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Seniors: Preparing for Your Session | Authentic Minnesota Photographer

Here are some common questions and tips for preparing for your Senior session!

What to Expect

I tend to er on the side of more authentic, candid photography. Capturing miles, hugs, belly laughs, funny faces... all of it. I want the raw and real to really shine through. If that's what you want, I'm definitely your gal!

We will do more posed shots than other sessions since that is typically what schools want for yearbooks, but I will mainly have you moving around. This takes a lot of pressure off and feels (and looks) more natural.

There's more on this in my blog post about my session style: here.

Tips for Outfits

Outfits are one of the most important and frequently asked about when it comes to planning for Senior sessions.

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  • Number of outfit changes. Before you run out and buy a bunch of new outfits, let's discuss how many changes will fit in the amount of time we have together. I don't limit the number of changes if you have several desired outfits, but most of your time could be spent in the changing room and less in front of the camera. For this reason, it's also best to choose outfits that you know you can change into and out of quickly.

  • Changing. We need to consider the location of the session. Many sessions are done at outdoor locations. Keep in mind that your only option could potentially be changing in your car or a port-a-john. We try not to bother local businesses by taking up bathrooms to change. Gas stations and big name retailers may be available nearby if we're lucky.

  • Variety. This is very important for many seniors. Bring several outfits to your photo session in a variety of colors, not just your favorite hue. Include different styles, such as casual, semi formal, formal or outdoors, so you can have some variety. Remember to bring accessories for all outfits, from footwear to jewelry.

  • Details, details, details. You will have full-body and close-up images, so don't wear dirty shoes as they're often very difficult to edit. Check your clothing ahead of time to make sure it isn’t spotted or faded, and transport your outfits (you can wear one when you arrive) on hangers to prevent wrinkles. Don't rely on editing or me noticing something you hoped wouldn't show in the photos: broken nails, makeup or shaving mishaps, etc. I am known for my attention to detail, but it does have limits or I could be editing the same photo for the rest of my life.

  • Do you have any resources for ideas? I have seasonal blog posts coming out and a Pinterest board! Check out the "What to Wear" tag on my Blog page and see what's out now. My Pinterest board is also a good resource and I update it regularly: visit here.

If you're still unsure, I'm happy to help and give suggestions.

Tips for Hair & Makeup

There are a few do's and don'ts when planning your hair and makeup.

  • Haircuts. I recommend getting a haircut two weeks prior to your appointment if at all. Don't get your haircut the same day. Even if you do the same thing every time with the same stylist, it's a disaster waiting to happen. The same goes for shaving. Do it the day before! If you get a really dramatic haircut, it can take some time to learn how to work it.

  • Nails. If you have a missing or broken nail, have that fixed for pictures. If you're not one to go in to the salon, take some time at home to manicure your own nails.

  • Tanning. If you don't usually tan, but want to, start as soon as you can and know how long it takes for you to go from red to tan. I don't recommend tanning day of. Do a trial run if you have time if you're getting a spray tan or using fake tanners at home and have never tried them prior. Do your research and learn how to properly apply and remove it. If you have a last minute session (within one week from booking) I do not recommend starting if you haven't already.

  • Don't try anything new that week. In the week leading up to your session, try not to experiment for the sake of your session. A lot can go wrong and this prevents a lot of last minute mishaps. Practice the hair and makeup you want to do prior to your session. Wear it for most of the day and see how it goes. Going with something tried and true isn't a bad thing. It's you and that is what matters. Same goes for new products like moisturizers, soaps, aftershave... you may have a reaction and not know until it's too late. This can show up in photos and is hard to mask. See the point above for my thoughts on last minute tanning.

  • Do take a spa day. Whether it be at home or at a salon, being pampered (for girls and guys) can help boost confidence. Get a facial, a massage, red light therapy... something that you don't do often or only on special occasions maybe. I'm not a girly girl by any means, but when I have a spa day I feel like a million bucks after a spa day.

The point is that you look and feel confident and the way you look is a big factor in that. Make good judgements and be prepared so you can have a fun, worry-free shoot!

Choosing a Location

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Your location depends on the style you're going for.

  • Outdoor/Nature. This is a classic option and gives a more private experience most of the time. We can explore a park, climb on fallen trees, run around like goons and not have to worry about onlookers. Nature is also just an amazing backdrop.

  • Urban. Alleys, parking garages, parking lots and the like can be great places for Seniors who want something with a more geometric feel.

  • Indoor. Maybe you want to showcase your love of bowling or take photos in a place with amazing architecture. I'm all for it as long as there's plenty of light! We also need to be sure that we have permission to use the space. Some places require permits, which aren't included in the session fee.

It's also possible to do a mix of locations depending on how much variety you want and your time limit. Be sure to bring this up when we chat if it's something you're interested in.

Consider staying local if you're on a budget. However, I have reasonable travel fees if you're looking for something a little more adventurous.

Choosing a Time

This is really important to me as the photographer. I go crazy over great lighting and want to capture you in the best of it.

  • Early morning. As the sun is rising, though this isn't the most popular option for teens.

  • Evening. Just before the sun is going down and we get that "golden hour" effect.

When we discuss the time for your session, I'll look up the sunrise/set for your specific date and determine the best time to meet based on that.

These are the two best options. I'm open to other times as well, but you may see some imperfect light situations. I like to these times because they prevent shadows on faces, which are impossible to remove and can only be minimized with Photoshop.

Sunset is my favorite option because it's a doable time for most people and golden-hour light is so gorgeous. It makes people and scenes look like they came out of a movie!

What If I get a pimple or something?

No worries! I will remove anything that looks like it isn't a permanent part of you. This goes for blemishes, scratches, bruises and things of that nature that will heal over time. I remove things like flyaway hairs and strings. And smooth skin to help things look even and polished.

I won't do extensive photoshop (longer than 10 minutes) or morph body parts. You'll always look like you when I'm done editing!

I'll ask if I'm unsure about editing something.

Complying with Your School

I am happy to comply with your school guidelines for Senior photos. I will ask for them when we discuss your session. This may include size requirements, certain poses, etc.

Ask your school if you're unsure what they are or if they have requirements at all.

Relax & Have fun

Having a great attitude about having your photo taken can set you up to have a great experience.

Think about your session in a positive way and get excited about it. Preparing by using the points in previous sections can help you feel prepared and well groomed, which is just the start.

If you get nervous, know that a professional is there to guide you and you don't have to know exactly know what to do.

How you feel shines through in the images of yourself and I can only do so much when it comes to being your hype girl!

I'm so excited and honored to capture these precious moments.



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