How To Plan For Your Senior Photo Session

Next up in the high school senior session series is how to plan for the best session ever.  Planning for your senior session sets you up to have a great session. The more you plan, the better chance you have at getting everything you want from your session. Plus it’s just a lot less stressful.  I’m a planner by nature, almost to a fault. I like to plan my days, weeks, months, years,…you get the point. I live by this quote:  

This doesn’t mean all my plans are perfect (oh goodness no…not at all). But at least I try with my plan. But a bad plan is better than no plan. Right?  Even when my plans fail or are bad from the start, I still feel a little more in control and at least know the direction I’m going in.

Planning for your senior session is no different. If you don’t put in the planning work, you take the chance of forgetting an important part of your session. It might be a prop or outfit you wanted to bring. Or maybe a certain pose or look you wanted to try. Or it might be that you have a specific need product from your session and then come session day, you completely forgot.  However, even with the best-laid plans … things are forgotten … but that’s OK.  Just remember that the more you plan, the better chance you remember what’s most important and you’ll have a great session. 

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

So let’s jump in on how to plan for your high school senior session…

1. What’s the purpose of your session and what do you want?

You’re probably thinking “ well, I’m (or my son or daughter is) graduating high school, duh”. But I want you to think a little deeper … why do you really want to have a high school senior session? Ask yourself after it’s all over and done, what is it that you hope to have from your senior session? 

This of course includes the memories, but also includes things like graduation announcements, a senior album,  digital files, and maybe a wall print or two. Get clear on your purpose and expectations.  Without having a clear plan of knowing what you want, you take the risk of getting overwhelmed or underwhelmed (especially when it comes to order day).

2. Choose your photographer and schedule your appointment.

Yes, I know this seems obvious too, but it’s important to choose a photographer that fits your style and personality. Also, PLEASE don’t wait until the last minute to book your appointment. Get on that schedule ASAP. It’s never too early.  It’s not unheard of to book your high school senior photo session when you’re still a junior.  When you choose to book early this also means there is more flex time in case something comes up and you need to reschedule (like maybe a pandemic or maybe a once-in-a-lifetime artic freeze – hey, you never know these days;).

3. Get inspired.

Create a “Senior Pictures” Pinterest board and start pinning all of the inspirational things.  Things to pin are photographic styles you like, poses to try, outfits ideas, etc. Also don’t be afraid to choose colors, scenes, or anything that draws your attention. It’s a great idea to share this with your senior photographer too.  By sharing your Pinterest board, you give the photographer a little glimpse inside your head and they get a vision of what you like.  Personally, I love when someone shares their session planning board with me.  First, it lets me see their style and their likes.  Second, it gives me a chance to discuss what they like just in case our styles do not mesh well. This way as a photographer, I can truly plan a more unique session for every high school student I photograph.

4. Plan your outfits.

Plan your outfits well in advance.   Make sure your clothes fit well before your session (too big or too small also doesn’t “photoshop”).  The number of outfits you should choose depends on your session and your photographer. If you are doing an extended session of any kind (more than two hours), then you should be able to squeeze in more outfits. But for a typical high school senior session, 2-4 outfits is usually enough.  Always, feel free to bring more but have your favorites picked out in advance.

5. Plan your props.

What kind of props are you going to bring?  In my opinion, the more the better to help tell your high school senior session.  See this post TOP 10 PROP IDEAS for a few ideas.  Just be sure to make a list of your props in advance of your session day so you don’t forget.

6. Plan the accessories and the essentials ( & don’t forget the underwear).

I’m serious about this!!!  Underwear/undergarments fall into one of the top 3 things “forgotten” when it comes to session day.  Make sure whatever you wear under your clothes doesn’t show through unless that’s your plan. 

Other accessories might include hats, jewelry, shoes, etc.  By the way, the second most forgotten item is footwear.  More than once I’ve photographed an entire 2-hour session with multiple outfits with only one pair of shoes that didn’t match or wasn’t part of the original plan.  No worries, we just had a lot of half-length and a lot of barefootin’ 😉  

And the NUMBER ONE most forgotten thing of all times … THE CLASS RING.  The same goes for other important jewelry as well. 

7. A week before your session…

Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed (wrinkles in clothing WILL show and do not “photoshop” out easily – aka there may be an additional charge if you don’t take the time to iron your clothes hehe).  Once your clothes are ready, match your accessories with your outfits (quick tip … use small plastic bags attached to your outfit hanger to keep accessories matched to outfits).  Make a list of anything else that you need to bring for your session.

8.  A few days before your session…

Make sure you have all your outfits and accessories ready to go (a very important step).    Confirm with your photographer and check the weather to see if you need a backup plan in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.

 

9.   The day of your session…

Be rested,  drink lots of water and be sure to eat a light snack before you show up to the session (don’t forget to brush those teeth).  If you’re getting hair and make-up done,  be sure to allow plenty of time so that you’re not late for your senior session.   And try not to be a time crunch –  don’t plan anything big right before your session or right after your session. And if by chance you are running late, please let your photographer know ASAP. They might need to make other arrangements or reschedule completely if their schedule cannot be shifted around. Bottom line … BE ONE TIME!

10.  After your senior session…

Celebrate & relax & cross that off your list!!!  Make sure your photographer lets you know the next steps after your session.  Here at Sheila Hebert Photography, you normally come back in about a week to choose your favorite images and place your order.  All final orders typically take about 2 weeks after your order date.  But every photographer has their own way of doing things, so be sure to check on this.

And there you have it – a simple plan for your high school senior session.  Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get everything ready and you’ll feel so much better & less stressed on the day of your session (btw…stress cannot be “photoshopped” either;).

Happy Planning!

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