For post-production, I performed some slight desaturation and shadow control in Lightroom to help finish pulling the look together.


John used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 85mm 1.2 lens, a Canon 50mm 1.2 lens, and for the athletic shots the Canon 17-40 f/4 lens.

John Pyle is a Columbus, GA and surrounding areas Senior Portraits photographer. He also works with Seniors Ignite and is one of the lead photographers at the Seniors Ignite event in February.

Click here to see more tips on bringing out your Client’s Personality and Lighting.

Need to up your senior portraits game (sports pun intended)? The masterminds behind Seniors Ignite put together an amazing event every year in February – centered around everything related to the senior portrait business.

There’s awesome workshops for marketing, business, and of course – creative shooting. And you get to learn from some of the top leaders in the industry. Check out details for the 2015 event here!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Showing Your Senior’s Personality


Today’s feature is from .

Jen says:

“Brooklin’s session was one of my favorites – her style and clothing choices show off all of the different sides of her. We worked together up front to plan her outfits so that she would have all of the details put together for each one from head to toe.”

Jen’s Photography Tip:

When I’m working with seniors, I want to ensure that the setting, the lighting, and the outfit complement each other.

This way each set of images I produce for each ‘look’ shows off a different side of the senior’s personality, and also gives her a lot of variety.

It’s also important to vary your lighting during your sessions in order to create different ‘looks’ for your senior – otherwise the images are simply the same type of image with a different outfit.

Your goal is to create an experience for them that shows every side of their personality and individual style.


Jen used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens, and the Canon ED 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens to capture these images.

Jen Basford is an Edmond, Oklahoma Senior Portraits photographer, but also works with clients and seniors across the country. She is also one of the masterminds behind the website dedicated to senior portrait photography, Seniors Ignite.

See more tips on bringing out your Client’s Personality.

Need help with lighting ideas? Natural light photography is awesome, but you can really broaden your lighting horizons (and start bringing out the most of your client’s personality, just like Jen did in this session) when you start incorporating off-camera flash.

It’s not always easy at first, but there’s lots of literature and guides out there to help you get started with the basics.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

The Importance of Listening To Your Client


Today’s feature is from .

Allison says:

“This was a senior session that I was so excited about, I couldn’t sleep! Ellie, my senior client, had a really specific vision for her shoot and she put just as much effort into making it into a reality as I did.

She styled her own hair, makeup, and wardrobe, then provided the horse and the location. She’s an extraordinary young woman. We talked at length about her vision and collaborated about how we could together create something amazing.”

Allison’s Photography Tip:

My greatest passion in this business is making my client’s dreams come true. I love to hear their ideas and come up with a plan to make them a reality. In this case, which was special, Ellie had such a specific idea that I just really had to make sure I understood what she was seeing in her head so I could make that happen.

Most of the time, my clients have a general idea, then we narrow it down. Ellie had already narrowed it down and we had to communicate with each other really well to make sure we were on the same page and were sharing the same vision.

Bottom line: make sure you are always listening closely to your clients and what they want and need. Remember that these pictures are for them so you need to do whatever it takes to hit it out of the ballpark for them.

(Plus, from a business perspective, the happier the client, the better chances you have of making a good sale and getting referrals!)


Allison used a Nikon D700 with a Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Allison Ragsdale is a Durango, Colorado, and International Senior Portraits photographer. She is also one of the lead shooters at the Seniors Ignite event in February.

Click here to read more tips on Client Relations.

Need help putting together a solid referral program? Happy clients are the best form of marketing and advertising your business can get, and if you totally nail a session like Allison did they’ll be more than happy to talk you up to their friends and family.

That’s why we suggest putting together a solid referral program for your clients to reward them for their awesomeness – it will only make it that much easier for them to want to promote you, and thus bring you even more clients.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

How Location Can Inspire a Story


Today’s feature is from .

