Preparing for your Senior Portrait



Get a good night’s sleep the night before your session. You’ll look better if you are well rested.


Choose clothing you’re comfortable in. The clothes you wear help set the mood for the portrait, and should complement the location you choose, as well as the décor of your home where your portrait will be displayed. Formal settings call for dressier clothes than a woodsy setting. Feel free to bring three or four outfits for our deluxe session. Think about something that will please mom and grandma, something wild and crazy that you love, and something in between.

Your face should be most important in your portrait, not your clothing. Solid mid-range colors generally photograph best and don’t distract from your face. Black recedes and slims. White can dominate and make you look heavier. Avoid patterns, large or small, as they look "busy."  Think about where your portrait will hang in your home and choose colors that complement the other furnishings in the room. Please make sure all your wardrobe items are clean and wrinkle free.

Wax or shave your legs and armpits 3 days prior to a shoot in order to allow for irritation to disappear.

Practice – Practice – Practice!

Even top models spend time in front of the mirror – practicing expressions and poses to prepare for a photo shoot.

It is important to know how your face feels when you smile, or laugh, or frown, or pout.

It is important to know how your body feels when it is posed in an attractive manner.

Practice facial expressions in front of the mirror – learn how your face feels with a perfect smile – no gums, eyes open – not squinting.

Stand there, perfect your poses and learn how your body shapes. The mirror is a perfect tool to show you what the camera can se



  • Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and reflect your personality.
  • Bring multiple outfits.
  • Bring a variety of outfits - both causal and formal.
  • Coordinate your outfit from head to toe.
  • Keep the tonal range of clothing in the same group; don't mix lights & darks in the same outfit.
  • Select 2-3 complementing solid colors in tones such as greens, blues, purples, burgundies, khakis, black, navy and denim.
  • Avoid large prints, stripes, busy patterns and bright colors - these overwhelm and create distractions in your portrait.
  • A black shirt or top is always a good choice.
  • Bring appropriate shoes, socks and a belt for each outfit.
  • Be sure the clothes you select fit properly, especially shirt collars.
  • Short sleeves are OK, but long sleeves are best. Be sure to bring at least 1-2 long sleeve tops.
  • Dark clothes will help to make you look thin.
  • Traditional clothing styles will better stand the test of time.
  • Medium to dark clothes look the best on dark backgrounds.
  • Medium to light colors look the best on lighter colored backgrounds.
  • Earth tones are best for outdoor portraits.
  • Bring all clothes on hangers. Be sure clothes are not wrinkled.

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  • Wear your hair in your normal style.
  • Do not change your hairstyle in the days before your portrait session.
  • If you want to get a haircut, schedule it one week before your portrait session.
  • A fresh shave is important for men. Neatly trim beard or mustache.
  • Bring your hair care/styling products.

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  • Minor blemishes and scars will be removed by retouching.
  • Avoid sunburn and tan lines.
  • Girls keep make-up simple and natural*.
  • Avoid makeup with sparkles and SPF. You can bring your makeup to the session.
  • Your nails will show in some portraits. Be sure fingernails and toenails are polished and not chipped.

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  • Keep jewelry simple and to a minimum.
  • Bring appropriate jewelry for each outfit.

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Props are recommended. Bring props that are a part of your life and personality. For example:

  • Musical Instrument
  • Leather Jacket
  • Letter Jacket
  • Sports Uniform/Jersey
  • Hats
  • Sports Equipment (lacrosse stick, bat, football, etc.)
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Sunglasses
  • Hobby Items
  • Cars/Motorcycles
  • Pets (Pets are welcome, but please call in advance. Bring a leash and toys/treats to keep their attention.)


Grooming:What not to do:

Don’t try a new style of hair or cut that you have never tried before, either experiment way ahead of time or play it safe with what you know looks good.

Don’t get sun burnt, there are a lot of things that can be fixed during the retouching phase, we cannot replace your skin.

What to do:

Get your hair cut about 1 week before the shoot.

If you are going to use a makeup artist then make sure they blend the make up into your neck and chest so it doesn’t look like you have a mask on. If you are doing you own makeup, start out light and add only if needed.

Get a good nights sleep, you want to avoid dark circles under you eyes.

A pedicure and manicure are good to have if you are planning on having you feet and hands in your pictures (you will) and you want them to look nice.

Guys should shave before the shoots, and girls if you don’t want hair to show then get it waxed(3 days before the shoot) . You will be having close up shots taken.

