Taking senior photos before a young person graduates is a common tradition, and the price of a photoshoot will range widely based on your geographic area and the experience of the photographer. Tipping is not necessary but can be an optional gift since lots of work goes into a senior photo shoot, which explains why they can often be costly.

Outfits are an everyday inspiration for senior photo posing ideas and posing tips and are about the only thing you need to bring to your shoot, aside from props that relate to any hobbies or activities. Great senior photo poses make for the best senior portraits, and they should look natural, or the subject won’t love them.

The Importance of Senior Photos

Senior pictures capture a critical time of transition in a young person’s life, and these snapshots can capture both the personality and the style of the subject. High School Seniors often love to have these photos taken, and there are so many posing ideas for capturing each individual and what characteristics make them unique.

Senior Pictures For Girls

Senior pictures are super fun but can start awkwardly for the subject in the beginning. With the right outfit, opportunities can arise during a shoot for truly original combinations of settings, poses, and styles that reflect the person in the portrait. Here are our suggestions for great senior picture ideas and an authentic-looking senior portrait.

Capturing Their Unique Style

When chatting with a client, make sure they are able to communicate what they are looking for in their senior photos. Are they more attracted to colorful photos, or dark and moody? Do they want to bring props or a special pet? What makes THEM unique? That information will really help when thinking of locations and style.

headshot of young woman in checkered green and white shirt

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio Licensed Under CC0

Save the Best Poses for Last

Every model needs time to get warmed up during a shoot; when you save the best poses for the middle or end, you’re more likely to get excellent shots that depict a more comfortable subject. Most seniors like the photos from the second half of their session the best, so plan your shots and poses accordingly to showcase your best possible work.

Encourage an Authentic Smile

Getting a real smile happens by providing positive feedback during the session to build the confidence of your senior. As they get more comfortable, you’ll see their genuine smile, not the one they reserve for photos. Remember to snap an extra shot just when they think you’ve finished, as those are often the most authentic.

girl with glasses resting her chin on her hand

Photo by Vinicius Wiesehofer Licensed Under CC0

Mix Up Your Angles

Often, a senior girl typically prefers photos of themselves taken from different angles, and finding their best side is part of the fun. If you take the images from a slightly higher level and have them look up at you, you’ll find it flatters just about everyone. Another option is to have them look towards their shoulder at a downward angle and close their eyes slightly.

Different Perspectives

Looking down on your subject helps to slim them out and pull their arms farther away from the body to create a flattering silhouette. This angle can also enhance facial features, and refocus attention away from the body for a more natural and youthful appearance without the stiffness.

girl with red hair wearing a purple head covering

Photo by Pixabay Licensed Under CC0

Have Your Senior Sit Down

Most of the time, a senior girl will be most comfortable in some kind of sitting pose. When subjects stand, they often don’t know what to do with their hands, and it can be awkward to instruct them on how to pose. Aim for a comfortable sitting position first and consider standing poses later on in the shoot.

Find Depth in the Eyes

Drawing attention to the eyes of a senior girl is a great way to flatter any face and create a somewhat romantic look that is still appropriate. Using different angles, you can make the body appear slightly smaller to keep the focus on the eyes and face, but be wary of positioning the head to avoid unsightly neck rolls from over-rotating the head.

headshot of young woman with nose ring

Photo by Anderson Miranda Licensed Under CC0

Illicit Some Emotion

There are a wide variety of emotions that seniors can show during their shoot, and all of these can make for gorgeous images. Try asking your seniors to talk about happy or whimsical topics to get different facial expressions that set a more individualized tone.

girl holding light at night

Photo by Matheus Bertelli Licensed Under CC0

Be Open To New Senior Photo Poses For Girls

Often, a senior girl will have a pose in mind, so it’s always a good idea to ask for their input! They may surprise you by wanting to try something they’ve seen, and it never hurts to ask.

headshot of woman with purple hair

Photo by Pixabay Licensed Under CC0

Try to Capture Movement

Encourage your seniors to move, twirl, dance, and swing their hair around for action shots that look comfortable, natural, and full of emotion. These shots work well with a variety of outfits and create an authentic feel everyone will love.

Stunning Silhouettes

Silhouettes are a timeless option that somewhat relies on clothing for the best possible effect since you can’t see the face. These poses are a little more dramatic and may require a more compelling backdrop, such as a sunset.

Encourage Authentic Laughter

Getting your subject to laugh can make for a beautiful candid shot free from the stiffness or awkwardness of intentional posing. For subjects that aren’t super comfortable in front of the camera, a little humor may be just what is needed.

woman with curly hair laughing

Photo by @INSTAGUILHERME Licensed Under CC0

Keep The Session Light and Flowing

When you distract your subject, you’re more likely to get poignant shots that can’t otherwise happen consciously. For example, pose your senior in a comfortable way and ask them to stare at an object in the distance. As they relax, their facial expression and body language will change and render the look you want.

woman with glasses posing for photo

Photo by Godisable Jacob Licensed Under CC0

Use Nature to Your Advantage

Nature can make for a lush background in any shoot, and you can use any local features, specific senior picture poses, or just play around with ideas to see what will look best.