Suzy says:

“This photo session is all about the location. This is a favorite location of mine, but after hearing the news of a fire there I went out to see which areas were affected.

I was instantly amazed at how beautiful it looked! I couldn’t wait to shoot in the charred areas. A friend (Edi Valcheva) and I had been talking about doing a shoot together, and I knew this spot would be perfect.

I’ve always been a fan of all types of music, and I feel music heals all wounds. Seeing the charred forest, I envisioned a model playing an instrument in the rubble.

The story then started to form in my mind – everything around her is destroyed but she still has her music, and from the rubble comes new life, light and hope.

Together Edi and I brought all of the elements together for a wonderful creative shoot.”

Suzy’s Photography Tip:

My photography tip would be do scout out interesting locations. Find something unique, something that can tell a story whether it be something creative or a location special to your client.


New Beginning



Music is Life

Suzy used a Canon 6D with a Canon 70-200 II lens to capture these images.

Suzy Mead is a Southern Nevada Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location.

Need a great way to show off your gorgeous sessions? This session from Suzy is just lovely – who wouldn’t want to show it off? One of the best ways to show off your sessions is by using StickyAlbums – the best digital photo album app made for mobile technology.

You can use it yourself, or set up an album for your clients to use and show their friends – which is absolutely perfect for the smart-phone loving senior crowd. Read more about StickyAlbums here!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Tips on Working With Horses

A Girl & Her Horse Silhouette

Today’s feature is from Amber Langerud.

Amber says:

“This session features “A Girl & Her Horse” – part of my class of 2016 modeling program. As a long term horse girl myself, I love capturing the connection between a girl and her horse.

The session lasted around an hour and a half in the evening as the sun was setting. The location was a gorgeous hay-field with tall grass.”

Amber’s Photography Tip:

Taking pictures of horses can be difficult. Even if you manage to get the expression and connection you are hoping for, you also need to be especially attentive to the focal length you are shooting at and the impact it is having on how the horse looks “proportionally”.

Although I am typically a prime lens shooter, I opted to shoot this session primarily with my 70-200 f/4 lens. The reason I opted for this zoom lens over my others is the focal length.

When not used properly, anything below 50mm may cause a horse to look very out of proportion (depending on the angle you’re shooting from), and you’ll end up with either a huge head and small butt or vise versa.

The second reason is that sometimes horses are a bit antsy, making it easy to miss the prefect shot when shooting with a prime if the horse moves and suddenly you are way too close or too far away to “get the shot”.

When shooting horse/rider combinations I would not recommend shooting below f/4 to ensure both the horse and the human subject’s faces are in focus.

When in doubt, however, focus on your human subject’s face rather than the horse’s.

So now that we are using the proper equipment, how do we get that shot that shows that gorgeous connection between a horse and their handler?

The key is patience, though it does help to have some understanding of horses and their body language.

I typically try to start with some still headshots, but when I notice the horse is getting either impatient or bored, I will move on to some moving images (either riding or waking the horse toward me/away from me).

I will oftentimes tell my subject to interact with their horse and tell them look at them, give them a kiss on the cheek or, when doing traditional looking-at-the-camera shots, just give them some tips on how to hold their hands, etc.

Next is the horse’s expression. Part of the key to keeping good expression from the horse is mixing it up. You want ears perked forward and bright alert eyes.

My clients probably think I am crazy because I will make all sorts of noises, whistle, moo like a cow, whatever it takes to get that horse’s attention.

The noise of crumpling grocery bags can also really help get their attention. Just note that for some horses this may be “too much” and make them nervous, and if that’s the case then back off and go back to mouth noises.

If the horse is becoming really antsy, don’t let it make you nervous – just have your human subject walk them around/move the horse between shots.

Lastly, I would avoid using reflectors or flashes when taking pictures with horses, because chances are it will make them very uncomfortable.

Following these guidelines for working with horses should result in flattering images of both your subject and their horse, and demonstrate the connection between the horse and their owner.