Select a variety of clothing designs and patterns, everything  from formals to cut off jeans will work. A variety of colors is good to have.If you have some favorite outfits then bring them too, you can’t have too much to choose from.

Get your wardrobe ready at least 3 days ahead of time.

Bring accessories, hats, bags, jewelry, a cool jacket, scarves etc…

Don’t roll your clothes into a ball, use hangers or fold them appropriately.

Props:What are you in to ? Music, sports, bikes, cars or trucks?? If it’s something that you identify with then bring it. If you are not sure then just ask us.

Foot wear:

Bring a variety, match your shoes to your clothing (and don’t forget a pedicure for the barefoot shots).



Teens & Senior Girls: Senior portrait sessions usually include several outfit changes. These are really fun sessions! Plan to bring a parent to help. Minors will need parent approval for sessions and locations. Our senior girls loved being pampered – a makeup artist will help you look your best, cover any teenage-skin issues, and bring out your best features! Bring lots of outfit ideas and accessories. Check out Darcy’s ideas for photo styling on Pinterest.

What not to do before a session

The following things should be avoided immediately before your portrait session:
a new hair cut, style or color
waxing (makeup cannot adhere to freshly waxed skin, and your skin will look glossy and reflective. Wax 4-7 days prior to your session.)
shaving the mustache you’ve had for 20 years
anything that involves bleach, dye, tattoos, or permanent markers

What to wear

Please contact us for wardrobe and styling suggestions. Styling is a huge part of prepping for your session. After you book your session, we’ll send you ideas and suggestions. We like to be part of this process, since it sets the tone for your session. Solids and warm neutrals with lots of textures are best!

Avoid clothes that restrict positioning. You will likely be asked to sit on the ground – especially if we have many people to get in a photo. We super don’t want to see anyone’s unders.

If it looks a little wrinkled in person, it looks a lot wrinkled on camera. Wrinkles cast shadows. This is very obvious on camera. Steam or iron all clothes before the shoot.

Unless your family typically dresses identically, this makes for an awkward photo. Coordinating is good. Matching is awkward. See Awkward Family Photos. “Wear cream and browns” or “Wear dark denim and fall colors” is fine. “Let’s all wear the same Old Navy flag t-shirt” is just uncomfortable for everyone.

Think timeless. Remember hammer pants and that one-sequined glove phase? You want to avoid anything that will look immediately dated. For example, be very judicious about the “I love Justin Beiber”, “Team Jacob” or “Palin in 2012″ shirt you were thinking of wearing. (Aw, c’mon… you giggled!)

Make Up & Grooming

Make up should be natural-looking. We work closely with several amazing makeup artists in the area, particularly for our senior girls. Our girls love being pampered and feeling beautiful! Contact us for pricing and details. This isn’t Glamour Shots at the mall! We want you to look authentically you!

Be attentive to foundation lines. Your neck and face should be the same color with no obvious transition lines. If you color your hair regularly, time appointments so your roots look natural. Contrast is more obvious on camera than in person!

We want soft, clean, dry hair. Avoid over-grooming children. Helmet-like, hair-sprayed heads will be something you all make fun of in 10 years. We want kids to look clean but natural. Children + makeup = unnatural. Wash faces and noses right before the appointment.

Guys – shave if you normally shave, trim if you don’t.

Most of all – HAVE FUN. Portrait sessions are a good time. We know you may feel self-conscious or shy. We do our best to make everyone feel at ease. After all, if you don’t look good, we don’t look good!

  • 1 Select two to three outfits, or dress in layers to change up your look throughout the shoot. Aim for one casual and one dressy and definitively "you" outfit that says something about your personality. Choose suitable jewelry, accessories, socks, stockings, shoes and underwear for each. Avoid bright colors and busy patterns -- which are distracting in photos -- and sleeveless tops, which can make arms look big. Iron in advance, bring all attire on hangers and bring an iron for emergency touch-ups.
  • 2 Choose props like fresh-cut flowers, stuffed animals, musical instruments, skateboards or other hobby equipment -- even a friend or pet.
  • 3 Plan your hairstyle or haircut and schedule a hair appointment a week before the shoot. Being photographed too soon after getting a fresh style can prevent you from looking like yourself.
  • 4 Visit your eye doctor, if you wear glasses. Have your lenses removed, or borrow a pair of similar frames without lenses. Even glare-resistant lenses reflect light, and removing distortions is costly when possible at all.
  • 5 Brainstorm locations. Visit your photographer's studio to view available interior and exterior backgrounds, or choose a special place elsewhere that better defines you.
  • 6 Practice posing. The more natural your shoot feels for you, the better your pictures will turn out.
  • 7 Perfect your face. Ladies -- wear make-up, even if you don't usually. Keep coverage natural, decide your look before the day of your shoot, and bring make-up along for touch-ups. Stay away from glitter -- which may show up as white spots -- and SPF products, which can make you look shiny.

