In almost every case, when I meet a senior girl for her shoot, she’s a bit timid and nervous at the start of it, which is completely expected. Meeting a stranger can be tough, but then being forced to instantly come out of your shell to get your individual photo taken is a whole other thing. It’s also one thing to sit in a studio setting and smile at the camera for a few headshots, but it’s another when you have to think about how you hold your whole body, what to do with your arms and legs, how to place your hands, whether to tilt your head or whether to smile or not, all while feeling natural and relaxed. It’s fun to watch these strong, confident young women emerge and feel comfortable behind the camera in the hour I’m with them.
As a family photographer, I love capturing connections and movement. It’s very different when capturing individuals. It’s not about capturing connections between people, but about the connection between me, as the photographer, and the individual I’m capturing, so that I can bring out their personality. I give some general, and sometimes, very specific, direction about how I want to capture that person, but more than anything, I do it to bring out some natural moments. I am overly animated with my “YES!” responses when I see those moments pop up, and almost always in the second half of the shoot and in between my direction.
A common concern I hear for senior shoots, is what to wear and outfit changes. First, regarding what to wear, pick something that fits well and that you feel beautiful and comfortable in. Period. Everything else is secondary. I recommend avoiding any fabric that will bunch or will leave detectable wrinkles. If a bra strap can be seen, consider a strapless bra. Patterns aren’t usually recommended, but in some instances can work well if it doesn’t overpower the individual. If you’re debating over a color, choose either a warm or cool tone that will compliment your skin tone, and not wash it out or overpower it.
For shoots that are 45 minutes to an hour, I definitely welcome outfit changes. Most like to start out wearing a dressier, formal outfit and then change into something more casual. I highly recommend it for a number of reasons. Being behind the camera can be draining for anyone who is not a professional model and used to it. The outfit change gives the senior a chance to decompress and relax their faces and bodies for a moment. Not only that, but I always see a more relaxed version of the senior after their outfit change. They may be more comfortable in their second outfit, but more than that, it’s usually something that’s more in line with their day-to-day personality, and so those images tend to be a bit more relaxed and fun.