A Girl & Her Horse Connected 4



A Girl & Her Horse Headshot

Amber used a Canon 6D with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L lens to capture these images.

Amber Langerud is a Detroit Lakes, MN & Fargo/Moorhead Portrait & Wedding photographer.

Click here to see more tips on working with Pets.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Achieving the Sun Flare

Bellevue, WA 2014 Senior

Today’s feature is from .

Felicia says:

“This was my defining session, where I decided that Senior Portraits were my “thing”. When you meet that perfect client, and have the most magical session of your life (so far), you better pay attention and make changes to your life and business to keep that good thing going.”

Felicia’s Photography Tip:

The back lighting in these images was the defining factor in my client choosing me as her Senior Portrait Photographer.

She loved the “glowy” feel, as she said, in some of my other work – a “glowy” feeling that before this session I would have described as a happy accident. Now, I know how to purposefully achieve this effect and get consistent results.

The only vital piece of equipment you need is a reflector. I love my 40″ 5-in-1 Westcott reflector, and for this shoot I used the silver side to get more contrast and highlights in the image (since back lighting your subject takes away from your details).

Here’s the fun part- you’re going to shoot right at the sun. The trick to not blinding yourself is to keep your eyes low in your viewfinder, and then adjust your camera until you can see your subject.

The more sun you keep in your view, the more of a glow you will get. For best results, take a few shots of the same pose, slightly adjusting each time to let in less sun.

Once you find what works for you, you’ll be able to power through the rest of your session.

The amazing thing about back lighting is that it can be done for any style of session, at any location, so long as you can find the sun.

Shooting during the Golden Hour will give you the same warm glow that these images have, whereas back lighting earlier in the day will give you more of a clean, white haze in your images.

In either case, the only adjustment I make in post is to increase the contrast levels to put a little more details back into the image in case I let in too much light in a certain spot. From there, edit to your personal taste!

This Senior wanted a Floral Crown, so of course I made that happen.
It's amazing what $8 in a Thrift Shop can get you!
Basking in the first sunny evening light of March.

Felicia used a Canon 6D with a Canon 85mm 1.8 lens to capture these images.

Felicia Sinclair is a Seattle, WA Senior Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting and Editing.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Capturing Dancers In Motion

Senior Dancer

Today’s feature is from .

Darrel says:

“For this session I wanted to capture a dancer’s grace and motion. I have seen other tutorials on how to achieve the dust and dancer effect, but did not want to deal with indoor cleanup. Shooting into a large building provided a dark backdrop without the need for a physical backdrop or enclosed space.

We had a lot of fun with this shoot. The model would hold a pose that allowed us to cover her in flour. We would then step out of frame and she would perform a jump, spin, or other dance move. Timing is important in this so expect many shots that do not have the right spread of flour.”

Darrel’s Photography Tip:

To achieve this affect, you’ll need to shoot into a darkened area. As mentioned above, I used a barn. This allowed me to create the dark background and still use higher shutter speeds to stop the motion of the dancer.

I turned off auto-focus and used live preview, which allowed me to focus on the dancer before she jumped and meant that I could time the shutter release when the dancer is in action. If auto-focus is on you will miss the shot while auto-focus tries to find the focal point.

The lighting setup is simple. I used two speed lights behind the dancer at 45 degrees pointing toward the camera and a reflector in front of the dancer for fill. The reflector was able to catch some outdoor light and push it back onto the dancer.

We used 35 pounds of flour over the two hours we were shooting. The dancer was tired at the end, but the cold was actually more problematic than the length of the session, as there are built-in rest breaks while covering her for each shot.

By shooting into a shaded area you get a dark background that will provide the separation for the flour. This also allows you to shoot outdoors so you can minimize the after-shoot cleanup. The end result is amazing photos showcasing grace, motion, and the beauty of dance.