Guys -- you should also consider wearing powder to keep your skin from looking shiny. Give yourself a clean shave, neatly trim facial hair or bring a razor to shave before formal pictures if you want facial hair in the others.

  • 8 Have a manicure on the day of or before the shoot. Chipped polish will show, so clear polish or French manicures are ideal.
  • 9 Avoid over-exposure to sun. Redness can be difficult and expensive to retouch.
  • 10 Get everything together no later than the day before your shoot. Plan a music playlist to set the mood for a fun shoot, and invite a friend or two to join.
  • 11 Get good nights' sleep for at least the two days before your shoot to look well-rested and stress-free in your photos.

The following is a detailed list of everything else that you might need to bring to a photo shoot.


Headband, rubber bands, bobby pins

Brushes, combs

Hair appliances (curling iron, rollers, straighteners)


Skin cleanser and moisturizer (Arrive bare-faced for shoots with makeup artists)

Makeup kit

Body makeup

Cotton balls and cotton swabs


Body lotion for dry skin

Clear or nude nail polish, clippers, nail file, polish remover


Shoes in neutral colors (dress and flats – black is a must)

Different colors of sandal foot nylons (Black, nude, tan and include toe-less if you can find a pair)

Black, white and flesh toned undies (one should be a thong)

Assortment of bras (black, white, nude, and strapless)

Plain black and white socks


Safety pins, small sewing kit, clothes pins, clear nail polish (for runs)

Light dressing robe

Scarf or makeup mask to prevent makeup transfer

Dress shields or clear, non-scented deodorant

Emergency items (Tylenol, antacid, tampons, razor, bandages, etc)

Music, books or magazines for downtime

Bring your portfolio and/or any recent photographs that you have had taken.

Read more :

Wardrobe and Accessory Ideas and Inspiration

  • Tops
    Bring Several Longs Sleeve, Short Sleeve and Or Tank tops. Having some extra solid color items is always good to have with you.
  • Jeans and Shorts
    Bring Several Pairs of Jeans and Shorts
  • Something Different
    Show off your unique style with something fun , formal, or wild.
  • Identity Clothes
    Athletic uniforms, music ,arts, etc..
  • Something Casual
    Your favorite thing to wear on a normal day.
  • Accessories
    Hats, Scarves, Costume Jewelry, Big rings, Belts
    The bigger and more colorful the jewelry the more fun!
    Small jewelry does not show up as well in the photos
  • Shoes Boots High Heels, Converse. Anything fun and funky. Also some casual style shoes to match your casual wardrobes.

Please have all of your garments pressed and ready to wear.

It is recommended that you hang all of your items on hangers.


Some poses will show your shoes, so make sure you bring shoes & socks for each outfit you plan to wear. Barefoot and sandals look great with casual clothes! Avoid wearing white socks because they do not photograph well. Guys don't forget those belts, and ladies don't forget your jewelry!


"Don't be afraid to use bold colors.


'"Pick one or two colors but use different shades on everyone.


'"Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! Belts, jewelry, hats, scarves, sunglasses, etc...


• Avoid necklaces if at all possible. They are constantly shifting and moving and can be problematic during shooting.


For SENIOR sessions, the sky's the limit! You want your senior pictures to reflect who you are. Choose a VARIETY of outfits for your session along with a variety of color. It's a good idea to include both casual and more formal outfits for your portraits. If you choose a couple of outfits, you can always make Mom happy and let her choose one or two also.

Your clothing choice should reflect who you are and your personality. You want to wear something you feel comfortable in and that shows your true personality. There are a few simple tips to keep in mind when you are choosing your clothing.

The Day Before Your Photo Session

  •  Skin Care: Be sure to spend some time exfoliating and moisturizing your skin a couple days before your session.
Tanning: If you plan on Tanning be sure  you tan for several weeks before you’re session and that you are not red the day of your session. Let’s begin with the obvious. . . tan lines are BAD!

A little color is fine. If you are going to the beach use LOTS of sunscreen and take different suits with different cuts and change them frequently. If you are going to a tanning salon be sure to use lots of sunscreen (the type that is designed for tanning salons) and tan in the nude in a stand up booth – not a bed.


