Tips for getting senior photos that you and your teen will love

(BPT) – Here it is, the final year of high school. A year from now, nothing will be the same, so this is, no doubt, an exciting and often nostalgic time for the entire family. As this final year of high school begins, now’s the time to think about senior portraits.

Of course, you want your teen to be on board with the entire process so you have a collection of beautiful images you will treasure forever.

“This is such an exciting time for high school seniors and their parents. It’s the culmination of their childhood, and while parents see the young adult before them, they also see the child they’ve watched grow up. These photographs will forever be part of their story and should reflect not only who the senior is, but who they’ve been and who they will be,” says Angela Kurkian, a professional photographer who has 22 years of experience.

Here are some tips to help you, as parents, guide the process so you end up with photos that you love because they are an authentic expression of your child.

Map out where the photos will live.
From one photo session, you will be using several images to suit several purposes. Make a list and consider what you will need ahead of time. A wall portrait that becomes the focal point of a room? A collection of several smaller framed pieces? Some images will look stunning displayed as a large print on a wall, but will get lost in a smaller layout, such as a yearbook space or a small frame. While many people think about the main portrait, don’t forget you will also need some options with a simple, uncluttered background that just showcases the most important thing in a portrait: the face. At this early stage, discuss with your teen what they want from the session so you can head off any potential conflict.

Focus on your teen’s personality.
Now that the head shots are settled, think about the big portrait. Here, you’ll be thinking about style, setting and how the photo is shot so your teen can let their personality shine, and you can preserve that special memory of where they were at this time in their youth. Talk with your teen about how they want to express themselves, whether it’s getting their game face on or going with a candid portrait in a natural setting they love spending time in.

The next step is to review a variety of portfolios, and narrow them down to a few photographers who have images that show the style and personality you are looking for.

Choose a professional photographer.
Recently, we spoke with seasoned and highly awarded photographer, Dan McClanahan. If there is one thing that he has seen, it’s plenty of clients who were disappointed with how their senior portraits came out after turning to a family friend or a relative who is an amateur photographer. High school senior portraits are just too critical to take a risk on someone who hasn’t yet demonstrated they can get consistently great results. That’s why you get the best images from a professional. To find a professional photographer in your area, visit the website for the Professional Photographers of America. It’s a non-profit that allows you to search, sort by specialty, locate, browse through portfolios, and even contact qualified photographers in your area.

“When you work with a professional photographer, you’re paying for the artistic and technical knowledge to capture and preserve your graduate’s unique personality,” McClanahan says. “Not only that, he or she will have the experience to make your graduate feel comfortable.”

Before you make your final selection, see if you can meet with the photographer in person. Not only will you plan the session together, it might also help you and your teen feel more comfortable.

“And whether or not you can meet beforehand,” McClanahan says, “photographers are pros at getting our subjects to feel at ease. That’s what we do.”

Choose the right outfits.
Have this discussion ahead of time in a conversational way. Teens often feel very comfortable and happy in their favorite clothes, whether their style is casual or bold and individualistic. Be sure to respect their preferences while having the talk about choosing clothing that will look flattering in a photo today and years to come. No matter what, the style of the decade will be part and parcel of the image — that is impossible to avoid. Still, you’ll want to avoid busy prints and logos to avoid looking overly dated.

“Depending on the background or the lighting conditions, different fabrics, colors and textures can result in stunning, unique effects in a senior portrait,” McClanahan says. “And this is why you should never shy away from asking your photographers what outfits or colors might work best. We do this every day and know what ends up looking good on camera.”

Whatever the look, make sure your teen feels comfortable and at ease. Because if there is one thing McClanahan has learned, people look their best when they are feeling great.

For more tips on working with a photographer, or to find a qualified photographer in your area, go to Don’t let the years go by and the memories slip away. Consider getting a session done with your teens. Time files too quickly!