5 Tips to Rock your Senior Portrait Shoot

Senior's are one of my favorite subjects to shoot.  They are often up on the latest styles and fashion trends.  They are so excited about this time in their life and they love taking pictures.  With today's social media driven society, teens are no strangers to picture taking.  But while most of them can rock a selfie like one of the Kardashian's, they may have never been in front of a professional camera before.  Here are a few tips to help you rock your senior photo shoot.

Tip 1 - Location, Location, Location

Stylize your shoot to fit your personality and your dreams.  This aviation museum was a perfect location for this future US Airman

I'm primarily a location photographer, which means most of my shoots are done on location as opposed to in a studio.  It's so important to pick the right location for your photo shoot.  Pick something that reflects your personality and your interests.  A lot of Senior's in my area come from an Ag background so a ranch or other natural setting is appropriate.  One of the funnest Senior shoots I've done was with a young lady who was going into the Air Force.  We did her shoot at Castle Air Museum in Atwater.  The photos of this future Airman, full of hopes and dreams amid nostalgic artifacts of aviation history told a great story.  


Tip 2 - Clothing style

Choose clothing that compliments the setting.  In this photo, her white dress is a perfect compliment to the greenery in the background.

Most Seniors have the style thing down.  The wardrobe style for your Senior shoot should reflect who you are just as much as the location.  The shoots I offer range from 1 outfit to multiple outfit changes.  I would recommend at least 2 outfits; one can be more casual, the other can be more formal.  Choosing a package with more outfits can give you more options.  As far as color choices, choose something that compliments the setting.  In this photo, if she had chosen to wear a green dress, it would have blended in with the background.  The white is a perfect contrast.  Solid, neutral colors are often best.  Try to stay away from anything with strong patterns or bright colors.  


Tip 3 - Don't worry about being nervous

Don't worry about being nervous.  My goal is to get you to smile and laugh naturally.

While most teens know how to rock a selfie, some get a bit nervous when I point a camera in their direction.  But don't worry, it's my job to get you to loosen up and feel comfortable.  Throughout our session, I like to chat casually to make you feel more at ease.  Talking about things that interest you and joking around will often cause you to laugh and smile naturally.  This is when I get the best pictures.



Tip 4 - Bring Props

Props are a great way to bring out your personality.  Car's, pets, sports equipment, musical instruments are all great things to bring to your shoot.

Senior shoots are all about your personality and what makes you who you are.  Whether you are into sports, your muscle car or music, bring some props along to your shoot.  Props make your photos more interesting and really help bring out your personality.  










Tip 5 - Get plenty of rest and don't worry about the pimples

You're prefect just the way you are.  You don't need a spray tan and a bunch of makeup.

The night before your photo shoot, get plenty of rest, this will really help your complexion.  Don't worry about a pimple or two that may have popped up overnight.  These are easily retouched after you select your final images.  

This next section is for the ladies.  If you are thinking about spray tanning, save it for the beach, it makes you look orange and blotchy in photos.  Professional hair and makeup is great if you are able, but it's not a necessity.  Like I've been saying throughout this article, this is about who you are, not some altered version of you.   So when in doubt, just be who you are.  Wear your hair and makeup the way you normally would to go on a date or out with friends.   

Please comment:

I would like to hear from you.  If you have helpful tips from your Senior Shoot, please leave a comment.

About the author:  Brandon Baker is a Wedding, Portrait and Commercial Photographer located in Central California.       

A picture is worth a thousand memories

A few months ago, I was doing a photo shoot for a fashion boutique.  We were shooting an ally behind a restaurant in Old Town Clovis, CA.  As we were finishing the shoot, the gentleman in the photo below pulled up.  He was driving an old Ford truck and he was collecting cans and bottles thrown out behind the restaurants.  He saw me with my camera and jokingly said "hey, take a picture of me", so I did.  On his hat were the words "Laborers Union, Local 294".

I don't know this gentlemen, never even got his name.  Judging from his hat and his Carhartt suspenders, I imagine he spent a life working in construction.  Maybe he built bridges or dams.  Maybe he worked on some of the roads I drive on everyday.  Nevertheless, that's not what fascinated me about this man.  The reason I cherish this photo, is because it reminds me of another man I knew very well when I was younger.   A man who helped shape me into who I am today.  A man who taught me the value of hard work; that nobody owes you anything in this world and if you want something, there's only one way to get it.  That man was my Grandfather.

Born in a little town in Texas in 1922, he would go on to serve in World War II where he would earn a Purple Heart at the Battle of Iwo Jima.  After the war, he went West to start a new life in the Central Valley of California.  Starting over meant hard work, long hours and hopefully a little luck.  During his life he was a farmer, husband, father, war hero and a respected member of his community.

From the time I was old enough to remember, I always wanted to be he near him.  I would ride the combine with him during the summer for what seemed like all day.  I would sit and watch him for hours while he worked on tractors.  He was a man of few words (and a lot of whistling); much like I am today.  When we were together, we really didn't need to talk much, there was a quite communication between us that was understood.  Often times it was something like "hand me that half inch crescent wrench".  As I spent time with him, I studied him, I quietly paid attention to what he did.  I learned so much without him ever saying a word.  

One of the things I remember him telling me is: "don't ever think there is anything you can't do".  My Mother tells a story of how one day she saw my Grandfathers Blue Ford Truck coming down the road with nobody driving.  Well, there was somebody driving, it was me at 10 years old, barely tall enough to see over the dashboard.  He had taught me how to drive so I could follow him home with the tractor.

I was in college when he passed away from a sudden heart attack.  When I heard the news, I felt like a hole had been ripped right through me.  But I also knew I would be okay.  I knew the values he instilled in me would allow me to face whatever life had in store for me.  Today, as I write this, I am the husband to a loving wife of 20 years, the proud father of two girls, a hard working employee of great company and the owner of a small but ambitious photography studio.  I've had the opportunity to experience several joys in my life so far.   I've run marathons, climbed Half Dome,  learned to play music and pursued more hobbies than my wife can count.  When I set my mind on something I just do it, and won't stop until I can do it well.  

So my question to you:  what pictures remind you of influential people in your life?  What pictures inspire you?  What pictures make you who you are?  

About the author:  Brandon Baker is a Wedding, Portrait and Commercial Photographer located in Central California.      

5 tips to look your best on your wedding day

5 tips to look your best on your wedding day

I've photographed a lot of weddings and taken many beautiful photos of which I am very proud of.  But the ones that really break my heart, are the ones that could have been a great photo's but were ruined by one thing or another.

What does marriage have to do with wedding photography?

What does marriage have to do with wedding photography?

If you have read my "About Me" page, you know that I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 20 years.  You may not think this has anything to do with photographing a wedding, but consider this.  On your wedding day, I bring a lot to the table other then just camera equipment.