  • Water and Rest: Drink lots of water the day before your session, and get plenty of rest the night before.
  • Nails: It is recommended that you have a Manicure and Pedicure done prior to your session. It is best to have colors that will go with all of your outfits. A natural look is recommended.
  • Makeup: Having even coverage on your entire face is important for the day of your session. If you are not familiar with applying your own makeup it is suggested that you have a professional or a friend help apply your makeup. (Chea Studio does not provide makeup) If you need a referral of a makeup artist I can provide this information for your.
  • Hair: Is optional and usually loose curls  or a natural look that will withstand the wind while shooting outdoors is recommended.



ahhhh… this is the fun part! we encourage you to bring SEVERAL outfits, and we will help you to select the best ones for your session. for example, if you choose the journey session we recommend bringing at least 10 outfits (or more). we may not get to them all, but it will give us a great idea as to your style and ‘look’ so that we can give you the best experience possible.


  • we do NOT recommend clothing with high contrast between items. for example, a black shirt with a white skirt. your eyes are naturally drawn to the area of highest contrast in the image, which in this case would be the skirt (making your hips look larger than they are). your focus in portraits should most often be your face, and high contrast clothing detracts from this while making parts of your body appear larger (the ones covered with the light clothing).  pair lights with lights, and darks with darks.
  • be conscious of parts of your body that might make you uncomfortable.  for example, if you are uncomfortable with the way that your upper arms look, avoid sleeveless and strapless shirts and dresses as they will make your arms appear larger.
  • group your outfits together ON HANGERS.  clothing in a bag or laid over your arms will become wrinkled, and will not look good in your portraits.
  • VARIETY!  be sure to bring a variety of outfits to show all of your looks.  it’s always a good idea to bring long-sleeved options even when being photographed in the summer.
  • GLASSES – all glasses will produce glare in your senior portraits, as we photograph mainly with natural light indoors.  if you want to wear your glasses in your senior portraits have your optometrist provide you with a pair of frames with no lenses in them (or remove the lenses from yours) for your session.
  • TANNING – while a little color is nice, be sure not to overdo it for your session.  tan lines are not attractive (if you have them, best to avoid outfits that show them).  also – too much color will make you appear larger in your portraits (especially in your face) as the color removes the highlights and shadows from your skin.
  • fingernails – they show!  we recommend having a manicure prior to your portrait session




Avoid over-tanning. You want your complexion to look natural.

Knees show when seated, so gals need to consider skirt or dress length. Shoes and socks show in full-length portraits, so bring appropriate shoes. Flip flops are usually too casual for any outfit. Bare feet are often a good choice for casual portraits.

Hair and Makeup


  • HAIR & MAKEUP (this part is just for girls!)
    makeup is probably the most critical part of your portrait session. even if you do not regularly wear makeup – or don’t wear ‘much makeup’ – you need the appropriate amount applied for your portraits to look their best. based on the application, makeup can make you look ‘natural’, ‘glamorous’, ‘sophisticated’, and more.
    3 girls photography has our very own makeup artist on staff for your senior session.  and best of all, makeup is included with each senior session at 3 girls photography.


  • we recommend using stori at eve’s and lulu d’s for your hair. once your portrait session is scheduled, simply call eve’s and lulu d’s and schedule your hair appointment with stori (if you would like to take advantage of this service). let them know what time your 3 girls session is and they will take care of everything. stori also has special rates just for 3 girls seniors!
  • we want your senior portrait experience to be the most amazing it can be. for that to happen, it’s important for you to bring the right clothing, and pay special attention to your makeup (girls, that is!)
  • Water and Rest: Drink lots of water the day before your session, and get plenty of rest the night before.
  • Makeup: Having even coverage on your entire face is important for the day of your session. If you are not familiar with applying your own makeup it is suggested that you have a professional or a friend help apply your makeup. (Chea Studio does not provide makeup) If you need a referral of a makeup artist I can provide this information for your.
  • Hair: Is optional and usually loose curls  or a natural look that will withstand the wind while shooting outdoors is recommended.
  • Skin Care: Be sure to spend some time exfoliating and moisturizing your skin a couple days before your session.
  • Tanning: If you plan on Tanning be sure  you tan for several weeks before you’re session and that you are not red the day of your session.
  • Nails: It is recommended that you have a Manicure and Pedicure done prior to your session. It is best to have colors that will go with all of your outfits. A natural look is recommended.