Seniors and Their Parents

Some seniors will want to have at least one shot with their parents, but it can also be a pleasant surprise to do a separate shoot for the parents. Having two sessions allows the parents and the seniors to be surprised.

woman resting her head on boyfriend's shoulder

Photo by Taufik Akmal Fadhilah Licensed Under CC0

Keeping it Serious with Modeling Poses

You can choose to pose your model, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you work with them and the surroundings:

  • Don’t Cut Off Arms or Legs: Cutting off limbs will make the senior photo look awkward and often incomplete. Instead, use the arms to frame the shot and try different angles.
  • Use Arms To Frame Things: Bending the arms and using angles, you can create a more visually appealing shot without a lot of fuss.
  • Headshots: Classic headshots should frame the eyes and face of the subject, but you’ll also want to have the shoulders in the frame as well.
headshot of woman wearing brown hat and orange sweater

Photo by Ali Pazani Licensed Under CC0

Comfortable Poses for the Guys

The best senior picture poses for guys may look slightly different than poses typically used for a senior girl. However, these poses offer great senior picture ideas in senior photography, and you can see the impact they have on the resulting picture.

man with hands in praying position with pink and blue light

Photo by Luis Quintero Licensed Under CC0

Using Movement

Movement is common for senior picture poses, and many senior pictures feature a subject in non-traditional poses. These senior pictures often show ideas senior subjects have that related to picture poses they’ve seen or senior photography that they love.

  • Leaning on Things: Subjects look less stiff when leaning on things, and anything in the area can work great.
  • Unconventional Options for Seating: Steps are one alternative seating option that comes up a lot, but other places work too. Keep an eye out for places your subject can sit where there is a great backdrop.
  • Eye Contact Is Optional: If other poses feel tired, it’s worth having your subject stare off into the distance so you can get at least one shot without eye contact. The result is often stunning and is one of the most popular senior picture ideas.

Posing and Getting Comfortable

For senior picture poses and ideas, seniors may want to try some of these options that can help create a more natural-looking senior portrait:

  • Use Your Hands: Put them together, rub them around, and try out different positions for great personality shots you’ll love.
  • Pockets are Useful: Put your thumbs in your pocket for a masculine look senior boys love.
woman leaning against red background

Photo by Patrick Porto Licensed Under CC0

Studio Work

Senior photography often takes place in a studio, but it doesn’t have to when you have other picture ideas. For darker ideas, senior photos or senior portraits may look best when taken at night. Here are other ways senior photography can transform when you have original picture ideas:

  • High Key and Low Key Shots: High key senior pictures will have a white or light-colored background while low key will have dark and often black backdrops. 
  • Do you lack a Studio? Look for places with rich yet balanced lighting, which is perfect for senior portraits with great style.

Senior picture poses work inside or outside of the studio, but a great senior portrait should always showcase good lighting and capture the authentic personality of the individual. A senior picture doesn’t have to be a traditional headshot, and some creative high school senior portraits use cityscapes and architecture for a more modern senior portrait.

Connecting with Your Subject

Senior pictures are often improved when the photographer can connect with the subject. Senior portraits can look more natural when you make sure the subject is relaxed. Senior photography often requires more energy than other types of pictures, and senior picture ideas may require working in challenging settings.

  • Help the Seniors Get Comfortable: A senior portrait looks best when the subject is comfortable, so experiment with different settings and positions until you get the right look.
  • Demonstrate Poses: When you demonstrate the pose for a senior portrait, your subject is more likely to feel comfortable doing it themselves. 

There are other ways to connect with your subject during a senior portrait, and that can include using humor, distraction, and a change of setting. Make sure you use these tricks in combination with other tips like using different angles and they should give you a natural-looking senior portrait without stiffness.

Wardrobe Advice and Tips

A senior portrait will look most polished when the subject is wearing solid-colored clothing that is comfortable and befitting of their personality. You can always tell when a subject is uncomfortable in what they’re wearing for their senior portrait, and the best colors will also vary depending on the background and the subject. 

Bright colors can create a more visually abrasive senior portrait, and pastels make a senior portrait appear more calming.

It’s a good idea for both boys and girls in their senior year to bring a few outfit choices to a senior portrait, as one will not be enough, and options often lead to great picture ideas senior subjects come up with at the moment. Yearbook photos can also benefit from this advice, but only one outfit is needed.

man posing for a photo

Photo by Spencer Selover Licensed Under CC0

Ideas for an Alternative Senior Portrait in 2020

Senior picture photography includes group shots and shots with pets are becoming more commonplace. Group pictures frequently happen when multiple individuals want to capture a moment with the people or the pets they love. These pictures may be great for new ideas, and having more than one subject adds complexity that many photographers love.