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How to Rock Your Senior Photos

The senioritis has kicked in, graduation is right around the corner…but wait! You still have to do your senior photos!

Maybe you’ve had a Pinterest board going since junior year and you booked your photographer a year in advance, which I actually do recommend by the way…or maybe you’re a procrastinator like me and lots of my other Montrose seniors, you’re past the yearbook deadline & approaching spring and you haven’t even thought about your senior photos.

Whether you’re Type A or Type B, these tips will help you (and your photographer) out!

First things first, find your photographer.

Okay, duh. You need a photographer to take your senior photos. But I would like to elaborate a bit on HOW to find the right photographer for you. I think most of us start by looking at price, but senior photos are literally a once in a lifetime thing.

Many people don’t have professional photos taken again until their wedding day. These are photos you will pass down to your kids if you have them, and look back on as you get older. You want them done right, and you want them done by a professional. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with helping your classmate build their portfolio and modeling for them, but hiring a professional will ensure archival quality made to last.

So, instead of browsing by price, start by looking at portfolios. Follow a couple of photographers on Instagram to get a feel for their work. Is it consistent? Do they have a specific style that you like? Every photographer has a style that is unique to them, so make sure you like not just their photos- but their editing too. Do you love warm & moody vibes? Don’t hire a photographer who’s entire portfolio is light & airy. Want true to color portraits? Don’t hire a warm & moody photographer. Do you want senior photos in montrose? Or do you want your senior photos in Ouray, Telluride, Crested Butte or some other fab location? Hire a photographer that travels. Ya feel me?

Now that you’ve narrowed it down to a few photogs whose style you like, you can start looking at price. Many photographers offer payment plans, so don’t hesitate to ask. A word of warning, good photos won’t be cheap and cheap photos won’t be good (generally speaking).

Outfits, makeup, hair…oh my!

Hair + Makeup

Do what makes you feel your best! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t really need extra makeup for the camera to pick up on it. If you decide to do false lashes, keep them small- they can actually cover up your eyes in a photograph! A foundation that matches your skin really well is important but otherwise have fun with it. If you are usually a no makeup kind of person, keep it light.

If you love a bold eye or lip, go for it. It’s always a good idea to bring a small glam kit for touch ups. Think hairbrush, hairspray, mascara, lipgloss. If you plan to do your senior photos in western Colorado, I have a great list of HMU vendors!


In all of the chaos of senior session prep…don’t forget to pamper your nails! During your shoot, a lot of the poses we do will have your hands close to your face and in the frame, so make sure that your nails look just how you want! Try to avoid any chipped polish or crazy patterns that could clash with your outfit. French manicures, light/natural colors and even nails with no color at all photograph best. Guys, make sure nails are clean and trimmed.


I get so, so many senior clients who are worried about a breakout happening right before the session. If you hire a photographer worth their salt, there is NOTHING to worry about. We will retouch your skin and make sure any blemishes are removed. My general rule of thumb is, if it’s temporary, I’ll remove it.

I don’t alter body parts or swap heads or work any majorly crazy Photoshop magic, but I will make sure you look your best. That said, it does make our job a bit easier if you do wear concealer over extra red spots, and come moisturized! Bring extra lotion for legs & arms, and try to spend some time getting rid of any dry or patchy skin in the week leading up to the session.

Lastly, do not spray tan. Please. Don’t do it. Your hands, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles will look patchy. I can’t speak for all photographers on this, but I will make sure your skin looks warm & natural. If you want a little extra color I am happy to do that for you, in a way that looks natural. Your spray tan will look orange on camera. Trust me.


Wear something that makes you feel comfortable & confident! Small, tight prints and stripes do NOT photograph well. My only “rule” is no small checker patterns. The camera reads them and creates its own unique pattern called “moire” and it isn’t desirable. If you prefer a dreamy look, choose pastel colors, off-whites, and soft prints.

If you are wanting to achieve a dramatic look, choose colors that are bright and bold. Mixing textures helps create visual interest, and bringing a few outer layer options can help create a few different looks. If our session is in the mountains, bring a comfortable pair of shoes you can slip on in between shots.

Mix It Up

When planning your outfits, make sure that you have a VARIETY of looks! I tell all of my seniors to choose from these categories: casual, cozy, dressy, school-related, sports-related, preppy or edgy. I always recommend choosing 2-3 of those categories and finding outfits accordingly. This provides a beautiful array of looks during your senior portrait session, so each outfit looks dramatically different! I recommend at least two but not more than four outfits.


I recommend bringing at least one accessory or prop that is meaningful to you. Whether that’s a shirt from your favorite band, your letterman, an instrument, football/soccer ball/basketball, paintbrushes, etc. I want to capture who you are now and a prop can be a great way to immortalize that.

T-Minus 1 Week

You’re a week away from your session and maybe you’re feeling a bit nervous. This is a great time to connect with your photographer and make sure you have the time & location nailed down. Are you taking your senior photos in Telluride? Map to the PIN ahead of time to make sure you leave on time! try on your different outfits and make sure you have appropriate undergarments (aka, no bra strap showing). Make sure you feel comfortable & confident in what you’ll be wearing. You can also figure out who will be going with you to the session. Many seniors bring a parent, sibling, or friend. Now is the time to start looking on Pinterest or Instagram for posing inspo. Your photographer should guide you the entire session, but if you have a specific shot you absolutely love it can be helpful to have on hand to reference.

The Day Of

I send all of my clients a session prep checklist the day before to make sure they have everything prepped and ready! Here are just a few things from that list:

  • Outfits-Wrinkle-free and on hangers
  • Nude undergarments
  • Jewelry- untangled in seperate baggies
  • Shoes for each outfit
  • Accessories
  • Lip gloss
  • Hair brush
  • Props
  • Slip on/comfy shoes

If you’ve got everything ready to go, all you have to do is get relax & get ready!

Put on some hype music & rock it!

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