How to take Senior Pictures

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If you haven’t scheduled your high school senior to have their portraits taken, no fear, you can do it yourself! Whether you have learned to Say NO to Auto or not, you can take some pictures of them with just a few helpful tips.

How to Take Senior pictures with examples for moms and beginner photographers on posing, light, clothes, and location


Taking great senior portraits is often just about remembering a handful of tips:

  • Great Light
  • Fun Locations
  • Casual Posing
  • Take Candids
  • Variety of clothing & props

I’ve shared over 30 images below that I’ve taken to help illustrate my points, below each image is a link to click over to see more from that session, for even more ideas!

Great light is simply looking for the best spot to photograph within your location. You don’t want full sun glaring in their eyes, or into your lens, but you don’t want a super dark pocket, either. Look for the light in their eyes.  This shows some backlight as the sun is going down below the trees. {Tips on taking backlit pictures}

senior portraits in field of flowers

More here

I love the look of shooting through the tall grass, and the light is beautiful!

senior boy posing in tall grass

more here

Finding the light reflecting in their eyes just perfectly, you know you found a good spot

light in the eyes photography

see more images from this session here


Fun locations are about keeping your eyes out for COLOR and/or TEXTURE. Texture can be anything from a brick pattern, stone arrangement, pipes, tiles, anything interesting…even a dumpster. They are often blue or green, with great texture! If you get close enough, no one will ever know it was a dumpster, either.

This location is just a wire fencing, but shooting THROUGH the fencing, made for a cool effect.

texture senior portraits location

More Here

If you can photograph the skyline in your hometown, it makes for a FUN backdrop!

Austin skyline senior pictures

see more from this session HERE

This was just on the girls driveway, but the blue of the bus and the texture makes for a great image! (Also love her posing: thumbs in pockets, ankles crossed, laughing candid looking away)

senior picture with a VW bus

More here

I love everything about this next picture (posing with stomach towards wall, clothes) but the background with lettering on the train works pretty fabulously here.

senior pictures on a train

See more HERE and HERE.

Playing in a candy shop? Yes, please!

senior pictures in a candy shop

see more here

This double mirror makes for a fun location.

double mirror senior picture location

more here

This fun location is called the Cathedral of Junk, it was a fun spot to take pictures!

cathedral of junk senior pictures

see more HERE

This is a GREAT textured background, behind our city library.

texture in background for pictures

more here

I love how the poles draw your eye right in, with this location

boy senior pictures

see more here

This location was at the back of a restaurant, I LOVED the color AND texture found here

senior pictures behind a restaurant

more here

A simple tall stairwell makes for a great background with texture.

senior picture on stairwell

More here and HERE

Whenever I see a fabulous and colorful textured wall, it’s a must for pictures

blue tile wall in austin for senior pictures

see more here

I look for doors and walls with color everywhere I go, I love the windows on this set, too

senior pictures colorful location

see more here

Casual posing can be tricky. It’s also different for a boy or a girl, too, because you don’t want your girl to look to masculine and you don’t want your boy to appear feminine, right?

I love the casual posing here, and how she is looking away. The background is also pretty fabulous (see color AND texture work well with her solid dress)

posing for senior pictures

more here and HERE

Hands or thumbs in pockets is great when they don’t know what to do with their hands–especially boys!


see more here

I love this “leaning up against a bridge” shot, so natural

senior picture leaning against a bridge

see more here


posing for senior girls pictures

Crouching, knees to the side, feet apart. Arms casually resting on each knee. See more of this session here

This pose on the stairs is casual, because he’s comfortably leaning up against them. Anytime they can lean ON something, it always looks more natural

senior boy posing on stairs

see more HERE


Notice, one knee is bent, so she doesn’t look so stiff. Arms clasped behind her back is more natural than by her side. MORE HERE.

senior posing on stairs

This posing on the stairs is good to notice her knees together. She’s just chillin, I love this background, too. More of this session HERE.

I like this “looking away” pose. Serious, and it works.

senior picture posing

more here

This pose against the wall is more casual with one foot up against it, looking away is an extra fun element of casual-ness!

senior posing against the wall

see more HERE

Taking candids are very important to me, because it’s more of a snapshot of LIFE. I love to have seniors include something they love, whether an instrument or athletic pieces.

senior girl playing guitar

Playing the guitar (more images on the link)

Can’t get more candid than snapping a picture of someone driving, right? I LOVED this VW bus!

candid senior photography

see more here

Candid with the violin (here jewelry makes nice texture, too)

senior pictures with violin


Have some FUN! This was at a car wash!

candid senior portraits

more here

I love this handstand shot!

senior portrait handstand

more here

This candid is a FUN silhouette! {For tips on shooting a silhouette, click here}

senior silhouette picture jumping

More here

A variety of clothing is important, and I often suggest 3-4 outfits. That covers about an hour and a half of shooting at 3-4 locations. Casual/jeans, a dress, hat, jewelry, mix it up and show personality, showing off their favorite outfits!

I love this blazer paired with a t-shirt, and REALLY love me some sunglasses in a shot


see more of this session here

unique clothing in senior pictures

More here

I love the track shoes as a prop here

track shoes in senior pictures

see more from this session here

letter jacket in senior pictures

Bring the letter jacket if there is one (more here)

I love that this gal wore her favorite Yankee’s Tee in one outfit (cool location, too!)

Yankess tee shirt in senior pictures

more here

I hope this post has given you a variety of ideas for locations, clothes, and posing, you just have to think outside of the box a little when taking senior pictures!

Want more photo tips? I’ve got lots!

Tips for Taking Newborn Photos 

27 Fun and Creative Ideas for Beach Pictures

20 Fun and Creative Ideas for Beach Pictures

Family Silhouette Inspiration

What to wear in Family Pictures by Color

How to Start a Photography Business

How to Decide What Camera to Buy

How to Take Great Backlit Pictures

Did you have a favorite senior image above? I’d love to hear!

Want to start your own photography business? Check out the business book I co-wrote! 

If you’d to join the Capturing Joy Photo Club on Facebook, where we have photo challenges, Q&A’s, and image sharing, request to join HERE:

Capturing Joy Photo Club

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