Graceful Senior Dancer
Senior Dancer Powerful Grace
Senior Dancer Motion
Senior Dancer Movement

Darrel used a Canon 7d with a Canon 28-135 lens to capture these images.

Darrel Summers is a Northwest Arkansas Senior Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction, Lighting, and Location.

Still need help with using flash? Check out this guide that’s all about using flash in portraiture photography (and get started on your way to creating breathtaking images like these ones!).



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Working With Tall Subjects

Senior portrait hair Plano TX

Today’s feature is from .

Dawn says:

“This senior was a photographer’s dream. She brought exactly the right colors to complement her skin tones and she had an easy and beautiful smile. The session was shot outdoors in Richardson, Texas.”

Dawn’s Photography Tip:

This lovely senior is very tall and, as you can see, absolutely gorgeous. In everyday life, tall girls are often photographed from below, like with cell phone cameras, for example.

And, as we know, when we photograph from below, the subject tends to look bigger. I don’t know a girl who wants to look bigger, so I work hard to shoot down whenever possible.

Because I am average height, I brought a stepstool to the session so I could get a better angle when I needed to.

If you’re working with taller subjects and you follow this advice, your client will get more flattering portraits – even if this means you have to bring a stepstool to the session.

PESH senior headshot
PESH senior photography
PESH senior portraits
Plano senior portraits
Richardson TX senior portraits

Dawn used a Nikon D600 with a Nikkor 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 lens to capture these images.

Dawn Attebery is a Dallas, TX Senior Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Planning a Themed Photoshoot


Today’s feature is from .

Allison says:

“We were one of the event leaders/shooters at the Seniors Ignite Event 2014 in Las Vegas. We were each given a creative concept to shoot and ours was steampunk-themed. We were pumped! The tip we want to share (below) is about planning your creative concept session.”

Allison’s Photography Tip:

We loved every part of planning/styling/executing this steampunk-themed shoot, which can be broken down into three different areas – location, research, and wardrobe.

1. Location. Steampunk style incorporates a lot of gears and gadgets, and can have a very old-world Victorian feel. The location we chose, which was a ghost town in Nelson, Nevada, was something we scouted the previous August and knew it had a lot of the steampunk elements we were looking to incorporate into our theme.

2. Research. To get a better handle on the steampunk style, we did a ton of research and sifting through photos and images to get ideas for the types of clothing and props we would want for the shoot.

3. Wardrobe. After sifting through tons of images and going back and forth with the model, we decided which items we wanted to create ourselves for the shoot and which ones we were going to purchase.

For the purchased items, we  found a little antique studio near our studio whom we discovered makes custom steampunk apparel, so we had some great options to choose from for the items we were looking to purchase.

The shoes, however, were something the model chose to create herself, and turned out fantastic!

The results of all of our planning were exactly what we had envisioned (down to the little gears on the model’s face)! So when you’re approaching a themed shoot such as this, make sure you plan everything down to the smallest detail and really have a solid feel for exactly what you need and what you’re looking for.

The effort and attention to detail you put into the planning process will absolutely be reflected in your final product, so the more you plan your creative concept shoot, the better it will be!







Allison used a Nikon D700 with a Nikon 24-70 F2.8 lens, a Nikon 24-120 F4 lens, and a Nikon 70-200 F2.8 lens to capture these images.

Allison Ragsdale is a Durango, Colorado Senior Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location and Wardrobe.

Want something to help save you time smoothing/airbrushing skin? This senior’s skin is gorgeous – but let’s face it, we all know that isn’t always the case.

One of the best tools I’ve found in working with seniors is the Portraiture plugin from Imagenomics. With just a few clicks of a button, the plugin smooths over and evens out skin tones and blemishes – literally saving me hours of retouching and skin smoothing.

It’s become such an essential part of my workflow that I use it for every single senior portrait session I do. Seriously.

Read our review of it here, or check out more details (and try a free trial) here!




*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.